After doing business in Yangon for about three and a half years, I came back to Japan in February, 2000. While in Yangon the journeys I took were from my home to my office and as I was not in the habit of visiting many places I did not have the chance to know Myanmar in detail. Yet I would like to write what I learned about from a fixed point of view.
No greetings were heard in the morning and I was naturally amazed for in Japan we say Good morning to anyone we meet in the morning. In Yangon, Myanmar citizens do not exchange greetings. I stayed at the hotel with Myanmar friends but they did not said greetings. What was wrong with me, I asked myself. Or what did I do wrong. Generally, Myanmar friends smiled to me. That was their way of greeting in Yangon Better still, they would ask you if you had had your breakfast. Do not ever think that that' is none of your business.
A strange encounter at the office was that when a Myanmar employee came to a Japanese officer's table on business he would patiently wait till the officer had finished his work without telling his business. In Japan no one would wait for the officer to finish his business since it was natural for the officer to be busy during office hours. In Myanmar it was another story. Only when the official noticed the person waiting patiently for a free moment and asked what was the business would he say his case. Being busy was the situation for both and if we wait for a free moment to do business our business would be surely delayed. But then it may be the usual way they do business in government offices here, I thought.
In the northern part of Yangon there is a monastery where foreign language are taught. Students enjoy food and tea at the cafes in the garden of the monastery. I had volunteers to tech Japanese there and I used to go to the cafes but I was not allowed to pay my bill because the students insisted on paying for me. It would be impropriate to pay myself and so I let them pay for me quietly.
I had taught Japanese to follow employees of my office who were interested. After that we developed a teacher-student relationship beside the relationship between Japanese employer and local employees. In Myanmar teacher student relationship is rather special. It might be called the professor-and-students relationship for they showed such a great respect. Teaching Japanese was after five and it would not be the same during the office hours I thought but they called me saya (teacher) all the same.
An ordinary person chooses a monk to run for that holy person is a real pleasure. Just like we join fan clubs as a talent in Japan. The involvement of the professor and his students are in like manner.
I think, in this Buddhist country where love affairs are not to be discussed frankly in public, that latent energy changed into the spirit of the pupil to pay at most respect to his teacher!.