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An Indian love affair in Cambodia

What is most surprising about Cambodia is the Indian influence.

In everything.

I am amazed that in this land of mostly Buddhists, they also pay homage to Krishna, Ganesh, and to Vishnu.

At the National museum in Phnom Penh, ancient scrolls tell the tale Ramayana, the prince Rama who rescues his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana. It is in fact, an ancient Indian epic poem. With an audio guide unfolding the rich history by numbers and assisting me with the pronunciation of things, I place the names of the characters of this tale on my tongue... Bharata, Hanuman, Shatrughna, and my favourite, Lakshmana. I nearly chock on it but I love how it sounds. Like moving water.

And Cambodian tradition dance has traces of the Indian dances of Sattira and Oddisi. If not for the towering golden head dresses, the precise movements of the dances and sari like robes can transport one to temples of autrefois in New Delhi.

I love this place. Its intertwining history, culture and food of India, Thailand, Vietnam and China. Its dotted dragon fruit so vibrantly fuchsia, it's like eating jewels. Its tasty green and red curry sauces and ironically named dining spots called Mok Mony. Its stunning women, so tiny yet so grand in elegance, and its men who are so pretty, you wonder how it's possible to have such cheekbones. Its bargaining tuk tuks and a families of five on motorcycles that navigate the traffic so easily, like boats on concrete sea (while I have little heart attacks at every intersection).

To the love story of Ramayana, I add my own love story in a small footnote...My heart is touched by this glorious place, whose light reaches deeply, like a ray from the yellow-orange sunset robes of its Buddhists.

My beloved Cambodia - Agkur saum arkoun anak.


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