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My Dear Family and Devoted Friends,

Do you remember where you were on Sunday afternoon, October 9, 1966?

Perhaps you were preparing for Game 4 of The World Series? Or maybe looking for a line on The Giants? Or maybe you were struggling with the Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle?

Or maybe you were in the Baroque Room of The Plaza Hotel, celebrating at the marriage of Alice Rosemarie Dawn, 26, of New York, of blessed memory, and Jan Robert Polatschek, 26, of New Rochelle.

Alice's father, David A. Dawn, and his new wife Helga, made us a splendid wedding forty years ago today.

I still enjoy the memories of that Sunday afternoon.

Bangkok, Thailand

March 29, 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

I leave Bangkok this afternoon for a two month journey. My flights are on Garuda Airlines of Indonesia and my itinerary is as follows:

29 March . . . . . Bangkok to Singapore. Change planes and arrive in the evening in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia for a two night stopover.

31 March . . . Denpasar to Perth.

25 April . . . . . Perth to Denpasar.

20 May . . . . . Denpasar to Singapore.

29 May . . . . . Singapore to Bangkok.

This essay was published in To Myanmar With Love. ThingsAsian Press. 2009.  pg 232.

I love Mandalay. I hate my hotel room.  I wander and explore.  I discover the Unity Hotel.   At the reception desk, Thida is so lovely and gracious.  With a kind smile she says, “We will be happy to welcome you.”  I checked in the next day

After breakfast, before my climb of Mandalay Hill, I invite Thida for coffee. She smiles.  She declines

 Before my tour of  Innwa, Amarapura, and Sagaing,  I ask again.  She smiles.

Finally, after I return from my river ride to Mingun where for good luck I pat the tail of the huge stone elephant, I try once more and Thida smiles.  “You have asked me three times.  Now I will say “yes.”  Yes!  

Public social relationships in Myanmar are conservative and discrete.  A “date” in Myanmar means that the girl shows up with a chaperone or two.  Thida introduces me to her cousin and her friend.  During our dinner date I comment on their excellent English.  They tell me they attend an evening class at the local Monastery School.  I admit that many years ago, as a high school teacher in New York City, my specialty was teaching English to immigrant boys.  (“Juanita is tall.  Conchita is taller than Juanita.  Carmelita is the tallest.”) Thida invites me to teach a class.

This adventure was published in To Myanmar With Love.  ThingsAsian Press.  2009.  pp 193-194. 

Nyaung Shwe, Myanmar
Saturday
January 8, 2005
Nyaung Shwe Dear Family and Friends,

Yes. You read the title of this piece correctly. A Bike - as in Bicycle - Ride. I was persuaded by the hotel staff that a trip to the Hot Spring would be a pleasant activity for the day. Since I was planning a rest today anyway, as I anticipated a travel day tomorrow, I agreed to a test drive.

Given my recent history, I approached this event with reluctance and apprehension.

Portions of this letter were published in To Myanmar With Love.  ThingsAsian Press. 2009. pp187-188.

Pyin U Lwin, Shan State
Myanmar
Sunday January 16, 2005

Dear Family and Friends,

This morning I am having a hot cup of real coffee.

Most of the coffee in Myanmar has been "Coffee Mix." A packet of instant coffee, sugar and powdered milk. Just add hot water.

Thankfully, coffee is grown in the hills nearby. Pyin U Lwin, an old British "hill station" in the mountains is just 67 kilometers east of Mandalay.

And hot is what I need. This morning I could see my breath! Man, it's cold. Osama was good enough to make some vegetable soup for breakfast. I dined out in the sun, with several layers of clothing. I remembered to bring along my scarf and hat, but I neglected to bring my woolen gloves. Why in the world did I pack them if not for mornings like this?

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