Today is Gav’s birthday. When we decided to take these jobs in Myanmar, one thing that he was excited about was the near-assurance of good weather on his birthday.November 3rd in London is almost guaranteed to be a bit miserable-most of the time the UK has just had a brief spurt of nice autumnal weather and then November 3 rolls around and it’s cold and driving rain. Gav dreamed of birthdays on the beach. We did not quite realise that the nearest beach is like 6 hours drive away, so not sure that dream is ever going to come to fruition, but in any case he is guaranteed sun and (a lot of) warmth on his big day. He is actually just home from a conference in Malaysia, but that is better than last year when he spent his whole birthday weekend photographing a volleyball tournament.
Last week at school we celebrated Halloween. I love Halloween in countries that do not traditionally celebrate it-lots of homemade costumes and creativity when you can’t just go to the store and buy something (or order off Amazon). Two of my favourites were the 4th grade boy who came as Greta Thunberg and one of our teachers who came as our Head of Security Zar Li. Zar Li is a former Mr. Paraguay and a very big gym enthusiast as well as a lover of fancy uniforms. All of our security guards have law-enforcement-type badges, belts for walkie-talkies, some fancy braided decorations and it’s possible there are some medals handed out for extreme cases of valour (like carrying a senior boy with a broken leg up 6 flights of stairs when the lift isn’t working). The teacher nailed the outfit perfectly and it went down very well. One of our good friends, the art teacher, went absolutely over the top with a homemade version of Keith Haring’s Icon 3. Icon 4 was his assistant’s costume. I will ask him if it’s okay to share the photos with you, they are amazing. He definitely won the (non-existent) costume contest.
I had to spend Halloween evening helping out with an event at school. Since it’s nearly impossible to go trick or treating around Yangon, the elementary school organises a party for the kids to come in costume. Someone once got the bright idea that a good way to keep kids busy for a while is to have people reading Halloween stories in classrooms. Guess who is in charge of that aspect of the evening? I hate organising things like this because I can never just get everyone signed up and give them books and relax. Nope, I have to be tense the entire time, running back and forth to make sure everyone is ok and of course it is 30 degrees even though it is dark and I am sweating like a mad woman. By the time the reading section was finished, I had sweat through my t-shirt and was in dire need of a glass of wine. I did stop to take the photo above when I noticed the sunset. Notice all the kids on the playing field-they are supposed to be in classrooms but I was tired of bossing everyone around so pretend they are not there. Eventually I made it home to that glass of wine, but I didn’t get even one fun-sized piece of candy this year! What a rip-off.
We actually had two pumpkins in our refrigerator this year on Halloween. They aren’t the carving kind, too small, but they came in our organic veg delivery. Every week we get a bag full of vegetables, fruit and eggs from a farm just outside the city. It’s a nice way to support some local business people and also to eat some food that is not flown in from China or Switzerland. Weirdly, at the big supermarket it is next to impossible to get local produce. There is no need to fly lettuce over from China, so I have no idea why they don’t just sell more local food. Lots of times I get stuff in the bag and have no idea what it is, but luckily there is a facebook group that explains exactly what’s in the bag and sometimes tells you how to cook it. Lately we have been getting lots of this Dragonfruit.
It’s so pretty! When you cut it open, it’s even more beautiful. There is also a version that is white inside. Too bad this gorgeous fruit tastes of absolutely nothing. There are little seeds in it, so the experience of eating this is like having a completely tasteless Kiwi. So disappointing. One thing we do not get in our bag is Durian. Durian is famous all over South East Asia for being a very Marmite-like experience. You either love it or hate it. The problem with Durian is that is smells like a combo of rotting meat and a teenage boy’s sweaty sock even before you cut it open. And of course most of the year it is in season, which means that the supermarket smells disgusting nearly all of the year. I don’t understand why they even carry it as their target customers are definitely expats and there is no way any of them are touching that stuff with a 10 foot pole. But, someone must be buying it if it’s in stock I guess.
The offending fruit and a common sign around here-most hotels and airlines ban people from having Durian on their premises-why can’t my supermarket jump on board?
I’m going to go help Gav celebrate his birthday now. Which means I will go pour him a beer. I already found bacon for his breakfast and I made him chocolate chip cookies! What more could a man ask for?