Two faces of Myanmar

I’m blogging my first impressions of Myanmar. Before arriving I’d looked through many blogs trying to piece together an impression of the country as I might find it. The reality is at once recognizable and yet totally different. It is the reason why one must travel and not just read travelogues.

faceyoungThis young face that I saw on my first evening in Myanmar is something I had expected. There is a mixture of various fruits and leaves, called thanaka, which is applied on faces of youngsters and women of all ages. I remembered reading that it was turmeric, but the colour was too dull. I asked my local guide, Mi Mi Lat. She said that the main ingredient is a local citrus fruit! The photo here is not unusual, I’ve seen similar photos, and similar patterns, in many blogs.

Later I saw an older woman making herself what I would call a paan in India: betel leaf with calcium lime and areca nuts. Her face was made up with the same paste and the paan (kwun ya in Myanmar) had stained her lips red. I found it a very interesting face (see the featured photo), and something I’d never come across in my couple of months’ reading of blogs. What a wonderful cultural continuity there is between the two faces.

And what a lovely metaphor for this country on the threshold of change.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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