Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's Great To Be Back

I've been back in Mandalay for 30 hours and in some ways, it feels as if I never a good way.

I'm loving my apartment and the view.  Here are some thoughts about what I've seen/done in the last 30 hours:

  • Today I got to watch five different processions of young men and their families.  The boys were headed to become monks.  The processions involve music, trucks and honking.  Fun to watch.
  • I watched the cattle grazing.  Then I watched as the water buffalo showed up to graze.  I now know that if there's a face off between a bull and a male water buffalo, the bull will back down.  Quickly.
  • I watched one truck and one car with new drivers practice as they drove around the school compound.  The one in the car needs more practice on backing up.
  • I can't remember how it's spelled but a yogurt was being advertised on Indian tv today - it's pronounced "doodie".  Eat your doodie today!
  • I was warned that the town is crazy busy and the grocery store was nuts no matter what time of day you went.  And Sunday evenings are always busy times.  They were correct.  People everywhere and the grocery store was packed.  But I scored at the bakery outside Ocean.  Tons of people in line and I just wanted a loaf of bread.  One of the employees recognized me and just grabbed my bread, put it in a bag and took my money - ahead of about a dozen locals.
  • People seemed more fascinated than usual with what was in my buggy today.  Perhaps they were from out of town?  Just hadn't been to the store to see what I've bought previously?  I was the only Caucasian in the large market.  People noticed.
  • They had zucchini!!!  My very favorite vegetable.  I'd already stocked up on okra, tomatoes, cabbage, basil and mushrooms.  I almost walked past the zucchini then realized what I was looking at.  It was expensive, about $1.20 for a single zucchini.  But since everything else is so cheap, it all worked out.
  • They had meat!!  Usually, by late afternoon on Sunday the meat is either nonexistent or a bit "ripe".  I guess because everyone is stocking up because the store will be closed next week there was a bunch of meat.  I was able to buy hamburger, steak and pork belly because I have a real freezer now to keep it in.
  • They had cheese!!!  I bought cheddar and mozzarella.
  • They had no bacon, oatmeal or canned tomatoes.  
  • I was quickly checked out (not the norm at Ocean) and a wonderful young security guard helped me schlep my backpack and 5 bags of groceries up the flight of stairs to the sidewalk.  All that food, by the way, including a small rug for outside my bathroom and two bottles of liquor, was just over $36.
  • I carried my loot back to where the bus was parked.  No one else was there so I sat my stuff down and waited, enjoying the breeze.  About every third person who passed either smiled or waved at me.  Myanmar people are so friendly it is simply amazing.  
  • After awhile, I left my groceries by the door of the bus and went to sit on the curb.  No one made a move to take the bags, including two dogs who sauntered by.  Eventually a security guard came running up when he saw what appeared to be unattended bags but then relaxed when he realized I was keeping an eye on them.
  • The driver came back first.  I was waiting for Aye Aye Than who was the only other shopper.  The driver opened the bus, helped put my groceries in then ran off.  He and Aye Aye Than came back a couple of minutes later.  I thought she was just making her own grocery run but realized that she'd only come along because she assumed that after being gone a month I'd be buying a lot and would need help carrying it.  She'd been waiting by the main entrance to help me but I left by a side entrance and missed her.   She'd given up two hours of her only day off just to help me carry my groceries.  And she insisted on carrying more than half the stuff up the three flights to my apartment.
I've got a kitchen full of groceries and Aye Aye Than has already arranged for a shopping trip this Friday after work, since starting Saturday everything will be shut down.  She's also arranging for someone to drive me to the pharmacy tomorrow to pick up some stuff I need.

Yup, good to be home.

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