Mixing with ex-pats and a trip to the hospital to welcome a new addition to the Kingdom of Cambodia
16.01.2013 - 17.01.2013 33 °C
Despite best intentions to cycle wherever possible, I learnt my lesson. Arriving to business meetings covered in dust with beach style hairdo is not the best way to make lasting impression. Instead, I leave my bike at the guest house and opt for a moto taxi instead. Price: $1. Driver: Mr. Vi. Destination: my last research interview.
Having been through it multiple times the meeting goes really well and I feel privileged to have met yet another remarkable person in charge of apparently socially responsible microfinance institution. We part with warm wishes of good luck and fortune and I am relieved to find Mr. Vi waiting outside the office, ready to take me to my next date. Price: $1. Destination: Phnom Penh Centre.
One of my previous interviewees put me in touch with an English expat in charge of a recruitment agency, allegedly knowledgeable about the fragile dynamics of Phnom Penh’s economic, political and business landscape. Concluding that there is no harm in having a chat about my adopted country, I arrive early and am briskly shown to a basic but comfortably air-conditioned office.
When I am leaving an hour later, I cannot help but feel disappointed. Kevin in his 50’s is a proud owner of underperforming recruitment agency, stagnating consulting career and super sized love handles. His own feeling of superiority triggered by years of being surrounded by
Cambodians attributing white westerners various qualities merited only by the colour of their skin is oozing from the way Kevin bombards me by a wanna-be impressive list of his personal contacts and connections. Instead of an interesting discussion, I am listening to Kevin’s life story and amusement about corruption, existence of shadow companies and the importance of knowing people and being known. Not exactly a revelation, mate! At least the coffee was good.
With some real work waiting for me in the office, I call my personal moto driver Mr. Vi and leave as soon as good manners allow. Note to self: don’t let other people waste your time. Price: $1. Destination: my office.
However, my work will have to wait. Before I left the office yesterday, a lovely guy on my team suddenly jumped up, packed his stuff and rushed out of the door, shouting that his wife’s water broke. It transpires that the baby has arrived and so instead of work, I am summoned by my boss planning to visit the new parents and little Kim Nora. After a brief stop at the city mall where I source kick ass T-shirt, shorts and socks set, we set off towards the hospital.
Struggling to locate the correct maternity room, we are collected by the proud father and shown to a VIP area inside the maternity ward, resembling a comfortable flat complete with kitchen, sitting area and a couple of beds. The new mum Achi is positively exhausted, so we huddle around her bed and marvel at a little purple bundle of flesh lying on her right. The father Odoum is bouncing around the room, struggling to contain his joy at this new addition to their little family of two. As delish as the boy is, half an hour seems long enough time to make our excuses and head back to the office. Still, after an up and down morning, this is definitely the highlight of my day.
The ‘highlight’ status of this trip is then reconfirmed in the evening, when we head with a few people to the Willow hotel to take part in a pub quiz. Based on an experience few weeks earlier I suggest naming our team ‘At last’, which is greeted with general agreement. That way, we are prepared for whatever the outcome might be. This shows to be a good move, as despite much effort and not a little pondering, we once again end up last. Not something to brag about but at least we are consistent.
With three of my team on a field research visit and one of them spending his time with his newborn son and wife, Thursday in the office is rather quiet. My Marketing strategy meeting is set-up for Friday morning and so I decide to spend the day working on my own research.
Having done all of the interviews and more, I now have a set of competed forms and audio recordings waiting for transcript and analysis.
Whilst I really enjoy the field research component, my enthusiasm about data analysis is less acute. Fortunately The Duke loves numbers and information overload and so using my lunch break, we have a super useful Skype call about excel functions I only half understand. At the end of it though, we are both leaving happy. The Duke satisfied his analytical hunger and I have a data capture template to make. Result.
Now the working part of my day is coming to an end and I fear that my Pilates class can be put off no longer. You probably know enough about the type of crowd I live with to know that as soon as I arrive at the guest house, I will be subjected to temptations of drinking, relaxing, eating, talking, playing and similar important activities. As of now, Pilates class is 1 hour and 45 minutes away and I am definitely going…. Hmmmm.