A way of life in Cambodia, makes expressions obscure

Even in a university classroom, there are those who choose to wear a mask as this Facebook photo demonstrates.

Even in a university classroom, some students  wear a mask, as this Facebook photo demonstrates.

Given the way so many Cambodians lead their lives, you might be forgiven for thinking you are in a nation with an enduring epidemic of contagious diseases.


Another photo that I lifted from Facebook

Masks are prevalent on the streets, where a growing horde of motor vehicles spews fumes and spins up dust.  It is understandable, then, that numerous Cambodians don flimsy masks that cover mouth and nose in the expectation of discouraging infection.  Some may wear them to avoid spreading disease themselves.

mask 1

Launderer at my gym usually does without a mask.

But I understand that such masks actually offer little in the way of protection even while they may maximize peace of mind.  Although masks that are more expensive and effective are available, I rarely note them.

What disconcerts me is how often I find myself in conversation with individuals who keep wearing masks indoors and outside of healthcare settings.  They might be sales personnel, men and women waiting table or cashiers, really anyone engaged in routine commerce.

Although the eyes may be windows to the soul, they do not always provide a clear view into all of what a person is communicating.  I find that I need to observe a curl of the lip, the tightening of a muscle and shift of the jaw to grasp fully the message someone is sending me in conversations that could be only routine as well as complex.

mask 2

Students in “my” Brown cafe, where many young Cambodians gather, huddle over homework.

Especially when speaking with a salesperson, I have discovered that I really need to see the whole face to evaluate and trust, never mind understand, what she or he is saying.

Eyes and eyebrows help, to be sure.  But when the bottom half of a face is obscured, I realize I am receiving only half a meaning.  At least, it seems that way to me.

E-mail: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

One thought on “A way of life in Cambodia, makes expressions obscure

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s