down on the corner

nanny interviewing… a difficult task. not all are Mary Poppins it seems… we are trying to do the best for Otis in this but unfortunately we don’t really understand the nuances of his high pitched screaming (does it mean he likes her, or do it mean he don’t…?) Then there’s this whole unspoken dialogue behind the look in his potential nanny’s eyes – ‘my god, he is SO big, he must be 5 years old not 5 months… he is so WHITE… do they bathe him in bleach?’ Otis could definitely be the pin-up baby boy for skin-whitening products in SE Asia(ladies – want your skin to be as white as this cute little chubby’s botty? Then use new Bleach-o- White wonder cream! At a stall near you NOW!) As much as many westerners obsess over being brown(er), the ideal of beauty for the Cambodian woman is to be white(r). God must be a marketing man, as I swear to him that you cannot buy anything vaguely cosmetic here that does not have some skin-whitening effect. Thank the lord that at least Coco Pops still turn the milk brown…
The lesson for y’all today is to discover, or re-discover, Creeedence Clearwater Revival. Honest and raw, rock and roll. It came out of the sky. Now find where it landed and plug in – any album will do, even the so-called heinous Mardi Gras (worst album ever by a major band? Nah – that honour goes to… that Duran Duran covers record, whose name thankfully escapes me) which holds the wondrous ‘sweet hitchiker’. Listen and enjoy and get a little excited. There’s a Bad Moon Risin’ around my house tonight… thank you Mr. Fogerty…
…see you down on the corner

‘who’ll stop the rain?’ (Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos/Iraq)


‘Be realistic, demand the impossible.’ (Paris 1968)

Last week I had the very good fortune to meet Tim Page. Tim is a patron of the organization I work for, MAG, and he came to Cambodia with a film crew from Al-Jazeera television to (amongst other things) film our activities. Tim’s iconic photo-journalism of the Vietnam War initially wrought his reputation in the 1960’s, but there is so much more to this man who has often used his chosen medium to make us confront the reality of what we , as humans, are and what we are actually all capable of. I can’t even begin to encapsulate his achievements, not just his photography, but also his extensive humanitarian work, his recovery from the brink of death and the dark nights of the soul he has traveled through in his lifetime – to see his work and read more about his remarkable life please go to his website, 

We met several times over a few days and I immediately warmed to the imposing figure with the quintessentially English accent who limped into the office. His body still bears the scars of war, and he jokes readily about his hell-raising days, yet behind his determined gaze one can glimpse a little of the deeper anguish he still struggles with as he processes the things he has seen and done, and the memories of the friends who drove off in a cloud of motorcycle dust and never returned…

There are simply not enough mavericks like Tim left in this world, people who refuse to settle for the safe option and who push themselves to go further, faster and higher and truly live life to the absolute full… it was a real pleasure to meet him and find him funny, articulate, generous, charming, eccentric, but above all still driven and truly passionate about his life and work.

Tim Page
Tim (r) and I, Phnom Penh May 2007