Very often, I have seen Myanmar. Mostly from the hills near the Indo- Myanmar border. But never have I crossed the border and set my feet on. The name Myanmar itself is mysterious. The country has lots of connection with the history of our fore-fathers. Our language is grouped under the Tibeto-Burman family. Our speculations about Myanmar on the other hand, has been influenced by media reports, which are hardly the brighter side. Nothing was clear until I set my foot upon it.
Myanmar, the land of the golden pagoda, has undergone several transformation. The moment I set my foot on Yangon, I can feel that those speculations were negative.
A volunteer named Silas and Eleazar received me at the airport. At first, I thought Eleazar was a cab driver, his dress code was so similar to that of the cab drivers at the airport. He was wearing a ‘Longyi‘ and a panah. Moreover, he doesn’t mention that he’s a pastor.
A panah, or a slipper in English, like all other South Asian countries is the most prevalent foot wears here in Yangon. And for a guy like me who often think that the invention of a panah, or a silipar or vawthlep in Mizo, is one of the greatest invention, it makes me feel at home…hehe…
The best thing about a panah is its ergonomy. It is easy to wear, easy to take off, easy to dry and easy to clean.
As you stand by the roadside, you can hear the sound of flip-flop there, a flip-flop here. The faster they walk, the pitch of the flip-flop increase.
Adjacent to the Minyekyawswar Street, there’s a narrow, yet busy street. Its dynamism is beyond words. They were so much engaged that a gentleman with a panah on his feet, wearing a sleeveless shirt and a short, with a zenfone3m on his hands, clicking random pictures also seems to remain unnoticed.
The best thing about Yangon is the street food. For a guy like me, who loves a street food and a panah, it is Canaan.
Had they known that a panah express is passing through, these meat monger at the junction of narrow street bazaar would have pose themselves more proper.
For a cycle-rickshaw driver, a panah is a must. There’s no other foot wear which has a better ergonomic!
It’s my first time to see a cycle-rickshaw with a pillion rider on its side! Reminds me of a WW II Nazi bike with a side car.
For a butcher, a panah is more feasible than other foot wear, and so is, for the lady. The Longyi worn by the lady looks like a Mizo puanzeh, and of course it is complimented by her panah.
What I have noticed during my short stay here is their love for flowers. I don’t know to which varieties do those flowers belong, but of course, they belonged to Asteraceae family (of course all the lovely flowers belong there :D). Working in the flower garden is so much a comfort with a pair of panah on the feet.
These two ladies were in deep conversation, may be about the panah that I wear. But my flip-flop sound didn’t distract them, either.
While all the others were busy with their chores, a young man who seek for inner peace was confessing to the bante. Had it been a pagoda or a gompa, they would have removed their panah.
As I detour towards my hotel, may be the flip-flop was audible. I was spotted! And it makes me realise that my panah doesn’t support a silent mode!
Since it was raining, the fear of my sneaker getting wet was making me in a dilemma, “What if i stay in my room and starve…” Then comes the thought of wearing a black panah which the hotel provided us. It fits me broad feet. The flip-flop sound slightly differs with my own panah. The cushion and the grip are however much much better, pity my old cushion-less panah.
A quick re-visit in the evening amidst the rain offered me another sneak peek. This lovely little girl was playing in the puddle. She was wearing a plastic bag on her head, may be to avoid getting wet. But on her tiny feet was a pair of tiny panah, that resist water!
Blending yourself into the scene is very effective while performing a street photography. Sometimes, carrying a big camera (DSLR etc) is often distracting to the subject, which often left us unable to make pictures as desired. Cellphone camera have lots of limitations, but sometimes, people are less distracted and it gives more chance of getting an emotional pictures. Being a photographer doesn’t mean that you have to dress and equipped yourself with apparels specially designed for a photographer. Blending into the scene by dressing like the locals is often effective. When the story is more important than the picture quality, cellphone camera is the best option.
[All images are shot with Asus Zenfone3Max]