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Travel

Burma (Myanmar)

 

 

This is a fascinating country in all sorts of ways and seems to be most popular with European and Japanese tourists, some Australians of course, but they are everywhere.

Since childhood Burma has been a romantic and exotic place for me.  It was impossible to grow up in the Australia of the 1950’s and not be familiar with that great Australian bass-baritone Peter Dawson’s rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s 'On the Road to Mandalay' recorded two decades or so earlier:  

Come you back to Mandalay
Where the old flotilla lay
Can't you hear their paddles chunking
From Rangoon to Mandalay

On the road to Mandalay
Where the flying fishes play
And the Dawn comes up like thunder
out of China 'cross the bay

The song went Worldwide in 1958 when Frank Sinatra covered it with a jazz orchestration, and ‘a Burma girl’ got changed to ‘a Burma broad’; ‘a man’ to ‘a cat’; and ‘temple bells’ to ‘crazy bells’.  

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Soul of the Matter

 

 

 

 

It was hot, dry and dusty when they finally arrived in Jaisalmer.  But then, how often is it not hot and dusty here? 

In the markets a wizened woman, of indeterminate age, is using a straw broom to aggressively sweep the area in front of her shop. The dust will soon be kicked-back by passers-by; or swept back by her neighbours; requiring her to sweep again, and again.  She will do the same again tomorrow; and the day after; and the day after that.

Jennifer's mind is elsewhere. She's has dreamt of visiting exotic India ever since a client at the hairdressers told her, with enthralling details, of her adventures here.

They've arrived in the dusty city late in the afternoon, by road from Jodhpur.  In spite of his preference to visit California or Las Vegas again, she's finally persuaded Bruce that he might like India. He should try something a bit more adventurous for a change.

Below the entrance to the famous Jaisalmer Fort, is a small square that marks the start of the road winding up, then turning at right-angles, through the protective elephant-proof gates.  In this little square, motorised trishaws: Tuk-tuks, jostle restlessly like milling cattle.  They are waiting for tourists, like our travellers, who may hire them tomorrow to see the town or, if they are lazy or tired, just to mount the steep hill up to the Fort. 

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Opinions and Philosophy

Overthrow and the 'Arab Spring'

 

 

Back in April 2007 I was in Washington DC and wandered into a bookshop for a coffee.  On display was Stephen Kinzer's  National Best Seller: Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq.  So I bought it to read, before bed and on the plane. 

It is a heavily researched and work; very well described by the New York Times as: "A detailed passionate and convincing book... with the pace and grip of a good thriller."  And like a good thriller it was hard to put down.  I can recommend it.

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