TM NOTE: As President Obama heads to this country, Myanmar, also known as Burma, it is in the eye of the onlooker what it’s named. As Boston.com reminds readers [AP report], “‘Burma” is something Myanmar officials can get sore about.” James’s journey, of location and soul, takes him to Myanmar this week.
I found my father’s old house today, but first.
Prior to this trip, I knew one person well who spends a lot of time in Burma, Tom Vallely who runs the Myanmar Program for the Kennedy School at Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Through a friend of mine at CCNC, I was introduced to Tay Za, one of Burma’s most successful businessmen. And that’s basically it.
Yesterday, my first day here, was Tommy’s last so we arranged to meet at the Chatrium Hotel on Nat Mauk where we chatted and caught up and enjoyed a steamy Yangon night. Of course, we talked about how I hadn’t yet found out the post Independence name for Park Road. The only thing I knew was that it was on the lake, north of the city near Aung San’s house. My father knew him before he was killed and I knew that my father had chosen the house because it was close to his. As anyone who has followed recent history here, Aung San Suu Kyi was under house arrest at her home on University Ave for years.
I made a mistake in that I always presumed my father’s house was near that lake and that she now lived in her father’s home.
But I was wrong.
Today I was at The Strand Hotel briefly and on the wall there is a map of the city from 1930 and Park Road is now Nat Mauk Road,the road on the north of the smaller lake near the city. The road I sat with Tommy on last night.
I took a taxi over and counted down, and hopped out at 86 and there the house is. It’s bordered by the small road you take up to Aung San’s house which is now a museum, the two houses are about a quarter mile apart.
The house has seen better days and there is a large fence around it. But I was able to get some pictures and it was just amazing to be there. I went into the bed and breakfast next door and asked if they knew who owned it. And they did.
“It has been purchased by one of our country’s biggest businessmen.”
“Who’s that I asked?”
I already sent the email and I’ll let you know how I do.