January 18, 2014
I think I found out why I was destined to stay put in Yangon the extra day. That night I went back to the corner stand where my little friend stays with his mother as she sells water and snacks. I stayed put for nearly two hours this time. I sat there and played his one Hot Wheel type car making every type of scenario/game imaginable. Eventually people one by one came and gazed in. I looked up and at one point there was a semi circle around me of nearly 10 Burmese looking in at me with curiosity. So one by one I approached them and introduced myself. Their reactions were a mixture and each amazing. Some would giggle and bashfully extend their hand while looking for approval or comfort from their friend nearby. Others would straighten their backs and extend their hands with a firm grip. Others would become so shy when they saw me approaching them they would grab their friend and hide behind their back. These were my favorite as I would just say it’s OK and wait a few seconds until they came around and felt comfortable to shake my hand. The handshake still was filled with them laughing with uncertainty and avoiding eye contact. When I did this I noticed that loads of people were gazing in who we’re standing even father back. I waved and some came up eager to shake my hand. The curiosity of the Burmese is amazing. Along with the Lao, they are the most curious, under exposed culture I’ve met to date. It really makes my time here beyond enjoyable. It’s nice to find someone as curious about you as you are of them. We both have something to gain from each other. I met a man who spoke good English telling me that he is a masseuse and has a chair across the street, in the street, and that he works all day but wants to be a tour guide but doesn’t think he can do it. He said he is 23 and too old to switch professions, doesn’t have time and said it would never work. I sensed a lack of self confidence so I tried to convey that if he wants to do it that it’s possible. He has the English and the personality so go for it. Unfortunately, I am not sure how easy it is to just pick up and go for it but hopefully if it’s possible and he just needed the extra push, that I was able to help. OK.. So my main point, I got side tracked, imagine that.. Anyways, while I was sitting there playing cars with the boy I decided to snap a photo of the family. His father had just arrived, and a family of three, just like mine, were all present. I snapped the photo and the following day made it my goal to find a camera shop to print and frame the family photo. So the next day the hunt was on. I found a place and upon entry a man quickly helped me choose the photos I wanted printed out and afterwards I picked one to have framed. It took a couple hours so I wanted around and after collected my gift to the family. I walked back to their stand and upon arrival it was closed as they were not there. I hoped maybe they weren’t open yet so I grabbed a bite to eat with a friend and afterwards swung by and to my excitement found the father at the stand. The mother was not there and the boy was in school. It made me happy to hear that he was attending school. I then told him I had a gift and presented to him the framed photo. He thanked me and gave me two Coca Colas and waters where he refused payment. I was initially slightly disappointed that the boy nor the mother were there to see their faces when I gave them the gift. Then I remembered, that this isn’t about me, it’s about them. Therefore I curbed my self pity and focused on what’s important.. Whenever the mother and the boy get back to their stand they’ll have a nice portrait they can always keep of the three of them. It makes me happy knowing that in Yangon there is a family with potentially their first family portrait, nicely framed in their possession. I’m so damn glad I forgot my phone and was obliged to stay there that additional day.