part travelogue, part cultural critique
Our neighbors were taking a short trip to visit their ancestral village. They invited us to join them for two days, promising take us up to a famous Christian mountain that rested on the border between the Bago division of Myanmar, and Karen state. After a 6 hour bus ride to the city of Taungoo and a hearty meal of rice in the sweltering heat, we piled into a private van that our friends had rented for the final leg of the trip, excited to drive up to a high altitude and to escape the thick heat of the lowlands.… Continue Reading
June 20th is World Refugee Day. In honor of the occasion, here are a few titles you should add to your summer reading list.
My family history can be traced back to economic migrants who came from Europe. (My paternal grandparents moved to Canada in search of a fresh start in 1950s; my maternal side of the family came to America in the late 1800s.) The face of the world has changed since that time, and today’s politics may look different, but the history of human migration—and the things that force people to migrate—are tales as old as time.… Continue Reading
It’s been a while since we shared our favorite titles! Some of these are books we read quite a while ago and I never got around to recommending, and some are still fresh in my mind. I will try keep my words to a minimum, and in some cases I might just include a favorite quote from a book and cross my fingers in hope that you will be inspired to read it.
Over the past year, I’ve felt especially compelled to learn more about the lives of people who are marginalized, to listen to a new set of stories.… Continue Reading
I have a distinct childhood memory of one summer spent camping somewhere in Oregon on our family vacation. My sister and I pedaled about on our little bikes, befriending new kids in adjacent campsites, hurtling throughout the campground in a pack of small bicycles with no regard to the one-way arrows posted by some septuagenarian campground manager. One of the pleasures of camping is the freedom to unabashedly observe the possessions and paraphernalia of the campers around you, you smell each other’s food (for better or for worse), and you hear each other’s late night music and conversations.… Continue Reading
In Myanmar, wedding season is dictated by the lunar patterns of the Buddhist calendar. Every year from about June until October, Buddhist Lent takes place. During this time (which also happens to be the monsoon season), the monks generally stay within the confines of the monasteries, and it is seen as an inauspicious time to make any major life changes. Buddhists are discouraged from changing jobs, moving houses, starting new ventures, or marrying during this time. The October full moon festival of Lights (Thadingyut, as it is called in Myanmar) marks the end of Buddhist Lent, and not long after the full moon, weddings parties are taking place all over the city.… Continue Reading
I recently had the opportunity to tag along with Yangon Food Tours for a dinner tour. It was a great experience, and I wanted to share some of it here on the blog for those of you who are curious about Burmese cuisine, and for anyone who might be interested in taking a food tour while visiting Myanmar. It was a great experience, and, as someone who lives locally, the dinner tour is totally worthwhile in terms of getting a good sampling of Myanmar foods.… Continue Reading
We started looking for a new place to rent in May. A variety of circumstances, not the least of which was the nearing advent of Baby #2, caused us to realize that our current home is just not the right place for us anymore.
From a foreigner’s perspective, renting a house in Yangon is an arduous undertaking. If you are new to Myanmar and cannot yet read or speak, it involves doing everything through a translator, as even the rental signs are nearly always written in Burmese.… Continue Reading
Earlier this month, Amazon and the nation of India had a small debacle. The first offense on Amazon’s part was to sell doormats emblazoned with the Indian flag. This product was met with much consternation and anger in India. Shortly after, Amazon found themselves in hot water again, this time with a third party vendor selling Gandhi flip-flops on their site.
One thing frustrated me about these news stories: none of the western outlets reporting this story gave any reason for the outrage of the Indian people.… Continue Reading