In the Southeast Asia Globe: Witchcraft, gentrifiction and the trouble with foreigners

I’m very happy to have a piece out in the Southeast Asia Globe on witchcraft, gentrification and problem with foreigners in Yangon, Maymar. The piece is about our sometimes troubled relationship with our neighbours whilst living in Bahan township, Yangon, and a very suspicious-looking bowl of bean porridge. Here’s the beginning:

I saw our neighbour every day. As I stood over the sink, washing dishes, she was there in the alleyway between our apartments, hanging clothes on the bamboo drying racks. 

Sometimes she glanced through the window, and I smiled. She never returned my smile. She just turned away, her shoulders hunched, and went back into the dark of her apartment.

Our neighbour had colonised the space between our apartments. It belonged to us both equally, but she had taken it for her own. She had built makeshift shelves and cupboards to block our back door. She spent hours out there, arranging things, hanging clothes, glaring through our window. 

Early mornings, she swept the back alley clean and left the sweepings outside our apartment. She dragged things she had no use for and piled them outside our kitchen window: old bits of furniture, sheets of glass, broken plastic toys. We picked up her rubbish and put it in the public trash cans only a few metres away.

Sometimes, when I passed her apartment, I raised my hand to greet her. In the mornings I asked her if she had eaten breakfast, the usual greeting in Burmese. It seemed only right we should be neighbourly. But it was no good. She didn’t like us. She never replied.

You can read the full article on the Southeast Asia Globe website.

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