Tuesday, January 28, 2014


There's a long weekend coming up to celebrate Chinese New Year.  Hopefully then I'll have time to update the blog but for now, here are some random observations:

Cashiers in America have a cash drawer that is neatly divided into 1's, 5's, 10's, 20's and change.  Plus usually a place for the big bills.  Not in Mandalay.  They have a drawer where they just toss money and dig around for change as needed.  Reminds me a lot of my wallet.

Witnessed a traffic accident last week.  We were on our way home from grocery shopping, driving down 35, one of the main streets.  It's four lanes, 2 each way.  We were in the left lane, heading east.  A motorbike with a man driving and a woman riding sidesaddle wanted to turn left so they did a typical maneuver.  Since there was oncoming traffic, they just headed up the lane going the wrong way, waiting for the next lane to clear.  If I were on Judge Judy I'd move little cars and motorbikes around to demonstrate.  Bottom line, somebody going the correct direction was in their way, they tried to veer left but it was too late.  All three from both bikes went flying.  Far too typical.  We didn't even slow down.

It hasn't rained in a couple of months.  Everything is covered in dust.   I have bronchitis and my asthma is acting up.  I spent 30 minutes at the hospital seeing an internist.  Paid $14.50 for the doctor visit and three prescriptions.  While I was paying my bill, a doctor came over to offer his help, since most staff don't speak English.  He snatched up my records, which showed my age.  "You don't look nearly that old.  And you're lovely."  He told me he used to live in Boston.  I told him I have friends there.  Then I coughed up a lung and went to get my prescriptions.

On the way to the hospital to see the doctor yesterday we were stopped at a traffic light (one of the few).  My window was down and a motorbike pulled up next to me.  A young man was driving, with two young women passengers.  We were about 12 inches apart.  I smiled.  They smiled (through their cloth masks).  I said "Hi!".  The girl in the back pulled down her mask and said "Hi!".  Then the girl in the middle followed suit.  Then the driver pulled off his mask and said "Hello!  How are you?"  "Well, thank you, and you?"  The light changed, they all nodded enthusiastically, put their masks back in place and turned left, away from me.  I love those moments.  They happen every single time I drive anywhere in Mandalay.  I'm so, so lucky to be here when locals are still pleased to see foreigners and aren't sick of rude tourists.

I still smile when I turn my lamp on in the morning instead of a fluorescent light.  And tonight, getting home after a very long day, I realized I could turn on my tv to listen to it while I put away groceries.  I took way too much for granted when I lived in the US.

Tomorrow after school is cooking club for 11 of my first graders and 1 3rd grade brother. We're making deviled eggs and ham sandwiches.  I'm bringing my mustard and sweet relish, both purchased in Bangkok.  I hate to share but can't wait to see the look on their faces when they taste mustard for the first time.  I'll have my camera.

The school is having a 4 week eating competition.  When it was announced, I was so excited.  I told everyone I could take the "how many cheese enchiladas can you eat in 5 minutes" competition.  Then they told me it was for healthy eating.  What kind of fun is that?  I've been encouraging my kids to eat carrot sticks and fruit during our afternoon snack time instead of chips and cake.  Today, one girl came in and announced she ate a carrot.  "A whole carrot?"  "No, a little piece of carrot."  "Good for you!"  "Yuk.  I didn't like it."  "Will you try it again tomorrow?"  "Ok."  Love these kids.

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