My recent trip to Yangon deserved the pen-craft that the mind's harbor could seek.
Going Far East, is perhaps a stepping stone to an MR career as you're suddenly at the threshold of a developing country.
Suddenly you're a Foreigner - regarded with suspicion and awe.
Stepping into the city, was a feeling of stepping back in time. While you have the modern cars swishing past you and you keep ogling, at the same instant you're suddenly thrown the tidbit of knowledge that cars only were sold in Myanmar since last year!
The city is a mix of old and new- a surprising contrast that seems interesting given the cultural context. A part of me felt that Myanmar was being forced to develop! Modernity, was a force-fit! Maybe that charm which could wrap the city in its bloom, would soon be "deforested" - leaving the city naked to the prying eyes of urbane cosmopolitanism.
Yes - there indeed is a thirst to be "new" - be at par with the innovation that strikes the world at large, That's mostly a thin layer - below the crust, is a sharp sign of contentment of being and living in the much familiar everydays.
Lots of Indians bespeckle the streets- amazingly they have denied all Indianness and declare themselves Burmese with a hint of pride. Come to think of it, pride runs like a subtle undercurrent in all the Burmese - they are unabashedly unapologetic - and that's the way it should be!
Maybe it's the curious mix of Buddhism with the culture that has given an edge of serenity to the place. Boasting of richness, splendor and quiet glamour, Yangon stands firm in it's tradition - looking towards modernity sweeping in, with its winds of change.
What strikes to an Indian girl walking on the streets first - is that the city is amazingly safe! In a land, mostly known for rape, she is always draped with doubt - ready to pounce on any male offender- on the tenterhooks almost! But at Yangon, there is a much gendered respect and mutual acknowledgment of co-existence that's endearing. This starts, from their traditional dress - longyis for men and women!
In every Burmese face, you see a smile - a welcome against the slyness of the Indians. There is a heartening warmth that exudes and bring any Foreigner to its embrace.
Simplicity is a much treasured way of life - not warped against time. No-one seems to be in a hurry to be in a rat-race. In fact, Myanmar is a very functional zone when it comes to products. They like it that way - on the face and direct! :)