Society Notes: Name-Dropping

Today is a big day in Myanmar politics.

Power was transferred democratically to a new president this morning.  As April’s Thingyan New Year festival draws closer, Myanmar begins anew with a new President, a new administration, a new Stock Exchange (which started operating just last week), and a new fiscal year – the one where people actually start paying tax!  Myanmar with new beginnings!

Like Myanmar, I am personally morphing into a new phase, with new opportunities thrown my way.  Would not be so bad to get out of the country for a little bit after being stationed here for four years now although I would definitely miss comforts of home.  Still won’t be so bad to move away from this suffocating Yangon society.

On that note, I think about what people are up to this Thingyan New Year holiday, remembering a tiny, little passage from J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

This is of course in Franny’s voice, who seems as much tired and exhausted with her scene.

…I know when they’re going to be charming, I know when they’re going to start telling you some really nasty gossip about some girl that lives in your dorm, I know when they’re going to ask me what I did over the summer, I know when they’re going to pull up a chair and straddle it backward and start bragging in a terribly, terribly quiet voice – or name-dropping in a terribly quiet, casual voice.  There’s an unwritten law that people in a certain social or financial bracket can name-drop as much as they like just as long as they say something terribly disparaging about the person as soon as they’ve dropped his name – that he’s a bastard or a nymphomaniac or takes dope all the time, or something terrible.

Be honest.  You have been there too.  In Franny’s place.  Here’s another.

Motto for Thingyan

Thingyan is coming right up in a week.

There are all these party stages in my neighborhood, and the permission to build one mandat costs between US$ 15,000 if you have connections to US$ 25,000 if you are anybody. This is Myanmar after all!

I have seen the state of water quality in Inya Lake. So you will not see me anywhere near those parties during Thingyan. Time to hide out somewhere.

Happy New Year!

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