Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

Mental health little understood in much of Cambodia

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Purportedly mentally ill man is chained by his leg to a support in an abandoned house in one of Cambodia’s provinces.  Source: TPO (or PTO) via Twitter

The first two photos in this post are said to have been taken in Cambodia, but I cannot vouch for their authenticity, date or anything else about them.  They showed up in my Twitter feed with “PTO” as the source but, in a subsequent message, corrected as “TPO.”

Whether as real as they appear to be, the photos strike me as emblematic of how misunderstood mental illness is in Cambodia, how inadequate is its treatment and how brutal can be efforts to control severe cases.

Below is the second photo in the Twitter item, included only below because, in my opinion, it is far too sensational to put at the top. Continue reading

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In Phnom Penh, home often is where the tuk-tuk parks

See you again in September

It is a common enough sight to see tuk-tuk drivers sound asleep with their bare feet sticking outside their vehicles, mostly rented for $100 a month more or less, when the sun is high.

Less frequently, a pedestrian may well spot drivers taking more than a short nap when it is dark.

There is a simple reason: Continue reading

Like others, Cambodians have their own verbal habits

5 Aug - 1When they answer their ubiquitous cellphones, Cambodians begin by saying Hallo, which is not a typo.  I suspect the word has its roots from the years that this nation was a protectorate of France, where they don’t pronounce the h” and the first sound is “ah.”

The telephone greeting often is linked to the Khmer phrase for “how are you?”  The populace apparently has tired of the words, and many can be counted on to reassemble the few syllables in their response to amuse themselves.

When I answer the way they do, I await Continue reading

Surprisingly, New York City is loosening its grip on me

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The Oculus, imposing portion of New York’s transit hub cum shopping mall that I photographed near One World Trade Center (also called Freedom Tower) in downtown Manhattan.

Thirty-five years.

That is how long I had made my home in New York City — only in Manhattan, from Washington Heights to Greenwich Village — in two long periods before moving to Phnom Penh toward the end of 2013.

How I loved New York over any other place I had lived such as Boston, San Francisco, Hartford and the Washington, D.C. area, where I went in my relative youth to work in the Pentagon and again, in 1995.  At that time, I worked in the U.S. Treasury Department before heading back to Manhattan in 2006 after having transitioned to real estate sales.

To my mind, Manhattan’s highlights run the gamut of the many clichés that you know as well as I do — energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, Central Park and, among so many other attributes, paradise for a food lover.
Continue reading

In Western restaurants, Cambodians use knife and fork

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You easily can guess where I snapped this photo of a man enjoying his chocolate croissant.

When most Cambodians eat, the implements of choice are chopsticks for transporting noodles to their mouth, of course a spoon alone for soups lacking noodles, or a fork that pushes most other food to be consumed onto a spoon.

Never is a knife used at the home table or in Cambodian restaurants; spoons do the same work instead.

However, when Cambodians order croissants, doughnuts, a slice of banana loaf or pizza in Western-style eateries, Continue reading

Woman, 23, gives voice to gender equality in Cambodia

Pichayada Promchertchoo chronicles the improbable influence that Catherine Harry has had on other Cambodian women in her article below.  With two of its images, the piece is published here with the permission of Channel NewsAsia, a regional news organization based in Singapore.

Anger is not always a bad thing, at least not for 23-year-old Cambodian Catherine Harry. Such emotion has led her to be featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia 2018, the magazine’s annual selection of young visionaries who tackle issues that matter in countries around the world.

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 Harris

Born bred in Cambodia, Ms Harry often gets angry about certain aspects of her culture. She finds several customs, social values and ideas that have shaped millions of lives in her homeland, oppressive towards women. In her eyes, many of them are victims of a patriarchal society, where women can be confined by what she views as outmoded conventions and biases.

Yet, Ms Harry knows Continue reading

A barista’s struggle exemplifies Cambodia’s best hope

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Since I prefer to patronize local merchants in my neighborhood, not foreign franchises, the Starbucks flagship in Boeung Keng Kang I has won my affection reluctantly.  Here, the coffee can’t be beat.

A 20-year-old waiter at the Starbucks in my Phnom Penh neighborhood recently told me a bit about his life.  His story is much like that of the other employees who work there and in the myriad cafes around town.

A finance major with very good command of English, he starts his college classes at 7 a.m. They don’t end until Continue reading