…I went to Manderley again.
(And yes, well done to every one of you who finished off the quotation!)
Although I only arrived from Mandalay this morning, the quote was too good to ignore, and the spelling be damned.
And it’s not just poetic licence making me dream of Mandalay, it’s the damn Delhi weather. As I write, bundled up in 2 layers of fleece, it is absolutely throwing it down, and even hailing in some parts of the city. It is cold, windy, grey, and rainy.
Give me the blue skies and warm sunshine of Mandalay any day.
Which leads me nicely to my 2nd visit to Myanmar, which was every bit as fabulous as the first visit, exactly 4 years ago. This visit followed pretty much the same itinerary, with a couple of minor exceptions.
I walked way more on this visit than in 2015, and took tuk tuks, as opposed to the cars & taxis we used before, with the result that I felt as though I saw far more of the cities than last time.
Myanmar was every bit as wonderful as in 2015.
Perhaps more tourists, though not enough to spoil things – well, except for the staking out of sunset viewing spots in Bagan and Mandalay…I tell you, the look of grim determination on the faces of the (mostly) young Europeans who had bagged their places for That Perfect Instagram Sunset Shot, and who were not about to cede one inch of precious space to accommodate latecomers.
But by and large, no huge seismic changes in 4 years, and the Myanmar people are as lovely and gentle and sweet and kind as I had remembered.
Not one unpleasant moment in the entire trip.
Not one rude or officious person.
At check-in yesterday at Mandalay, the girl addressed me as “Mother.” “Mother, please go to the lounge and you can wait there for your flight. Bye bye Mother.”
Needless to say, the contrast with Delhi airport in the early hours of this morning was horrid, and I felt my blood pressure shooting up, faced with the rudeness and bored incompetence of the airline and airport officials.
Air India didn’t give out immigration forms.
There was no-one manning the OCI desk.
We all had to leave the Q and go find forms.
No, there are no pens.
And, just like that, so-called Incredible India was incredibly rude and incredibly stressful.
And I live here and speak the language.
Imagine what it must be like for first time visitors.
You have to wonder what the poor bewildered elderly Thai Buddhist monk standing in front of me in the OCI line thought, when the officious Immigration officer (who eventually strolled over when he felt we’d all waited long enough) barked at him, “OCI. Go to foreigners.”
I explained to the monk where he had to go, and he smiled, joined his hands in thanks and walked away.
Since so much of one’s first impressions of a country are formed by the interaction with its people, you have to wonder…
I’ll get back into my Delhi groove soon enough, you’ll see.
In the meantime, I’ll keep on dreaming…