Buddha Bar

Content: It’s interesting how Buddhism and images of Buddha are perceived
differently in the West.
The ‘Buddha Bar’ in Paris also has franchises in other cities, and has issued a series of ‘chill-out’ music CDs.
(You can find the CDs bootlegged at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh for $2 each.)

My Cambodian friends might be amused to hear that ‘Buddha’ is also slang for marijuana/cannabis. (Presumably because it gives you a feeling of ‘higher reality’.)

After living a few years in a Buddhist country, it seems to me that organized Buddhism much like Christianity or Islam; there is the religion itself, which is quite specific. Then there is the culture that is informed by it, which I find quite interesting to explore. Even people who are not deeply religious follow the customs of Buddhism. A similar example might be Ireland where the culture is Catholic, or Turkey where the culture is Islamic.

The Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh is overshadowed by the National Assembly Building, which in turn is dwarfed by a new casino being built. That sums up modern Cambodia in many ways.

The original conversation took place at ‘Mit Samlanh’ (Friends Restaurant) in Phnom Penh, which is a fun eatery. Thanks to Emiko for being ‘guinea pig’ for this one.

Style: Hydrocephalic heads are considered cute in any culture. Big Head + Big Eyes = baby = cute. It’s instinct. (Been reading some manga at Sanctuary restaurant lately.) If I tried to stand up in a body like that the weight of my head would break my neck.

Last Panel: often in E.C. Segar’s strips people would fall out of the frame in surprise, a practice duplicated by other cartoonists of the time. Segar created ‘Sappo’ and ‘Thimble Theatre’, and eventually became a household name due to a certain animated sailor.

Design: This strip was originally designed using the Khmer text to facilitate the panel layouts. Since printed Khmer is just a little larger and longer,
I may do more of this in the future to make things easier.

Translation: Thanks to Seng Ratha for translation help. Any mistakes in printing and pasting are mine. Many Khmer use the term ‘Bar’ for bar, here I’m using ‘roong-ksal’ which translates roughly as ‘dancing hall’. Bilingual readers, what do you think? ”Bar’ or ‘dancing hall’?

Webcomic / In PDF format: [English] [Khmer] [French]

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