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Street 21
Street 21
Yangon, Myanmar
By Timothy M. Leonar...
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Entries in story (3)

Friday
Nov162018

Dr. Scary & Mrs. Marbles

Tell me a storybook about Burma. Your first time was in 2013. How long were you there?

All fucking day.

No. Really is an adverb.

Five weeks. I was the first teacher in and the first one out. They bled teachers after I left.

Why did you go?

To grow. To experience a Montessori learning environment at an expensive private school in Mandalay. See how things worked. On the ground. Wander around. Scribble words. Make images. Meet kind, curious, smiling people.

(Alarm bells clang)

A private school sounds dangerous. I spell uh I smell money. Cash for kids.

Education is a busine$$. Profit before people.

Didn't you learn this lesson in 2008 for a year at St. Laurensia near Jakarta when you helped 4th graders develop social and moral character with humor and curiosity?

Private school, parents rule fool.

Yes, however I needed to see Burma for myself, analyze the management and system. Connect with smiling people. Learn, laugh, grow, glow and flow with the go.

Trust and verify. That's what I say.

And you say it with clear pronunciation.

Make it new day by day make it new.

The school had 700 kids from Montessori (3-6 years young) through grade 9.

That's big money. It's a numbers game.

Yes it is. Don't ask me how much. Big.

Bigger than the infinite sky?

Almost. The financial bean counters wore out abacuses. Click-click. They'll raise tuition next year. The Burmese Managing Director lived happily ever after.

I love fairy tales and fragments. It’s all I trust.

He hired Dr. Scary Snobson as principal two years ago to open the facility. He had a Ph.D in Reports and Updates. He loved organization, management, forms, protocol, procedures, paper and administrative drone head duties.

He recruited former Peace Corpse teachers to get foreign faces and mouths in front of spoiled rich kids and parents. Marketing 101. He practiced Hathaway yoga and invested his princely salary in offshore rice paddy accounts near Burmese refugee camps bordering Thailand and Bangladesh. He was thrilling and running scared.

Did he run for fun?

He ran in the tropical sun for sums. Kids in = count cash. Numbers numbed wealthy Burmese wallets. Pay here. Drop kid at classroom ABC. Minders/babysitters/Burmese educators in training will take care of them until you pick them up at 3. If you're late we sell them to China. A boy is worth $3500 in a one-child Orwellian culture.

I have two boys, said a Burmese parent. Do I get a discount?

It depends on their passing a physical with Nurse Dull, said Dr. Scary. Let me ask my passive Xaimen wife. She's very proud of her green card. She talks like her mouth's full of marbles. She believes in acquiescence.

You mean the sad-eyed, lights on-no one home, space cadet reactive one wearing the cheap floppy Chinese hat, Gloria Swanson sunglasses and magic slippers inherited from her grandmother outside the gate-less gate standing lost and forlorn Monday-Friday mornings as horrendous traffic spewed noxious hydrocarbons into faces of emotionally deprived children and struggling nanny slaves dragging children’s suitcases of books and carrying cheap bright plastic baskets of food while parents, wearing diamond and imperial green jade jewelry necklaces yakked on imported cell phones walking their kids to classrooms in the tall gleaming metropolis of a school?

Yes. Her marble mouth machine droned her official mandatory sequence.  Park here. Drop off here. Parents ignored her.

That's her. She's his baby. Her attention span was shorter than an apology to Burmese parents of neglected children about the hidden cost of grandiose theoretical classless plans. Read the fine print. You paid suckers.

Sounds like the blind leading the blind. Where did they meet, these educational super heroes?

They mated at the Day Grow Country School in Manila. She was head babysitter. He ran a doctoral marathon between Tainan and Rota.

What does she do in this improbable profitable scheme?

Yeah-Yeah is the bureaucratic stone face of the Macaroni Monti Sorry Money Story program.

She hired thirty female Myanmar university graduates for the Monti Sorry program. They signed a five-year - no option out contract - same as teachers were required in China. She and the good Doctor sold the Burmese Managing Director great expectations of wealth. The school paid a discounted rate of $3,500 for each teacher's training and certification program. Sublime slavery. Yeah-Yeah took her cut.

Is she a certified Monti Sorry trainer?

No. She learned the methodology in Havana ten years ago. She's not certified for anything. She’s a little fish out of water.

For three months the local teachers have been training from scratch. Yeah-Yeah goes through the motions. School started on May 20th. Now it's on the job training, learning and laughing plus six tedious hours on Saturday. They watch videos featuring an OCD state side teacher, create materials and practice lessons. They "graduate" next year after being certified by a real Monti Sorry woman in the states of confusion.

Smells like a shell game.

Teachers make $200 a month. The average Burmese makes $804 a year. A SIM card costs $300. One percent of the population has Internet. 26% are unemployed. 16% do not have electricity. If local teachers are late thumbing a fingerprint after 8 a.m. at the admin office the school charges them 25 cents. Live and learn fear school.

She and Dr. Scary run and mismanage (if intimidation, fear and stupidity is management) the Great Educational Scam Machine. She reminded me of Chinese teachers in Fujian schools screaming, Just blend in. I only want you to bring two things to class. Your ears! 

Welcome to my nightmare, said Yeah-Yeah.

She invested her princess sums in offshore rice paddy accounts near Burmese refugee camps bothering Thailand.

Why did you leave?

I'd witnessed enough of the dystopian Kafkaesque-like suffering. The teachers' apartments resembled prison cells. I've more useful things to do with my time, energy, love and compassion.

Give me a urine sample.

Yeah-Yeah in her infinite wisdom minus kindness and compassion expected me to write a lesson plan for the Kindergarten experience in the library.

You're joking.

It was Friday, June 8th, 2013 at 1:17 p.m.

I'd taken the geniuses to the bibliotheca for thirty minutes. They found books, sat reading, looking at pictures and sharing with friends. She wandered in and sat down.

I see you brought the kids to the library.

You are very observant.

Where's your lesson plan for the library?

You're kidding.

At 3:10 p.m. I gave seven-days notice to Dr. Scary. Here's my lesson plan. Probation is a 2-way street.

Good for you.

Yes. Life is too short for this nonsense. I shredded the truth with kids. I helped you. We helped each other grow. We walked slowly. We danced. We sang. We discovered sharing. We meditated. We had fun. Now it's time to ride my elephant through jungles back to Cambodia.

I left a sewing machine and umbrella on an operating table in the teachers' cellblock. I departed Burma without delay. It was a close shave.

That's another story about creativity, independent thinking and free choice.

Yes it is.

Weaving A Life (V1)

 

Monday
Nov122018

Source Material

Way back when I smiled to the Irish women on a Donegal provincial bus.

I was heading for Tra-na-Rossen, an isolated northern youth hostel to work as the warden in dead winter.

I use yellow legal paper called Evidence. It’s perfect for this kind of adventure.

It collects source material, because we, the royal I, remain open. We acknowledge we are from the source, in a sense, beyond sense data, we are a fundamental vibration, each of us possesses the innate capability to create and embrace Metta the loving kindness permeating through meridians, we tap into the source, we transmute through fields of energy, resolving, flowing from the source, the infinite vibrations of love. 

Many writers prefer using these yellow papers to capture their stories, characters, intention and motivation from scene to scene. It flows.

I write with a cloud pen nib on mirrors. Creating amnesia. The clouds should know me by now. It’s a strange mixture of life and death, so it is. 

I was on fire. I showed them a notebook. Yes, it’s tight, flat, hard rough paper parchment, badly stitched and while it is useful and shaking in laughter it is not quite as free as this evidence. Two more Moleskine are filled. One sits empty and blank. I am empty and blank.

The women stared in amazed silence. Asleep with eyes wide open. Stoned dolmens. 

*

In Vietnam Tran hobbles into the ancient citadel in Hue. Children tune violins, cellos, flutes and recorders in bomb craters and shadows of demolished brick walls. Humid sunlight filters through banana leaves. He relaxes against a crumbling wall hearing his melancholy music language. 

Storytellers re-calibrated their true compass bearing on a dirt road in a third world country thumbing open a useful ragged egalitarian existential foreign dictionary.

It spilled myths
creation stories
symbols
forms
sensations
perceptions
images
ideographs
pictographs
virus inoculations
musical interludes
sonatas
vibratos
journey notes
bleeding tomatoes
broken hearts
haiku
khata scarves
poetry and type-A negative blood donor manifests.

A Century is Nothing

Hue, Vietnam

Wednesday
Nov072018

Blue Eyed Ghost

Shuangliu, south of Chengdu, Sichuan.

Yes my dear friend it is true or at least as real as can be. He returned to the beginning where his small tale begins. 

Rickshaw bells and heavy groaning green and purple pedicabs propelled by thick-legged men prowl through humid air. No one sees him. Everyone stares at the ghost. They are oblivious to his existence.

He walks along a broken cracked sidewalk past hammering men building a six-story high extension at the high school. Cement mixers, bamboo scaffolding, emaciated men haul crumbling red bricks. Dancing immigrants sing in the rain. The developer drives a shiny black Benz.

Streets are congested with yellow bulldozers, lorries loaded with dirt and salvaged steel pig iron, City Boat blaring bus horns, small red cabs and tired students trudging to cold cramped cement caverns where teachers arrive late and leave early after smashing wooden sticks on desks to get their attention threatening them with Re-Education through Labor gulag camps in the Gobi. 

Men pedal carts overflowing with large blue plastic barrels of leftover restaurant slop for village pigs and children splash water. It is all play on the streets of dreams.

Weathered women in dirty white aprons chop vegetables with sharp cleavers on scarred wood. Girls mop cement passageways from dawn to dusk.

Dutiful daughters sweep floors or stare at deaf dumb blind televisions stacked on bags of rice, boxes of detergent, dreaming on hairline fractured straw mattress bedding.

This is the entertainment capital of the world.                   

Retired pensioners slap white marble mahjong pieces into tight manicured rows of strategies as orange vested street cleaning women whisking ornate hard handled bamboo brushes paint the city’s rising dust as a ghost dances by, an apparition in their wide eyed wonder.

He speaks the language of silence and this comforts them.

He articulates passion and suffering because like you he is a witness, a mirror reflecting reality in humanity’s garden - another incarnation where he trusted you to be compassionate.

Meaning of meaning was obscured by cloudy anger, fear, desire, ignorance and attachment as you waved him away.

You cast him into deep water where he replenished his spirit. Solitude is a blessing.

His meditation on motivation and intention was clear as he passed through.

Weaving A Life (V1)

China