It had been a long day of sitting in front of my computer, and I was hungry. I left the apartment and started walking down the street to a favorite Indian restaurant.

I passed a teenager pulling a wooden cart down the side of the road. Lying sprawled out on top of the cart was what appeared to be a slightly older young man. His brother, maybe? The older brother was bent and contorted in unnatural ways. His limbs stuck out at odd angles, and he was twitching, jerking. He looked like he was having a seizure. It was a scene out of a New Testament movie, pre-miracle. 

Phnom Penh street

A nicer Phnom Penh street at night

Further on down the street, I heard what sounded like a slightly out of tune violin. It was coming from a tro, the two-stringed traditional Cambodian instrument that is much like the Chinese erhu. A blind man with cloudy eyes was playing it as he shuffled down the side of the street. He was led by a young boy. The old man had a leather harness around his midsection, and one end of a wooden bar was attached to the harness. The boy held the other end as he guided his elder carefully down the street. There was no one around, but the man didn’t stop playing.

Soon after that, I walked by a large pile of trash that was being picked through by a young couple and their daughter. They were all dirty and shoeless. The trash smelled terrible.

I arrived at the restaurant, sat down, and ordered my usual. And I decided to splurge and get a mango shake. It was a hard day, and I’d earned it.