Listen to Pilot Light

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Twelfth Year

Moving into the twelfth year of something is important in Cambodia. A nearby house starts its twelfth year of existence soon, and the owner brought in monks and held a small ceremony to ensure it will be propitious. I find it interesting that the idea is to celebrate the year at its beginning, but it makes a lot more sense than the normal cry of relief that we give in the West to announce that we have survived another year.

Closer to home for us, a local couple invited us to the party for their wedding anniversary. Having been married for eleven years, they are moving into that auspicious twelfth year. Parties are important here, so we got fancy invitations telling us that Mr Sor Yuthka and Mrs Yuos Sophy, known to us as Ka and Sophy, were having a party and we were invited.
 An anniversary party here looks a lot like a wedding party. There is a huge tent or two, lots and lots of speakers for the LOUD sound system (that plays music really LOUD! And I mean REALLY LOUD!). As an honored guest you get to sit in front of the speakers. Fortunately, we were on foreigners and able to suggest that we sit slightly off the main target range and further back (stupid foreigners never know a good thing).

When enough guests arrive to fill a table, the food starts to arrive and people chat as well as the music permits, and toast each other. So you face the prospect of a well dressed housewife looking you in the eye, clinking glasses with you and saying "joul moaay", which means you have to drink your iced Cambodia beer down in one go or face incredible humiliation in the eyes of everyone around.

Early guests getting ready for the feast
We left not long after the food was done, but the party proper was just ramping up. The emergence of a generation of karaoke artists caused the volume of the music to increase, with a commensurate increase in distortion. We were going to hear it anyway, at least until midnight, but decided to put some distance between ourselves and ground zero.

We find it interesting that Cambodians almost universally love loud noise. The old and young alike have no use for a volume control set even a micron below maximum. It seems hard to relate this quality with their many virtues.