A No Go in Professional Life: Bringing your Mom to Work

Usually, it is a strange thing to do. In general, you don’t bring your parents – or any relatives for that matter – to work. But dwelling in the in-between of my professional and private life everything is different. Ever since the first mentioning of my mother’s upcoming visit to the people around me I am asked frequently when exactly she is coming. Everyone wants to meet her and “shake hands”.

Finally, she is here now. The first day in Mandalay we said hi at the anthropological department and the next day we toured most of the weaving sites that I frequently visit. For my mother everything was new, for me it was new to explain the different sites (a good chance for reflection) and everyone seemed very delighted that – as promised – we actually came visiting.
Some conversations and a lot of pictures taken later, we ended the day at the pagoda hill in Sagaing with Z.’s family. A very typical thing to do, whoever tells me about a special day or event – visiting a pagoda is always part of it and I felt very happy that for us it was the same now, too.

The pagoda area reflects this idea: It is not only a spiritual place that you visit in solitude and quiet for devotion, but it is also a lively place full of families, friends and couples. Street stalls are all around, selling flowers to offer to the Buddha or one of the shrines, snacks, handicraft articles and shiny Chinoiseries to take home as a souvenir.

Already in the past year, pagodas were always my first resort when I arrived at a new place. Because it is right in the middle of life, so that it is easy to connect here – which I feel is one of the strongest differences to the Christian churches I am used to, where silence is the most important thing to obey to and the holy area is not made to show it’s ties to the profane.

Thus, after showing respect to the Buddha there is also time to enjoy the view and take selfies.

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A No Go in Professional Life: Bringing your Mom to Work

Unexpectedly I Land amidst my Field

Through mutual friends I got to know a monk who called me yesterday, so that I spontaneously visited today. I expected to learn more about Buddhism and monastic schools. Instead I learned about his fascinating drive to establish a school beyond the local notions of a school, including more than demanded by the regular curriculum and emphasizing English training, so I was able to easily talk to all the teachers working there as well.

I heard that he comes from a village where weaving is one source of income. Thus I happily agreed to visit it, too. But also here I was surprised to find myself in a village strongly influenced by exactly the kind of weaving that I study. With his excellent translation abilities we managed to receive so much further leading contacts, clues and ideas that I now write this instead of facing the amount of new knowledge that I should right away document in my field notes…

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But the motorbike rides take their toll and my concentration won’t suffice this activity.  My sleeping rhythm has meanwhile adjusted to the myanma daily routine so I will do this in the early morning instead.

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On our way back from the village, the monk on the mototaxi in front of me – in the background Sagaing Hills.

Unexpectedly I Land amidst my Field