TODAY- KHMER - The concept of TIME
By Sok San
Should we consider the " unthinkable " as we
use to think : it is not really important, before we go to the
big stuff like Patriotism, Revolution etc...and ... etc., ?
For me... I used to observe in many occasions how the
Khmer majority use their time. In order to really understand
their real identity I try to see their reaction towards time and
their time-consuming by working with the REAL Khmer.
The reason I take this problem to the forum is to find out
why TIME is a problem for the Khmer(s) ? and how we can
help and correct it ?
According to my observation ( not all Khmers but the majority)
TIME is not really "clear " and its application has no precision
if we compare it to others, especially the Europeans.
The Khmer-time is "ELASTIC".
This means that not all the Khmers are careless about time
but if we try to see " how the Khmers in majority use the time
in their own way " we will notice many...
This writing is divided into two parts.The first one is to show
about the reality of time-using, time spending or time-
consuming of the today-Khmer and at the second part, we are
intended to take a close look to the Khmer concept of time(s)
and their meanings.
A. PART ONE
Before we go further..... try first to find the answer : "why the
Khmer doesn't like to obey time ?
In many occasions.... the meeting, the ceremony, the wedding
reception etc... when we put the starting time on our invitation
card by 6:00 PM, the real time we can start will be at 7:00 PM
or 7:30 PM.
In our schedule.... we plan for 2 hour- or- 3 hour- discussion,
but we go further more to 3 or 4 hours. Our organizer(s) try
very hard to obey time, but we fail and fail...
One time... we started at the EXACT schedule, but just for the
two or three of us ( the organizers), the rest and the majority
were really late. We have changed our strategy by putting one
hour before the real time we plan to start ... but still the same.
One time... we asked one buddhist monk in his preaching
( Teas-na:) to give some ideas about TIME to the Khmer
buddhists. But later on, seemed NOTHING.... at the next
ceremony... the same old game !
To really understand the problem... we tried to find out what's
wrong with the Khmer(s) and time ?
- First, we started to do many surveys, kept all ingredients in the
making of this carelessness. We, then discussed and discussed tirelessly in
finding way to reduce or, to improve it... Until today, nothing is satisfied
- Second, we finally came up to some conclusions that :
- This happened mostly in the real Khmer's ( meeting, ceremony etc..) but
rare Khmer(s) went late to other meetings especially with American's
- Late or Tardy became a real disease in the Khmer community
- Time-problem became a Khmer sluggish image when they ONLY dealt with their
own people....their own community.( When they worked, they could adjust to
American way. They survived with the American system, if not, they would be
" Kicked Out " from their working place ! )
- Time-problem was not only for the illiterate... even the so-called intellectuals,
they still DID THE SAME...
(1. I remembered when I was young our teacher had ordered us to wake up from
the early morning, 3:00 AM to welcome Sihanouk for our school inauguration...
and other time when Li Chao Chhi, China Premier, did a state visit. The real
time we saw their faces was in the afternoon ! When I was young I didn't mind
much about this problem. In the contrary I was happy because I would meet
my classmates and we together enjoyed our playing time.)
( 2. I read the news
at somewhere else that our Khmer eminent representatives for the Geneva signing
the Khmer Independence in the 50s were so late at the " signing ceremony
"because they were lost and they couldn't find the place (sic!). The
signing ceremony was already done and for the Khmer delegation it was represented
by the Vietnamese. Reason for that lateness was the night before they enjoyed
so much and were so busy with their new "cake" in their hotel. When
that Delegation came back home, we welcomed them at Pochentong airport as
our Khmer Heroes ! ! ! )
- Late and Tardy people were in most the time, the same people... their thick
faces showed their CARELESSNESS and their SHAMELESSNESS.
- Time-problem was not for any specific Khmer group but for all including
: men, women, young, old etc...
- Time-problem became a BAD HABIT in the Khmer community.
So there were plenty of EXCUSES..... when these tardy
people came to the meeting. It seemed so hard... in dealing with
this kind of problem. Sometimes it made us NOT really PROUD
to be ONE of them... because the whole universe was already
near to the new Millennium.
- Who did pollute our Khmer identity ?
- What went wrong with Khmer(s) and Time ?
- What was its impact on the young Khmer generations?
- Any other way around or alternatives for its change and