Myanmar Memories at TEDxInyaLake

On my birthday, I received a note from a former supervisor and a mentor, in a Tyra-Bank style email as follows.  She had then just gotten the organizer license for TEDxInyaLake.

Your mission May, should you choose to accept it, is to be the Communications, editorial and marketing director of the inaugural TEDxInyaLake event.  In this mission, you lead the creation of a strong online presence of the event, including website content, a blog and social media, and promote the event to the public.

Your additional mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be a Curator as part of the curation team to set topics, select, invite and prepare speakers.

This email will self-destruct in five seconds.

Good luck, May.

A year later, here were are, with TEDxInyaLake videos, just edited and released over the weekend.

Continue reading

Travel Perspectives – Bagan, Myanmar

Nietzsche said that there are no facts, only interpretations.

That is the sentiment Bagan reminds me of.  Visits to the ancient ruins of Bagan year after year make me realize how I have palpably changed.

Bagan is heralded as the epitome of the Burman national superiority in Myanmar.  The military draws its inspiration from Bagan heroes, proudly placing their statues as a backdrop in official ceremonies.  When I was a young kid, I was told that there was nothing quite like Bagan anywhere else in the world.  I was told that Angkor Wat was great, but it was just one temple.  Bagan is all other civilizations combined and on steroids.

Then we travel to places and read books outside of classrooms only to find out that my childhood teachings have been a lie. Continue reading

The Wall

Whenever I am outside of Myanmar, I take advantage of much faster Internet speed and gorge on one thing – Ted Talk videos.  They make the best accompany when I go about getting ready for bed in my otherwise hauntingly quiet hotel room after a long day of meetings.  Ted Talk is a great alternative choice when I do not want to hear about planes getting shot down or the spreading of Ebola on BBC News.  Call it a tool for productive apathy.

The Talk Talk that popped up this time around was by Parul Sehgal and her examination of envy in literature and social media:

“Jealousy is exhausting. It is a hungry emotion. It must be fed. And what does jealousy like? Jealousy likes information. Jealousy likes details. Jealousy likes the vast quantities of shiny hair, the cute little pencil case. Jealousy likes photos. That is why Instagram is such a hit…We live in envious times. We live in jealous times.”

– Parul Sehgal, editor at New York Times Book Review, An Ode to Envy Ted Talk

As a recent owner of an Instagram account, I am obviously very late to the Instagram game for my generation.  Because my job expects me to be just a touch keenly aware of the pulse of the popular culture, I have to have a social media presence, even though I initially find the idea of Instagram particularly perverse. 

We all know life does not look like perfectly touched up Instagram photos.  The social platform itself is designed for neither deeper communications nor expressions.  Instagram is not exactly about shared meanings, but it is about brand promotions, more so than other social media platforms.  The Instagram feed feels like seeing someone on the street without saying hi.  It does not allow for an explanation.

Because there is a thin layer between admiration and envy, I feel I have to tread Instagram waters very slowly, taking baby steps.  This blog post is basically a long-ass cry for help in how to use IG. 

In her Ted Talk, Parul Sehgal concludes that jealousy is a problem with geometry, not emotion.  A matter of where we allow ourselves to stand. We do not need to be resentful of others’ excellence. We can align ourselves.  What a lovely idea that makes you pause to think.

Jealousy is my most disliked emotion.  I do not like feeling jealous of others.  I do not want to be an object of envy myself.  I do not want a jealous partner, nor do I want to become one. It is a subtle form of manipulation when a romantic partner tries to get someone riled up and makes him/her jealous.  Jealousy makes workplaces unproductive.  It is stressful and drives people away.  It is like you are on the other side of a thousand layers of glass walls and there is nothing you could do to make better of the situation.

Paro, Bhutan
A wall at Kyichu Lhakhang, Paro, Bhutan
IMG_6421.PNG
Walls TS1 Construction
Downtown Yangon
More walls in downtown Yangon

Thought this song aptly captures the sentiment of this post:

The Wall by Yuck

Trying to make it through the wall
You can see me if you are tall
Looking over…

And I know that I am in space
And I know that it’s not real
It’s just the way I feel
Looking over…