August 15, 2009

Sunday Morning Musing is actually well into the afternoon, but in Cambodia I still have an hour and a half so, work with me here people.

This Sunday's reflection is on one of the few children in Cambodia that I caught being a child. While our photographs from Angkor Wat look serene and empty the area surrounding the temples was over-run with touts, most of them under the age of seven. These little sales-people, con-artists and future tour operators were heart-breaking, infuriating and even slightly humbling.

I chose not to photograph any of their antics because exploitation of children is one of the great sadnesses of our world and I was tourist, not documentarian on this trip. If I had tried, I would have collapsed under the weight of all that I witnessed. I left these images {and other more disturbing ones} for my mind's eye.

While most often Silly, sometimes this Girl does often reflect on the action of capturing versus living in a moment. To photograph the touts {with their complex word usage that made my students' English ability seem extremely basic} would simply be to embroil myself in a debate about the moral implications of tourism in emerging economies. I didn't have the energy for that.
I also didn't have the camera.

While I love Phil's Canon point and shoot, its small body creates to small a coat of armor for anything beyond mementos. To take a stab at the intricacies of the economic growth in Cambodia and the clash of classes, cultures and custom would have required I bring my father's Nikon or Canon SLR. Something sturdy, a yoke around my neck a weight to strain my wrist as I would wrestle to capture the tableau unfolding before me. My glimpse, these childrens' lives. Alas, they rest in the hands of the younger sister, a BFA who has much more use for them, or at least did so when I handed them over while she was in Photography class and I was drowning in office work back in the Carolinas.

I think I am ready to step into my first Digital SLR, but making such a momentous purchase and trying to duplicate the lens range that I enjoyed with my father's kit makes this Tree baulk. Instead, I will patiently wait probably until the fall.

Until then our little Elph will do a fine job. It still can capture stolen moments with ease and grace. It can also slip seamlessly into a pocket when conspicuous is the last thing you want to be.

But, let me tell you about this stolen moment.

All around us was a silent stillness as we stood slack jawed exploring this tree and temple wonderland. Our skin was pink and tender after too many hours in the summer sun. ManInCharge and I were relishing our last temple of the day before returning to Siem Reap. The coolness from the shade of these massive, destructive trees calmed our spirits as we drank in our final views of the ancient city of Angkor.

I turned my head for but a moment and snapped him as he summited the wall, only to scamper down a moment later.

This child embraced summer. Climbing, playing solitary games under the leaves of trees, seeking shelter from the heat of the mid-afternoon sun. I sit content to peer into his eyes two weeks later...Endless Summer
Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia
Sunday August 1, 2009

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