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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man About Town: 23 Dec 2011

Man About Town: 23 Dec 2011

The run up to the end of 2011 sees Siem Reap denizens once again plunged into yet another Large-Part-of-The-Year-of-Mostly-Living-Waterlessly scenario. Less than two months ago, the Reap was inundated with water as not one, not two, but five floods hit Temple Town one after the other, with the result that many of us were sloshing around in knee deep water for weeks.

But within days of the water receding, Siem Reap residents were once again hit with domestic water supply rationing, with the water supply turned on and off regularly throughout the day and night.

And what fun this is, especially on the weekend. Any thoughts of staying in bed on a weekend morning are marred by the knowledge that showers are only available until about 10am, when the water is cut off for however long it is cut off for.

Tales of woe are commonplace in Siem Reap, with expats facing life threatening situations when the water is cut off mid-shampoo, leaving them staggering and groping wildly, blinded by shampoo in the eyes with no water in sight, if shampoo-stricken people still had sight that is.

The absolute drama of it all! Indeed, Man About was thrust into a trauma-inducing drama not so long ago when caught unawares while shampooing the dog. No sooner had the struggling dog been lathered into a shampoo gloop than the water was cut off.

What to do with a dog covered in sticky shampoo and rapidly going mental?
Letting the mutt have free range of the house, rolling and smearing shampoo over the carpets and coverings, was not on the agenda. So the dog had to be confined and locked up in one small room until the water supply was reinstated.

This sent the dog into a fearful frenzy, throwing itself incessantly against the door, while at first barking loudly, then howling piteously. By the time the water supply was back on and I opened the door to the dog's prison, the room was smeared with shampoo detritus and the dog had turned into a sticky maddened and enraged beast intent only on one thing – escape to somewhere. This was at odds with my intent – to capture him and complete the shampoo cleansing ritual.

As the fang-bared critter that was once was a faithful puppy attempted to barge out of the room, I leapt on him and wrestled him into a snarling and snapping submission. But I slipped onto the shampoo-wet floor and fell, with the dog underneath me, resulting in at first more wretched and piteous howling, and then a total abandonment into psychotic rage.

More wrestling ensued until I finally lugged the crazed beast into the bathroom and half threw him into the bath tub, turning on the shower. The dog by now was so enraged that he was almost uncontrollable,  and the only option I had was to punch him in the head.

At this point the dog gave up and crumpled into a whimpering heap, mewling and shivering pathetically.

When the ritual was finally over and the dog was shampoo free, I released him. He shook himself a couple of times, sending scads of water flying, then slunk off and hid under the stairs where he remained for the next 24 hours, refusing to come out until I lured him into the open by seducing him with one of his favourites, a t-bone steak bone.

Even then the dog was sadly subdued and stayed warily out of my way for several days.

And such is life living waterlessly in Siem Reap.

This will be the last Man About column until the next one appears, which will be sometime in early-mid January after Man About gets over the trauma of having to deal with traumatised dogs.

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