Friday, January 20, 2006

Been thinking...

I have ongoing uneasiness about the recent posts, and what I had been planning. I've discussed this with a few people, most of whom have encouraged me to continue, but the feeling has remained.

So, I'm not going to tell you about those people after all. Perhaps later. Or never, I don't know.

My main issue is the potential impact it might have. I'm not paranoid, but I'm realistic about how Burma operates. In reality, I'm probably typing to a small groups of friends and acquaintances (hello out there!) which is lost in the overwhelming dross of cyberspace. But there's the miniscule chances that someone else may be reading (Mingalaba to you) and that what I say could be taken in the wrong spirit, and dramatically affect someone else.

If so, I might never know. And there's absolutely nothing I could do about it. So, I'll put on hold any further discussions until I've had time to consider further, fictionalise a little and gained a little more perspective. Until then, I'll have to think of other diversions.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Telling people's stories part 1

I am nine years old. I don't remember my mother. My father is a vague blur, he died when I was 3. I have been living here, in the clinic, since then. The staff look after me - give me food and make sure I am polite when the doctor arrives. I have my own plate and cup, which we keep separate from the others, and I have to take medicine every day. The staff are nice but they built a wall so I don't accidentally touch them when we sleep, and the kids at school won't play with me. They say that I have a disease, something very bad. I don't feel sick, I don't understand.

Recently, another lady came to the clinic and she looks after me. I can sleep in her house and share her food. She brushes my hair and likes my drawings. She tells me stories in the language of my father. I've never had a mother before.

But she says that she can't keep looking after me. It is too much for her, she can't take me back to live with her family. I will have to go to stay somewhere else. I am growing up. And everyone is scared.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Flowing on from the previous post...


These people have told me their stories, and I have not had express permission from all of them to use them. They are living in a restricted, oppressive society that could see them being persecuted. But exactly because of this, I have been asked many times - what do you hear about Burma? why doesn't the world do something? do they know what happens here?

So, I am protecting people by changing names, places, and in some cases blending elements from different people. This doesn't make it any less true, just less identifiable. I believe that these people want their stories told. There are others, whose stories may be more shocking, about whom I will stay silent.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I'm about to start telling you a bit about some people I've met over the last 10 months. It's going to be tough. Read them if you want, don't read them if you don't. But these are people whose faces I see perfectly in my head as I write. Above all, don't dismiss them.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yay! I can finally get the photos to work! So you know what that means...

Angkor was amazing. Here's a small selection. This guy above is one of the guardians of the Royal City (Angkor Thom). At the south gate, huge buses squeeze through the gate intended for elephants with only millimetres to spare. But if you cycle north, this one stands in the forest, with a few cows for company. Posted by Picasa
Apsara - or Celestial Dancers. We hired a guide for the first day whose approach and evident dislike of both the Thai and the French didn't endear him to us. The story is that these beautiful sprites were created during the battle between Gods and Demons for the Milk of Immortality. They effectively had a tug-of-war, each group holding half of the Naga, and in the process twirled the central mountain (Mt Mara?) with Vishnu presiding. This twirling stirred up the Sea of Milk, and the spray became the Apsara. My unfamiliarity with this story and the accent of the guide - and by this stage, I'm not so bad with accents - meant that it took an inordinate amount of time for me to figure out what the hell "churnintsi ovmilt" meant. Posted by Picasa
The photo I had to have. Yes, Tomb Raider fans, this is the place.Posted by Picasa
Sunset from the top of the hill, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Succesfully avoided including any of the several hundred other people up there at the same time. Posted by Picasa
Walkway around the southern side of Angkor Wat. Posted by Picasa
Apsara dancer's hand. Posted by Picasa
All may seem tranquil and contemplative, but they're really hiding from their supervisor to have a smoke. Posted by Picasa