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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Under the Dragon

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It took five months to get here by second-class mail from the U.K. but it was well worth the wait: the softcover edition of Rory Maclean's "Under the Dragon". Yes, it is available for online reading at www.archive.org but I've been a bibliophile ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented the mechanical printing press.

My year-long work assignment in Burma in 1975 has been a major highlight in my totally unplanned and pretzel-shaped path through life: I loved the work, I loved the country, I loved the people - and one person in particular - and, after ten years of endless travel when home was wherever my suitcase fell open, I ought to have stayed because, in all my travels, no other country had touched me so much. And yet - and it has been one of my eternal regrets - I did not renew my twelve-month contract, even though my French employers, TOTAL - Compagnie Française des Pétroles, begged me to do so several times. Too much youthful hubris and no sense and a total lack of foresight on my part!

At home in Rangoon

During my time there, the country was under the dictatorship of U Ne Win and Rangoon under a curfew, and even though Westernisation seems to have caught up with the renamed capital Yangon, nothing much else has changed. The military is still in charge and life for the ordinary Burmese is still as wretched and miserable as it was during my time.

"Under the Dragon" is no ordinary book; it's an impassioned plea on behalf of a tragic nation and a people brutalised by dictatorship.

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