An element of comedy is often the unexpected.
Just now, I was trying to open the refrigerator door. It was resisting, so I gave one… two… three pulls. And, off comes the entire handle. The approximately 1.5 meter tall door handle felt unexpectedly light in my hand. Well, that’s different, I said to myself.
Life is Myanmar is best conducted under the rule of Zero Expectations. However, 2018 has still managed to surprise me.
About ten days ago, at approximately 1am, I had my first encounter with seismic activity. Five earthquakes hit Bago, and were felt up to 100 miles away. The first earthquake was a 6 on the Richter scale, the following were 5 each. I was awake– sitting askew on a floor cushion when I felt a strange energy move my body. (Now, I understand why a certain little Thai man said he thought ghosts were “playing” with him, during one of the last earthquakes.) I quickly realized that it was the whole room that was moving. Anything suspended was swaying back and forth. As we live on the 15th floor, I imagine that we get a little more sway up here.
Approximately 6 hours later, the sound of crows woke me. Hundreds of house crows* were swooping directly, and somewhat specifically, in front of our apartment unit. Our windows are thin, so anything like tropical heat, the sound of howling street dogs, or the squawking of crows easily slips through.
(*My amateur identification.)
Earthquakes. Poetic omens of death. Wonderful.
The day that followed the 6 hours of strangeness was occupied with miscellaneous Myanmar people filling our home. Some expected, some not.
The doorbell rings, and who knows who is there- or why. Three workers come in. One leaves. Two sit in our bedroom for some 10 or 15 minutes. One returns with a ladder. The best I could do was work at my laptop, and watch the newly cleaned floors acquire comically dirty footprints.
I’ve considered making workers put on hotel slippers when they come inside… But, that’s probably taking it too far.
For now, with the refriderator handle loosely in place, the sound of construction is our only visitor. Which at least, is expected.
Let’s paint a picture.
I’m sitting on the floor, working from our coffee table. There are tiny Myanmar men in our storage room inside our apartment. What they’re doing exactly, I have no clue. I can hear tape being pulled and the rattling from their ladder. The ceiling is falling down because the air con is leaking. At least in that room, when I hear creaking and cracking, I know it’s not ghosts- just the ceiling literally falling apart. (It's widely accepted that Myanmar is full of ghosts.)
The city view from our balcony is slowly disappearing, as the monsoon season drags itself over our building. A message dings to tell me my delivery is on its way, “But they have traffice jam.”
This is Myanmar.
We live in Yangon, Myanmar. Sometimes I say that aloud, and it makes me laugh. We actually live here! It’s bananas.
According to our landlord, we were the fourth set of people to move into our building. That which is new is definitely not without problems here. It more signifies being a guinea pig. As the apartment units are individually owned, workers arrive as the units are rented out. Sometimes the noises I hear, from above and around us, genuinely sound like the pyramids are being built. That, or someone is playing marbles. Unidentifiable noises are a constant companion.
Note: David mentioned to me that our home is the most peaceful place in Yangon.
Since we have moved to Myanmar, I have grown extremely comfortable with having multiple strangers running-around inside our home. On our officially moving day, I counted 16. However, they are nearly always adorable, tiny people. Sometimes they are very stinky, and I follow them around with incense. Because I’m especially foreign, I figure they have no idea what I’d normally be doing.
Three additional people have walked through the front door, followed by the tropical humidity. The door was open for possibly two minutes, and the tile feels tacky.
Oh, I do have other things to paint today.