Monday, November 19, 2007

Wedding bells

Weddings again? Well I tend to write about what I know and feel. Right now this is about it. Perhaps if I can get these weddings out of my head and onto paper (virtually speaking) I'll make room for some greater inspiration.

It is not yet light outside our thick glass windows, shut tight against the solid rain that drums heavily on the roof and concrete ground. The fan whirs noisily. It is cold so I snuggle down under my sheet. I could almost be back home on a dark, wintry morning, were it not for the strange, tuneless wedding music ringing loud in my ears.

Not the modern Khmer pop music - crooning love songs, so often blasted at weddings. At least today they are playing traditional instruments. From under my pillow I think I identify a khaen, or high-pitched pipe, and the roneat, a large wooden xylophone. A monk’s song meanders up and down distractedly, not quite fitting the music.

Next door the dog howls and cries like a wolf. I think he is singing along but Srey Mach says he sees the ghost of his dead canine friend. Either way the total affect is surreal. You could laugh or cry. I laugh, somewhat hysterically, as one does when deeply sleep-deprived. Unfortunately my laughter wakes James. How unfair is that?

Normally I like this music. As part of Khmer culture I appreciate it and love to watch the musicians play. It reminds me of the group of landmine victims we came across in the forest near the temples of Angkor Wat. Each one was missing a limb. We stayed and listened for nearly an hour. Normally I find this music evocative of a culture I understand so little, hardly accessible in Cambodia today, so worn away by years of war and genocide.

But the culture of infiltrating every inch of the city with one’s own wedding music is a modern one and, at dawn it’s one I can do without.

Visitors to Cambodia will think me philistine, just as I love the sound of the Imam singing from the minarets in Muslim countries, where I have only ever been a visitor. But, honestly, you have to hear it to believe it. Six hours have passed since I woke to write the first bit of this post, and still they sing, chant and pipe down their megaphones and into my throbbing head.

There is only one thing for it. I’ll go and get Jemima home from school. She’ll help me see the funny side. Jemima loves to dance Khmer style. She’ll stand on one leg, hold her arms up in front of a dead serious face, eyes rolling, and twist her wrists and wiggle her fingers.

“Is this how the dancing women do it Mummy?” Bella will squawk with laughter, her latest acquired talent, and I’ll lighten up again.

Until tomorrow morning that is.


Sasha said...

I agree with Nikki, wonderful blog

Annalisa said...

Georgie I've just had a good read of your blog. It's SO interesting. God what a life change!!! I'd love to see some pics (or some more pics). it's so much more interesting than reading some of the drivel of "poor me, here I am on the school run" that gets written! Annalisa