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Street 21
Street 21
Yangon, Myanmar
By Timothy M. Leonar...
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Entries in street photography (2)

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)

 

Thursday
Nov012018

Mandala Meditation

Be a work of art or wear a work of art.

Art is what everything else isn’t.

Lucky survivors composed tongue bone oracles inside Tibetan meditation thangkas creating a Kalachakra ceremony with rainbow sand particles.

Mandala. Center. Release.

Silk weavers fingered golden threads. Miners harvested Blue Zircon near Ice Girl in Banlung.

Read everything backwards. Backwards everything read. Write right left to the imagination sitting on a Metro subway sandwich in Bursa,Turkey as sensations explored labyrinths without a center. Mystic Arabic dervish dancers spinning on the Wheel of Life rejoiced in ecstasy. Angels danced on a pinhead.

Give female orphans sewing machines and training and they’ll change the world with great job opportunities, low population growth, free medicine, clean water and quality education, said The Dream Sweeper. 

Your needle leads thread, said Kairos. I am a compass without a needle, said Lucky.

The heart-mind gift of writing allowed Zeynep to meditate in the present as a stranger to herself: 

Mindfulness gives me time and time gives me choices. Choices, skillfully made, lead to freedom. I’m not swept away by my feelings. I can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.

I love the crazies, it’s the fools I can’t tolerate.

A Zen writer is an artist, said Z the younger. They love making a big bright, beautiful mess, cleaning it up and making another mess. You are a Lone Wolf blessed with free your quality of life.

The world is a stage and we are but the players. The play’s the thing. A risk taking adventure using asemic language sensing joy and mystery winds down. A poem begins in wisdom and ends in delight. Visionary mystics blossom radiant beauty.

Water-stone. Yin-Yang.
Wear a star on your forehead.
Small powerful stars sing with their light.

Zeynep, a curious star visited a blue marble hurtling through space. What is Earth like? Are inhabitants gentle and compassionate? Do they share calm heart-minds? Do they create archetype wisdom art using multi-colored pigments on cream-colored paper dreaming with their eyes open spilling rainbows in meditative blissful silence?

What is life? Autonomy. Personal growth. Self-acceptance. Purpose. Environmental mastery. Positive relationships. Eudemonia.

The Language Company

Cambodia