Win some, lose some PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 02 September 2011 13:45


PHNOM PENH – One morning while dressing up to go to the office here my eye glasses snagged on my dress. I must have tugged more strongly than I should have and this  resulted in skewing the nose pad on the glasses and making it uncomfortable for me. I had to go to a shop and have it seen to. I walked to a big optometrist shop near the school and I asked for the problem to be fixed. It was a good thing that the clerk who  attended to me spoke English and immediately understood what I needed. When the glasses came back, with the needed correction done, I noticed that the little plastic  thingies had been replaced with new ones and these made my 2-year old glasses look better. When I asked how much I had to pay I was told “Nothing.” The repair and the new plastic thingies – free of charge. When I said that was very kind of them but I did not buy anything  in their shop, I was told that it is their service to the public. What a nice thing to experience!

This is one aspect of Cambodian society that I have noticed. The people are warmhearted and invariably polite and kind. I have noticed that when it is evident I am not a Khmer by my use of English although I might look like a Khmer, people in the shops or the restaurants or the offices usually turn out to be even more helpful.

Two Sundays ago I was shopping in a popular shopping market here and I bought a blouse. The first one picked up was a larger size than I needed and so this was replaced with a smaller size. However, when I got back to the house it turned out that the larger one had actually been put in the plastic bag. The following Sunday we went shopping again in the same market and I mentioned the matter to the shop owner. She said it was not problem, just bring it in and the exchange would be made. There was no call for a receipt to back up the claim for a replacement. It was immediately okayed. I doubt that similar situation in the Philippines would be so quickly resolved. Earlier on this visit my travelling companion bought an item  in an upscale shop, one of a small chain in the city. In another shop of the chain  my friend saw the more appropriate size of the item she had bought. She asked if she could exchange the item bought in the other  shop and again it was okayed.  What an ease this made.

But two days ago an Australian friend who has lived here for 12 years with his Filipina wife was saying how he still has to adjust to how things are done here and he told me about a billing error in his home phone. He was particularly put out because his Internet service had been cut, without notice, and this was a great inconvenience for him, and he was ready to show that he was not in arrears in any of the billings. Just goes to show that we can’t win them all.