Friday, August 23, 2013

Meanwhile in Yangon...

One March afternoon, I left my fellow travelers with their endless shopping and wandered out of the Bogyoke Market and retraced my steps to the Anglican Church I saw on the way to the market. The gates were locked so I stood under a tree in my longyi and started sketching when I heard a voice say something in Burmese. A street food vendor gestured to a low stool and pushed it towards me with his foot and repeated the Burmese words - so I sat down and I continued sketching while he watched over my shoulder.

After 15  minutes or so, I finished my sketch and showed it to him - he looked at it appraisingly for several moments and nodded his approval. I took a photo of us and showed that to him as well; he offered his hand, I took it and thanked him.

As I stood up and walked back to the market, my longyi began to fail (fall). In between trying to put my sketchbook and pen into my bag and not to draw attention to myself, someone noticed my predicament. A man called out from in between some parked cars, this time in English - "I think you need help, I can help". I stood my ground, unwillingly and unable to move - my longyi had slipped further southwards and I wasn't about to let some stranger man-handle me.  
The man did not share my prejudices about wardrobe adjustment. So I stood there - sketch book in one hand my satchel in the other while he showed me the correct Burmese way of tying a man's longyi, with running commentary in English. "See? - it is tight now, it will not fall down again" and to prove it, he hooked two fingers into the waistline and tugged.
"See?" he repeated. "Yes" I agreed.

So, this is the story of how a stranger taught me to tie the Burmese men's longyi on the middle of Yangon pavement. It reminded me to keep a open mind when traveling overseas - not every local wants to sell you something, sometimes they just want to show us their way of life (if we let them)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My plans for the weekend

WE try and get the architecture students in the office to get something built during their training, some do while others are not so fortunate. I try to create opportunities for them to get their hands dirty with actual construction where possible - Habitat for Humanity was one such avenue for this type of 'work experience'. Another avenue involves designing simple extensions for my friends and then obtaining quotations, coordinating the sub-contractors and then building parts of it.

This recent one is a sun-room for the Pangs; the deck was built by the students over one weekend and they were 'paid' with food and the experience of getting their design built.

A week later, the glazier came and did his bit after which the sun-room is complete

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sketching with Sean

On Friday, Kok Ming invited Sean and I to BC's architectural tour of some of his buildings (truth be told we invited ourselves to the trip) which I will share in a separate post.

Later that evening, Sean and I went and stayed at a hotel in the KL city centre when I discovered that I have booked a single room for the two of us. So, Sean and I split one pillow, the doona, bed-sheet, the bed and a tiny bit of clear floor space for the night and slept surprisingly well. On Saturday, we decided to preview his sketching assignment starting with the Sultan Abdul Samad Building near the Merdeke Square.

After lunch at KL Sentral, Sean took the cab back to his apartment and I got on the express to the airport - ending a very fulfilling weekend with him. 

Several days later, Sean sent his sketches to me and here they are...