Burma. Finally! As SQ 998 commenced descent over the flood plains surrounding Rangoon, stories heard and novels read clouded my vision. I had waited a long time for this. But I had to traipse carefully over the images I had visualised, lest I find the place has changed since the days of Orwell and Kipling, and I end up feeling like I’ve missed my train. Burma did not disappoint, though. True, the winds of change are sweeping in, but for now Orwell’s Burma snugs blissfully in today’s Myanmar. It’s charming metre gauge railway and quaint British era stations, verdant paddies, the mighty Irrawaddy, Rangoon’s decaying mansions, the surreal temples of Bagan, red-robed novice monks were just the way I had hoped they would be.
These images are dear to me. For reasons entirely personal. I fondly recall minute, inconsequential details like the rustle of acacia leaves overhead as I photographed some novice monks racing among themselves. Or the “plop” of a fallen mango as I took pictures of a teashop next to the laden mango tree. So I adore these images, and technicalities have nothing to do with it! It is a bit like first love. It remains, irrespective of the wonderful associations we may have later in life. I had boarded the plane with my curiosity and my visions of Burma. A white canvas of sorts. These images are like splashes of colour on my white canvas. During my next visit, I may cover my angles better, I may be blessed with better light, I may pick up a few more skills. But I won’t be carrying a white canvas. It may be a more meaningful relationship, but it won’t be first love!