Friday, March 16, 2012

the wrong question /nametagmania

Even though I've been married for 5 years, last year was my first year of people calling me by my married name. I didn't realise at the time but I remember finding it weird and disorientating.

Khmer style food prep in Aust
"What's her name?" I asked the Cambodian man at the airport. He didn't know, he turned to ask her. I found this weird as it seemed they had been travelling together.

 The 3 of us were leaving Australia on the same day six years ago. I was going to Cambodia for the first time, she was going back after visiting family in Australia. The Cambodian man spoke some English so had been helping her in the airports and on the plane. We were in transit an extra long time as our first place broke down so had to wait for a new plane the next day.

 I was excited to meet some Cambodians before I even got to Cambodia, but confused as to why he didn't know her name when it was clear they had spent about a day together.

Fast forward five years. I got back to Australia about a year ago and one of my initial impressions was that I had to wear name tags a lot. I guess it was something that stood out as I hadn't done it for years, but everyone here (Aust) seemed to act like it was normal. I must have gotten used to being called sister, auntie, grandma etc.

This was just one of the many things I found disorientating last year. After having a holiday over summer, and moving house, I've begun to look back on last year and realise these kind of things.
Aust style food prep in Cambodia

Friday, March 09, 2012

would you like flies with that?

This week I had a moment where I felt like my fellow Aussies are ultra hygienic- so much so that I laughed! In Cambodia I'm the one who is ultra hygienic compared to others, so it really weirded me out!
i used to buy our beef here

A plastic cup is used to scoop water out of a round ice box. This same cup is used for all the customers who buy  "Khmer noodles" from the lady on the street near where we lived. The hygiene habits are quite different so I usually just drink from my water bottle.
my chicken seller

entry to the market i bought all our meat, veg etc from
 In Cambodia I'm often the one freaking out about food safety and those kind of things. Everyone else is happily eating and drinking and acting like everything is normal while all  I'm seeing are all the dangerous things.

When I'm with Aussies its usually a totally different thing. For example after I took some Aussie friends to the market where I used to buy meat and veg etc, they started giving me tips of cleaning meat, such as suggesting I should use lemon juice or something. I realised they weren't used to seeing meat out in the open air with flies buzzing around. 

 I was also brought up to keep meat in the fridge, but in China I had to buy it at the market, so I must have got used to it. After years of shopping, cooking and eating this way there doesn't seem to be any reason to change the habit.

The other day at work one of my co workers asked me a strange question, I didn't get it at first. It was on a day that I packed my lunch and dinner, as I don't go home until after dinner time. I think the question was something about how could I pack my dinner in the morning and eat it in the evening, wouldn't it go off by then?
The weather here is heaps cooler than in Cambodia, so it didn't even cross my mind that food would go off. When I stay with my Cambodian family I eat lots of food thats never been in the fridge.