Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Lesson in Modesty and Lip Gloss

We've learned many things from our guide, Han, who showed us around Bagan, Myanmar for a few days. He took us through the history of the stupas that dot the Bagan plains and the basics of Buddhism. At first it is difficult to catch all his words as he speaks seriously and enthusiastically about his culture and beliefs. He is only twenty-three but already an accomplished businessman who guides tourists, owns a van and car for taxi service and helps to support his parents. He speaks English and Japanese and teaches children Japanese for free, one or two hours per day, which fulfills some of his obligations to his belief that one must learn and/or teach at least two hours per day. He says that he learned Japanese from an English/Japanese book and that Japanese is easy. I can only, as a true monolinguist, roll my eyes. I'm sure my smattering of French is not worth mentioning.

Meanwhile, on Mount Popa, with monkeys and stray dogs roaming everywhere, we meet children who may also have been versed in the middle way, or modesty and giving back, but who have only one thing on their mind today - lip gloss!

"You are very beautiful Madam. Do you have lip gloss?" It's a chant I hear everywhere and get a grin when I tell them that they too are beautiful. Unfortunately, I did not foresee the demand for lip gloss and instead hand them a pen from my rapidly depleting supply. Fortunately, that is also their second request. "Stiletto Madam, pen?"

C'est la vie


1 comment:

Teresa said...

We should have stocked you up on lip gloss before you went! Who would've thought!