Thursday, January 30, 2014

Indian Myanmar Friendship Concert

I got a printed invitation to a concert yesterday.  The "Friendship" concert was last night - to celebrate the friendship of the armies of Myanmar and India.  It was at the National Theatre not far from the school.  The Indian military band performed.

It was very not-American.  They decided that morning to have the concert. And announced that at the event.  I just thought my invitation was an afterthought, but no, that's how we roll in Myanmar.   It was impressive that they pulled everything together so quickly - printed invitations, engraved gifts for dignitaries, the largest flower arrangement I've ever seen in my life for the band, a pretty good crowd, tv coverage.

The invitation was hand-delivered to my classroom.

They took photos throughout the entire concert.

I kind of expected the military band to be in uniform.  

The music was a mix of Indian and Myanmar hits along with Western hits - like Auld Lang Syne.  Fitting, I guess since it was the Chinese New Year's Eve.

I arrived 15 minutes early.  The concert started 20 minutes late.  We were on Indian/Myanmar time.  The National Theatre was like the rest of Mandalay - beautiful wood carvings around the stage and painted, dirty floors.  Luckily the seats were very comfortable.  No one else seemed bothered by the swarms of mosquitoes but I found them off-putting, especially after I swallowed one.  Unfortunately, that happened just before the guy with the TV camera decided to do a close up of me.  For several minutes.  Riveting television, watching the only white woman in the joint try to look pleasant and interested while trying not to choke after inhaling a bug.  If you're in India or Myanmar, be sure to tune in the news to see me.

Got to chat with the Indian Ambassador and the top Indian military guy in Myanmar after the concert.  I'd gone in the door where the taxi dropped me off.  I left the same way.  Seems that was the VIP door.  The Indian VIPs had just said goodbye to the Myanmar top dogs, who were the highest ranking military and government officials in Mandalay.  Who were mostly wearing Members Only jackets, by the way.  That seems to be the style here with the wealthy elite.

All in all it was an enjoyable and interesting night.  Being culturally insensitive, I was laughing inside about some of the event because it wasn't done the way this type of event would have been done in the US but it gave me some real insights into Myanmar.  The only drawback, aside from the mosquitoes?  I'm a bit concerned with the number of still photos and videos a couple of the Myanmar military guys were taking of me.  A small reminder that I'm no longer living in "the land of the free".  Then again, the same guys were taking a lot of pictures of the Myanmar major general who was there.  Hopefully, I'll just end up in someone's scrapbook.

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