No Time Like the Past

No Time Like the Past

Every morning when I awake in Burma I’m reminded of my childhood. A train whistle used to blow in the distance across the river as I lay in bed late at night. Sometimes it would wake me and I’d fall comfortably to sleep in seconds. Other times I would half-waken and sort of dream the sound, as if distance beckoned and I wanted to know why. That’s how I feel living in Burma, especially in the morning when I look out my window and see life moving around me, or the seemingly still flowers and blossoms on the trees. I feel as if I’m in a dream, this foreign land calling me to come inside of it and taste it, find out more. I want to grow with it, cherish the lyrics of the language, hear the soft folk guitars and sincere sounds of people singing with meaning, as if the world will be a better place when the song is over.

I ever walk down the broken parallels of Rangoon, tripping over the holes and assorted traps of the road that has no relationship with the sidewalk, whose coveted cubes are covered with debris or loads of grain, carriages of ugly looking food or beetle nut vendors or squat plastic chairs of a beat looking tea shop. Look up in time to see the thanaka painted faces of dark skinned children herded along by mother or sibling, then dash out of the way of an old taxi once or twice condemned in other lands but somehow, driving a life around the bumped Rangoon streets with the loving encouragement of a few swear words and a screwdriver.

Rangoon’s streets don’t stop for idle gawkers. I’d better to move on than to stand still wondering what it was I just saw. An earnest hunt in a fit of curiosity some other time will lead me there again. Then I’d say, “Oh, that’s right. A yoghurt shop.” I’d better taste it now while I can. A plain yoghurt lassi with jacqueri is one of Rangoons best treats.

That’s a trip for only one or two blocks in Rangoon. There are thousands more, most of them as different from the next one as birds are to bees. One rarely a repeat of the last. It’s a fascinating place and I have so much time to waste when I roam.

I’d rather not say another word this morning. I’m off to find some strange sweet fruit I’ve never tasted. And like ever day in Burma, I’ll eat it over and over again as if for the first time.

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