Saturday, November 29, 2008

New acquaintances

Sichan Siv explaining his previous visits to the National Library, as a schoolboy
A day of meeting and greeting. I met HE Son Soubert this afternoon at the National Library for the first time and then again at the Opera Premiere at the Chenla Theatre in the evening. A very gracious man who has a penchant for archaeology, as does another first-time liaison with Bruno Bruguier, my lunch-time companion at Khmer Kitchen restaurant. Son Soubert has served in many positions in government in Cambodia, is very highly respected for his statesmanship, and is the son of the late Prime Minister Son Sann. For his sins, Bruno works for EFEO and teaches at the Sorbonne, and is the man behind the CISARK archaeological maps of the provinces of Cambodia - a fantastic resource for any temple-hunter like myself. We talked maps (he's looking for more finance to extend the mapping project), temples and about his forthcoming book on ancient temples in southern Cambodia, due out at the end of January. The only problem - it's to be published only in French, by Reyum.
The reason for visiting the National Library was to witness the donation of a copy of his inspiring memoir, Golden Bones to the head librarian at the Bibliotheque, Khlot Vibolla by former Ambassador Sichan Siv, in the city for a couple of days before heading back out to the United States. Accompanied by his wife Martha and a host of high-ranking government officials, Sichan presented the book to the library recalling his days spent in its hallowed halls and has a dedication in his book, taken from the library walls. I was shown around the library with Martha by Khlot, who took great pride in her collections and it was great to see so many youngsters in the reading room taking advantage of the library's extensive bookshelves, which were decimated by the Khmer Rouge and the halls used as a pigsty. As soon as this event finished I jumped on a moto and headed over to the Chenla Theatre for my night rubbing shoulders with the stars!
Sichan Siv and his wife Martha are accompanied by Khlot Vibolla (green) and Thary Ung (red)
A dedication on the wall of the Library can be found at the front of the Golden Bones memoir: 'Force ties for a time. Ideas bind forever'
Sichan Siv & Martha with some of the government officials who joined the book donation ceremony
On the steps of the Bibliotheque with Son Soubert on the far left and members of the Library staff


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