Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Me ... Khmer

I entered Cambodia first as a tourist with my mom and my brother. Visting Phnom Penh and seeing Angkor Wat. And as a tourist, it is vital that you learn a few basic Khmer words. And a few of those words I learned, and I still use all the time is "How much"? and the Khmer numbers.

Whenever I go to Toul Tumpong ( Russian Market ) to buy clothes and other stuff, I would usually go "Bong, pon man?", meaning "How much?". And the sellers would answer in Khmer for the price of whatever it is I want to buy and then they go on thinking I'm Khmer. Then I would usually stop them mid-sentence and tell them. "English please" and they would just smile. I usually employ this trick so I'd know the real price of whatever it is I want to buy, them thinking that I'm Khmer.

And even if I don't ask for the price, even when I'm just walking around, people would just come to me and speak to me in Khmer. And I go thinking WTF, I'm no Khmer. Can't they see I'm not chinito, I don't wear long sleeves like they do, or the kind of jackets that they wear even if it's the middle of the day and the sun is very generous in her giving of heat, or wear slacks with slippers on. :)

And then one day I got the answer to my question if I really do look like Khmer. We were at a client meeting. So there I was in the conference room with my boss, two other Khmer officemates, another Filipino officemate and our Scottish officemate. There was a point during the meeting that the Khmers were speaking in their native language. One of our Khmer clients looked at Camille my fellow Filipino manager and murmured an apology about them speaking in their native language. That same person looked at our Scottish officemate and said sorry as well.  And then that same person literally skipped looking at me and continued with their conversation in Khmer. LOL.

After the meeting, I mentioned this to Ly, one of my Khmer officemate. He just laughed and said that maybe our client mistook me for being Khmer. He further added that he also mistook me as a Khmer who can speak very fluent English.

So there, question answered. Maybe I am fated to work here. And to stay here for a long time. Who knows, I might even buy a house here. :P

Khnhom tauv phtah. Lie haey. :)

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