The Pleasures of a Good Index

It is extraordinary that one of the most comprehensive ethnographies of Burman culture is still The Burman by Shway Yoe, a.k.a. Sir J. George Scott — a Scottish journalist, schoolmaster and colonial administrator who lived in Burma in the nineteenth century. The Burman was first published in 1882, but remains an amazing repository of information. You can get the book everywhere here in Yangon, in pirated knock-off reprints of the Norton edition. I was given a copy by a friend soon after I arrived, and I’ve …

Learning Burmese: A Poem

Since being here in Myanmar, and somewhat uncharacteristically, I have started to occasionally write poetry. This is something I haven’t done for a very long time; and when I mentioned (confessed!) this over on Facebook, a few friends said they’d be interested to see what I’m up to. So, with some hesitation, here’s something that I’ve been working on. I hope you enjoy it. * Learning Burmese At first, there is no language.       There are only things and solitude. Out of loneliness …

In Yangon

It is just over a week ago that I landed in Yangon, where I will be living for the next five months. It is a warm Sunday morning, and I am in a crowded restaurant that is noisy with families who have come out to eat Sunday breakfast together and to chat. And after a week, I have shaken off the jet-lag, and am beginning to adjust to the rhythm of life here. I am in Yangon to teach a …