The Art Blog by Wovensouls

Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra

Street Culture of Myanmar – a Photo Travelogue

A town’s pulse may be felt in its markets – markets in which the locals shop.

Yangon IMG_5391

Traders big and small, the wares they offer, the way these are displayed, their ways of calling attention to their shops, their methods of negotiation, the courtesies, warmth and involvement in their exchanges, the bonding between the buyers and the sellers, the flow of traffic, the prices, the order or the chaos, the little details of the shop, the sentiments that are present and particularly those that are absent, all together describe the character of a town better than any words can.

In every town I visit, the local market is usually my first stop. It is a trailer of the film that will unfold during the journey, if one has time for the film. Otherwise it offers a great glimpse into the society and the matter that are dear to it.

A few photos from the streets of Yangon and Bagu in Myanmar (Burma).

**

EARNING KARMA

The psychology of Myanmar and how ‘earning good karma’ is the central theme of the life of the people.

Outside the monastery or Pagoda, this man sits with caged sparrows. For a small payment one may earn good karma by buying the release of these sparrows!

Bagu Burma IMG_5453-2

This is similar to the scene that I see often in India. There, outside temples a woman sits with her pet cow and bundles of grass and animal-feed. For a small fee you can buy the grass to feed HER PET cow and thus earn good karma of Punya. What a winner business model the cow-owner has come up with!

In this case though, the caging of the birds is entirely different from holding a pet cow. But perhaps he is earning karma from the service in which he is offering others an opportunity to earn karma.

Bagu Burma IMG_5454-2

**

TANAKHA

Note  the paste on the cheeks of the drink-vendor. These are religious marks are made by applying a paste that is made by dipping a particular wood – Tanakha – in water and then rubbing it on stone. It is applied of the cheeks and arms during visits to the Buddhist temples. Sandalwood is used in a similar way in other places.

Bagu Burma IMG_5458-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5485-2

Tanakha wood

Yangon IMG_5404

**

TRANSPORT

Riding on the tops of vehicles is common across the small towns of Asia! The breeze, the scantier crowding and the view make it worth the risk.

Here we have a monk enjoying the prime spot on the vehicle!

Bagu Burma IMG_5452-2

The markers of courtesy and politeness ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘hello’ might be absent in these streets BUT everyone here makes room for everyone else.

And THAT is a courtesy in action – not mere words of ‘hello’ & ‘thank you’.

This attitude of ‘making room for all’ is lacking in more ‘civilised’ societies where the grumbles of drivers can pollute the atmosphere far more than the the emission of their cars can.

Bagu Burma IMG_5459-2

The eco-friendly Cycle rickshaws in tiny crowded streets where everyone makes way for everyone else.

Bagu Burma IMG_5483-2

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DRESS

Bagu Burma IMG_5462-2

The hats, the umbrellas are integral components of the costume.

Bagu Burma IMG_5463-2

The sarong … the most comfortable wrap-around skirt. It has also been adopted by men and is called the Lungi.

Yangon IMG_5418

The lungi

Bagu Burma IMG_5482-2

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STREET FOOD

Yangon IMG_5402

Some root / tuber that is flattened by beating and then eaten – another delicacy

Yangon IMG_5403

Yangon IMG_5407 Yangon IMG_5406 Yangon IMG_5389

Bagu Burma IMG_5455-2

Naturally, if this business has survived, they must have ways of preserving the cooked meat in the heat of the day that can reach 30 degrees centigrade

Bagu Burma IMG_5489-2

All kinds of interesting-looking street food….probably glutinous rice and jaggery

Bagu Burma IMG_5490-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5496-2

Yangon IMG_5390

Bagu Burma IMG_5498-2

Someone’s had a brisk business day!!

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MARKET NOVELTIES

Bagu Burma IMG_5481-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5484-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5492-2

Tools for skilled workers

Bagu Burma IMG_5493-2

Saws for cutting tree trunks

Bagu Burma IMG_5486-2   Bagu Burma IMG_5491-2   Bagu Burma IMG_5497-2

Yangon IMG_5377

A painter sits comfortably on the floor and paints while her two toddlers play around her on a main street in Yangon

Yangon IMG_5380

Puppies for sale – once again on the main street in Yangon

Yangon IMG_5381

Yangon IMG_5382

No idea what this is – and therefore it is interesting!

Yangon IMG_5383

Yangon IMG_5384

Yangon IMG_5386

Ripe jackfruit. Some people love it – others cannot stand the fragrance of the ripe fruit but love the raw stage!

Yangon IMG_5387

A hand-held coconut scraper!

Yangon IMG_5388

Yangon IMG_5398

Burmese Puppets

Yangon IMG_5399

These are probably the equivalent of the ‘Evil-eye’ deflectors or the Nazar Butti.

Yangon IMG_5393 Yangon IMG_5394 Yangon IMG_5395 Yangon IMG_5396

Monks and nuns must beg for their food every morning …. a group of nun novitiates and their senior.

Yangon IMG_5405

Bagu Burma IMG_5464-2

Seed vendors

Bagu Burma IMG_5479-2

Home grown chicken – not injected with hormones or anything artificial.

Bagu Burma IMG_5465-2

Puffed Rice

Bagu Burma IMG_5467-2

Lottery Seller!

Bagu Burma IMG_5468-2 Bagu Burma IMG_5469-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5499-2

And a tailor for any ad hoc stitching jobs that might come up for alterations or torn clothes or bags!

Bagu Burma IMG_5460-2

And even Mickey Mouse has arrived!

**

SPECIALITIES

Bagu is famous for fermented fish & fermented prawns –  Myanmarese delicacies. Just as one might ask friends traveling to Japan to bring back some Wasabi or bring back Maple syrup from Canada, visitors to Bagu are asked by their families and friends to bring back fermented fish or prawns.

Bagu Burma IMG_5470-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5475-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5476-2 Bagu Burma IMG_5477-2 Bagu Burma IMG_5478-2

Chewing Betel nuts and Betel nut leaves is a widely enjoyed habit in Myanmar. In Singapore too, the only place one can find betel nut leaves is the mall that is popular with Myanmarese people!

Bagu Burma IMG_5473-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5472-2

Bagu Burma IMG_5471-2

And finally the smoke! Called a cheroot the tobacco is rolled up in a leaf! Also another specialty of Bagu!

Bagu Burma IMG_5501-2 Bagu Burma IMG_5502-2  Bagu Burma IMG_5504-2

**

And surprise surprise – a samosa snack seller – who has a portable stall o which he makes the yummy fried snacks, keeps them warm on a straw tray above the frying pan that is above the stove AND he speaks to me in Hindi!!

Many Indians stayed back in Rangoon and his ancestors were one of them!

Yangon IMG_5422

I saw several Indian women wearing saris  probably originally from Eastern U.P. or Bihar in India …. living their full-on Indian life with ghunghat sarpallu and bright orange sindoor paste in the middle of Myanmar!

Yangon IMG_5424

Indian ladies at the railway station

THAT is the beauty of Asia – there is no way she will conform to your expectations! She will always go beyond and surprise you and leave you gawking at the novelty of life!

jm

Jan 2015

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