Essays / Uncategorized

Reclaiming Yangon

Words by: Aeint Myat Chel

At 6 pm on a Wednesday evening, Yangon traffic hums endlessly along Pyay Road, too busy to sympathize with the exhaustion of the working people, but not too lengthy enough for people to forget that at the end of this grueling traffic, there’s a home waiting for them with warm cooked meals, or a favorite Korean TV show to watch with family members… and you. You with a new hair cut, your nails bitten down to tiny squares on your fingers and a pinch of warmth and happiness.

A few months ago, I found myself recently graduated and relocated to the familiar sunny abode of Yangon, a city of excitement, 1.5 dollar SIM cards and 50-cent breakfast. Thousands of miles away from the snowy upstate New York and multiple layers of coats and gloves, Yangon sees 40 degrees sunlight and half-naked men unapologetically walking around downtown. Who needs a shirt when you have a big belly to cover yourself up anyway? And then there’s this parking problem that makes you go in rounds and rounds in Chinatown until you find a spot tiny enough to not get taken by bigger cars yet wide enough for your purple Honda Fit to slip right into.

5 months later, here I am, getting to know Yangon again where old restaurants are getting replaced by up and coming cafes and bars, the excitement of the budding nightlife in Yangon. Burmese people jump on the consumerism wagon like no other, you said, looking at the crowded shopping malls and people lining up to pay for the newly imported goods they just bought. Then you would make slightly racist jokes and watch me laugh in denial. Streets after streets, getting caught by one traffic cop after another, I’m reclaiming Yangon as my city…. my city with you in it.  I who have only craved and enjoyed companionship in the chilly frozen college town, now find myself draped in warm sunlight, contented watching you drive on the left and happy in your company. I want to tell my friends about you. About how you profusely sweat at a tiny hint of spice in your food and how I secretly remember the type of cigarettes you ask for at restaurants.

Disarmingly down-to-earth and physically 2 inches away from me, you are a good thing.

This is a good thing.


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