ECONOMICS

Published November 16, 2019 by rochellewisoff

This week Pegman takes us to Shewdagon Pagoda in Myanmar. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to write up to 150 words inspired by this week’s location. Feel free to use the image supplied in the prompt, or take to Google maps and find your own view with in the borders of Myanmar.

Once your piece is polished, share it with others at the linkup below. Reading and commenting is part of the fun!

Thanks to Karen and Josh for facilitating this round the world blog challenge.

CLICK THE FROG TO JOIN

Genre: Fiction

Word Count: 150

ECONOMICS

            Muu Yi tugged at the wang around her neck. “It makes my shoulders hurt, Aahwarr.”

            “You only have five coils.” Her grandmother glanced up from her loom and grinned. “Wait until you have eighteen like me.”              

            “Why do we wear them when a lot of the women in the village don’t?”

            “Modern girls. They care nothing for tradition.” Aahwarr hunched over her weaving and clucked her tongue. Then she straightened. “Listen. I will tell you a story. Thousands of years ago, a sorcerer fell in love with and married a dragon. The dragon laid three eggs which became the Pa-Oh, the Karen and our tribe the Padaung. To honor our dragon mother we make our necks look like hers.”

            “I am proud to wear the rings.” Muu Yi clapped her hands. “I like that story.”

            “So do the tourists, little one.” Aahwarr patted her granddaughter’s cheek. “So do the tourists.”

28 comments on “ECONOMICS

  • Indeed, for many in Myanmar (and in the mountain villages of Chiang Mai), the traditions that had been their lives, had become their livelihoods. In a way, it feels exploitative (and in some situations, may well be, when people come to gawk, not learn). In other ways, it feels like a possible solution; they get to keep their traditional way of life, and the world gets to see and learn about it. It was a discomfiting yet educational visit to the village when my family and I were taken for a visit by a guide who knew some of these families. We were the only tourists there at the time, and my (very tall) teenager nephew played ‘soccer’ with a little boy in the village who normally has only girls to play with. We laughed and enjoyed his delight (he insisted on posing with us for a photo), and it made an otherwise somewhat awkward situation, a more normal one. We were just people, meeting other people, enjoying the delight of a child.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Na’ama Y’karah,

      I love your story. I’m afraid my ‘travel’ for this story was via the YouTube Express. What I gleaned from them was a sense of pride among the women who still choose to wear the wang. And of course the sense of purpose in supporting their people with their meager incomes from tourists. I was also interested to learn that the coils don’t really elongate the neck but, rather, press down on the shoulders and the collarbones causing the neck to appear longer. Thus, there’s no danger of a woman’s neck snapping when she removes the coils.
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience. It means a lot to me.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was of two minds about going to the village to ‘see the long neck tribe’ — it felt exploitative and awkward to me. I didn’t want to be the tourist who comes to gawk at oddities and I didn’t know if there’d be any opportunity to actually have any meaningful exchange. In the end it was mostly positive, in large because of the children – my young niece who was visibly impressed and awed by the women’s grace and commitment, our shared delight at the sight of my nephew’s playing soccer with the young boy and both of them unhampered at the least by any language or culture barriers, and our shared clucking of concern with a woman who was carrying an infant who wasn’t feeling well that day. We all bought this and that from what they sell on site (made in china stuff, mostly … but with a cultural ‘vibe’ and elephant motifs and what not) and refused to barter. We told the guide that what extra profit they make off of us, good for them and may it be used in good health – it was literally only a few dollars difference and if it helped them, all the better. I can’t say that I left reassured that this ‘living museum village’ where people live their life part on display and part in defiant cultural show, is the best solution. But in Chiang Mai, to which they’d fled under persecution in Myanmar, perhaps this was a possibility to make a quiet life.
        Na’ama

        Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Beautifully done. Brilliant title. To turn themselves into “circus freaks” of sorts by keeping up traditions for the sake of their livelihood is a sad thing to me, even while I understand their need to do so. This was one of those where I am having trouble commenting!
    You brought this to ilfe.

    Shalom and losta love,

    Dale

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan the Deer-slayer,

      Contrary to popular belief the neck doesn’t elongate nor does it snap when the coils are removed. However, they don’t look very comfortable. Well put as for our traditions hanging around our necks. 😉 Glad you had time to read and leave a nice comment, m’luv.

      Like

  • You’ve higlighted a tough balance beautifully, Rochelle. As others have said, it’s a difficult situation, where being on display, being gawked at, is at once unpleasant and a way of earning a living. Well written as always

    Liked by 1 person

  • I like the way you’ve structured your story, Rochelle, and you’ve written a very effective humorous reveal.
    What saddens me is not so much the choice to wear the wang, but the fact that other opportunities are so scarce. Still, Na’ama’s comments suggest that the women who choose to wear the wang are doing so with a positive attitude and a pride in their culture. Your story reflects that mood, so well done you!
    Shalom
    Penny

    Liked by 1 person

  • I also couldn’t help but chuckle at the cynicism of the grandmother at the end. It was a bit of a relief to see, that despite their commitment to adhere to traditional practices, these people are just human after all, and will butter their bread in whatever way they can. Thanks for the peek into an interesting cultural practice,and the giggle at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Karen,

      What would we do without the internet? Watching the You Tube interviews, I detected twinkles in the eyes of the elder women who still see the coils as beautiful. While they seemed to see their tradition as important, it was obvious they could also see the irony of a custom becoming their livelihood. And I love it when one of my stories gets a discussion going. 😉 Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

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