In the sidebar that accompanies the blog, Dr. Lye tells us that, in addition to studying the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia, she does research on the Khmer and Kuay traders and farmers of Cambodia. Visitors to her new blog and to her flickr site will quickly realize that she travels widely in East and Southeast Asia, takes fine pictures everywhere she goes, and shares them with an appreciative audience.
Several of the short pieces in her new blog are especially interesting for the brief, random, glimpses they offer about the Batek. In a November 14 post titled “Spontaneous Capture,” she explains how she took a photo of a small girl who is being ornamented with hair clips by older children. She also posted that day an entry, “They Eye, We Eye,” in which she includes a sketch drawn by a Batek teenager of herself sitting in front of a house writing up her notes. Juxtaposed to it, she shares a photo of herself taken by a tourist.
She doesn’t mind posting random stories about the Batek, part of the interest of this blog. On November 15, she relates how a seven-year old girl one day tells her gravely that she is going to go off to dig for yams. The real purpose of her expedition, however, is to get away from a slightly younger cousin. The child comes by later and announced that her expedition had been successful—she had eluded her playmate. In another post that day, “Telling Stories in the Rainforest,” Dr. Lye tells of a nine-year old boy regaling a group of children with his make-believe tales about tigers.
On November 17 she tells a story on herself. She describes her difficulties in getting around successfully in the forest home of the Batek, moving camp with them, and learning the basics of finding foods in the forest. “I had moments of hatred for what I was doing there and rejection of everything that the forest and the Batek represent,” she confesses.
Then she describes her gradual immersion into—and acceptance of—the forest world. One day she had to wade through some water—get her feet completely submerged—and she found she enjoyed it. She likens herself to a child, learning the Batek world as a child would. She began to find pleasure in doing things she had previously thought she would dislike. Instead of resenting being like a Batek youngster, she started enjoying the role. But as she grew to accept the comforts and discomforts of the forest, she says she had to resign herself “to never knowing it like the Batek do.”
She has included many of her photos in her posts. For instance, a wonderful picture posted in the blog on December 11, titled “Fatherhood,” shows a Batek man slashing vegetation with his machete while his small son is strapped to his back on a carrier.
In December she also started posting abstracts of some of her earlier papers and journal articles about the Batek, and she either includes a link to a PDF of the full document or she generously offers, through the “Contact” feature on the blog, to send copies of the works to those who request them.
Her most recent post, on January 4, focuses on the ways the Batek learn to do things. Someone told her one day that if they all had to depend on her for their food, they would become quite hungry. Dr. Lye confesses she had not mastered the art of digging for yams with a digging stick. A nine-year old then comments that, “if you live for a long time with us, and learn to dig for yams, after a long time you will know how to be just like us.” She includes with the post a couple pictures of Batek children plus observations about the importance of imitative play for learning adult work.