I told my friend Soviet to design some ‘Oh Battambang’ shirts, so he did, and they are now on sale at Make Maek Art Space. Get ’em while they’re hot! …or go for the best seller, ‘Occupy Yourself’ designed by … Continue reading
A Beautiful Plastic Bag
I want to share the story of Toang whose name happens to mean plasic bag in Khmer. Toang is fourteen years old although he looks like he could be ten or eleven due to his malnourished little body. I don’t remember exactly when I met Toang, but I do remember he found us (me and my friends) at Make Maek art space. One day he just showed up and without any hesitation or apprehension he walked straight into the gallery and began interacting with us. First off, this is both odd and refreshing. I say odd because most people I’ve ever met, including uninhibited children, will not approach a group of foreigners and just chill with them without saying a word. Toang just came in like it was his house and sat on a bench like it was his own, and just chilled. Haha! Instantly, I fell in love with this kids unapologetic actions and personality. He did exactly what the gallery wants people to do which is to come in, chill, and look at some art. At the time, my friend Kat worked in the gallery and she decided to bathe Toang. So our friendship grew after he would sporadically make appearances at the gallery, where we would play, dance, bathe him, and talk (although it was me asking him all the questions.)
Toang comes from another province. Battambang is not his birthplace but after running away from home and getting on a bus, he found his way to Battambang. I’m not exactly sure how long he’s been here, but he has been living in the streets for a while. I think he’s been in orphaneges but he does not like it there and prefers to live in the street. Apparently, the other street kids don’t like him and usually try to pick fights with him which is why he is a loner. From what I can tell he does not huff glue like many of the other street kids (presumably the ones who harrass him.) The thing that worries me most about Toang is his health. His features suggest some kind of mental retardation, but I really don’t think that’s the case. He is very intelligent and can speak normal Khmer and even some English. His eyes however, show sign of nerve damage or something because they move a lot. I don’t know how to help this kid. Anyway, he brightens up my day any time he appears. Usually, he spots me in a restaurant and comes and hugs me without a care in the world of what others may think. He’s like a little brother to me, and I hate to think that something bad might happen to him. Toang is a unique beam of light. Here’s a picture of him:
and here we have a drawing Toang made:
Talking about great people, I can’t leave out Nehru Pry, who is a twenty four year old filmmaker here in Battambang. We recently had a screening of his documentary about freedom in Cambodia. He interviewed monks, crippled people, old people, young up and coming politicians, and ex-prisoners and asked them all what they think freedom means to them and if they have it. Only eight minutes long, the film manages to keep the audience interested thanks to it’s ‘straight to the point’ approach and also because of the mix of people answering the all important question, “What is freedom?”
Being in Cambodia, I’ve wondered what people think about questions such as the one the film poses, and I am so glad somebody went out to not only ask but document the response of Cambodian people. Great things are happening in Cambodia!
doodles with titles:
the perfect Vaseline commercial
(In this context Cambodian Olympics basically means getting physical.)
Dancing is a sport right? I’m not sure but it definitely is good exercise and most importantly, it makes me happy. My friend Vanessa, whom I met here in Battambang, hails from Canada and is currenlty teaching some of us modern dance! I went to my first lesson ever and documented some of it. Now, I’ve never done this type of dance before nor have I done technical stuff, but here it is.
A special thanks to the Olympians for inspiring me!
I’ll keep posting stuff. -Love n’ Peace!