STONED TO SILENCE IN YANGON

Holding a rock that was thrown at a window in Yangon, Myanmar.

Few things surprise me about living in Myanmar now that I’ve been here for nearly a year. Perhaps this is why I find it quite hilarious that someone threw a rock at my window the other night. Although I don’t know who it was, I’m fairly certain it may have been my downstairs neighbor – the banana dealer.

My roommate recently came back to Myanmar after a month away. When we finally got to spend time together, we entertained ourselves by creating games out of seemingly nothing. Yes, I’m 30 years old. Yes, I’m a teacher. Yes, I act professionally when it’s necessary. However, sometimes, even for adults, the tiniest things can become amusing.

We played “Throw the Chopstick” at various targets around the room. We also played “Toss the Tissues” to try to strike each other with a small pack of tissues. Perhaps the best (and loudest) idea was “Slide the Packet of Ramen Noodles” across the floor in an attempt to hit each other in the face. That’s when we heard a rock hit the window.

We immediately stopped sliding the ramen, softened the music, and turned off the lights to assess the situation. No one was there. Who could it have been? Could it have been a random passerby? It must have been someone in our building trying to shut us up. We took it as a sign we were being too unruly.

I tossed and turned in my bed, feeling anxious and a bit angry. Why would someone be so passive about asking us to be quiet? Why not just knock on our door, and at least gesture for us to tone it down? I started thinking about all the times I’ve been woken up by unnecessary loudness in our neighborhood. Have I lobbed anything? No.

I haven’t chucked any rocks at the person above us who starts banging on the floor before sunrise nearly every single day. I haven’t flicked a pebble at anyone who’s pounded on our door at (or even before) 7AM. I don’t toss bricks at street sellers screaming for us to buy whatever it is they sell so very early. I don’t hurl boulders at trucks blasting music. And I wouldn’t dare pelt the chanting nuns as they beg their way down our street.

While having a rock hit our window isn’t the same as a stone to the head, I still feel like I’ve been personally struck. I can assure you I haven’t had a full night of restful, sound sleep since moving to Yangon. Yet, I’m not throwing any fits about it. I’m not going to throw a rock. I’ve accepted it as part of living here. Part of living in a foreign country is giving into local customs and norms – or risk being stoned, apparently. 

To make things better, I did the only thing I know how to do. I baked banana bread with bananas from the banana dealer, and offered it to him as an apology for our “wild” behavior. But, I still don’t actually know if it was he or someone else who cast the stone. Regardless, our neighbors have been nothing but kind and caring. We were the ones at fault. I vow to never slide packets of ramen noodles across the floor after midnight again.

0 comments :

Post a Comment