Rangoon

By Burmese Poet Moe Way (Translated by Ko Ko Thett)

I hear the bells and, all is well.
It’s 1 AM or 2 AM. I can’t sleep.
In Rangoon, whenever an old house is
razed, I walk into one street, and
yet another.
How curvy, and convoluted!
I still hear the bells, and all is well.
Everything will be renewed someday, probably.
How will the dim lampposts,
the fragrant dreams beneath the concrete sidewalks,
and our hearts be reinvented?
Just like the same news stories
reiterated in our different dailies,
lovers, o… love, I repeat.
Rangoon scuffles out of my hands
which way will you flow like a river?
Senile road signs and heaps of
broken bricks flash in the background.
Our past and our shadows have been sensational news.
On the glass walls of the banks and the malls,
I see the fleeting reflections of  
Pazuntaung evenings, 42nd street, Myaynigone night bazaar …
in the beams of the passing cars.
Yes, I can’t sleep. And, Rangoon can’t sleep.
When the whole city is asleep
I spray-paint the walls of the new buildings.
I am back in Rangoon.
Rangoon is just like me.

Ref: https://www.poetryinternational.org/pi/poem/29436/auto/0/0/Moe-Way/Rangoon/en/tile

Going home always takes a toll on my soul but it also gives me a renewed perspective on gratitude towards my parents. Without the education they have given me, I’m not sure where I will be. Education is important so youth is not wasted in a nation.
Built between 1908-1910, this was the Rowe and Co, Department Store in Rangoon. At the present day, it is the headquarters of AYA Bank. According to some Facebook comments, there’s a British and an Indian ghost who refuse to vacate the premises. I hope this is true – imagine the stories these two ghosts will have for us!
Left side is the British Council. Right side is the post office I believe. I have used the left side ramp at least a thousand times going to the British Council library to borrow books and movies when I was younger. I remember my mum waiting in the car for me while I go into pic the books I wanted.
No idea what this building is. It was not in used when I took the picture.
Another old building which badly needs Yangon Heritage’s restoration and protection. When I was taking pictures of the old buildings while walking around town, this old lady came up to me and grabbed my hand rather viciously and told me I was disgracing my country by taking pics of old and dilapidated buildings. She pointed to some nearby much newer and buildings (which has no history or any aesthetic value) and told me to take pictures of them to show the world that Yangon is an advanced city. I tried to explain to her angry little face that I was proud of these buildings and their architecture and history but she huffed and puffed and walked away and I was left there standing in the middle of the street wondering what more could I have done to sooth the situation.

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