Monday, July 18, 2016

Messages From Myanmar #15

Messages From Myanmar #15 - Summer Check-In
19 July 2016

Hello there, Rodger French here.

[Historical Sidebar - Today marks the 69th anniversary of the assassinations of General Aung San (father of Aung San Suu Kyi) and eight others on what has become known as “Martyrs’ Day.”]

It’s monsoon time in Yangon, and rain showers, often heavy and accompanied by high winds, have settled in. We are coping with intermittent power outages, flooded streets, and the incessant emptying of dehumidifiers, but despite any inconveniences, the rain is still a great relief after the brutal heat of the dry season. In September, of course, the heavy rains will pass and the drier “winter” weather will return.

Our lives are not exactly shimmering with reflected State Department glamour at the moment. Anne is forging ahead with the new American Center building project and I’m working with the folks in Diplomatic Security, so recent tourist activities have been, not surprisingly, nonexistent. And accounts of our present expat lifestyle do not, alas, make for scintillating reading; hence the infrequency of communication on my part. Apologies to anyone who noticed.

Things are picking up soon, however, as we are going to take our annual R&R (Rest & Relaxation) in August and travel to Australia for an epic and expensive three-week vacation. We’ll be journeying by train (“The Ghan”) from Darwin to Adelaide, then on to Sydney and Tasmania. This is almost certainly my one-and-only shot at this particular continent, so it’s time to, in the words of a very wise man, “Spend the money.” (Full disclosure: The Feds pick up the cost of round trip airfares. Economy, naturally.)

In musical news, I have scored an actual gig in late September; performing, in concert with the wonderful Spanish violinist Sebastian See-Schierenberg and the Orchestra for Myanmar, several tangos by Astor Piazzolla, as well as an accordion tango solo. (One of the Piazzolla compositions, “Oblivion,” will be among four new tango recordings I have planned for next January.)

A.J. and I are also expecting guests later this year, with one already confirmed and several making vague threats, so that’s something to look forward to. Additionally, there’s the eternal “must see” list, with Angkor Wat, Hanoi, and possibly Kyoto lingering near the top. And of course, we will soon be bidding on our next (and last!) posting; so, lots of news will be coming your way later in 2016.

But for now, it’s just the daily routine and the rain. Although, for local color, we do have hundreds of street dogs raising hell in the middle of the night. That’s pretty cool.