Eye Contact

As I left the TB Department tonight, an emaciated elderly couple were sitting at the edge of the craggy carpark, knees-to-chin over a black pot cooking on an open fire.  As I cycled past they called out to me in Khmer and we exchanged waves and smiles.

Cambodians can sit anywhere (courtesy Phnom Penh Post)
Cambodians can sit anywhere
(courtesy Phnom Penh Post)

At the hospital entrance I waved goodbye to the man whose job is to raise and lower the bar controlling traffic into and out of the hospital grounds, then headed out into the street for my usual evening fix of still-novel sights and sounds.

I went via the Chinese Shop, picking up an $8.50 bottle of Argentinian red wine to share on the balcony tomorrow night with my team/housemates.  As I pulled in at the shop a red tuk tuk transporting an orange-robed Buddhist monk did a u-turn in front of me, with the traffic all slowing down or swerving around him.

My bottle of wine was in a plastic bag which I hung on the handlebar before pedalling off into the chaos.  Rolling towards me was a large wooden cart not unlike the stolen picture below, piled high with folded cardboard boxes, secured to the tray with frayed red string.  Over the top of the cardboard I locked eyes with the elderly woman driving her merchandise through the industrious streets, hoping to find a customer.

Suddenly spending $8.50 on a needless treat whilst surrounded by such collective struggle seemed gluttonous.

Wooden carts transport all sorts of produce
Wooden carts transport all sorts of produce

4 thoughts on “Eye Contact

  1. The bottle of wine is a small token for all you do. Don’t begrudge yourself a pleasure. I find those eye locking occasions very special.


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