I’ve done a lot of listening in my short time here thus far. I listen in classes, I listen at home, I listen to friends, I listen to cars and motos on the road, I listen all the time. A large aspect of moving to a new country is listening. I can’t speak well so I must do a lot of listening to learn, understand and enjoy my surroundings. My family gets going very early here. They sell breakfast in the front of our house for a living so they get up way before I do. Because I am so tired I am able to stay asleep most times but when my alarm sounds or I wake a bit before my alarm I like to lay in bed an extra ten minutes and listen to my mom and sisters talking. Even though the pitch is high and they talk quickly it’s one of my favorite things. I don’t come from a big family so it’s been fascinating to watch and listen to the dynamic play out. I have gotten to the point that I know each of my family members’ voices without seeing them. Four of my sisters leave for work at about the time I get up and two ride on each moto. I can figure out which ones are leaving first from the voices. I’m getting to the point in my language where I can actually engage in conversations and I don’t have to smile and nod constantly so it has shifting my listening method in the last few days. For the first few weeks I was listening for new sounds, new voices and new experiences. Now I’m listening less to what’s around me and more to who is speaking to me. The expectation for my communication is growing and I can no longer sit back and act as though I don’t understand (even though I often don’t, there is an expectation for me to try harder to understand). Under the protection of my mosquito net I love to listen to the lizards and gecko at night.
(Listen to the noisy noisy gecko in this video below).
They have become white noise at this point. Every night my parents lay in their bed with the tv or radio on and I listen to the voices, whether it be a call in radio station, commercials or a talk show. The voices of the radio and tv have also become white noise.
(Listen to the video below).
Some times I can hear the dogs barking outside and I always wonder what is stirring about outside. It’s a wonder that I actually sleep at night with all the ruckus but it has become a comforting level of ruckus. It’s almost like my Cambodian lullaby.
We are in rainy season so we have some pretty heavy rains some times. A couple nights in a row we had some major downpours with a windy element that moved us inside for dinner. Our house has a tin roof you can imagine how loud that was. But instead of just imagining it I’ll let you have a listen (check out this video below of the pouring rain).
On Sunday morning there was music coming from the Wat. It was a very etherial sound that I thought was indicating a funeral because we had just learned more about a few of the traditional ceremonies here. I later found out it was actually announcing an engagement. I was biking to the wifi cafe to Skype my family and I stopped in front of the Wat to take a video of the music and as soon as I got my phone out of my bag it stopped, so unfortunately, no video for you.
During breakfast every morning the TV is on. Often it is Khmer soap opera or an American movie dubbed over into Khmer. It’s that mixed in with my family shouting food orders to each other and men talking over breakfast or trying to have a conversation with me but I often can’t understand. Breakfast is a noisy time in our household tuning into the TV is sometimes peaceful because I can watch the screen without listening to the words.
I’ve never consciously listened this much. There are so many obscure noises that I don’t know how to describe them. This country is completely different than anything I have ever experienced. But I love it. I hope I remain this in tune to the sounds of this country. It’s only two years and I need to remember how short that will feel. I have a feeling I am going to miss the gecko noises and Khmer soap operas in the background when I return to America in a couple years.
From the Eastern Hemisphere,