I started reading just before bed, and her first impressions of Burma seemed so real to me — the monks, the curious kids, the thanaka make-up — that I dreamed of Burma all night.
A guide or driver in Burma will never contradict you — not even when you’re obviously wrong. He’ll merely “suggest” a different option. As in, “Would you perhaps like to go in this direction?”
If your North American ears are still in direct communication mode and not yet attuned to Burmese social nuances, you’ll miss your cue and find yourself hopelessly off course.
So when Karen repeated, “No, I’m happy to walk. I won’t get lost,” in the first chapter as her guide suggested otherwise, I was already cringing. And of course the power went out, leaving her wandering Rangoon in complete darkness.
Then there’s the scene in which she tries to explain condoms to a family of seven in Bagan…
I’m only a few chapters in, and I’m already in love with this book.