Feet to the Fire in Mandalay

Many Burmese men wear what we westerners call skirts. Usually these subdued patterned garments are cut below the knee or hemmed just above the ankle and are tied about the waist in a mystical fashion that didn’t make it into my boy scout knot training. Regardless, I grew up in a country of skirted men. Still, when I was a child in the east side of Glasgow if you wore a kilt you were undoubtedly most unfairly labeled for teenage eternity as a poof and summarily excommunicated from your tenement community. But today it’s all different with our global kilted renaissance where you can find Scottish second-cousins once removed guising as caber-tossers on the streets of Sydney or tartan-clad hairy guys called Hamish playing the pipes in downtown Wellington, New Zealand. Who would have thought that Scottish could be sexy? Had I remotely contemplated that as a child I would have more eagerly practiced my sword dancing or recitation of obscure Burns’ poetry in order to potentially pull chicks later on in life. Come here ya wee sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie.

Though I love Burma and the delightfully friendly Burmese I could not possibly live there. It is hot as blazes and there are no shadows as the sun is always directly above my head regardless of the time of day. In touring the magnificent, sprawling Mandalay royal palace I drank my own weight in water and that of a small dog. I could not begin to cool down in Mandalay; even as the central character and hero in my dreams I was sweating profusely. My hotel room had a fake Honeywell thermostat that controlled the playing of an audio track of a high-powered air conditioner.

While religion has always vexed me I am continually reverential of mankind’s grandiose construction of places to worship. In Europe the cathedrals are magnificent as are the palaces of Asia. Contrastingly, in Europe it is offensive to wear hats in God’s temples whereas in Asia footwear is the blasphemy. Taking off one’s hat in a cathedral is relatively undaunting, but I find the Asian footwear removal law more of a challenge. Today, for example, my bare feet had to unceasingly endure the high solar absorption thermal qualities of various impervious floor slabs and jet-black tiles while stepping through pigeon shit. But that may turn out to be a good thing for my interminable athlete’s foot. Who knows? Certainly not my podiatrist. Israel is different altogether; they made me wear a flimsy paper hat like an upside down fish and chips container when I visited the fabulous Wailing Wall.

Hot Hallowed Ground

Hot Hallowed Ground

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