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Friday, August 26, 2016

A Letter To My Grandmother; You Will Never Know What We Have Lost



 (Grandma titled, ‘Will you ever know what you have lost?’ at the Working People’s Daily newspaper in the July of 1975 about the earthquake that destroyed the old pagodas of Pagan.)


My grandma, Khin Myo Chit – writer of Colourful Burma- wrote ‘Will you ever know what you have lost?’ at the Working People’s Daily newspaper in the July of 1975 about the severe earthquake that destroyed many of the old pagodas of Pagan. In the article, she lettered to her grandchildren that she was so unhappy for hearing the news of the earthquake strike at Pagan where she was dreaming of taking her twins-grandchildren to enjoy the historical place of Pagan.

The earthquake so happened at the evening of 6:35 PM on the 7th May of 1975. She always said to me that her great grandfather, great scholar, and archaeologist, taught her to love Pagan. Because of his teaching, and explanation of archaeological discoveries of old Pagan, she could later write a historical novel ‘Anawrahta of Burma’ (King Among Men) – history of the old Pagan King. I read many times the book, and was thinking that one day I would be there and see the remarkable places that my grandma had high-lighted in the book.

But I visited at the first time to Pagan after my grandma passed away. At that time, I listed the names of the historical places, and pagodas that I was planning to go. I believed my grandma saw me from heaven, and would accompany the visit with me.
 (I visited the place where the statue of the royal horse of King Anawrahta (Pagan King) stayed at Shwe Zee Gon Pagoda.) 
 
 (All the souvenirs that I met at Pagan, I still remembered and missed them.)

I learnt from the natives that some remarkable places had been destroyed and lost. They showed me some old pagodas that had been destroyed, and some notable pieces that were lost, and some historical fragments that were no more. Here, I whispered; ‘Grandma…. You will never know what we have lost? Not because of the earthquake of 1975, but because of human destruction.’

Now I heard the news of the earthquake that destroyed many of the old pagodas of Pagan at 5:05PM of 24th August of 2016. I wondered what my grandma would write if she heard the news of the earthquake.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Adventure of My Book Reading - I Am Reading Encyclopedia


A Present from My Grandmother When I was 10

(The old copy of The Modern Encyclopedia for Children.)

The old edition of The Modern Encyclopedia for Children (1966) that our grandmother (Khin Myo Chit – writer of Colourful Burma, etc) gave to her twins grandchildren when they were 10. Her own handwriting on the first page brought me back to the memory of our childhood. The book was a huge book, and it seemed difficult for ten-year-old children. But at that time the twins could read this book by the help of their grandparents, and their parents. They taught us how to read the dictionary of Encyclopedia. Our granny showed the pictures inside of the book, and explained everything what we asked. It was a long time ago. We are only 10 when our granny gave this old edition of The Modern Encyclopedia for Children. We kept this book at our library not only as a memory of my grandmother, but also it still needs for the learner.


(It was a huge book, but very interesting to read.)

(Pictures inside still attract me.)

We also have The New Universal Encyclopedia (1950?) in ten volumes from our grandparents. Although those ten volumes were in the old edition, they were very useful until now. When I grew older, I was hungry for new Updated Encyclopedia series. But my parents could not buy them, because they were too expensive for us.


(The old copy of The New Universal Encyclopedia that I have been learning since my childhood.)


In 1980, we received Practical Knowledge For All in 6 volumes from our grandfather (grandpa from my mother’s side). He gave us his books unwillingly, because he valued them very much, and he also wanted to share other grandchildren. I remembered my father begged him to give us his books. Finally, grandpa decided to give us. At that time, my parents also needed them too, because they were writing articles about Science, History, Geography, etc in some magazines in Burma. They received good ideas from those books. There was thousands of information about Agriculture, Art, Politics, etc with various subjects as Mathematics, Biology, History, etc and also with different languages and so on with colorful pictures, and photos. 
 

(Grandpa’s memory. We still use them with great pleasure.)

In 1988, we had a chance to browse books at The International School situated at Insein Road, Kamayut, Rangoon, Burma. Yearly, they sold not only old books, but also other things at reduced prices to public. There my parents found The Home Library Encyclopedia in Ten Volumes of 1970. But one of the volumes, volume 4 – Masterpieces Of The Arts was missing. We were beggars cannot be choosers. Although we wanted to buy the complete set of it, we had no other choice. We hoped we would find the missing volume at the bookshops one day. But it was not easy to find it until then.




(One volume is missing. But all the rest fulfilled our needs of knowledge for many years.)

Whenever we went to the bookshops, and saw Encyclopedia in 23 or 24 volumes, I wished I would buy and keep at our library one day. We could not buy the Encyclopedia until my mother’s friend sold her complete set of old Encyclopedia Britannica (1976) in 23 volumes at the cheaper price to us in 1999. She was a well-educated person. She wanted to sell her Encyclopedia Britannica to a true booklover. For 23 volumes, we had to pay the price of only one. Imagine! How happy we are at that moment!
 
 (The complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica that we keep as our own.)


Since our childhood, we always heard our grandparents talked of rare edition of Encyclopedias, and of ancient poets and their lives. They valued books, and our parents too invested in books for the library. I always was buying books whatever money I earned from my royalty however our country is in the state of poor in books.

Epilogue

I am thinking about the updated Encyclopedia (2015 or 2016) in complete volumes that I still want to buy and keep at our library. I wish I could do one day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Seasonal Flower in Rainy Season


(Wa-zou-ban flowers in rainy season. Very rare to see Purple colored Wahso in Rangoon.)
Especially flowering in the rainy season, Wa-zou-ban (herbaceous plants) are sold every corner of the market. People love to buy them, and offered at their household shrines. Its color was mixed with white and orange. It looks like a bell, and hung beautifully by its pattern. Bearing purple blossoms was a rare to see in Rangoon, we can call it ‘country Wa-zou-ban’.


(Wa-zou-bans are popular and have best attraction in the market place.)
            Wa-zou-bans are easy to plant in the garden. Its stem can be grown naturally in the soil. We can plant again and again their stems, and it will grow, and increase in the next rainy season, or sometimes it quickly blossoms if it gets water enough.

 (Easy to grow in the garden.)





Thursday, May 12, 2016

No Rain, but Padauk Blooms in Summer

(With my donation, added the Padauks (Gun-kino flowers).)


Rain often comes on April, and it makes Padauk (Gun-kino flowers) buds to bloom for welcoming the water festival. People always hope to see the shower before the Thingyan (water festival). If the rain does not come, people created ‘fake rain’ to the Padauk tree as they climbed to the tree, and watered the buds at the top of the tree. Then buds come to bloom in the next morning.

The 2016 summer was so hot, and the ultraviolet index reached to 11 in all the afternoon in Rangoon. People were very tired in this summer. We saw Padauk buds on the top of the tree, but they would never bloom if no rain. We were sorry to see them to be faded away sooner or later if rain would not come.

On the 1st May of 2016, I went to the Sunlun monastery to donate for my grandma’s 101 birthday. On the road to Sunlun monastery, I saw Padauk flowers at the market place. I was so surprised to see the beautiful yellow flowers, and I suddenly went to the seller how it comes. I knew that there was no rain yesterday. I thought they created ‘fake rain’ for having flowers. The seller said Padauk blooms today, because of the hottest sun. She added that how could they risk their life climbing to the tree and watered the buds under this hottest weather. Yes, quite reasonable! But I did not believe at first, because I thought they did not want to say what they really do. They knew the customers preferred natural blooming. So, I did not argue, and bought the flowers.

When I came home, I planned to go and see my neighbor’s Padauk tree and its buds. I knew that they had no time to water the tree in this weather. Surprisingly, I saw beautiful yellow Padauk flowers bloomed at the top of the tree. I asked my neighbor whether they watered the buds. They said no, and they also were surprised to see those beautiful flowers bloomed in the hot weather. Padauk bloomed again on 11th May in Rangoon at some area. People loved to see them, and our heart fresh and happy because their smells so sweet and alive.

Epilogue

The beautiful Padauks were seasonal flowers and it welcomed Burmese New Year. By our old belief, it never bloomed if no rain. Now it changed. Although the rain did not come, it could bloom if the sun was too hot.






Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Burmese New Year Passing with No Padauk




Burmese New Year Passing with No Padauk


(Padauk buds were hoping to meet the shower of the rain.)

This year 2016, 13th April was the welcoming day of the water festival, and after 4 days of watering, 17th April was the Burmese New Year. I arranged flowers and leaves for the day of the Thingyan (water) festival, to welcoming Thargarmin (King of the celestials) at the Atar Pot (Thingyan Pot).


(A seller sold flowers and leaves of welcoming Burmese New Year.)

I set in front of the house at the suitable place to welcom Thargarmin.



(I put the pot in front my house.)

Although the Padauk (Gun-kino flowers) (yellow flowers especially bloom on Thingyan month, welcoming Burmese New Year) did not bloom this year, their buds were seen hoping to meet the rain. The sun was too hot to go outside, but people enjoyed water festival at every roads, and streets. However the warning of ultraviolet rays, and its UV index was too high for Rangoon people, water festival went on successfully.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Three Generations of Monkhood

Three Generations of Monkhood

 (Three photos as above - Grandpa, middle - my father, and below - my twin brother, three generations of monkhood.)

(The above photo from my grandmother's old album.)

Novitiation is of vital importance in a Buddhist family. My grandpa, U Khin Maung Latt who was born in 1915, was novitaited at the age of 8 in 1923. Grandma, Khin Myo Chit showed me the photo of grandpa’s novitiation, proudly said that how important the Buddhist way in a Buddhist family.

Grandma showed me the next photo of her nine-year-old son (my father) who was going to receive the heritage the Buddha had given to his own son to thousand five hundred years ago. My grandparents were giving their son up into the holy order of the Yellow Robe.

No man’s life is considered fulfilled unless he is novitiated as my grandma always mentioned in her writing, my twin brother was novitiated when he came to 9 years old at the Sunlun Meditation Monastery under the guidance of Sunlun Sayadaw U Vinaya. His head was shaved and wore yellow robe carried his black alms bowl and kept Sabbath.

During their monkhood, a week or 2 weeks, spent their days in meditation and the study of the Buddhist scriptures. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kankaw Story



I fell in love with Kankaw (Mesua Ferra) flowers when I saw them at the Sunlun Meditation monastery. They bloomed beautifully. There were three Thai Kankaw trees planted near Sunlun Sayadaw U Vinaya’s residence. Whenever we visited Sayadaw’s place, I looked them with envy and respect. I wished I had the same kind of tree in my garden one day. 


(At the side of Sunlun Sayadaw’s residence, beautiful flowers bloomed.)

Luckily I found Thai kankaw trees only 2 feet tall, selling at the market, and there were 6 or 7 buds included. I wanted to plant it in my garden, and it might be one of the memories of Sunlun Sayadaw. I bought one, and planted it near our household shrine. After a month, those buds bloomed very pretty as the seller told. It was in the summer of 2014.


(I planted it in the vase, and 6 or 7 buds included (left), and they bloomed in 3 weeks (right).)

The Thai Kankaw tree I planted in my garden became growing stronger and healthier. I hoped to see Kankaw flowers when the next summer came. But it did not bloom. However Thai Kankaws supposed to be bloomed in every season, they preferred hot weather. If I were lucky, it would bloom again in the winter that year, after the rainy season. But no buds were coming. I had to wait next summer.

Three months before this summer, I saw many buds were coming at the tree. I was happy indeed. I believed Kankaw flowers bloomed at the Sunlun Monastery too.

(Kankaw flowers, and their buds were full in the tree.)

        


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Rich in Birthdays in Burmese Way



          I was born in the 14th March, so the 14th March was my birthday. It meant that the other 364 days (365 on leap year) were unbirthdays to me as John Tenniel’s line.

Moreover as Shwey Yoe says in his book ‘The Burman: His Life and Notions’, ‘A Burman’s birthday occurs once a week.’ The day means the day of the week on which he was born. I was a Thursday-born, so every Thursday are my birthdays. (Here I have twin brother – just 5 minutes older than me, so our birthday occurs once a week.) 

(Happy birthday to us on 14th March the same date that the great scientist Albert Einstein was born.)
To celebrate the birthday once a week, of course, essential to know the day of the week on which one was born.

Furthermore by the Burmese calendar, we were born in the day after the full moon day of Tahboung (March). But the 14th March, and the day after the full moon day of Tahbaung - could not occur on the same day in every year at the calendar. If the 14th March, and the Thursday, and the day after the full moon day of Tahbaung occur on the same day at the calendar, that year would be the remarkable coincidence to us.

By the picture below, you will see the copy of the month of March of 2016. I circled the 14th March as our birthday (yellow crayon). The full moon day of Tahbaung was 23rd March (red crayon), so the day after the full moon day was 24th (blue crayon). Then 24th was our Burmese birthday again. 

(A copy of the month of March of 2016.)


(Fortunately, the day after the full moon day of Tahbaung, and the Thursday are on the same day!)

So, my reader will see how rich in birthday the Burman are! How lucky we are born in Burma! For you, my non-Burmese friends, think about your birthday, and what-day-born, and calculate the number of unbirthdays/ birthdays of yours in a year.