Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


Those of us who have traveled to and fallen in love with Myanmar and its people are overjoyed at what seems to be the beginning of a new era in its troubled history. With the release from house arrest of Nobel Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and her election to Parliament on the National League for Democracy ticket this year—the first free election since the military junta took over 50 years ago—there is reason for hope. When I was there for a month in 2007 I traveled throughout the country, very much off the beaten track! I was met with open arms and smiling faces. How could these people be so happy when faced with daily deprivation and tyranny, I asked. There they were…working together, laughing together, worshipping together at their temples. One elderly man with a long white beard looked me in the eye and answered my question. “We have struggled for years and we know it will take a long time to regain our freedom. But we are living in the present and we can either choose to be miserable or we can choose to be happy. We choose to be happy.”

Let me share another portion of my slide show, entitled Countries in Crisis: Myanmar, Tibet, and Ladakh. This week I will concentrate on Myanmar.

Feeding the monks outside the Motherland Inn (2)

                                        Yangon street scenes:

Family travel

Street vendor

Many open air markets

Repairing pavement

On-site muffler repair

Being watched during work

All in a day’s work

For your protection?

                                 Scenes from Shwedagon Pagoda:

A little whimsy at the elaborate entrance to the temple

Women volunteers for clean up on their birth date….

Men volunteers putting fresh flowers on the altars

Proud Papa

Proud Papa

Proud Mama (white cream is sunscreen)

Beguiling children

That’s one large bell!

Historic ceiling decoration

Open air praying

Many small alcoves with gold statues that light up at night

The temple is made up of many sections….

Pagoda at sunset

Relaxing outside the temple

Next week I’ll post more slides of Myanmar showing my trek from Kalaw to Nyaungshwe, the Golden Rock, Bagan, and exploration around Mandalay.

For those of you eager to hear more about Broadway, I ‘ve seen some wonderful shows since I last reported in March, beginning with a repeat of the Million Dollar Quartet and the unbelievable new musical, Once. Others include The Lyons with the inimitable Linda Lavin; Leap of Faith with an impressive Raul  Esparza; a neat local production from the What Exit Theater Project of Christopher Durang’s comedy, Miss Witherspoon, with a electric performance by Bev Sheehan; a disappointing comedy, Don’t Dress for Dinner, and an amazing performance by John Lithgow in The Columnist.

I also was privileged to see the new production of Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera, and the most superb rendition of Verdi’s LaTraviata I’ve ever heard, with Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

The final concert of the Plainfield Symphony featured a program of Gustav Mahler’s songs with Lisa Daltirus and Mark Walters, ending with his Symphony #4.

One last note. I went to Philadelphia last Sunday with Phyllis Bitow, who played percussion for the world premier of a composition by Andrea Clearfield using Tibetan folk music, chants, and instruments. This was done in conjunction with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. There were also dances by Tibetans who live in the area. It was marvelous and brought back so many memories of my time in Tibet. The program concluded with the singing of the Faure Requiem.





1 Comment

  1. peter beach

    As always you have surpassed yourself. These supurb and touching pictures of the people of Mayanmar, who, despite thier hardships and oppression, still smile bravely and welcome one with open arms. The depiction of their daily lives , gives us an experience that many of us will never have yet can vicariously, through you. .
    The pictures of the temple are supurb and surpas anything I have seen in Thailand or anywhere else in South Asia,
    Keep up the good work. Where is your next presentation ?

© 2023 Meg Noble Peterson