In Response to “A Cheesy Ode To Myanmar’s Heroes”

Go Myanmar!

just wendy

This was written and sent to me by a young Burmese writer whose cynical reservations kept his enthusiasm for the SEA Games in check until he heard the story of our team. Just goes to show you, sometimes you’re too close to a situation to be able to see your way out. Remember who you are, Myanmar. I am praying other heroes rise up from the ashes of this healing land. You are a beautiful, resilient, heroic people:  the world needs to see you.

This post was a reminder for me that change begins with inspiration. Hope your beautiful nation will be proud of their people, too. Thanks for writing this: A Cheesy Ode To Myanmar’s Heroes, and to thatguyfromburma.wordpress.com, many thanks for reminding me why I write.  The last few days of getting dragged up and down the court by the Philippines and Indonesians has clouded that for…

View original post 21 more words

Advertisements

A Cheesy Ode To Myanmar’s Heroes

Image

Please give me some leeway when I say this. I hated sports. I viewed it as a waste of time. Why throw balls around when you could be dedicating yourself to more intellectual pursuits? I never ‘got’ the football fanatics that always come out of hiding at that time of year (yes, I’m referring to the start of the English Premier League) to rowdily and most boisterously cheer on their favorite teams on TV in many of Yangon’s ubiquitous street-corner teashops. Why are they so riled up, I wonder? Why are they so passionate?

Myanmar is hosting the 27th SEA Games, a quadrennial mini-Olympics attended by the 11 members of the ASEAN, for the first time since 1969. It’s a big deal because we’ve just emerged out of a military dictatorship to a quasi-civilian parliamentary *ahem* democracy, we’ve hosted the World Economic Forum on Asia, we’ve seen civilian action in power against corporate Sino-favoritism and cronyism (a notable victory being the postponement of the Myitsone Dam Project), and much more. Sure, we’ve had bumps on the road and it’s not a perfect democracy but things are slowly getting better (yes, consider me guilty of being a naive idealist). Then they went on to build these gargantuan stadiums, put on extravagant shows in anticipation of the Games, and put up large billboards all over the city saying, “Welcome to the 27th SEA Games”. And it’s got people pumped up and excited.

What do I think? Well, it’s a big waste of money and time. Why not just say that our nation cannot afford the expensive host status and simply rewire revenue towards education, the Peace Process and rural development? Moreover, Myanmar will be acting as Chairman of the ASEAN as of 2014. The administration costs, undoubtedly, will be huge and hosting the 1100 meetings related to the ASEAN will definitely put a strain on our nation’s coffers.

Thrust into a position of leadership as host of the Games and chairman, Myanmar will have to, as any good leader should, consider the interests of other member states apart from its own. The Games are for all; all of the 11 member states. But as it turns out, it is Myanmar — it is us — that needs the SEA Games the most. Emerging from a tumultuous past, although things now are far from perfect, it’s good to see that we’re doing well. It’s good to see our Chinlone team win gold medals (Maybe because it’s a sport we invented in the first place but who cares? It is just cause for celebration!).

At this point, I am quite indifferent to the SEA Games. Who cares? Life goes on amid the festivities. And life will go on after the last game has been played, after the last cheesy pep-rally song is sung, and after the last gold medal has been awarded. But I stumbled upon a post by the assistant coach of our Men’s National Basketball Team ( Here’s the link: http://wendyduke.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/i-have-a-story-to-tell-you/). It is a story of 15 men giving it all they’ve got for their country; a story about the underdog preparing to enter the stage with a bang. Somehow it managed to penetrate my armor of cynicism and ignorant indifference, and managed to ignite something in me; something I haven’t felt much of before. Pride. Pride for my country.

Please don’t be mistaken. I am proud of being Burmese. I appreciate our rich history and unique cultural heritage. It’s just that I haven’t felt proud of Myanmar as a nation (which is justifiable, given our dismal human rights records and our tendency to oppress)

But these 15 men from the National Basketball Team has changed all this for me. I’m proud now. I’m proud of the men and women giving it all they’ve got to bring pride to our country; pride that we desperately need. It’s them, these heroes and heroines, that my ode is dedicated to. It’s them, the unsung heroes, that can bring everyone together — regardless of whether we are ethnic Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Chin, Mon, Bama, Rakhine or Shan — under the same roof so that we can proudly say, in the words of another cheesy pep-rally song, “We are Myanmar!”

That Hot Girl from Math Class, Game of Thrones and Slumber: The Ramblings of a Burmese Teen

Greetings, readers (if you guys really do exist!), I’d like to congratulate myself on my third blog post (third time’s the charm, so am keeping my fingers crossed). But you know what? It doesn’t really matter to me whether some bored soul out there is reading my blog or not.

Why? Because I created this blog on solely selfish grounds; to get release. Yes, I will rant about my bad days, complain about my boring summer, go on and on about that epic song I just heard, write about that cute girl from Math class, my occasionally crazy parents, the on-and-off electricity in Burma and my latest gastronomic adventures. But in the end of the day, when writing about my problems on my middle-of-nowhere blog makes me a feel even a tiny bit better, then it’s served its purpose!

Growing up in Burma’s been one hell of an experience and a bumpy ride too (not like I know about growing up in another country!). Now that I’m getting ready to leave my country for some distant land for college (in about a year or two), I look back to really explore what it means to be Burmese and I try to speculate what the future holds for me as a part of this rapidly-changing nation. But what seventeen-year-old spends his time on this existential crap (other than for writing one heck of a college essay)? I’ve got other things to worry about; like getting out of my summer borefest and really getting out with the guys, trying to mediate the polar opposites being my mom and dad, acne and who George R. R. Martin will kill off in the next season of the Game of Thrones.

As of this point into writing this post, I feel compelled to produce a longer post but truthfully, I’m out of things to say. Today’s been quite disappointing. I feel crappy. I’m temporarily mad at my mom. I’ve been a part of a shocking albeit minor car accident. I’ve reserved a chocolate bar, a piece of banana cake and a Burmese snack made of beans for midnight mid-movie consumption but, knowing myself, they will never survive past the opening credits. I’ve texted a friend to see if he’s free to hang out sometime during the week but has received no reply yet, so this adds to my crappy mood and made me reevaluate my social life and my value as a member of the human race. I will most likely twist and turn with my eyes wide open; unable to fall into the deep slumber I so, so desire. Didn’t I just say that I was out of things to say? I also feel compelled to add a “LOL” to the last sentence but as I desire for my blog to be written in what qualifies as proper English, I shall fight this urge.

(Insert inspiring and memorable closing statement here)

Goodnight,

That Too-Sleepy-To-Finish-The-Post Guy from Burma

Somewhere In Between: Living Life in Limbo

Image

Here’s a quote from one of the biggest summer EDM tracks:

Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat

Damn. I hope life was like that. Except for the constant raving; dehydration and sore legs are not welcoming notions. But yeah, I wish life wasn’t so complicated.

Dear readers, some days are great but some are downright crappy, and there are also the mundane in-between ones. Life proceeds through this cycle of ups and downs, taking us on a ride only to churn our insides and force our meals to once again see the light of day. I know that’s the way it always goes but doesn’t it get tiring, though?

Today, I had a lot of fun playing soccer with some new people I met at this students’ discussion thing. We never intended to play soccer at all. We were there to do one thing and to do it seriously; discuss about hard-hitting topics like politics, economics and whatnot. The soccer thing happened spontaneously during a short break. And boy, it was fun! Kicking a plastic soccer ball around turned out to be the ultimate ice-breaking and bonding experience.

Image

Then, there are the crappy days when you don’t even want to bother talking with anyone. I try my best not to show anger or sadness, but social interaction, during these times, takes a lot more effort. These kind of days just tend to happen randomly but thank god, they don’t last long! A special someone giving you encouragement or just a good song can break you out of the shell of depression but sometimes, it takes a lot more. Damn you, teen hormones. You’ve turned me into one neurotic bastard. I hope you’re happy.

But today, dear readers, I’m riding an endorphin high. I had a pretty much awesome afternoon after the morning discussion. I hung out with this one kid from up north and drove him around the city to see the sights before having a big traditional lunch. I hope the high lasts. I’ve got plans for a Saturday night out. I haven’t gone out since ever! I need this. But then again, I’m a relatively shy person. I’m sure I would find many compelling excuses for my friends as to why I’m not coming along.

“He’s coming along? I don’t know him very well although I’ve seen him at school before. I’m worried I won’t hit it off with him” instead of getting to know the new member of the group.

“I’ve got some reading to do. It’s finally Saturday and I’d like nothing better than to read a good book and relax” instead of just plain telling the guys that I actually plan to play Defense of the Ancients alone all night.

“I have to wake up early tomorrow for a thing” instead of “I don’t want to waste my money on a night out”.

You get the drift.

I’m that kind of person, sometimes. I don’t know why. Sometimes I’m this active, friendly guy and sometimes, I’m that. Again, it’s one of the twists and turns that life takes me on. I still don’t know whether I should go or not. Writing to you, in a way, I’m yet again asking someone else to make the decision for me (I hate you, indecisive self). I may truly have become a neurotic bipolar person.

Dear readers, this is the stuff I get to go through. No, it’s not ‘driving a Lambo and being a spoiled trust-fund brat’ and it’s not as unfortunate as the poverty-stricken of backwards Burma either. It’s the normal in-between stuff that nobody ever makes movies or writes books about. Yes, readers, this is my life. And I have stolen a few minutes of your life with my everyday monotony.

Seriously, leave a comment or two. I love to talk.

Yours Truly,

The In-between Guy

Midlife Crisis At 17: The Tale of a Recent High School Graduate

ImageSeventeen? Yes, seventeen.

Why have a midlife crisis now, when kids your age have iPhones, hipsters and a whole lot of swag (YOLO!)?

The answer is simple. I just graduated high school. Well, that was four months ago. But last night, I found myself thinking in bed (after watching Johnny Depp’s “Rum Diaries”, which is irrelevant to the point I’m going to make but you gotta love the power of the parentheses!). Thinking about what, you ask? Well, I was contemplating in my mind about life, love and all other existential crap you can think of; which tends to happen every damn time you’re trying to sleep.

I wondered, “What have I done, now that four months have passed by since graduation?”

I should be at college, you say? Well, let me tell you something about the really weird education system that’s in place here in Burma. We graduate high school at 10th grade but in order to go to foreign universities (especially in America) which a lot of the private school students (like me; my mom, when I was a wee little boy, had the wisdom to see that the public school system was beyond crappy) do, we have to fill in for the 11th and 12th grades by transferring to other programs offering pre-collegiate courses to bridge the gap. Get it? Let’s move on.

I call those pre-collegiate years the Void. During the Void, many of us lose our way. There are so many choices and so many programs (which usually cost a hefty sum to attend) out there; a wrong choice could cripple your chances to go to a decent college. I’ve seen some of the former graduates floating away into the Void’s nothingness and rotting away; neither here nor there.

I am in my Void years. And I can feel myself rotting away as each day passes by while I idly play Defense of the Ancients and watch The Walking Dead on pirated DVD. My friendships have faded away as a result of neglect. My daily routine is mundane and monotonous. Have you heard about that huge party someone-who’s-a-friend-of-mine is throwing? Me neither. And it’s highly unlikely I will ever find out if not for a little birdy.

As I lay in bed thinking about what I’ve done (or haven’t done) these past few months, I quickly realized that I am in the Void. What pushed me into a full-on all-out Void-piphany was that little birdy who told me about the party. I wasn’t like this four months ago. I had friends. I had a life. I had fun. And all of a sudden, I’ve fallen out of the map. Yes, it hurts my ego. But it’s not about the popularity or friends. It’s about how idle and distant I’ve been. It’s about rotting away after high school, piece by piece.

As I write this post, I realized that whining about my pathetic excuse of a social life on the Internet is not going to help me at all. I gotta sort this out now and I mean now! I know I’m a smart guy. I HAVE to find the root of the problem.

And in that moment, I knew at once, that it was all in my mind. I chose to stay home playing games. I chose to pick The Walking Dead over going to the movies with the guys. I chose to do all the things that I did. It was me all along. I had a choice. I had choices and I made them. And now I know I’ll have to live with them but I also know it’s never too late to call up a friend or continue my education by simply picking up a book, and also finally choosing what program I’ll be attending next. I have to make these choices for myself and I better start making the right ones.

That said, my dear readers, I would like to tell you that I am a bloody fool. We all are. We are, after all, human and we, from time to time, tend to err. I know that now, dear readers. Thank you for helping me reach to this conclusion.

Yours Truly,

The Bloody Fool