Among the countless cultural differences between Cambodians and Westerners is what happens when someone sneezes.
After 20 months living in Phnom Penh, I find it hard to drop certain reactions and expectations. One that comes readily to mind and that I cannot seem to accept concerns cars turning into a street; I still think they will give way to a pedestrian automatically — me. They usually don’t.
Another has to do with sneezing. Probably like you, my automatic reaction is to utter a “bless you” or “gesundheit” when someone, even a stranger, sneezes. Where I come from, I know that I can count on hearing wishes for good health when I sneeze or anyone else does in virtually any situation but a performance.
Not so in Cambodia. It is as if nothing ever happened or that no one cares about another person’s health.
What surprises me is Continue reading →