Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dog Days in Phnom Penh, sleepy dysfunction

Pulling a worn wad of riel and dollars from my bag today, I noticed something odd about one of the bills. I’ve seen wear on a bill, but the design always remained. This one had worn blank at the top. Damn! Somebody mixed that into my change. I’ll have to fold that into my next tuk-tuk payment.
I showed Ernie my funny dollar when I got home from work, and he examined it cautiously. He says this could be the beginning of an Alex Rider adventure, hunting and hunted by criminal masterminds. He didn’t see the $1200 in counterfeit bills that I balled up next to the little Buddha statue in Takeo. We don’t need any trouble at the airport, and Puck was drawing attention from the local kids waving it all around.
There’s a lot about this country that I still don’t understand, even if it’s filtering through my own wallet. Ernie and Yosh see an action-adventure unfolding at every turn. I am mellowing to it, like so many moto drivers asleep in the midday heat without riders, like our slow-moving security guard drinking cane liquor with his breakfast, like old leathery women in an all-day squat at the side of the road, watching. It’s a sleepy dysfunction. Sort of like an old granddaddy-house where everything’s broken, but it’s holding together with coat hanger and masking tape. Move slowly and don’t push anything too hard.

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