Paul Theroux wrote this in 1973 in his book The Great Railway Bazaar and it sums up an aspect of Myanmar life perfectly.
"Buddhism, the principle of neglect. Because no animals are killed all animals look as if they are starving to death, and so the rats, which are numerous in Burma, co-exist with the dogs, which have eliminated cats from the country. The Burmese – removing their shoes and socks for sacred temple floors where they will spit and flick cigar ashes – see no contradiction. How could they? Burma is a socialist country with a notorious bureaucracy. But it is a bureaucracy that is Buddhist in nature, for not only is it necessary to be a Buddhist in order to tolerate it, but the Burmese bureaucratic delays are a consistent encouragement to a kind of traditional piety – the commissar and the monk meeting as equals on the common ground of indolent and smiling unhelpfulness. Nothing happens in Burma, but then nothing is expected to happen."
Not to knock the Myanmar people, who I found to be amongst the warmest and friendliest I have ever met.
The photograph is of the early morning traditional Alms Round in Yangon, a procession of monks walk through the streets to receive offerings.
- © Peter Sawers
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