November Doodles

Hi everybody,

Me doodles :

Last few months, we have had a bit more electricity for fans and AC’s in Mandalay. And was that welcome because the heat this year was simply too much. Well, except for 2 nights of heavy rain and a few light showers we have not had a rainy season at all. Hence, it seemed like an un-ending summer.
A real drought it was. But as I write this, the cool north winds have started to blow, the nights much more conducive for rest and in the daytime, if you stay in the shade, its quite agreeable. I agree quite much that the climate has changed as the cool season which used to set in around Thadingyut or beginning of October, now appears about 15 days to a month late.

Went to the “Nat” spirit festival in Taungbyone about 12 miles from MDY and found it as noisy ,crowded and cool ( “in the cool,man sense” ) as those adjectives can be . Put together with the heat and humidity, and hordes of people pushing forward to get to a little palace that houses the figures of the Nat spirits, it was certainly an experience.
Strangely though, I liked it, even though I was drenched in sweat and crying for a Coke! I tried to take a pic of a spirit medium by standing on a high ledge nearby while two strangers helpfully held me steady but sadly the photos turned out very poor. Seems my hands were shaking while the ear-splitting music of the traditional band played,joss-stick smoke whirled and people pushed forward for a closer look at the wild dancing and statues of the flower bedecked deities. Lots of villagers came in ox-drawn carts and filled the fair-grounds and pagodas nearby. I even saw a puppet show which advertised a dancing and singing Michael Jackson puppet. Alas, I forget whether I went to this festival before or after the demise of the man-child popstar. So although he may have gone to the afterlife, he still is well and kicking at the Taungbyone spirit festival.

The Maymyo/ Pyinn Oo Lwin flying lantern /hot air balloon festival attracted lots of people this year.
Not many village folk but about half the population of Mandalay was up there, tearing up the streets and blasting away at the usual serenity with their motorbikes. At the fair grounds, there was pushing,shoving and plenty of banter. Actually all that was quite enjoyable. So different it is it from our mundane daily lives whoever,whatever or wherever we are. They say all hotels were full in POL but I guess you could still get a room somewhere if you looked real hard and quick. As usual the San Francisco Restaurant was excellent especially their roast chicken.

Now if you got kids and thinking of visiting any of these festivals, hold on to them tight. You see, if they get separated from you ….. TROUBLE… WORRY … TERROR……… . And the police won’t be much of a help even if you find a few. Or better still carry thekids on your shoulders. But then you gotta watch out for them pickpockets…. Just joking !
And don’t get angry if you get your bottom pinched either. I didn’t .. I even welcomed the fact that someone scratched my itching behind which was impossible to access in that mass of surging people. … Just joking again ! How dare they pinch my bottom !

I have been trying to learn to take acceptable photographs and I hope I have some presentable enough to show you soon. It’s a steep learning curve. There’s a lot of technical stuff which I fear I will never learn but I keep snapping away.
I went shooting pics in Amarapura ( “City of Immortals” as translated by some ) with an English friend of mine who held my stuff for me while I was trying to get pics etc. Many people here probably thought it was crazy because it is usually the foreigner with the big camera and the Burmese guide carrying the stuff.

On the news websites, it says the world’s economy is getting better blah blah… but so many people still are unemployed or unable to get jobs. Maybe they mean that the financial portfolios of the wealthy are recovering but businesses will run now with the number of people they have after letting go of most.

My wife organized a “Katein” which is a donation of supplies of what the monks need throughout the year apart from their daily alms. Toothpaste, brooms , robes, plastic containers etc. All the students chipped in and we had a merry procession to the monastery with all the stuff on trucks. The monk, then gave an hour-long sermon! Arghhh ! Just try to envision me fiddling and squirming in front of the monk while he was giving his endless repetitive and frankly speaking boring sermon.For an hour it was ! Arghhh. Funny sight it must have been.

Lots of “kateins” are organized around the full-moon day of TazaungDaing which falls in the first week of November and the shopkeepers of Zaycho usually have their mass donations at the monasteries of the Sagaing Hills. It is said they take offertories there in the afternoon,spend the evenings cooking alms for the monks’ breakfast and have high-stake card games all night. They probably snooze through the sermons given the next morning too. Ha ha ha .

Other news is that my expat staff’s elder son got dengue and had to be treated at the SOS Myanmar clinic in YGN. He’s OK now. Before that ,as I was taking them in my van to the airport so they could go on a visa run, I hit a large bump and the same son who was without a seat belt, lurched forward and up and hit my windscreen. The kid was OK but my wind screen cracked. Well it seems he is made of stern stuff and has a skull of steel. I have encouraged his father that his son join the New Zealand rugby team.

Now all you Myanmar / Burmese students out there, for scholarship info write to soelay>sssmyamnar@gmail.com. He has a wealth of knowledge on that subject and can provide assistance concerning taking language tests etc.

Well that’s all for now
USL

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~ by bestmandalay on November 5, 2009.

One Response to “November Doodles”

  1. Hi,
    I read your blog and like it very much. Thanks for sharing your experiences in Mandalay. I understand well ‘coz i was there for 10 years. Missing the places, wheather – Hot & Dry, and the mozzi too. If you don’t mind, would love to know what is the language centre you working, please?

    Have a good one!
    Gin. (Mandalay tha)

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