Travels through Myanmar VI – The Seamstress

 …continued from: Travels through Myanmar V – Shwedagon Pagoda

Mandalay, Myanmar.

     Walking through the “Druid’s section” of Mandalay, just around the corner from the jade market. I raise my camera and point it half-heartedly towards this woman in the universal photographers language of “Can I take a picture?”. The woman lets out a “yelp” and runs back into her shop. The neighbors laugh and try to explain something. I turn and keep walking, saying sorry to the neighbors, which I can’t understand. I walk for a few more seconds as the neighbors keep yelling at me. I turn back and smile …and see the seamstress waving her arms at me. I misunderstood. The neighbors were explaining in a language I couldn’t comprehend…

     The seamstress just wanted to “prepare” herself. Fix her hair. Smooth her skirt. Give it her best show. She sits at her desk, props herself up, and gives me the proudest and most serious look she could muster. Click, click, click. A proud woman. Proud of her life, her job, her shop and her sewing machine. A great memory I have of Mandalay and the people of Myanmar.

     Without a story, most would probably look at this photo with some sort of mild sense of sympathy – a poor woman stuck in a badly governed country using antiquated machinery. But that’s not how you should look at her. I see her as a proud woman, doing the best she can with what she has, no matter who or what anyone else tries to do or thinks about her. Living life the best she can with what she has.

     …I show her the pictures and she smiles from ear to ear, offering me food, a seat, something to drink. I thank her and walk away, smiling.

            September 28, 2010

…to be continued.
Next Edition: Travels through Myanmar VII – Mandalay

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5 comments on “Travels through Myanmar VI – The Seamstress

  1. Beautiful story. And good to remember that even people who think they have everything materially are also only doing the best they can with what they have. Because “doing the best” means in all aspects of life, not just material.

  2. My grandmother does that. Yelp and freshen up for the photo shoot. The Myanmar people are so open to photos and a simple gesture of showing them the photo brings such smiles to their face! Wonderful photo here.

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