Cambodia = Kampuchean

Cambodia = Kampuchean

Friday, September 17, 2010

First Refuge

- Chan Sokha picked me up at the airport in Phnom Penh, and together we journeyed the 2-hour trip to Kampong Cham, all the while battling his minimal English skills and my deplorable lack of any Khmer at all. Looking out the windows, I saw the frequent presence of Cambodian and ...Indian flags! "Cambodia" is currently rejoicing it's friendship and solidarity with India, it seems. This bilateral relationship, while not entirely surprising, is news to me in its explicit display of affection. Who knew...

I will be staying at Kurt's home until I find a place to rent in town. Kurt Bredenberg may be considered the head of operations of an integrated project involving two organizations: World Education and KAPE (Kampuchean Action for Primary Education). Kurt's home also doubles up as a staff house, with four other KAPE staff members living on one of the floors. The compound surrounding this house as well as the interior design of the house present a kind of tropical paradise, no less! Lush greenery, modest areas of lawn and generous numbers of coconut and banana trees ensconce the house. Inside, (a la Kurt?) the walls are decorated with neatly framed paintings, indigenous artwork in sculpture and, once again, splashes of "natural" decor that mirror the abundant foliage present outside.

[Indirectly related aside:
I love etymology. I discovered something today from a fantastic book on the Wonders of the World that belongs to Kurt. Did you know that the word "paradise" was adapted from the Indo-Iranic word paradeisha? The latter refers to a "supreme elevated land". I also realized how similar it is to the Urdu/Hindi word pardes (pronounced par-dayz) meaning "other/ foreign land". Now, what I find fascinating is the fact that I've been using both, paradise and pardes, my entire life, without realizing that they sound incredibly alike, without realizing that there was a time deep in history when certain peoples created the common root of the word. Oh Golly Gee! Origin of language still boggles me to no end... ]

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