Thursday, June 05, 2003

6 June 2003, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The children line up outside the house each clutching small net covered baskets. The Englishman counts them into the backyard.

They squat solemnly around him as he pulls out of his pocket a pile of 100 Real notes and divides it into six piles, one for each of them.

One by one the baskets are handed over and the Englishman who gently opens the net and releases the precious cargo into the garden. Golden, brown, cobalt blue and black shapes flutter into the air heading for flowers fragile wings flapping. It is butterfly buying day at the Butterfly House and Bar.

Two late comers creep in, baskets tied to their shoulders by a fine piece of string. The Englishman indicates the empty ground in front of him. The Butterfly budget is spent. Small hands hold forth the two extra baskets and a stream of Cambodian issues from young mouths. The Englishman indicates his watch 'You're too late'. Another stream of Cambodian and with a scowl and much shaking of his head the Englishman gets up and goes into the house. The two children wait, anxious eyes following his movements. In minutes he returns, a few crumpled notes in his hands and opens the net on the last two baskets. Two small faces light up.


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