He was beyond middle age, with glasses, a red golf shirt, and a plaid lungi, the sarong-like garment ubiquitous in the country formerly known as Burma. His black hair was parted perfectly to the side, not a strand out of place. I assumed he was going to ask me to exchange US dollars for the local currency, kyat, or offer me a guided tour of the city. Instead, he just talked—and talked—with animated hands and a big, toothy smile. He asked where I was from, where I’d been in Myanmar, and what I liked (the people, scenery) and disliked (food, lack of roads) about his country.
And then he talked politics.
“You know, we have an election in 2010. We want real democracy, but we’ll see. We’ll see!” He lifted his arms in the air like a V. “Buddha bless!”
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