Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Finally got a job ...in Cambodia!

Unemployment has come to an end. I got a job! In Phnom Penh! I'll be designing water and sanitation products with communities in rural Cambodia and I'm super excited about it. I move on Friday!

It's crazy to me that I'm moving to a totally new country (that is, a country that is not India). I've been in and out of India for almost seven years now. In my work and research I have only ever thought about India. I studied Hindi for a while. I minored in South Asian Studies as an undergrad. I have lots of friends in India. I have an entire Indian wardrobe of salwar kameezes and saris. I know the train system like the back of my hand. Every time I land in Delhi, I feel like I'm coming home. I felt committed to India for so long--in some ways, I still feel very committed to India--and it feels weird to be going somewhere else.

I'm afraid I'll project India onto Cambodia. When I went to Oaxaca, Mexico, I was called out on comparing everything to India. "Not every developing country is the same," I was reminded again and again. (To be fair, though, Oaxaca has Bajaj autorickshaws!! They call them mototaxis. But the point is well taken.) It's difficult to push aside expectations and assumptions that I have developed over several years. I will have to try hard not to view Cambodia through the lens of my experience in India; otherwise, my work in Cambodia would suffer.

Hopefully I'll continue to stay connected to India. Certainly I'll keep following Indian politics. After all, this is the most controversial/exciting/terrifying election in years. I'd love to squeeze in a visit to the Subcontinent during my time in Cambodia, so friends in India, stay tuned!

And to anyone in Cambodia who comes across my blog: do you know a good Khmer teacher? It's time for me to commit to Cambodia, too.