On February 12th 1947 General Aung San, the father of independent Burma, signed the Panglong agreement with representatives of the Shan, Chin and Kachin people—three of the largest of the many non-Burman ethnic groups that today make up about two-fifths of Myanmar’s population http://econ.st/19JSEda
Low-level fighting between Myanmar’s army and Kachin rebels is common. Meanwhile, mob violence against Muslim Rohingyas in the western state of Arakan points to further conflicthttp://econ.st/19JSEda
By MIKE IVES
Luxury river cruises hint at the country's colonial past as well as the change it is undergoing today.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Publisher||Harper & Brothers (US)|
|Publication date||October 1934|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Because of concerns that the novel might be potentially libellous, that Katha was described too realistically, and that some of the characters might be based on real people, it was first published "further afield", in the United States. A British edition, with altered names, appeared a year later. When it was published in the 1930s Orwell's harsh portrayal of colonial society was felt by "some old Burma hands" to have "rather let the side down." In a letter of 1946, Orwell said "I dare say it's unfair in some ways and inaccurate in some details, but much of it is simply reporting what I have seen." 
In Myanmar, Valuing an Isolated Orwellian Link
May 27, 2013
Aung Shine Oo for The New York Times
傑沙的英國人俱樂部。在喬治·奧威爾的小說《緬甸歲月》(Burmese Days)中，男性角色們會在這裡消磨時光。The British Club in Katha, where male characters of George Orwell's "Burmese Days" lounged and drank tumblers of whiskey and gin. It now houses offices of a cooperative association.
緬甸傑沙——在浩瀚的伊洛瓦底江江畔的這片前殖民邊疆，喬 治·奧威爾(George Orwell)創作了他的第一部小說《緬甸歲月》(Burmese Days)，深刻地描繪了英國殖民者的專橫態度。他筆下的粗野人物在僅限白人的俱樂部里暴飲威士忌，並在潮濕的酷熱中萎靡不振。從曼德勒駛來的火車緩緩駛 過叢林，為這裡提供了一條連接外部世界的生命線。
奧威爾曾作為帝國警察部隊(Imperial Police Force)的警官在緬甸的不同地方待了5年，直到1927年在傑沙結束了自己的緬甸時光。在這兒的一棟寬敞的兩層木結構建築里，有着壁爐和曾經優雅的樓 梯，這裡依然有着奧威爾的氣息。雖然牆上的油漆已經剝落，室內也覆滿了灰塵。奧威爾的僕人為他做飯所用的室外廚房已經變成一片廢墟，屋頂已不見蹤影，枯葉 也堆在地板上。一名政府官員的家人佔據了一座附屬建築，並把他們洗的衣服掛在正門外。
這座小鎮擁有23830名居民，就像英國人一樣，這裡的地 方政府喜歡維持精確記錄。這裡的大多數人似乎不熟悉奧威爾。尼奧哥南(Nyo Ko Naing)是一名漫畫家和平面設計師，他說，統治緬甸的軍政府讚賞《緬甸歲月》中的反帝國主義精神，但此書的緬甸譯本相當稀缺。尼奧哥南加入了一小撮當 地的奧威爾愛好者，鼓勵當局修復房屋及其荒廢的花園。這裡的花園面積達3英畝（約合1.2公頃），裡面長着雞蛋花和火焰樹。
「我們只有偶爾能拿到，」魚販馬埃(Ma Nge)一邊說一邊在一塊木板上切鯰魚，魚的血滲滿她的手指。蒼蠅爬在她櫃檯上一排排擺放的魚上，她的丈夫耶敏特(Ye Myint)拿一件濕漉漉的T恤驅趕它們。
奧威爾通過他筆下最年輕的一個人物說明了在緬甸的英國監工 的勢利和無知，那就是22歲的天真的伊麗莎白·拉克斯廷(Elizabeth Lackersteen)，她到這裡的時候金髮剪成伊頓式髮型，這是20世紀20年代末的一種流行款式，戴着時髦的玳瑁殼眼鏡，一心想在這裡找個丈夫。
伊麗莎白最喜歡去的地方是英國人俱樂部，那裡的男人們穿着 卡其布短褲、戴着軟木帽，斥責緬甸僕人沒有為他們一杯杯的威士忌和金酒準備足夠的冰塊。俱樂部是一個樸素的錫頂建築，從奧威爾的房子走過去很近，至今仍屹 立在那裡。沿途，小說中提到的網球場已經改造成硬地球場，39歲的郭托(Ko Toe)是一名職業教練，每天早上和傍晚教課。
在小說中，伊麗莎白拒絕了弗洛里，陷於悲傷和憤怒中的弗洛 里對自己開了槍。而伊麗莎白又被維羅爾(Verrall)中尉所拒絕。維羅爾中尉是一名愛玩馬球的年輕軍官，即使用英國人俱樂部的標準來衡量，他都可以算 是粗魯的。在小說的結尾，身形矮胖的地方官、惡棍波金(Po Kyin)得到高升，去了另一個轄區。
KATHA, Myanmar — George Orwell created his first novel, “Burmese Days,” a scathing portrait of the imperious attitudes of the British, from this former colonial outpost on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy River. His brutish characters swilled too much whiskey at a whites-only club, and wilted in the vaporous heat. A train that crawled through the jungle from Mandalay provided a lifeline to the outside world.
The British have long gone, but Katha, camouflaged in the book as Kyauktada, survives as isolated as ever, one of the most tantalizingly difficult places to reach in the rugged precincts of northern Myanmar, formerly Burma.
The remaining whiff of Orwell, whose five years at various stations in Burma as an officer of the Imperial Police Force ended here in 1927, is a spacious two-story wooden house with fireplaces and a once-elegant staircase. Paint peels off the walls, and dust coats the interior. The outdoor kitchen where Orwell’s servants cooked his meals lies in ruin, the roof missing and dead leaves piled on the floor. The family members of a government official squat in an annex, and hang their laundry outside the front door.
Most people in this town of 23,830 — like the British, the local authorities keep precise records — appear unfamiliar with Orwell. The junta that ruled Myanmar admired the anti-imperial spirit of “Burmese Days,” but translations in Burmese were scarce, said Nyo Ko Naing, a cartoonist and graphic designer who has joined a small group of local Orwell aficionados to encourage the authorities to restore the house and its unkempt garden, with its three acres of frangipani and flame trees.
Last month, a minister from the provincial capital came to inspect the house. Mr. Nyo Ko Naing has mounted photographs of Orwell memorabilia in his wife’s restaurant to pique interest. Among the exhibits: an old cover of “Burmese Days” with an Englishman lounging with his feet up and his dog comfortably resting on a stool next to him. A forlorn Burmese servant stands behind, waving a fan to cool his master.
“We don’t have formal word from the government yet,” Mr. Nyo Ko Naing said. “But we hope they will restore it.”
Hardy Orwell readers from abroad drift into Katha from the occasional leisure cruises that ply the Irrawaddy. The other option is a jaw-shattering six-hour road trip, from Bhamo, near the Chinese border, which means traversing 100 miles over gullies of dirt and rock at a plodding pace like the train in 1927.
Wildlife smugglers are willing to take passengers from Bhamo to Katha for $350 round trip, more expensive than most domestic air tickets. The price is steep because human passengers take the place of the smugglers’ usual fare: fat Burmese cobras packed in wooden crates for transport to China.
Convoys of motorbikes weighed down with illicit loads of teakwood heading for buyers in China are the only passing traffic.
The novel is full of references to what Orwell called “wood extraction,” but the forests that lured the British to Burma have been decimated by rampant illegal logging. A landscape of low-lying scrub and plantings of new rubber trees testifies to that. The sublime wild orchids of Orwell’s period — nestled in tree trunks, hanging from eaves — have vanished.
Some things in Katha remain intact. Orwell wrote of a dawn market brimming with “pomelos hanging on strings like green moons,” “brittle dried fish tied in bundles,” “ducks split open and cured like hams,” and “chickens cheeping in wicker cages.”
That variety still exists. On a recent morning, there were globes of mauve aubergine; baskets of pale green tamarind leaves; five kinds of brown mushrooms; slivers of yellow bamboo shoots; tiny crimson chilies; pyramids of pink lychees; and seven crates of different size brown, tawny and white eggs. Hawkers of heart-shaped green betel leaves did a brisk business.
A missing delicacy from Orwell’s era were the “heliotrope-colored prawns the size of lobsters.”
“We get them only occasionally,” said Ma Nge, a fish seller, blood oozing through her fingers from the catfish she was dicing on a wooden board. Flies clambered over the rows of fish laid out on her counter, as her husband, Ye Myint, swatted them away with a bedraggled T-shirt.
The snobbery and ignorance of the British overseers in Burma are exemplified by Orwell’s youngest creation, a 22-year-old naïf named Elizabeth Lackersteen who arrives here with her blonde hair bobbed into an Eton crop, the mode of the late 1920s, and wearing fashionable tortoiseshell glasses. She comes in search of a husband.
Flory, a British timber merchant with a birthmark down one side of his face, the only character who shows empathy with the Burmese and who despises the boozers and bores of the British Club, falls for her.
He tries to interest her in local culture, taking her to a pwe, a Burmese play performed by gaslight outdoors on the street. She recoils at the “smelly natives,” calls most things “beastly” and prefers to laze in a drawing room perfumed by “chintz and dying flowers.”
Elizabeth’s favorite haunt is the British Club, where the men wear khaki shorts and topee hats and berate the Burmese servants for running low on ice for their tumblers of whiskey and gin. The club, a modest tin-roofed building, still stands, a short walk from Orwell’s house. En route, the tennis court from the novel has been modernized with a hard surface, and Ko Toe, 39, a professional coach, teaches classes mornings and evenings.
Remarkably, an original official diary dated 1874 to 1949 with almost daily entries in spidery handwriting in Burmese script tells much of what happened from the time the British came until after they left at independence in 1948.
The pages are curled from age and heat, the ink faded. But entries about salaries, costs of transportation, and George V ascending to the British throne in May 1910 are still legible.
In the novel, Elizabeth spurns Flory, who, overcome by desolation and rage, shoots himself. In turn, she is spurned by Lieutenant Verrall, a rude — even by British Club standards — polo-playing young army officer. At the end of the novel, the villain, U Po Kyin, an exceptionally rotund magistrate, moves to another district for a plum job.
“The bad guys win,” said Mr. Nyo Ko Naing, who has read the novel five times, searching for authenticity about old Katha. “I hate the judge. All the characters of the Myanmar military regime share the same character as the judge. I like Flory. He has a good heart.”