Burma, the saddest country

It’s been a sad week or two for the people who want to see Burma become part of the modern world.

First, we had the story that Russia was to build a nuclear reactor in Burma. I suppose as long as there are controls, this is no worse an idea than lots of other places. It may also see the reliability of the electricity supply improve – at least for those in power, on the other hand, if you’re in an outlying town where there aren’t any important people, you probably won’t notice the difference.

Then we heard the unsurprising, but tragic news that the beautiful, regal, patient, Aung San Suu Kyi would have her detention extended another year. A tragedy that the superb, resilient, resourceful people of Burma would still not have a leader they can call their own. Even more amazing, her supporters put their lives on the line to protest in public. These are really brave people, the possibility that they will be imprisoned or even killed is very real. Could you do that?

long hairFinally, a small sad story. These three women are walking along the main street of Nyaung Shwe, near Inle Lake. The town is high enough to get chilly in the mornings – it was about 12°C, enough to have the locals all wrapped up in gloves and beanies, but most charming was the way the women all wore woolen jackets. They also have the most beautiful, glossy long hair… many Burmese women do.

This hair is so beautiful that it is now the target of thieves. People snip the women’s hair without them knowing – in market places or on the street. It makes the thieves a fair bit of money in a country where most people barely scratch out a living. I find this the saddest bit of news, that these beautiful, smiling, open women were targeted by such an invasive and symbolically violent crime.