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As I reclined along the shore of the Mekong in the Cambodian town of Stung Treng, a young man of about 20 walked along the beach and strode right towards me.  He carried a 7-Up and claimed “I speak English little.”  He wasn’t kidding.  He asked me where I was from and promptly ran out of questions.  I tried to speak with him to help him practice his English, but he couldn’t understand anything.  Instead he flipped nervously through  a book called “Travel”, which had dialogues in English.

Determined to show him even more patience than had been shown me over the past few months while I tried using Vietnamese or Lao or Khmer, I reached for my phrasebook.  I flipped through it until I could construct the question: “Do you have a brother?” which I hoped would provide my young friend with a very useful groundwork for practicing English.  After posing a few more questions this way and helping him translate them into English, he picked up his book and read sentences from the chapter entitles “Love”.  I helped him with his pronunciation in English.  Then he read the sentences in Khmer and I repeated them, usually to the accompaniment of his guffaws and smothered chuckles, so able was my pronunciation able to send him on transports of hilarity.

We covered such useful phrases as “Please release me for I don’t love you any more” and “I have fallen in love with you”.  Having gotten enough English for one day, Mouse, which is how my friend gave his name to me, took his leave and climbed back up the bank.

Even though this was the biggest Cambodian town we had seen in nearly 100 kilometers, it was tiny.  I ran into Mouse several times over the course of the evening, but lacking a way to communicate, we usually just smiled and went on our merry ways.   A large part of his future will depend on learning English.  Everyone reading this in their native language should be thankful our futures are not so decidedly tied to a single factor.

Mouse and I

7 Responses to “Mouse”

  1. Netzy Says:

    thanks for the early morning guffaws…. I always enjoy your escapades…. -your mamma

  2. shuai Says:

    take care man

  3. Netzy Says:

    Hi Shuai,,, how are you??? How is your mother and your sister. I still treasure out time in Bejing and at your home. Thank you for your hospitality…. Netzy

  4. Autumn Says:

    You make me laugh! Similar to the time when we put crisco in madeline’s hair and gave her a mohawk. Shall i assume you have a girlfriend now since you’re practicing all the love phrases?

  5. Autumn Says:

    Will you please pick up one of the pretty shells that you have taken a picture of? I’m not sure if it was in cambodia or lao, but the picture is entitled “playing a game on the beach”

    thank you!

  6. Netzy Says:

    Jimmy, I’ll take a shell also. Am almost finished with a baby sweater. take care. Are you practicing any yoga?? love, your mamma

  7. Robby Says:

    It’s been a while since I last checked in on your journey, but reading your last entry I feel like we were just together eating a non-Thanksgiving turkey dinner at your place. Your exploits are amazing, most notably the ones involving translating love phrases. I hope never to use the “please release me” one on Mary. Peaceful travels, Robby.

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