Day 23: Coming to another jungle

Today is Sept. 16, 2016, my 23rd day in Myanmar.

Rice research and Burmese poems | I don’t call myself well-rounded for no reason

I can now say I’m addicted to the Modern Love column of the New York Times.

I used to read it often, but nothing like what I’m doing nowadays. I have an alert set for when the new story comes out each week. I listen to their podcast collaboration with WBUR, every episode, religiously.

Things trickled downhill when I found myself subconsciously typing “modern love column” in the Google search bar during break time this morning, with no prior intention to read anything specific. I crave those words and lines like an addict! Reading the column serves the similar function of a full-body workout (something I lack so far in my days in Yangon), injecting daily doses of endorphin right into my brain.

I’m trapped in a messy love jungle. No direction and no tour guide. And somehow I went to the jungle thinking I could escape from this all, but just found myself amidst a bigger and more complicated maze. I’m more isolated and lonelier than ever in approaching love, the “ultimate topic for human existence” (maybe one of?). Though reading other people’s concerns and quarrels doesn’t necessarily solve my problem, it does provide a certain level of comfort in thinking: maybe I’m not all alone in this web. Maybe there are people tied up just as tightly as I am.

So if you are sharing this feeling now, or ever did in the past, maybe this could be a reminder that you are not alone either.

I purchased the Maung Tha Noe Poems selection at the INNWA Bookstore in Myanmar Plaza, the supposedly largest shopping mall in Myanmar. The mall quickly lost its charm with very selected vendors. The bookstore, on the other hand, remained a small, fascinating hub, packed with calligraphies I don’t recognize and people of all ages.

The book cost me 1,500 kyat, a little over US$1. With both Burmese original and the poet’s own English translation, I question how soon I will actually crack into the Burmese writings. The words, some dated back to the 1960s, transform you to that period, when socialism is all the hype and “the Red Burma will shake the earth” (The New Burma, 1960).

Meanwhile I’ve been slowly digesting the dense research published by Proximity’s very own research team. The book is called Paddy to Plate. If you are remotely interested in rice plantation, or Myanmar, or anything agriculture, you should give this book a read.




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