Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year! I am travelling tomorrow. See you all next year!



Sunday, December 23, 2007

George Orwell's 1984

I have been reading George Orwell's 1984. I am half way now. I want to share some quotes I like.


One of these days, thought Winston with sudden deep conviction, Syme
will be vaporized. He is too intelligent. He sees too clearly and speaks too plainly.
The Party does not like such people. One day he will disappear. It is written in his
face.


Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was
forgotten, the lie became truth.


Orwell, in my opinions, probably wrote this fiction based on his experiences about
the British colonial rule in Burma. Orwell used to live in Katha and Moulmein
(Mawlamyine) while he was serving in the Indian Imperial Police. He hated imperialism
and quit the job. He later pursued his writing career.


The book vividly describes the danger of being watched and brain-washed by a
government. The main character, Winston Smith, works at the Records Department of a
fictional country called Oceania. The department is responsible for
producing records that are in line with the Party's agenda and deleting those
that are not.


Here is the link to
Wikipedia's article
about the novel.


The following is the link to full text for "1984", "Animal Farm" and
"Down and Out in Paris and London."


http://www.msxnet.org/orwell


All of Orwell's work can be read free here.


More about George Orwell at
Wikipedia
.


I think 1984 is a good read, especially for the people under an authoritative
government. I hope somebody translates this into Burmese.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Poor Burmese girls

Independent Appeal: Burma's girls are victims of China's
one-child policy

No one ever expected it to be the young girls of Burma who would become the
unintended victims of the one-child birth control policy in China. But two
decades on, children as young as 10 are being trafficked across the border from
Burma into China as child brides. They are sold into a future of high uncertainty.

Read more at the Independent.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

West meets East

I went to Chatuchak weekend market today. It was probably my fourth or fifth visit.

Chatuchak is a very famous tourists destination in Bangkok. A visit to Chatuchak is like an exotic cultural experience for tourists, especially for westerners from developed countries. Everything from Thai silk to modern fake Levi jeans can be found at the clothing stall booths as far as the eyes can see. The shops sell almost everything under the sun --- antique handicrafts and modern furniture, books and
collectable items, plants and pets, and you name it.

The visits to Chatuchak made me think about the cultural differences between people from developing and developed countries. Western tourists would look for antique ethnic handicrafts whereas the locals would not even care about those sections of the market.

In my observations, people from industrialized countries tend to appreciate this kind of picture.

Sunset in Bagan (Photo source is unknown and may have copyrights
held by the photographer)



Life in Burma





On the contrary, people from developing countries tend to be impressed by this kind of picture.

Shanghai Skyscrapers at night (Picture taken from http://www.cepolina.com)



Developing countries want to develop faster and faster at the cost of natural and cultural beauty. China, for example, is growing very fast at the cost of social stability, the income gap between the rich and poor becoming wider and wider [WSJ] They even want to build more dams in Burma [Irrawaddy].

Big international businesses are moving to less developed countries not only for cheap labor, but also for less strict environmental rules and regulations.

Developed countries, on the other hand, want to go back to history and preserve natural beauty. To tell you the truth, the air quality in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA (where I went to college) is better than the air quality in my home town, Mudon, Mon State in Burma. Thanks to cheap Thailand and Chinese made motorbikes and no rules regarding air pollution, the air quality in my hometown in Burma is getting worse these days. The fact that every factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has to follow strict environmental rules and regulations has made the environment very nice for the citizens of the
town.

I, for one, am looking forward to the days when leaders in developing countries, Asean in particular, will start to talk about putting the interest and basic human rights of their own people ahead of the economic development. I hope that our region will grow without sacrificing our natural and cultural beauty.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Anger and Hatred

I was browsing through some Burmese blogs for information related to Burma.
Some blogs are very informative and entertaining. Some are very poetic and
imaginative. Some are full of gossips and personal attacks.


Some comments on the blogs did remind me of
soc.culture.burma
while I was a student in the US.


Back in the days of early and late 90s, Usenet newsgroup were the places where
people shared information and ideas. It was before we know the web as we do today.


Anti-junta Burmese folks (they are majority in the virtual world of the Internet)
would fight with the pro-junta people (minority) in discussion groups.


Some people just got tired of arguing and defaced
www.myanmar.com
on August 3, 2000.


People's hatred of the current military government can be seen online since the early
90s. The military has always crushed any calls for reforms in the history
(in 1988, 1996, and 2007 as far as my life span is concerned). The people are
generally not happy with the military regime. They expressed
their anger when they can.


Today's blogs are also just a reminder of how people are fed up with the current
situations in our beautiful country.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

U Thant Crisis

The following is from Wikipedia.

From the United Nations headquarters in New York, U Thant's body was flown back to Rangoon but no guard of honour or high ranking officials were on hand at the airport when the coffin arrived.

On the day of U Thant's funeral on December 5, 1974, tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Rangoon to pay their last respects to their distinguished countryman whose coffin was displayed at Rangoon's Kyaikasan race course for a few hours before the scheduled burial.

The coffin of U Thant was then snatched by a group of students just before it was scheduled to leave for burial in an ordinary Rangoon cemetery. The student demonstrators buried U Thant on the former grounds of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU), which Ne Win had dynamited and destroyed on July 8, 1962.

During the period of December 5 through December 11, 1974, the student demonstrators also built a temporary mausoleum for U Thant on the grounds of the Rangoon University Students Union (RUSU) and gave anti-government speeches. In the early morning hours of December 11, 1974, government troops stormed the campus, killed some of the students guarding the make-shift mausoleum, removed U Thant's coffin, and reburied it at the foot of the Shwedagon Pagoda, where it has continued to lie.

U Thant's Tomb, Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Yangon (Picture from Wikipedia)




Upon hearing of the storming of the Rangoon University campus and the forcible removal of U Thant's coffin, many people rioted in the streets of Rangoon. Martial law was declared in Rangoon and the surrounding metropolitan areas. What has come to be known as the U Thant crisis --- the student-led protests over the shabby treatment by the Ne Win government of U Thant --- was crushed by the Burmese government.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Yet Another Blog?

Blogs

Ordinary citizens without training in professional journalism have been involved in the reporting of news using the latest technology on the Internet. A blog is an example of an ordinary citizen reporting to the world what is going on in his community or relating his ideas and
beliefs to the world.

Blogs normally use informal language with spoken style. However, many readers follow blogs with clear messages and interesting content.

Many Burmese blogs, mostly in Burmese and some in English, have emerged recently. The enthusiasts in Burma started Burmese blogs. They later provided the community with technical know-hows and instructions on how to start a Burmese blog. As a result, the number of Burmese blogs grew
quickly in recent months.

At first, the blogs avoid political content. Later, they started to talk about social issues and economic hardships faced by the local community.

Dissidents inside and outside Burma finally joined the blogosphere to promote freedom of speech. They talked about various political issues in the country. Some bloggers started to retell the stories of activists' experiences in the infamous prisons in Burma. The blogs have become tools to promote political awareness among the youth.

September revolution and blogs

We have already seen the effectiveness of citizen journalists as in the form of blogs in the latest September Saffron revolution in Burma. Many photos and videos were sent out to the world's media by bloggers inside Burma to let the world know what was going on within a few hours, triggering support
for the Burmese people.

Burmese democracy movements during and following Saffron revolution become widespread because of bloggers, both inside and outside Burma. The best example can be seen in Singapore. Singapore Burmese community, in the past, did not openly show their support for the cause of democracy in their homeland. And yet the most effective Burmese movement outside of Burma supporting September
revolution was seen in Singapore.

The Burmese community was able to shake Singapore, which keeps dismissing that Burma issue is an internal problem. The activities by the patriotic Burmese in Singapore are testing the limit of the tolerance of free speech in the island nation.

People inside Burma were able to inform themselves through satellite TV broadcasting
by BBC, CNN and DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma), which use pictures sent in by
the citizen journalists.

What do we need?

Most of the bloggers are not trained in journalism. They do this out of their love for the country and sense of responsibility. Most of them do not even have any formal training on how to get news and report.

It would be more effective if we have some knowledge of the practices of journalism and news writing to disseminate the news out of Burma where most foreign reporters are barred. Burmese bloggers would need to know:
  1. Effective writing and reporting skills
  2. Ethics and standards of journalism

Effective writing and reporting skills

Learning how to report and communicate effectively are important skills for citizen journalists. It is very important for a blogger to have a clear writing style with creative ideas to interest the readers.

Citizen journalists with good reporting skills can fill in the need of the requirements to disseminate quality Burmese news to the international audience. Even among dissident media, except for the Irrwaddy in English and Khitpyaing in Burmese, most of the exiled media have not reached the world class level yet. Most of the media inside Burma are filled with North Korean style rhetoric.

Ethics and standards of journalism

Bloggers need to know best practices of the news media and copyright issues relating to reprint of articles from a newspaper or web site if they are to be communicating to the international audience. During Saffron revolution, some bloggers reprint the whole AFP news story instantaneously within hours. That is definitely an illegal practice.

Teach us introduction to journalism

Many patriotic Burmese can play the role of citizen journalists in the future.

It would be very beneficial if someone at somewhere with the experience of training journalists can give us a short tutorial or workshop on the topic. I would like to suggest to have a short introductory self-study on journalism and how to write effectively to convey our message to the international audience. I myself would like to learn how to turn ideas into well-presented form of reporting.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Wall Street Journal's article on Burma

Wall Street Journal's article on Burma. Excerpts here:

As Burma's monks and other protestors risk life and limb by marching against their overlords we [the international community] cannot simply let this moment slip by. The nonviolent resistance of Burmese inside and outside Burma to the brutal military regime cries out for support, and world leaders must at least vigorously stand with the Burmese people and echo their call for change. If they do not respond to the world's truly non-violent political struggles, they send the message that the world responds only to violence.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Moezack's Blog disappeared

http://www.moezack.blogspot.com


I noticed that Moezack's blog is not available any more. A few days ago, Moezack posted pictures of monks walking in Rangoon (Yangon). It's not clear what has happened.



Friday, September 14, 2007

The plight of Padaung people

The Irrawaddy has an artilce about Padaung people here.


Padaung is an ethnic minority living along the Thai-Burma border. They are known as "long-necks" by the outside world. Because of their unique cultural practice of neck-stretching, they attract interest from all over the world. It's a beauty to be unique in the world. However, it's a curse to be regarded as "objects" for tourist attractions.


Here are some excerpts from the article.


The three camps [in Thailand] where Padaung live are called "human zoos" by critics.


In 1998 Thai police raided a Padaung village in Chiang Mai Province and charged the businessmen who ran the tourist attraction with holding the villagers against their will.



Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A computer shop owner warned in Mogok

Mogok's Blog Writer Warned (Source: Irrawaddy)


A computer shop owner and blogger, Thar Phyu, was warned by the local authorities for operating a computer shop without having a license. It was not clear if the warning was also related to his blog about Mogok because the authorities seized his computer.



Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Burmese people: democracy and freedom of speech in the strictly-controlled island nation, Singapore.

Read the news here.


It's against the law to demonstrate in Singapore without an official permit. It's also aginst the law for more than five people to assemble in public. Singapore is a police state, in my personal opinions. I want to visit there one day. I don't think I want to live there.


About Jimmy by Jim


Jim Andrews wrote about Jimmy (Kyaw Min Yu), Nilar Thein and 88 Generation students' sacrifices.


A very special kind of courage



Saturday, September 01, 2007

Burmese blogs

Some blogs that are following Burmese news. (They are in Burmese)

http://satedat.blogspot.com

http://publicenemies.blogspot.com

http://fine-leaves.blogspot.com

Low Risk Actions, which can be taken by the public to show their discontent

Ko Kyaw Htin, a former student of Rangoon Institute of Technology, wrote this article, which brainstorms many ideas for getting the public involved in the movement to fight for freedom.

http://fine-leaves.blogspot.com/2007/08/very-low-risk-actions.html


Friday, August 31, 2007

Thailand lifts YouTube ban

Thailand has lifted its four-month ban on YouTube after YouTube implemented a program to block access through Thai Internet Service Providers to video clips that violate Thai law or are "deemed offensive."


How would they define "deemed offensive"? I don't know.



Saturday, August 25, 2007

Birthday thoughts

Today is my birthday. As I think about my future, I also think about the future of Burma. Where will it go 10 years from now? I hope I can do something for Burma. I thought about Ko Htay Kywe and other Burmese student leaders.

Detained Myanmar activists face legal action

Reuters has the news about the 88-generation student leaders facing legal action.

I have to say that I respect them much for their sacrifices.

From his location in hiding, Htay Kywe told The Irrawaddy, "With the cooperation of the people, we are ready to break through all obstacles if the political and economic impasse in Burma persists."


Ko Htay Kywe (ဌေးကြွယ်) and me. The picture was taken on December 1, 2004. Ko Htay Kywe spent about 14 years in prison for his political involvment in 1988 student movement.

Friday, August 03, 2007

US Bridge Collapse in Minnesota

Federal transportation officials are traveling to the Twin Cities Thursday to begin investigating the deadly collapse of an interstate bridge into the Mississippi River in Minnesota.

CBS News


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Professor Hla Pe died in Moulmein

A former professor of Burmese at the University of London died at his home in Moulmein in Mon State on July 31.

Irrawaddy news article

During his days in London, Hla Pe worked on a Burmese-English language dictionary with other leading scholars---J A Stewart, C W Dunn, J S Furnivall, G H Luce, Charles Duroiselle, Anna Allott, John Okell and the Americans R. Halliday and A C Hanna. The project started in 1925 under the aegis of the Burma Research Society, and was continued at Rangoon University and later SOAS.

As old professors are dead and dying, the future of Burmese literature remains bleak. Tight censorship and not having freedom to think have killed the creativity of many young people in Burma. For example, Burma Research Society does not even exist now while Siam Society in Thailand thrives on.

THE BURMA RESEARCH SOCIETY

The Burma Research Society was inaugurated on 29 March 1910 at a meeting held at the Bernard Free Library, Rangoon. Its aims were "the investigation and encouragement of Art, Science and Literature in relation to Burma and the neighbouring countries ".

From the start the Burma Research Society represented a fusion of the energy and initiative of a generation of both Burmese and Europeans - early leading luminaries being John S.Furnivall, Charles Duroiselle, U May Oung, Gordon Luce and U Pe Maung Tin. The Society's meetings and Journal were a forum for enthusiastic debate and research on Burma for seventy years.

As well as publishing the Journal, the Burma Research Society played a leading role in the publication of rare Burmese historical and literary manuscript texts and in the publication of prescribed school textbooks. In the wartime period, the Society sponsored the publication in India of a useful series of eleven 'Burma Pamphlets'.

The Society also published its Fiftieth Anniversary Publications (Rangoon: Burma Research Society, 1960-61. 2 vols.) of which the first volume consisted of papers read at the Society's fiftieth anniversary conference, with photographs of all past presidents of the Society, and the second, and most useful, volume reprinted a selection of articles on history and literature from earlier issues of the Journal (including articles by D.G.E. Hall, G. H. Luce, U Kaung, and U Pe Maung Tin).

There is an Index to the Journal of the Burma Research Society (1911-1977) compiled by U Than Aung (Rangoon: Department of Library Studies, Diploma in Librarianship, 1978. 138p.) covering vols. 1-59 and the Fiftieth Anniversary Publications volumes, with entries listed by author and subject. In 1980, the Burma Research Society celebrated its seventieth anniversary with a conference at Rangoon University, but the Society was closed down soon after and its Journal ceased publication. Like the Journal of the Siam Society it was the premier research journal on Burma. Foremost Myanmar Historian Dr. Than Tun was the Editor for many years in the post Independence years.

The above information was taken from here.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Martyr's Day

Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.
Lord Byron

Salute to the fallen heroes and those who dare for Burma!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday, July 13, 2007

Saving Fish from Drowning

I have been reading Amy Tan's "Saving Fish from Drowning."


A glimpse of the book


A pious man explained to his followers: "It is evil to take lives and noble to save them. Each day I pledge to save a hundred lives. I drop my net in the lake and scoop out a hundred fishes. I place the fishes on the bank, where they flop and twirl. 'Don't be scared,' I tell those fishes. 'I am saving you from drowning.' Soon enough, the fishes grow calm and lie still. Yet, sad to say, I am always too late. The fishes expire. And because it is evil to waste anything, I take those dead fishes to market and I sell them for a good price. With the money I receive, I buy more nets so I can save more fishes." - Anonymous Twelve American tourists join an art expedition that begins in the Himalayan foothills of China - dubbed the true Shangri-La - and heads south into the jungles of Burma. But after the mysterious death of their tour leader, the carefully laid plans fall apart, and disharmony breaks out among the pleasure-seekers as they come to discover that the Burma Road is paved with less-than-honorable intentions, questionable food, and tribal curses. And then, on Christmas morning, eleven of the travelers boat across a misty lake for a sunrise cruise - and disappear. Drawing from the current political reality in Burma and woven with pure confabulation, Amy Tan's picaresque novel poses the question: How can we discern what is real and what is fiction, in everything we see? How do we know what to believe?


The above text is taken from world catalog descriptions about the book.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Future of Burmese News Media

The sad news of famous Burmese actor "Dwe", who died yesterday, was not picked up by an established news media, rather by a blogger. The blog entry came up online the same day within a few hours of the incident.

May Dar Wii has been posting regularly with an irregular internet access from Burma. Her blog gives the readers firsthand descriptions of life in Burma.

I am sure the future of Burmese news media will move to the Internet, which is a good thing because it's much harder to censor online contents. Let's look towards the future. Even the Chinese hasn't successfuly been filtering all of the so-called "unhealthy-for-citizens" information. The arms race between censorship and anti-censorship measures have already begun in Burma. I am sure anti-censorship endeavors will not fail.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

7th July

The Internet and blogosphere has become a place to write contemporary history, which otherwise would have been forgotten because of censorship in printed media. I hope someone will write about 7th July in Wikipedia. Here is an article about 7th July in Burmese by Myint Zay.

About 7th July

7th July Memorial (Picture taken from Myint Zay's blog)




Saturday, June 30, 2007

A tornado in Burma

One Killed in Myanmar Tornado

YANGON: One woman was killed, seven injured and hundreds left homeless after a freak tornado ripped through Yangon, police said Friday.

Meanwhile in America:

New York City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Myanmar Copper Thieves Dice with Death

Myanmar Copper Thieves Dice with Death(News from Reuters)

Thieves in the former Burma's main city, Yangon, are taking advantage of outages often lasting for more than 20 hours a day to steal the copper power cables, police said on Friday.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thoughts

Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C, Summer 2000

I was driving on Pennsylvania Avenue when the sound of siren wailed behind me. I pulled over to the side and let them pass. I moved on within a few minutes after a few official cars passed me.

Hledan Junction, City of Rangoon (Yangon), Summer 2004

I was on a crowded bus on the way back to Insein from downtown. Long lines of cars were waiting for the green light because one important government official was supposed to pass across the Hledan junction. All of us were waiting for about half an hour in the crowded bus.

Phaya Thai Road near the Victory Monument, City of Bangkok, Tonight

I was at the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) eating chicken tortilla. Some people were fixing the phone booth across the street. The police came over and told them something. They all went to the side of the street and were standing there. Surprised, I was watching them and wondering what was going on. A few minutes passed. Police cars with wailing sirens and some expensive SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicle) passed. They went back to work at the phone booth.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reading

I haven't been writing anything lately. However, I am reading some interesting Burmese blogs. Khin Min Zaw's blog touched me. Very interesting experiences of the blogger.

Khin Min Zaw's blog


Friday, June 08, 2007

UNDP Myanmar

Inner City Press published a piece of news about Myanmar UNDP. According to the news from Inner City Press, UNDP's associate administrator, Mr. Melkert, acknowledged that corruption was found among UNDP's staff in Myanmar.



Even as Melkert spoke of improving disclosure, information was withheld. While acknowledging that unspecified corruption was found among UNDP's staff in Myanmar, Mr. Melkert pointedly declined to explain the substance or even subject of the corruption.


Read more.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

The blog that I noticed

I have been following Sayama May Nyane's blog recently.


Sayama May Nyein (Nyane) is a well-known Burmese writer and a former Burmese literature lecturer at Rangoon University. She is currently living in exile.



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Internet Censorship in Thailand on the rise

I have noticed that Internet censorship is getting worse in Thailand. Here is the screen shot of the chat box being blocked by Thailand ISP. The chat box is being used by several bloggers hosted on blogspot.com.

Screen shot of May Nyane's blog



Note: www.youtube.com is still banned in Thailand.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Myanmar bids for world record on slowest e-mail

Professor Rohan Samarajiva from Sri Lanka wrote the following notes in LINREasia's blog.


LIRNEasia and ISEAS organized an expert forum on ICT indicators in Singapore in March 2007. On the 26th of January, the Myanmar Ministry of Post and Telecom sent an e-mail to the ISEAS in Singapore, nominating an officer to attend. That e-mail reached ISEAS yesterday (4th June 2007; more than four months later).


Does this not suggest a need to radically reform the Myanmar ICT infrastructure?



Saturday, April 07, 2007

Interest in Burma?

When I looked at the visitor logs for my site, I found a visitor from NBC Universal in North Hollywood, searching for images of "Burma Village" through google images. Burma is interesting indeed.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Depressed

I haven't been able to write anything lately. I am really depressed. I hope to overcome this but I am not sure how.



Friday, February 23, 2007

Anti-government protest in Burma

About a dozen Burmese activists staged a demonstration in downtown Rangoon on Thursday, calling on the government to do something to correct the country's economic and social crisis and eliminate corruption. Onlookers joined in the protest. Riot police stepped in and arrested at least two people.

http://www.irrawaddy.org/article.php?art_id=6758


Thursday, February 22, 2007

No updates

I haven't been able to update my blog for a long time. The web site was down for many weeks because Friends of Burma in the US forgot to renew the domain name. Now the site is back up.



I have been busy with school and work and I am a bit depressed, too.



Sunday, January 14, 2007

Burma's Secret War

A British journalist, Evan Williams, sneaked into Burma as a tourist and made this documentary about Burma. It was broadcast on channel 4 in the UK on October 2, 2006.

Burma

An Article by Evan Williams


Saturday, January 13, 2007

YouTube and Burma

Old clips of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Interview appear on YouTube.


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Asean


I looked around YouTube and found a lot of stuff from Burma, including music videos, clips from Burma and video shots by tourists. I came across good video interviews of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. You should definitely check that out. It's cool.


Is YouTube going to be banned soon in Burma? Or it's already been? Let's wait and see.



Friday, January 12, 2007

Glite Gmail

I have recently noticed the increased traffic to my site from Burma. Many of them were through google search. What were they looking for? "glite gmail." Glite is a light client to access gmail intended for mobile phone users. I think many people were trying to access gmail as it has probably been banned again.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Glass Palace

Today is Independence Day in Burma. Burma has been independent for 59 years now. Instead of developing forward, its direction of development is backwards. I hope the best for our country in the future.

I read "Burmese Days" by George Orwell on New Year Eve. It was a very interesting book. Here is online version:

http://www.george-orwell.org/Burmese_Days/index.html

I have started reading The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. It was an interesting book on love, war and families. Here is a review from Amazon site:

Set primarily in Burma, Malaya, and India, this work spans from 1885, when the British sent the King of Burma into exile, to the present. While it does offer brief glimpses into the history of the region, it is more the tale of a family and how historical events influenced real lives. As a young boy, Rajkumar, an Indian temporarily stranded in Mandalay, finds himself caught up in the British invasion that led to the exile of Burma's last king. In the chaos, he spies Dolly, a household maid in the royal palace, for whom he develops a consuming passion and whom years later he tracks down in India and marries. As their family grows and their lives intersect with others, the tangled web of local and international politics is brought to bear, changing lives as well as nations. Ghosh ranges from the condescension of the British colonialists to the repression of the current Myanmar (Burmese) regime in a style that suggests E.M. Forster as well as James Michener. Highly recommended, especially for public libraries.

The book detailed King Thebaw of Burma and his family being sent to Ratnagiri, a sleepy port town south of Bombay. It vividly described how sad the way the king of Burma and his family ended their lives. It also detailed how Thebaw's daughter fell in love with their coachman and finally got married. She actually did settle in Ratnagiri.

Rajkumar fell in love with Dolly, a smart maid of the royal family, and got married. They moved to Rangoon. Rajkumar had become a successful businessman based in Rangoon. His mentor, Saya John, moved to Malaya to start rubber business. Rajkumar was a business partner. Uma, a friend of Dolly, and a Hindu widow, spent her life speaking out for the poor and the Independence of India. It is also interesting to note how Indians all the over the world are good at social networking for business and political purposes.

Rajkumar and Dolly had two sons now, Neel (Sein Win) and Dinu (Tun Pe). Neel got married with a Bengali girl from Calcutta and the family came back to Rangoon after the big wedding. Dinu was interested in photography and politics. He was an antifascist. Rajkumar was hospitalized and during his stay at the hospital, he thought about his life and thought about leaving Burma because anti-foreigner sentiment was getting high in Burma. Aung San left for Japan to get help to fight the British. Rajkumar thought about liquidating his business. He wanted his family to be safe. That was what Dolly wanted all along. Dolly had an incident in which she was framed by local Burmese and asked why she married a foreigner, an Indian. She said while she was an exile in India with the King Thebaw, everybody in Burma forgot about them. Dinu left for Malaya to persuade Matthew and Elsa to sell their rubber plantation. Matthew was a son of Saya John, Rajkumar's mentor. Matthew and Elsa died in a car accident. Alison, their daughter was now helpless and had no choice but to run the rubber plantation herself. Saya John was 80 years old then and had became senile. Dinu fell in love with Alison and decided to settle in Malaya. He found out about his father's illegitimate son, Ilongo. Ilongo had to help rescue the Morningside rubber plantation after both Alison and Saya John died fleeing Malaya from Japanese invasion. Ilongo later became a successful politician. He successfully ran the plantation in cooperative style with the migrant workers. After Alison's death, Dinu left for Burma and looked for his family. However, his family had already left Burma for India because of war. Dinu lived with Doh Say, his father's old friend. He took up photography and earned a living with it. He was later found by Dolly, who came back from India searching for her son. She then went to Sagaing to live peacefully. She died a year later.

Dinu moved back to Rangoon and later married Thin Thin Aye, who became a successful writer. She said to her husband, "To use the past to justify the present is bad enough - but it's just as bad to use the present to justify the past." Her remark was about Burma and the British colonialism. They both lived in Rangoon the rest of their lives.

Rajkumar died in India. His grand-daughter, Jaya, daughter of Neel, later tried to write a book about her family. She traced Ilongo to Malaya and Dinu to Yangon. She visited them and it was in Yangon when the story ended while Jaya was on her way to the Yangon International Airport, accompanied by her uncle Dinu. It was the year of 1996 when the story ended.