Messages From Myanmar #04
15 October 2015
Hello there… Rodger French here.
Thought I’d catch you up on the news from Myanmar. Because, really, who else will. (Actually, these folks will.)
Weather Report - Rumours declaring the end of the rainy season have proven premature, as it still rains nearly every day, and sometimes all day. Severe flooding and landslides have occurred in the northern states. But the nice lady who runs the gym downstairs says that we can look forward to cooler and drier climes in November, and I choose to believe her.
Election Update - National elections are scheduled for 08 November, and there is a collective holding of breath as we wait to see if the military regime is, in fact, willing to relinquish more power should the major opposition party (the NLD) poll as successfully as expected. Since the regime has a well-documented record of violently suppressing the popular will, a healthy skepticism is warranted.
Just this week, the national election commission floated a trial balloon suggesting that the election, still nearly a month away, be postponed due to the recent flooding. The resulting outrage was immediate and very loud, and the commission backed down. Good news, but the threat of electoral mischief is omnipresent. My hope is that the generals are not so obtusely arrogant as to recklessly endanger recent (not to mention very profitable) economic developments.
Job News - Congratz, kudos, and general huzzahs to A.J. on her recent promotion. Respect, yo!
Job News Too - My interview for a position at the Embassy went very well, I think. So now we… will… wait… some… more.
Health Bulletin - Two things any gringo must bear in mind while living in Southeast Asia: (1) The jungle is full of nasty, microscopic bugs that are out to do you in, and (2) The jungle always wins. I was lucky; my bug was of the 24-hour variety, but it took me almost five days to completely recover. ‘Twas gross. ‘Nuff said.
Music Review - Last week, I had the great pleasure of presenting a small concert at the American Center Yangon as part of the Embassy Speakers Program. Modestly titled “A Personal History of the Piano Accordion,” the program featured a short, but brief, history of the instrument (about which I know quite a bit), interspersed with tales of my personal music journey (about which I mostly remember). Also, seven musical selections from various stages of my “career.”
The audience for this epic was a couple of dozen local high schoolers. They were great kids; very polite and sincerely engaged. In addition, their English was good and they asked some pretty cool questions; e.g., “Can you play the drum with an accordion?” (The answer is yes. Imagine bongos on the bellows.)
But the best moment came when I introduced the Carlos Gardel tango “El día que me quieras” and translated the title into English: “The day that you wanted me.” Their response was a youthful collective sigh at the sheer romance of it all. It was a perfect response… a perfect moment.