By Peter Olszewski
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Extra resources for Land of a Thousand Eyes: The Subtle Pleasures of Everyday Life in Myanmar
She’s returned for a social visit and confides, ‘You know, when I was living in Yangon, I actually knew a woman who pulled that off. ’ ‘Forget about bananas,’ says Carsten, a young German traveller house-sitting a luxurious mansion in the nearby suburb of LAND OF A THOUSAND EYES 37 Bahan. ‘I’ve got peacock problems. Two peacocks flew into my garden from the monastery behind the house. My gardener ate both of them, and now the monks are after me. ’ The conversation lazily drifts around the table until it is time for Rhonette to leave.
When I see the streets of Yangon through her eyes, it is as if I am wandering through a slightly dotty auntie’s version of a magical kingdom. Lasheeda knows every nook and cranny, and she knows where anything can be found. I show her a particular type of electric plug and she steers me this way and that way, further and further into the maze of downtown Yangon until I am sure she is leading me a merry dance. But then she stops, points, and 34 PETER OLSZEWSKI there on the footpath is a little old lady sitting behind a plastic sheet containing small mounds of electronic esoterica and salvage, including a neat little pile of the exact plugs I’ve been seeking.
Military Intelligence interceded, instructing Dunkley to give his column a rest. A long rest, because it never reappeared. Radio Free Asia, beamed into Myanmar from Washington, is one of the Times’ most fervent attackers; it broadcasts the opinion that Dunkley should be granted the national literary award, because his writings bolster the military government’s policy. The network calls him Lorr Dunpli or Mr Traitorous Flattering—in Myanmar lorr means traitorous or sly and pli means flattery. The many vociferous opponents of the Times claim Dunkley is merely an apologist for the military, and his paper is a pathetic attempt to present an acceptable face for the regime.