a view into the sordid life i lead

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Yangon ho!

Dec 5, 2005
I don't read omens. Jonii's recent jyotish classes and omen-related education caused me to start paying some attention to events surrounding me. Those that understand these things would have probably had much to say about the minor events that led to my entry into Myanmar.

1. I got quite sick from the pollution in Calcutta - got a horrid cough that i could not kick.
2. When I arrived in kolkata, i went directly to the IA office in the airport to change my return flight from yangon from the 22nd of dec to the 26th of dec. The gentleman at the counter was quite helpful and said to me that there would be "plenty of seats, no problem", which gave me to surmise that I could just as well make the change when i check in to my flight to yangon, or when i get to yangon, on dec 4th. Obviously I am an idiot and did not take into account that everyone in any kind of service position lies incessantly in this country. When i got to the IA counter the following day in Calcutta they said the 26th flight was completely full, apparently of monks from burma heading to gaya. Some very resolute monks to have made the booking at night. Silly of me not to have made the change when i supposedly had the change tho'.
3. When i checked in to Yangon my flight in Cal, i overheard a woman behind me stating to a friend in hindi "oos admi ka inthna kam baggage hai ... unse pooth loon" [that guy has so little baggage ... i'll ask him]. given that i was the only guy in line with only a backpack, i thought to myself "oh fuck! she's going to ask me to help her wiht her overweight baggage". pretty much exactly what happened. I don't recall if I told you i was an idiot, but just in case the point did not settle in well enough, I actually went along with her request, and somehow got nailed with one of her carry ons as well. and not just anything - the thing i despise the most in the world: roller suitcases that fit in the overhead compartments!!! cruel world, why do you hate me so?!! best of all, this woman, meenakshi, does the whole coyness thing that indian women do that causes me to cringe. the show of being helpless makes me want to shake them until their marbles settle in the right sockets and they the dollar signs in their eyes and their tongue hangs out and they shit a bag of gold coins.

anyway, 3 hours, a crappy indian airlines sandwich (2 slices bread with the edges lopped off, a layer of butter and a layer of cheese-wannabe milk product), and a very nice immigration lady at the burma immigration counter later, we wait for baggage. my bag shows up about 2 minutes after i get to the carousel. meenakshi's bags show up after all the other passengers have left. meenakshi's baggage has enough stuff to declare that she spends another 40 minutes at customs. i waited for 20 for her to fill out her forms, but then realized that this was pointless. i waltzed past customs' green channel pretending not to know anything, with 2 of her gigantic suitcases. i was just hoping that i would not get accosted and sent off to mandalay bay prison, where the food is not supposed to be too good. the problem now was still that i needed to get a ride into town, and my guesthouse (the heaven inn) had aparently not sent a car. plus i had meenakshi's baggage. so a painful 20 minutes later she gets past customs, and is greeted by her husband, who's been watching me coz i obviously have luggage that looks like his wife's.

we all get introduced, and meenakshi tells her husband that i really helped her a lot, to which he hands me his card and says 'let me know if you need any help in yangon', and they start taking off. my mind usually takes a long time to react since i need to go through the politeness factors, then put in the will-they-be-inconvenienced variables, and then punch up the card that i need to play. this usually takes about 30 minutes longer than anyone is willing to wait, which leaves me with zingers without a victim. sort of a george costanza and shrimp plate syndrome. but this time, maybe because of my incessant cough, extreme hunger and slight fever, marbles move in the right direction and I say "actually you can help me right now - i need a ride to my hotel and a suggestion for a restaurant with vegetarian food". this caused them to pause for a moment. i don't think they were expecting to have to do anything further with me, but they couldn't very well refuse at this point. i got the ride, prefixed with a lunch of chappati and dal and baingan fry at their house.


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