24.01.11 Where We Live
We live in a very pleasant and leafy compound of 5 houses in a fairly well off township to the north-east-ish of downtown but still south of Inya Lake. We are at the end of a road which takes a good 10 minutes to stroll down and surrounded entirely by a monastery complex, so there are always people coming and going past our gate, which is lovely. Friday night is football night when the local lads play outside our compound and last night Alfie ventured out to run around with some local kids. They were initally playing through the gate as our compound guards quite rightly won’t open it unless we ask them to. Alfie repeatedly grabs their hands and drags them over to the handle but they feign weakness and pretend the gate is too heavy for them to open. Sweet! Anyway, Pete said it’s all a bit too much Ambassador’s Children so I went out of the gate with Alfie and let him run around. Well, actually he ran off down the road but the children eventually coaxed him back by trying to teach him how to jump. He screamed with delight!
The monastery and temple complex is huge and we have barely explored a fraction of it. Pete and Alfie do go walking with our neighbour J and his daughter so they are getting the hang of what’s where. I only know that by following our compound wall, where the tarmac road stops outside the gate, you can get to a market where I can buy the freshest most delicious eggs for Alfie’s breakfast. So, aside from stumbling over a temple or two, what we really know of the monastery comes from the daily 6am chanting which is broadcast on a PA system. It sounds like it’s outside our bedroom, on the balcony perhaps. Some days it’s a chap mostly chatting, others I swear it’s a girls choir. But perhaps that’s something to do with being woken up so I could have been dreaming. On high days and holidays it goes on all day apparently. Oh joy. Alfie and Pete already sleep through the whole thing so I guess that will be me one day too. Hmmm.
Luckily our neighbours are fantastic. Alfie has a girl next door who is just 4 days younger than him! She has just moved in with her mum P and they come from a country I can barely pronounce, let alone spell which is obviously rubbish of me. However she works for an NGO and her husband is due to join them any day now. Rather brilliantly she is also interested in starting a coffee morning for mums so I now have an accomplice! Next along we have the gorgeous K from Japan, mother of another girl who will be one next week. J from Sweden is her dad and we have promised each other to honour all the Swedish traditions where possible. They were super welcoming when we arrived, we immediately felt like we had made a couple of new friends. Next to them is an empty house which we hear will soon be occupied by a Japanese/American couple with a 10month old boy, hurrah! And finally we have P and F from France who have lived and worked in Yangon for 9 years and have teenage children, of whom we see very little. Each house has or will have a housekeeper and nanny, though of course P and F don’t need a nanny but have 2 housegirls instead. All the staff, including the compound guys who look after the gardens and maintain the pool as well as the gate and do simple repairs and such, are equally fantastic and especially great with the children. And everyone looks out for everyone else. For example when our shipping arrived last week (while Pete was in Bangkok for a conference, conveniently) and I was knee deep in boxes, Mu Mu and I frantically opening the ones marked Fragile in order to check them, they all took care of Alfie for me – I didn’t see him for two hours!
In fact, now that we have finally unpacked our swing, slide, ride in/on cars and a tricycle, I think Alfie would be quite happy staying in the compound all day. Especially as there are chickens to follow around!