Cambodia Revisited

first they killed my fatherI just watched the movie First They Killed My Father directed by Angelina Jolie.  Based on the first person account of a young girl who survived the brutal years of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia it is a moving and almost unbelievable story of survival. Shot entirely in Cambodia and in the Khmer language with English subtitles it features all Cambodian actors.  Sareum Srey Moch the little girl who plays the main character had no acting experience before shooting the film but she does an amazing job of bringing her character to life. 

mom and dad cambodian refugees

My parents attend a wedding for a member of their Cambodian family.

I knew nothing about Cambodia till 1985 when my parents sponsored a family from Cambodia to come to Canada.  I happened to be at home on maternity leave that fall awaiting the birth of my younger son so on weekdays I went to the home of the new arrivals to give them English lessons. My parents’ connection and involvement with the family continued and my eighty-nine year old father is still included in their family celebrations.  

It was that connection with a Cambodian family that prompted me to buy the book First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung when it first came out in 2000.   It was while reading this autobiography of a young girl who had survived the Khmer Rouge regime that I really began to understand what had happened in Cambodia and to have a much greater appreciation for what the family my parents had sponsored had experienced. 

Taking a guided tour of a landmines museum in Cambodia in 2004

When we moved to Asia in 2003 traveling to Cambodia was a high priority on my list of destinations.  In 2004 I made my first trip there and learned first hand how the carpet bombing of Cambodia by the United States led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime and how the devastating policies of that regime resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population. 

Photo I took at the Killing Fields in Cambodia

In 2011 I returned to Cambodia this time with a group of high school students. On my first trip I had only been to Siem Riep but now I visited Phnom Phen as well and together with my students learned so much more about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime, the culpability of the United States in what transpired there and the lasting danger of the landmines that are an ongoing legacy of the war years in Cambodia.

I learned so much from this elementary school principal in Cambodia when I worked at her school

I also spent time with my students working in a local school in Cambodia and as I learned more about the lives of the teaching staff and students I realized how the legacies of the war and Khmer Rouge regime continue to impact people in Cambodia today.  

Watching First They Killed My Father brought back many memories of Cambodia for me.  But most of all it reminded me yet again of the futility of war, the never-ending legacy of war and the way war always has its most devastating effects on children.

First They Killed My Father is available on Netflix. 

Other posts about Cambodia…………

Visiting a Land Mines Museum

Visiting Another Land Mines Museum

 

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Filed under cambodia, Movies

Did You Enjoy the Game?

With my sister at the Jets game

I went to a Winnipeg Jets game on Friday courtesy of my generous brother-in-law and sister.  My brother-in-law who thought a professional sporting event might not be my first choice of entertainment asked me after the game whether I had enjoyed it.  “Of course I did,” I replied. 

I may not notice the same things others do at a Winnipeg Jets game but I’m still engaged and fascinated with the experience.

I loved, loved, loved watching that huge screen over the ice that shows the camera panning to different people in the crowd. I love the moment when they finally realize everyone in the arena can see them.  At the game I attended I saw a mother and father with tiny black haired twins waving and smiling. The little girls’ ears were covered with huge headphones to muffle out the roar of the arena crowd. Of course I saw Winnipeg’s iconic Dancing Gabe having a great time.  He wasn’t the only spectator that broke into a unique victory dance when they realized they were on the big screen. I loved the little boy whose eyes grew huge as the moose mascot approached him and the two guys both dressed as Elvis look alikes who tried to act so cool when the camera focused on them.

I loved hearing the talented Stacey Natrass’ voice soar during the two national anthems. She is so talented and does such a professional job. I also liked listening for the different kinds of music they played during different situations in the game and wondered how the organist decided when he was going to chime in with his own contributions to the sound track.

I loved watching the players fly across the ice, guessing who they were going to pass to, keeping track of the goalies’ little rituals and watching how the different teams celebrated when they scored a goal.

I loved visiting with my sister, catching up on family news and grandchildren’s latest exploits.

I loved watching the people around me and how they interacted with each other during the game, parents and children, people and their partners, grandparents and grandchildren, groups of female friends, groups of male friends and folks I guessed must be work colleagues. 

I loved reading the story printed in the Jets program about Nikolaj Ehlers a young player from Denmark.  It was very inspirational the way the modest young man paid tribute to his mother and father and his sister and brother, giving his family credit for much of his success as a hockey player.  He is most appreciative of their support and openly acknowledges he wouldn’t be where he is without them.  It was also refreshing to read about how seriously Nikolaj takes his responsiblity as a role model for young hockey players, especially those in his home country of Denmark. 

Did I enjoy attending a Winnipeg Jets game?  I loved it! 

By the way the Jets beat Las Vegas 7-4. 

Other posts……..

My First and Last Jets Game of the Season

White Noise

Rubbing Mr. Eaton’s Foot

 

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Why Do We Still Like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?

We saw the sumptuous production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this week.  As I left the theatre I thought about why people are still so attracted to Dickens’ story in 2017.

One reason may be because it gives us hope the world can change.  Just as the rich man Scrooge in the Dickens play becomes more empathetic we like to think the current wealthy and elite one percent of the population can become less selfish and become more empathetic and generous.  This goes against the body of research that shows wealth reduces compassion.  But in a time when the disparity between the haves and have-nots of this world is widening and when our American neighbours are legislating a tax bill to make the rich even richer, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol gives us hope people can change and realize they might actually feel better and happier if they share their wealth and use it to improve the lives of others. 

In A Christmas Carol a very wealthy man learns that all of his wealth can’t make him happy.  It is relationships that provide well-being.  Scrooge is positively giddy with happiness when he starts reaching out to others. In a time when research shows that loneliness is reaching epidemic proportions in our society A Christmas Carol reminds us we need to build relationships with others, care for others and help others if we want to have happier lives. 

A Christmas Carol may have been written nearly 175 years ago but  it speaks to concerns that are still very relevant in 2017. 

Other posts………

Getting Out of Our Holy Huddles

Make New Friends But Keep the Old

Stealing the Play’s A Thing

The Costumes Were Worth the Price of Admission

 

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The 4 Ms

Dave and I had supper at an Academy Road restaurant last week.  Adjacent to us a young family was having a meal.  Throughout the supper the parents were talking with one another but the two children were on their i-pads the whole time.   They put down their devices only to take bites of their food.  That’s a phenomena I also observe often with children who are traveling on the bus with their parents.  Both parent and child have their eyes fixated on their phones and don’t interact at all.  

canadian pediatric society screen timeThe Canadian Paediatric Society has published sensible guidelines for the use of electronic devices for kids with warnings to minimize, mitigate, be mindful and model  behavior when it comes to screen time.  Sometimes I feel like printing  copies and handing them out in restaurants, on buses and in other public places. 

Other posts…………

Technology and Family Time at a Resort

Technology Transforms Travel

What’s the Best Way to Raise Children? 

 

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Filed under Childhood, Media

Cooking For Picasso

cooking for picassoI just finished reading Cooking for Picasso by Camilee Aubray.   I wouldn’t give it a thumbs up.  Yes the descriptions of food and food preparation are tantalizing and seductive. And it is intriguing to read about the beautiful young French woman Odine who in 1936 could have been the subject of one of Picasso’s famous artworks Woman With A Watch. 

woman with a watch picasso 1936

Woman with a Watch by Picasso 1936

But my loathing for the way Picasso treated the women in his life wasn’t mitigated at all as Celine the modern- day narrator of Cooking for Picasso tells us how she discovers her grandmother Odine not only cooked for Picasso but also had an affair with him.  Celine finds out Picasso is her grandfather.  Although that means she inherits one of his paintings and a great deal of money, it also means she inherits the knowledge that she is the descendant of a man who considered himself ‘a beast’ in his relationships with women, a man who said he liked his women to be “submissive and shorter than he was.” 

still life by picasso page84

Still Life with a Pitcher by Picasso another Picasso painting featured in Cooking For Picasso

As I read the book I thought about how maybe even a year ago I would have liked it  more.  But last summer as I did research for the tours I gave of the Picasso exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery I learned  just how misogynistic Picasso was and what toxic relationships he had with women. That changed my view of his art completely. 

I also read Cooking for Picasso just when the news was filled with stories about famous men being taken to task for inappropriate sexual behavior.  Picasso would never have survived such scrutiny. 

So while Cooking for Picasso is about two things I love- food and art it is not a book I would recommend. 

Other posts……….

Picasso -Not Really A Family Man

Picasso’s Grandmother is Canadian

A Slightly Tipsy Bullfighter

 

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Filed under Art, Books, Food

Are You Confused Yet?

the vessel david altmejd“The whole point of art is to perplex and confound.”  Andrew Kear the chief curator at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is describing David Altmejd’s ideas about art.  Altmejd’s huge detailed work The Vessel is currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and it certainly does perplex and confound.  There is no easy explanation for what it is all about.  Yes the piece does appear to be a kind of vessel as its name suggests, a vessel filled with a multitude of the most interesting things.  We see parts of bodies…

hands moulding the vessel david altmejdHands moulding and shaping things

ears the vessel david altmejdEars

noses david altmejdNoses

bees david altmejdThere are containers filled with insects and…………………

swan the vessel david altmejdGiant shapes that look like swans or musical instruments and ………………

spools of thread david altmejdyou see spools of thread tongue depressers david altmejd the vesseland large wooden pieces kind of like wings of some sortthe vessel by david altmejdAndrew Kear  says David Altmejd likes to see what the unintended will bring to art. He likes to discover what accidents will happen as he constructs an art piece.  That makes for the creation of art that definitely makes you think and ask questions and use your imagination.  I can hardly wait to show The Vessel to kids.  I know they will find all kinds of things in this artwork I haven’t discovered yet. 

Other posts………..

The Beginning and End of Life

Art in Bloom

Are You Sure They Aren’t Photographs

 

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Filed under Art, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Thinking of Folks in Bali

As the news fills with stories about a volcano threatening to erupt in Bali I am reminded of the two trips we made to Bali and in particular of the warm and wonderful people we met while we were there. school in baliThe children in the school we visited.

sunlini in baliMy friendly and professional golf caddy Sunlini.cocoa plantation baliThe workers at the farm where we learned all about cocoa production. getting ready for a wedding in baliThe family preparing for a wedding who invited us into their compound to watch all the festivities and meet the bride. boys swimming in baliThese joyful kids cooling off in a stream. harvest time in BaliThe farmers busy at work in their fields. winnowing rice in baliCooks getting rice ready to feed their families. beach vendor baliThis hardworking woman giving massages and pedicures on the beach. wayan eat pray loveWayan one of the characters in the book Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Wayan served us a healthy lunch at her restaurant. 

I am especially concerned because many of these people in Bali rely on the tourist trade for their living and the possible volcanic eruption will deeply impact their sources of income as tourists flee.  I hope these folks will be safe and wish them all the best as they deal with the potential natural disaster. 

Other posts………

Biking in Bali

Meeting Wayan From Eat Pray Love

The $2000 Jeopardy Question

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