Frogger, Thick Scales, & The Hot Spot
Fam gone. Work time. In Myanmar. Yangon. Yung P, move like the locals, brethren. Flow. Bruce Lee said, “Be like wahtah…”. However, Bruce Lee wasn’t a foot taller, cocked hat wearing, few shades darker, and 2/3 a sizeable child heavier than the average male. I mean, after some stares by a few Myanmars at the airport, one dude finally walked up, cupped his hands around my arm and said, “I like it!”. Then he did this Ric Flair flex (no “woo”), gave me a thumbs up, and walked away like that’s that new millenia dap. Anyway, all that’s to say is, I’m quite enjoying it. I like being in pockets where I’m the “oddball”, but I get to listen, learn, and grow. The goals not to fit in seamlessly, but to not stand out ridiculously.
My first exercise in such, was walking across the street. In a land where I’ve found that stoplights and staying in your lane while driving are optional, I wasn’t surprised to know that crossing the street is basically “Frogger” (as my folks/project site manager, Junious said). It’s not quite on Vietnam levels, but when I saw 3 folks standing stunt double style in the middle of a busy 6 lane street, waiting for the speeding bus behind and taxi in front to pass, I realized my chill George Jefferson stroll wasn’t the move.
Let me take a station break to get this out the way: This is the question that 89.3% of dudes think when their homeboy goes to a distant location. The question goes something like this: “But
what them women looking like dawg? (said in Tommy from Martin voice #noreboot). My response for Myanmar is, they look like...women. However, there is a feature of note. I’ve been to a few Asian countries and the Myanmar ladies are surprising more “stout” than what I’ve seen elsewhere. Someone called this country the Brazil of Asia. Now don’t go booking your ticket yet (b/c you know, brothas be thusty), as this country wasn’t consulted for the the early 2000’s BET Uncut videos. To put it on the coveted “Thick Spectrum”, about 1 in 5 is on the low end inbetween “hot sauce in my Ramens” and “Worldstar as my homepage” thick #respect Who knew?
Anyway, now that that’s out the way, here’s a few other notables from my first few days. This city of Yangon has the largest population of stray dogs, I’ve ever seen. However, they’re all well fed and look like the dog from Coco. And while writing, I realized I’ve yet to hear one of them bark. It’s a city of plump Pixared mute mutts. And I’m dig WAY too much sci-fi to find this coincidentally. And not on some “genetic mutations” tip, but more so on “these aint really even dogs at all my G…perhaps not even from Earth”. #staywoke
Anyway, cruised through their old school market, which was they type of old school market I expected. Anything you want within a huge area of huddled folks with 2 foot walkways and everything’s negotiable. Cats outside drinking tea on little tables while folks were spitting the red Betel nut juice that the locals like so much. However, the awe inspiring moments came when we visited Yangon's best known pagoda (Buddhist temple, which is typically a tiered tower) the shwedagon. It was big and gold on the outside, where they promptly make you remove your shoes and socks. Now, I’ma dude who wears chucks to the beach, but you know, “wahtah”. Plus, I had similar experiences in Thailand, so I strolled inside and was immediately surprised how folks were in there selling thangs in the covered walkway up. T-shirts, lil shwedagon ornaments, and I think I even saw chicken. It quickly reminded me of the “Jesus tearing up the temple” story, but I moseyed on through, walked up hella stairs, and hit the main entrance and was in awe. Gold towers, buddhas, and other structures everyone. Also, this hella long, curved row of lit candles around some of the borders. Oh, and people. Hella, hella, people. Some were praying, some were laying out flowers, some were on field trips, some were singing. (S/o to this one nun, who was meditating immobilized on a ledge, but on the cool I think it was for a profile pic. #ISawYourPhotographer #SuperSwipe #NunsBeShoppinToo.) It was a lot to take in, which I can’t describe adequately, so hopefully the pictures will assist. Still in the end, the new-ageness of some elements threw me off as there were flat screen TVs and animated neon signs over certain Buddha’s heads on some OG Asia meet Tron. It was…different. In the end, I was glad I visited, but I would like to check out some others that are a little less popular and of possibly different design.
On some last, but not least, my team here is beyond dope. For this program, I’m glad I got linked up with Junious Brickhouse (site manager), Benu (beatbox), Tsunami (B-Girl and really dancer extraordinaire) and DJ Trife (DJ and nominated spokesman) and Lisa (photographer/videographer) I’m sure I’ll be alluding to the squad in future write-ups, but wanted to give them shout-outs.
Also, I can’t go w/o making any reference to this. If any folks know about the current “climate” of Myanmar, just note that I will not be speaking on this too much while here. Not because I’m shying away from the subject, but rather because I want to extra ensure that my trip here AND back is safe and healthy. Yup #IllBeFreshAsHellIfTheyWatchin #GoogleIsYourFriend