Category: My life


This is a journal entry of mine.  A class I attend requires that I write my journal daily and present it to the teacher.  This is for Feb 11, 2011 (Fri) … You can see how disorganized I have been these days. I am going through some metamorphosis these days and I’m hoping things turn out well.

Today was supposed to work with a perfect predetermined plan but things went astray because I had turned the alarm off and went back to sleep in the morning.  Consequences were: I got to class half an hour late and got the last warning for being despicably late and all my other plans got disjointed.  I should pay more mind to the sound of the alarm.  It was not that I had not had enough sleep for the night but I was too lazy to get up then.  I had to rush to class by taxi and without lunch.

Class was over at 2:00pm and the AC party where I was performing a song was scheduled to start at 3:00pm sharp.  I had to rush further to get back home, have lunch, take a shower and run to AC.  The AC party started late fortunately and it had been expected to start late waiting for people to arrive.  I had imagined it as a party on the lawn but turned out to be inside the CBH.  I went on stage as the second program.

Although I am doing fine with my singing when I am alone or with familiar people, I still have some trouble maintaining composure on stage.  It becomes very clear when I belt; the voice does not go up high and clear, but it gets blurry and without adequate confidence.  I saw the girl who won the AC Idol perform; she was not much of a singer but was a great performer on stage and everybody loved her.  I also got applauded, of course, since there was a huge audience in a compact hall.  An AC teacher called me “the famous Deline” and I felt really proud that I still have this “popular” status which I held all the way back in middle and high school.

The role play was particularly amusing.  It was about a philosopher in search of the definition of love.  It parodied ancient epic love stories and voicing on LGBT love.  The actor who played the main character was a natural actor, a comedian.

The party turned out to be some fancy show sadly.  Professional singers were invited and student singers had to wait till their performances were over to get on stage.  Students should have been given more priority, since this was a student-organized event for students.  Although the party holders had sold tickets, there was not enough food and drinks for everyone.  I did not get any drinks, just some sandwich with no taste.

I got home late – around 8:00pm.  Thanks goodness, the day was not tiring.

NOTE: The class mentioned in the post is the class in which I have to submit my journal entries.  It was really a nightmare to see the teacher’s countenance thenHopefully, I am reaching some equilibrium in my time management because of an assignment given that day.  I just submitted this entry this afternoon.

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I AM A TREE … EVERGREEN

This is an application essay for a programme I had applied for but hadn’t made in, in 2009.  It asks each applicant to describe himself/herself with a metaphor.  Some other applicants’ metaphors were “an uncut stone“, “a mirror“, “fire“, “dynamic pillared tier“, etc.  This is mine:

Tree

I wanna be like a tree ...

I consider myself to be similar to a tree in several ways.  Although I am not completely like a tree yet, I would like the stages of my life to be akin to the growth of a tree.  I intend my set of beliefs and my role in community to resemble how a tree serves the environment.  Since I would like to be of service to mankind throughout my life, I exemplify myself with a tree evergreen.

Fertile soil, bountiful sunshine, adequate water and others factors contribute to the growth of a tree.  I am privileged to have been well nurtured by my parents, teachers and relatives.  As a tree gets itself firmly rooted in the ground, I appreciate and love dearly all those who have helped me.  I will keep moving forward to experience new and better things like a tree grows higher towards sunlight.  I shall compound my knowledge and learn new things as long as I live – similar to the growth of a tree until its death.

I, as a tree evergreen, will be a shaft of beauty towering high – I will try to become an idolized role model to many people.  Being someone who believes in caring and sharing, I want to do it for those around whom my world revolves.  A tree can care and share; it grows leaves, flowers and fruits and provides sap and wood.  These can serve as food, shelter or other materials for humans and other animals while as a whole, it provides shade and coolness.  I would like to share all the good things I have in my little world with every possible person.

I have a good intension to keep caring for and sharing with others.  I would like to maintain consistency of my precepts and principles in life like an evergreen keeps its foliage all year round.  I will stand tall to get by and keep growing till my last breath.  I am indeed a tree evergreen!

I consider myself to be similar to a tree in several ways.  Although I am not completely like a tree yet, I would like the stages of my life to be akin to the growth of a tree.  I intend my set of beliefs and my role in community to resemble how a tree serves the environment.  Since I would like to be of service to mankind throughout my life, I exemplify myself with a tree evergreen.

Fertile soil, bountiful sunshine, adequate water and others factors contribute to the growth of a tree.  I am privileged to have been well nurtured by my parents, teachers and relatives.  As a tree gets itself firmly rooted in the ground, I appreciate and love dearly all those who have helped me.  I will keep moving forward to experience new and better things like a tree grows higher towards sunlight.  I shall compound my knowledge and learn new things as long as I live – similar to the growth of a tree until its death.

I, as a tree evergreen, will be a shaft of beauty towering high – I will try to become an idolized role model to many people.  Being someone who believes in caring and sharing, I want to do it for those around whom my world revolves.  A tree can care and share; it grows leaves, flowers and fruits and provides sap and wood.  These can serve as food, shelter or other materials for humans and other animals while as a whole, it provides shade and coolness.  I would like to share all the good things I have in my little world with every possible person.

I have a good intension to keep caring for and sharing with others.  I would like to maintain consistency of my precepts and principles in life like an evergreen keeps its foliage all year round.  I will stand tall to get by and keep growing till my last breath.  I am indeed a tree evergreen!

NOTE: This is too strong a form of self-aggrandizement, but it can reflect my real self.  And with no amazement, I find that I feel the same way about myself as I had felt while writing this essay.

Rain, sunshine, snow, blue skies;
You’re gloomy if you feel so inside.
Near, far, seconds, light years;
Break barriers, don’t cling to fears.
Big, small, with or no form
You’ll be small if size not ignored.
Go see yourself in the mirror –
Know this: It’s who you see you are!

FIND THE FAKE ONE

This is another great maths riddle I got from my teacher. He finished his Masters degree in the University of London specializing in ‘function analysis’. This isn’t something he made up, but he just has a way with maths …

Balance

Here's the balance to use ...

There are eight pieces of gold of the same mass (i.e. same mass and weight), but one fake piece of gold, which is lighter than every piece else is among them.  We are given a balance but no weights.  How many times at least can we use the balance to sort out the fake piece from the others?

This isn’t really tough.  I’ll post the answer as a comment some other time.  If you are through with this problem, try finding out a fake piece of gold from 10 pieces of gold (including the fake) and from 27 pieces of gold (including the fake).  It gets tougher but nothing’s that difficult.  Enjoy!

Country singers do have a way with making me emotional, especially about home and family.  This is something that literally moved me to tears.  It’s one of the best country songs I’ve heard.  In my life, I’ve lived in my current home for like 17 years, and my family is going to have to move out soon – I’ll be remembering it all my life.  This is for “The House that Built ME” …

Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert

I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

FOR THE SAKE OF ENJOYMENT

It’s truly a wonderful world with beauty all around; we needn’t go far but just look around ourselves to enjoy it and escape from the things of life.

I am fond of arts and consider myself to be an aesthete.  I happen to be a keen music-lover and one thing I get to enjoy along with the music when I buy an audio CD album is the album cover design, which we call “album art” or “artwork”.  About a month ago, I came across Christina Aguilera’s latest album “Bionic” and it has this really elaborate cover.  The left half of her face was replaced by mechanical parts to give it a cyborg look, and yet she has those sexy red lips on and wavy blonde hair.  The design is provocative and very well crafted, but – although there is a good meaning behind it – I wouldn’t have gone that far.

I was greatly fancied by the “Bionic” artwork, but the ones I really love are simpler and can say well about what music in the album.  For example, in the album cover of Leona Lewis’s “Spirit”, Leona’s eyes can tell that we are in to hear Leona’s psyche, her train of thought, etc.  The photo of Celine Dion embracing a wrapped gift in the album art of her holiday album “These Are Special Times” is really telling about the album contents.  Sometimes, for various reasons, we are conditioned into thinking that only objects created with a touch of sophistication are of artistic value, whether we can or cannot appreciate art well.

Artworks “Bionic”, “Spirit” and “These are special times”

Compare these three divas' artworks - LEFT TO RIGHT: “Bionic”, “Spirit” and “These are special times” artworks

Guess what?  The dull-looking dreary things work just fine.  We just need to know how to appreciate them.

Louis Armstrong sang of a “wonderful world”, and come to think of it his way, the world is wonderful in its own way – without Michelangelo, Beethoven, Shakespeare or even Armstrong himself.  As a matter of fact, the reason these artists’ works – in fine arts, music, literature or whatever art form – has held international acclaim since their creation is that their works portray with a natural tone the things that goes on in real life.

This profound essence can be clearly observed in Jane Austen’s oeuvre.  Honestly, I have never read the original writings of Austen but I daresay that there wouldn’t be much eloquence in her words, for words are not what make her writings special.  The beauty of her works lie in the themes and the plots of the stories.  If we were to pursue only beautifully written words, we could easily find them in love letters our admirers had given us or those we had given to our loved ones. (Love letters can contain words more impressive than those from romantic novels!)  Therefore, whatever may love letters say, we continue to read works by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, etc.

In the realm of music, many musicians credit Mozart for being curious and positive like a little child about the world even in his most mature pieces.  And Mozart’s music, I’ve come to be able to relate with many things in real life.  I’ve listened to it on a taxi in the busy streets of Yangon, on a bus trip from Yangon to Mandalay, while staring out the window on a rainy day and in the darkness of a sleepless night, and yet every scene matches perfectly with his music.  There’s more than magic in the music.  This feeling can be observed in the music by only few artists.  Contemporary songs in which people play “love games” or want “bad romance” could be exciting but they are in fact too outlandish to be classic.  People resort to the classics when they want true music, which reflects nature.  (NOTE: “Classics” is NOT “classical music”.)

As for the arts, the majority of existing works from long, long ago are usually the finest works of the artists in the old days.  And the reason for their long-lasting is probably their depiction of things that are real, things to which any person can relate.  I am not very knowledgeable about paintings and sculptures, so I dare not give any examples for the renowned works of the studio arts.  But one sure example would be Claude Monet’s oil painting series of “Water Lillies (or) Nymphèas”.  They truly are mesmerising.

One thing I have learnt recently is that works based on ideas that are too fanciful tend to be transitory.  In the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, there was one thing very popular with children called the “Power Rangers”.  They have almost perished from our thoughts, and we rarely see their action figures in toy stores as many these days as we used to a decade ago.  Many of us might think that is because we now have more fascinating superhero movies with more advanced graphics.  (Some of us may not notice this because we grew up to put away the toys.)  The Transformers or the X-men would soon be forgotten as the Superman, the Batman or the Spiderman had been replaced by various species of Power Rangers.  We always forgo what we have for what is better, while, in fact, such things are too good to last.  The same thing happened to disco music in the 1970s: it was too exciting to last.  However, I could say we would still watch Mr Bean as long as we can recall Charlie Chaplin.

Movie posters

Movie trend – LEFT TO RIGHT: “The Batman”, “X-men” and “Avatar”

Apart from the intentionally created works of art, we can also find beauty in our daily lives and enjoy it.  Pigeons flying about among the busy citizens in the streets of downtown Yangon can be a special movie clip.  One can find musical rhythm in the chanting of a Buddhist monk or the falling of the rain and the blowing of the wind.  The joyful squeals of little children hold more music than Mariah Carey’s whistle ringer.  A gourmet can find as exquisite taste in a street-hawker’s food as in a dish from an elite restaurant.

Besides the aforementioned type of aesthetic beauty, there is some other kind of splendour that we can appreciate.  It is what Richard Feynman called “scientific awe”, and he would often talk about it in his book “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman”.  It is conventional to think that a person with keen scientific instincts is incapable of exploring the wonders of art.  However, Feynman proved himself to be a very able aesthete with passionate appreciation of the world around him.  He claims to see even more than his friend can; he can appreciate the complicated biological and physical functioning of the flower’s interior, which is impossible to be seen with the naked eye!  He even learned drawing so that he could express how he feels about the world and its beauties.  Although artists may find bliss in the creation and the appreciation of arts, students of science with some artistic sense can have great indulgence in various wonders of the world.  Feynman states that the scientific awe – which is understanding that everything, however sophisticated it may be on the outside, can be explained by the same rules of physics – is like realizing in religion that everything is so different and yet run by only one individual (God).

There are many wonderful things in this world.  Sadly enough, in the midst of our highly active lives, we are blinded from these special beauties we are endowed with.  Everybody needs to feel the splendour, and the more we can appreciate, the better for the outlet of our souls.  (This does not imply over-indulgence in the arts.)  If we are capable of finding beauty in the wee small things of our day-to-day lives, we wouldn’t need to plan in advance for a tour to a historic site or a natural wonderland but find satisfaction with the things we are already blessed with in our lives.  This would have a very profound effect on our lives; we would be happier than we are and we would be leading better lives.  If we are also capable of comprehending the sciences, a little scientific awe adds on to our aesthetic sense.  So, look around and find something beautiful … for the sake of enjoyment!

Three of Claude Monet's Waterlillies oil paintings

LEFT TO RIGHT: “Japanese bridge in Giverny”, “Coin du bassin aux nympheás” & “Seerosen” from Monet’s “Waterlillies (Nympheás)”

I still consider a part of me to still be a child; and may it be a child for all times’ sake.  I have found an affinity within myself with little kids while teaching them.

While preparing for college applications, I inevitably had to engage myself in some community service as a volunteer to show to the college as a particularly activity I did for the community before joining any schools.  I had been meaning to do that for some time.  However, I had a hard time deciding what to do for there were so many options:  I could look for the senior citizens at a home for the elderly, take care of sick monks and nuns in a Sasana hospital, teach orphans in an orphanage, etc.  I just wanted a change in my routine and so badly wanted to try something new.  At last, I finally arrived at the decision to teach little children for the summer at the English language school I used to go to.  The teacher invited me there.  He is not my old-time teacher, but I accepted the invitation because I like the ambiance of the school and the payment didn’t matter.  The wages for the teachers weren’t high (That’s why I didn’t mind); the school was small with only 3 head teachers and many other teachers of lower ranks.

So, I went there on the first day of the summer classes.  The little children came in with time accompanied by their parents.  They started to arrive before 9 in the morning and till 10 o’clock, they’re pouring in.  There were tiny ones – 4 to 6 year-olds – and the eldest were just above 10, altogether about 300.  Watching them gather in the hall, I was reminded of Michael Jackson’s spoken intro to “Heal the World”: “Think about the generations so that they wanna make a better place for the children and the children’s children … so that they can make it a better world for them.  I think they can make it a better place.” It’s just simple utter but it means a lot to most who have heard the song.  Parts of the first verse from Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” also came to mind …
“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier …”

And on a board on the wall wields the motto of the school, which is a quote by the American educator and astronaut Christa McAuliffe which reads, “I touch the future.  I teach.

Then, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is gonna be a wonderful summer – probably one of the most memorable in my life!

It’s been about a month since the classes started, and so far, I am right.  I was a part time teacher, so I don’t have to teach a particular class.  I was everywhere, helping the teachers who need help.  At the beginning of the classes, I had only thought about teaching, not the children, because I have firmly kept in mind that the greatest good one can do for others is to help them discover what they have within themselves.  It is correct; that’s what all great people have done for those around them.  Day by day, I came to develop an affinity for the children, not only my students but for the whole student body at school.

Children in the world

Honestly, I have always loved children.  But previously, I saw them only as little animals (humanlings), like kittens, puppies and chicks – nothing more.  I’d play with them, make them smile and “let bygones, be bygones”Animals (beasts) in the Burmese language are defined as creatures that care only for three things, namely food, sleep and sex.  Well, I was kind of wrong to think that children think about eating, sleeping and having fun (For them it’s fun, not sex, coz you know they don’t …).  My attitude changed.  I found hundreds of them coming together for language classes during the summer when they should be playing 24/7.  And they had either acquiesced to their parents’ demand or come by their own free will – which is very appreciable.  The head of the school arranged a lot of play things for the students for this particular reason.  Teaching little children, even for an assistant teacher, can be tough because the children no matter what the age are all over the place, running around, screaming and laughing for one instance and crying the next.  From teaching the correct spellings and pronunciations to making them memorize and recite require arduous efforts, and unsurprisingly, at the end of the day, all your energy is sapped.

Yet it is thinking about them before going to bed can be of a most subtle and pleasant feeling.  Not that it’s intense but it makes me feel euphoric and make me soft squeals and giggles before falling asleep just to think about a little boy coming to say hello to me, a girl who got cross because a teacher made her correct the mistakes, a boy whose pronunciation cannot be corrected even after trying for more than 20 minutes, a girl colouring a cow red, a boy crying because he had left his pencil case at home.  All of the small things come to my mind to be recorded down in my journal.  Well, these are “Small Gifts” to me from fate of my karma, and I’m glad I enjoy every bit of it.

For the children, we – as teachers – are to give all we have to educate them and nurture them in every possible way we can.  They truly are our future and the next generations need them …

Tomorrow’s sad …  it’s Saturday and I don’t get to see the children.  It would be a SADurday.  They are wonderful, they are more than “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”: they are what they are … CHILDREN!

In my life, I’ve been to some towns and some big cities … but never had I before come to realize the differences between them and understand why.

The other day I went out with my old schoolmates … They wanted to celebrate after one of them became the best male singer and the other, the king among the medical students who are to graduate in 2014.  And they wanted to hang out with me since I got back to my hometown, Mandalay, after my 5-month stay for SAT classes in Yangon.  I had coached the singer on the phone while I was away in Yangon (not that I’m an expert in vocal pedagogy).  Here’s how it went …

I left my house before 11 am on my motorbike, and reached the dainty restaurant, embellished with simple furniture and serving tempting food.  (I’ve been there before) It was a most appealing spot for a group of friends to get together for a meal.  There were 12 twelve of us altogether so we had to join tables without reservation.  The waiters were amiable when we ordered food.  We were the noisiest group in the restaurant but nobody minded us blather loudly as we had lunch in our own ridiculous way.  The food was delicious and the company of friends made it even tastier.  We sat there for about a long time, even after paying the bill.  Wonder how much the lunch cost?  It cost only K30,000, which is the most reasonable price for a meal of 12 people.

Then, we went around town just to kill time, sharing bikes.  It lasted for some time as we were riding slowly and spoke a lot on the way.  We made a pic-stop at an internet café, and since there weren’t enough computers free for our group, we had to share the computers.  (Most of the people from Mandalay don’t use the internet at home; they go to shops where they can get internet access.)  It was Ok with everyone there – from the service providers to the clients, including us.  The charge for one hour (at a computer) was only K300, so it was only K1,200 we spent on the internet because a computer was shared by 3.

Before going home, we stopped at one of the friends’ house.  Her mother was so hospitable; she gave us tea and we had a nice long chat with her.  She showed her daughter’s photos (i.e. our friend) from when she was little and we talked about a lot of things.  There were 12 of us, so it was more than 30 subjects we talked about.  It was really a nice day out, a low-key celebration with friends, and it was special indeed.  I’d be doing that soon before I leave town again!

Just yesterday, some thought came to mind.  What if such a celebration were in Yangon with the Yangonian friends? … Hmm, let me tell you what:

  1. Everything would cost more … much more.
  2. The hangout would be more tiring and less fun.
  3. And there wouldn’t be much to remember about it.

Why?

I was in Yangon for 5 months, which is almost half a year, and I came to know about the lives of the average citizen.  Although I stayed there with an elitist family, I had to go out as an ordinary student.  I had to public transportation, walked on foot, go to places and get things done myself and draw up my own budget.  I know how things are though I don’t know how it feels like for the people.

The buses for public transportation carry 60 passengers or more when they are supposed to carry 25.  The buses are mostly very old and not serviced; it sometimes feel like I’m on a roller-coaster when I’m on a bus.  Each ride cost K200 at the average, and we mostly need 2 or 3 rides to go from place to place.  The food there – as I always say – is “half the taste and twice the price”.  Most of the restaurants are not hygienic despite the modernity of the city.  To have a decent meal is to find a well-built or well-decorated restaurant but you can only get service with frowns (I don’t know the reason why).  There wouldn’t be much talk for the Yangon people keep things to themselves all the time.  And when friends hang out, only one can’t do the payment because of the high prices.  Everyone contributes to the bill so that no one goes penniless.  Consider it as K3,200 per head for a decent meal at a regular price.  Since neither bikes nor motorbikes are allowed on the streets of Yangon, we can’t scout for fun on our own bikes; it’s either walk a long distance or take the bus.

Hanging out with the dudes from Yangon would not go well in an internet café for everyone affords to use it at home.  Dropping by at a friend’s is not an option either; every family member’s at work and even on holidays, the hosts wouldn’t bother to have a bunch of kids at their home.  We’d have to go to either the cinema or the swimming pool.  At the swimming pool, it’s at least K2,000 per head for a swim.  For the cinema, no one would want to sit in a seat which costs less than K1,000.  After the movie or the swimming extravaganza, we’d have to go on to a drink or an ice-cram in a café.  Cafés in Yangon are more expensive than regular restaurants.  Why there wouldn’t be much to remember is nobody would be savouring every moment of the time together.  They’d have other things popping up in their mind all the time.

Another thing apart from hanging out …

This morning, got to the Jefferson Centre (the Mandalay branch of the US Embassy’s American Centre) where there are English classes and a reading room.  This was my first visit after I got back in town.  I had starting writing for the student newsletter of the American Centre in Yangon and I was asked to extend the news scope to the centre in Mandalay.  So, I was there to get some news.  I also heard they were converting the reading room to a library.  I asked them if books are available for loan and “no” was the answer.  And for the news, I was told of an even which happened over 3 months ago – that is so NOT newsworthy.  The activities there have been relent.  The presentation programme has come to a halt for there was no longer a presenter.  Now, they are doing some petty discussion programme with the few students they have.

This is so unlike the ambience of the American Centre in Yangon.  There, we have the Baldwin Library with a large number of active members, the Self-Access Centre where students do self-study, the Eleanor Roosevelt building where there are English language and other classes, 19 student clubs and weekly student activities and more.  I again came to wonder why the two establishments under the same authority.

BOTTOMLINES

The answers to these two situations – the hanging out and the library thing – are locality and the people.  Look at the locations and histories of the two cities.  Yangon has been around for more than 500 years.  And as Dagon (when it was a small town), it has been there for more than 2,000 years for the sacred hairs of the Gautama Buddha and some remains of 3 other Buddhas are entombed beneath Shwe Dagon Pagoda.  As for Mandalay, it has just celebrated its 150th birthday.  Yangon is near the sea and has a harbour and an international airport and everything necessary for international commerce.  Mandalay is the heart of Upper Myanmar but can only trade with some parts of Asia, not the whole world.  In area, Mandalay is only about a quarter of Yangon.

For some reasons besides the aforementioned, individualism has become the norm in Yangon.  Every individual stands for himself and does not usually intermingle with society.  Because of international trade, the city has become cosmopolitan.  People are more modernized and are more active in a lot of things.  And there is rapid urban sprawl which, of course, makes the town larger.  And the larger the city, the greater the living cost.  Life becomes tough and so do the people.  They have come to develop the metropolitan pride which makes them arrogant even to people from the second largest city (Mandalay) in the nation.  Despite such a pride, no one tends to have an affinity for another.

Thus, I came to both like and dislike the city of Yangon at the same time.  I like if for the advances in everything that it has.  But the people there are not the ones I can get along with very well.  Well, I want my hometown to be as developed and modern as Yangon.  However, I don’t think that is a good idea because if it were to catch up with Yangon, most of the bucolic surroundings, the amenable natures of the local people and more would have to sacrifice to the urban sprawl, the pollution and other bad consequences.

WEAK OR STRONG?

I am clearly aware that different people have different personalities.  But which is the stronger and which is the weaker – showing or hiding feelings?

In my life, I have always shown my feelings and opinions in whatever situation possible though there have been times when I did not open up for I did not feel appropriate.  Especially, when I’m going through some emotion, I never hid my feelings: I cry, I laugh, I crack jokes, I get crazy and even angry.  Like I have always said, I like expressing things, expressing myself and letting others know things.  Most of the ones who like me like me because of this.  On the other hand, some others say that is a weakness and I should get rid of that weird habit or freaky tendency tendency.  But I am not willing to change myself for any reasons whatsoever.

I know different kinds of people … though not a lot.  Some make very impressing first impressions; some, I have to learn to like gradually; some, misunderstood for quite some time to have a certain personality which they later prove to not have; and some, bitter form the first sight and I can never get along with.  I learn to know about these kinds of people by letting them know about me.  I value “Love and Trust”“If you want somebody to trust you, you’ve got to trust that person first,” somebody (who later claimed I never trusted him) told me when we first met.  When I meet somebody new and if I like them on the spot, I make myself a point that that person is going to like me in return and we are going to find out something real and interesting about each other.  I do that by expressing myself fully – as far as words or actions can take me.  And I always succeed in that.

That is my first (kind of) step in making a new friend for a firm relationship.  If somebody I met is somebody I will have to work together with for some time or somebody in whom I find something special, I take another step.  I try to find out their values – I ask them what they value in life, what they want from life, what they want from what they do and what they expect from me.  Everybody finds that a bit odd when I have such conversations with them and often refuses to tell me their insights.  Since somebody’s got to make a move for further things, I give away my profiles.  It’s no big deal!  There’s nothing lost and yet you can even have them opening up and telling you things.

With my close friends, I don’t keep anything from them.  I tell them what I’m going through – good or bad – when it comes to my mind.  They listen and we usually work things out together.  Everything works out in the end … though not every close friend is a reliable confidant or a good friend.  Among my friends and acquaintances, whenever they have something wrong anything bugging them, I strongly suggest them that they bring it up as some kind of discussion.  I like to get my problems solved in a group and I like having other people’s problems solved.

Some lovely feedback I get back from my behaviour of being open and frank is “Ooh, have you no shame bringing this problem up to be solved by a whole group?”, “You gotta be more self-dependent – get it over yourself!”, “You are always telling others how you feel or think: that is so emotionally weak and socially immature.”, etc.  It’s not that I don’t agree with these words, but I also must say they are not always right.  Anyway, I try to fight these things back and the discussion whether to show or hide feelings still remain unfinished.

Very frequently, I tell others that I AM an artist and I create and present or express new things or things that come to my imagination.  Therefore, as encouragements for my nature, I get things like “No, you’re not weak; that is so artistically strong!”, “I like that.  You always tell me what’s on your mind and so I can tell you my feelings, too.”, “You’re such a gentle person.”, etc.  People who say these words are usually my kind of people and I especially like them.  At the same time, I try to get along with people who don’t agree with me and learn to like them.  At times, they seem stronger mentally than us unquestionably.  They seem to be able to withstand tough things by themselves, which is impressive but by which I’m not impressed.

I think that “emotionally enclosed” people are usually misunderstood to have a personality that they don’t really possess.  They are believed by most people to be heartless, insensible, robotic or inhumane in some way.  Generally, most of them have pretty good reasons as to why they hide what they feel.  Some have certain mental trauma, some just like to be alone, some used to be expressive but found out that it doesn’t work for them and so on.  One of my closest friends has had little love and care from his parents and doesn’t know well how to express love, care or other feelings well.  He just puts a stern face on as if he’s trying to prevent people from harming him.  (He must have had some trauma but I’m not sure.)  There is another friend – a girl – who is regarded by many to be heartless for she is an extreme bookworm and studies all the time.  She has a very restricted social life with only a few friends.  As I came to know her, she opened up little by little because I kept poking her to tell me more about her.  And later, it turns out that she admires my perspective of things and is fond of me and what I do.  That’s how I form relationships.

This whole thing is like the Dashwood sisters form Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility.  I came to be more aware of this issue after reading the 11th and 14th chapters in A.J. Cronin’s Adventures in Two Worlds.  I couldn’t finish reading the Jane Austin novel because I lost interest in it and it got boring enough for me to stop.  But Cronin gave me the message that even though we may look tough on the outside, we have the same kind of soft tender hearts inside prone to getting hurt.  My inference is that we become either soft or hard on the outside, i.e. whether we show or hide our feelings, depends how we reflect upon what comes from inside.   We should not condemn people who openly express their emotions: they are just being sincere.  And we should not be hard on those who look tough: they have the same kind of hearts inside which could break.  Letting others know what you feel has its own good points and bad points.  We just need to act upon the situation.

1. Céline Dion This French diva from Canada is my all-time favourite artist.  She can sing in all colours of both Anglophone and Francophone music and versatile tones – from classical to rock – with sweet romantic voice.  Besides her artistry, her friendly personality and cheery disposition also make a great impression on my personal life.  Her husband (who is also her manager) says her voice counts only 20% for her success but her personality contributes to the rest of the percentage!

–        She is a soprano with a vocal range of 3.4 octaves from B2 to E6.
–        My favourite album of hers is the Anglophone album ‘A New Day Has Come’.
–        My favourite song of hers is the classic ballad ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – love theme from the movie ‘Titanic’.

Céline Dion

"Coz you're my lady, and I am your fan ..."

2. ABBA The 4 performers of this 2-couple pop group really knows how to groove. Their allegro rhythms, soothing melodies, highly advanced piano arpeggios and the simple words composed by the male performers can move me indeed.  Also, the strong vocals of the two female performers, accompanied by the bouncing music, raise my spirits up and make me want to sing my heart out.  They inspire me a lot through both their vocal and instrumental performance.

–        I don’t have a definite favourite album of theirs.
–        My favourite song of theirs is the disco pop song ‘Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie (A Man after Midnight)’.

3. Michael Jackson He is entitled the ‘The King of Pop’ but I’d like to call him ‘The Emperor of Music’ or ‘The Grandfather of Every Contemporary Music’.  I admire him mainly as a performer – for his androgynous but unique vocal displays, avant-garde and eye-catching dance moves and – of course – for his strong, passionate creativity and vision.  Although he is no more, he is believed by everyone to linger in the history of music and in the hearts of his fans.  He came up with new ideas and pathways for music and entertainment and totally revolutionized music videos and live concerts.  Being able to cope with many genres of music, he was the idol and role model for many artists – some of whom are in this list – influencing their artistic creations and performances. He made a great impact on many genres of music, but why didn’t he touch country music?  Anyhow, such an all-rounded versatile artist is to live only once in this whole world.

–        He was a boy-soprano and had an androgynous tenor voice with a 3.6 octave range from E2 to B5.
–        My favourite album of his is ‘Number Ones’.
–        My favourite song of his is the rock song ‘Beat It’ which sings against gang violence.

4. Whitney Houston She is an African-American diva popular for her movie soundtrack albums.  She is good with all areas of music, especially with soul, R&B, jazz and gospel songs.  Her powerful voice enables her to move my heart with great force.  She is (to me) the female version of Michael Jackson in making music videos and also has substantial impact on today’s R&B artists.

–        She is an ex-soprano who is now a mezzo-soprano and has a vocal range of 3.3 octaves form A2 to C#6.
–        My favourite album of hers is her ‘Greatest Hits’ album with 4 new songs and several remixes.
–        My favourite song of hers is ‘I Will Always Love You’ – the original soundtrack from the movie ‘The Bodyguard’.

5. Sarah Brightman This British diva is unquestionably the “Queen of Operatic Pop and Classical Crossover”.  She can combine classical, pop, rock and other forms of music with her soft and sweet vocal and musical skills.  Moreover, she is also a skilful dancer and has played remarkable roles on Broadway … but I don’t know much about that.  She has collaborated with many artists who specialize in different kinds of music.  She is one of a kind.

–        She is a soprano and has a vocal range of 3.5 octaves form B2 to F6.  (I’m not sure about the lowest note.)
–        My favourite album of hers is ‘Harem’ which features great Middle-eastern music influenced by pop and dance styles.
–        My favourite song of hers is ‘Question of Honour’ – the official song of the championship boxing between Henry Maske and Graciano Rocchigiani – which takes the first verse form the Alfred Cantalani opera “La Wally”.

6. Christina Aguilera This lady has a great sense for pop, soul and blues.  She has always been regarded as ‘the girl with the big voice’.  I’d frankly like to call her voice a fierce one which can feature various emotions from aggression and regret to romance, etc. Some say her voice is sexy but I don’t get it.  One thing special about her is that she pays much respect and credit for her works to those who have influenced her artistry.  She is a visionary and inspirational artist, and is the creative director in most of her music videos and concerts.  For taking time to compose music, her creations usually show genuine originality though there is much gap between them.

–        She is a soprano with a vocal range of 4 octaves from C3 to C7.
–        My favourite album of hers is her 2-disc album ‘Back to Basics’.
–        My favourite song of hers duet with Ricky Martin ‘Nobody Wants to Be Lonely’.

7. Boney M All 5 artists of this disco group are the ones who triggered my interest and passion in music and dancing.  Their disco music is closer to rock and Latin rather than pop and dance.  The songs hold simple melodies and simple words but strong beat with loud bass, drums and percussion; I call their music “alternative disco”.  The singing of the 3 male performers is supported by the bass vocals of the male performers and his awkward yet attractive dance moves.

–        I don’t have a definite favourite album of theirs.
–        My favourite song of theirs is ‘Rasputin’.

8. Leona Lewis She has the ability to captivate me in her music.  Her voice holds great attraction, though not very sweet.  The lyrics of her songs are especially visual and features strong emotions, and her music, which is usually pop or R&B, goes in perfect match with her powerful mezzo-soprano voice.  Despite words she sings and her remarkable voice being of stellar grade, the melodies and musical arrangements seem to be almost mediocre.

–        She is a mezzo-soprano with a vocal range of 3.2 octaves from D3 to Eb6.
–        My favourite album of hers is her debut album ‘Spirit’.
–        My favourite song of hers is Bleeding Love’.

9. Carrie Underwood She has stolen this place on this list from Shania Twain.  She has greatly impressed me with her pure country music.  Her music involves authentic country rhythms, flamboyant vocal displays and jazzy country electronic instrumental plays.  Also, she can rock very well with her country music.  The words used in her songs reveal her keen faith in God.  She is a special female country artist like no other.

–        She is an alto whose vocal range I don’t know.  (Some say she can belt a G5 but … I don’t buy it.)
–        My favourite album of hers is ‘Carnival Ride’.
–        My favourite song of hers is ‘Flat on the floor’.

10. Mariah Carey I admire her vocal versatility.  Her thrilling voice spans a remarkable range of 5 octaves, and she uses her head voice properly as whistle ringers.  Her song-writing skills and other musical capabilities add on to her vocal abilities.  She is unquestionably the “Queen of R&B”.  But one should wonder … “Why is she at the bottom of my favourite 10?”  Well, at least, she is still one of my favourites.
–        She is an incredible alto with a vocal range of 5 octaves from A2 to Ab7.
–        My favourite album of hers is ‘E =mc2.
–        My favourite song of hers is ‘We belong together’.

NOTE: You will see only one male artist here because I listen to female singers more.  So what?  I’m a guy and I am more attracted to female voices!  And my list continues in the poll.  Please vote and leave comments …