Emma Thompson's Burma / Myanmar Diary: Part fourteen

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 14:24

Emma hears how when Khin Lin's bus broke down, so did the self-control of the mainly male passengers. Fortunately, happier times lay ahead.

As we walk back Khin Lin tells us about the horrors of her three-day journey which took place on a bus. The bus broke down and they had to sleep on it for two nights while they waited for repairs. The first night was fine but on the second, the men started getting rowdy. There were two hundred passengers and only four were female. Some of the men got drunk and lay around the bus shouting and masturbating. One man came in to drag a woman off the bus but was prevented. All four women had to stay awake and watch for trouble. No wonder she looks so tired.

When we get back to the monastery, the cultural night begins. It’s wild. All the different ethnic groups present dances from their villages. They wear traditional clothing, some of which is highly complicated. The dances are exquisite but a lot of them seem to involve the woman following her man around with comestibles in a basket.

File 7368Jo, who has stolen cushions from the hotel to save our hip-joints, leans over and whispers

It’s bedded in so deep no-one even sees the patriarchy any more.

Tindy tries not to flirt and his glorious grin flashes around the room all night. “All this and no sex” he says to me, sotto voce. It’s entirely possible that all these young people are virgins.

I collapse into bed feeling ancient but completely – astonishingly – inspired. None of us has ever seen a group of people that have convinced us so compellingly of genuinely improved future for this country. Something about their self-discipline, their powerful ethics, their confidence and joy makes it clear that if Burma invests in training its young people, they will bring long-lasting change.

Carry on reading Emma Thompson's diary

File 7494Doing the 'chicken dance'