Today is the start of the Pchum Ben (and here) festival here and I’ll write more about it again but the result is that many places are closed as people have gone back to their home province or town or village to be with family and remember ancestors, pretty similar to All Saints in the Christian calendar. As a result I am not working until Friday and yesterday was a bit of a rush to get things done before places close for the holiday.
One thing I needed was a haircut and I passed this place, further along my street, on my way to work and had been interested in it. It has a sign, which this picture did not capture, saying ‘Pop Barber’ – what more can you want?(The fence is not normally there) I went in and had to wait for ten minutes whilst they finished up on the person before me. I was then offered the VIP room for $3 or the usual salon for $2 so I opted for the normal salon, I will save the VIP room for later to see what difference it makes. The cut was good and after when paying what I assume is the manager, he asked me whether I was visiting and I said that I was here for work and after being asked explained that I was at the ACE school. Unprompted by me with questions about what he knew of it he said it was a good school, the best in Cambodia and that was why they were growing. He clearly knew about the school and had nothing to gain from saying such positive things to me about them.
People have joked about me talking to people cutting my hair and reporting the conversations before. Previously, when I was an elected councillor in Reading, in support of our transport policy which I was responsible for at the time, I prayed in aid a conversation I had had with the woman cutting my hair. Now it seems to me, hairdressers come into contact with a lot of people. They are a good sense of what people are thinking. This one also happened to live outside Reading and commute into the town every day for work. Just the kind of person we should listen to, it struck me. Yet there was disbelief and ridicule that I was quoting my hairdresser, an ordinary working person in our community. The response, I felt was that this contravened their guardian reader belief in what they had been told ordinary people thought of our ‘anti-car’ policy that it could not possibly be true.
Anyway, I do not apologise for listening to my hairdresser then or the response of the manager/owner of the barber’s this time.
Secondly, I went to get my laundry. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not fastidious about my laundry, apart from my shirts. Previously, when I could afford it I had them done at a local laundry otherwise I washed and ironed them myself. Now I find that I can get four shirts washed and ironed for $1, Who wouldn’t? Otherwise I have to buy an iron and board which are more things to try to sell or leave behind when I leave. Anyway who wouldn’t get it done by a modern laundry with a Sumo wrestler doing the ironing? But, and here’s the thing for bothering you with this. On collecting my laundry yesterday, I was given two free condoms. What is this? Are all laundry customers given free condoms. what is the link between laundry customers and being sexual libertines? Is it that we can afford to have our laundry done by others means we are out squiring ladies day and night? If so, are two condoms enough? Or, is it cause I is a foreigner? Are all foreigners using laundry services in Phnom Penh free with their affections as well? Or is it a Cambodian government programme to protect their women from dirty foreign older men like me? If we get others to do our laundry are we so careless with personal safety when it comes to sex? Sorry, I do not see the match does anyone have any idea where the link might be? Anyway I’m off for lunch now.
Re-posted twice on 11 October to add a title which had been forgotten and correct a misspelling of anti-car.