SURVIVE IN DARKNESS, or try to

A very informational piece by Aung Khant and Oattra

Aung Khant’s dramatical recreation of his experience during power outages

Think about a magnificent country. A country with gorgeous religious sites as well as a developing modern economy. Now scrap all of that and tell me what you think about incessant power outages, because that’s our reality right now. While there are a lot more issues that are a whole lot more serious and concerning than us having to deal with power outages, you’ll hear people say that the regular outages still affect our daily lives greatly, especially since we’ve gotten so used to relatively consistent power consumption and availability for so long.

Aung Khant feels much sadness. Picture on the left: FEBRUARY 15, 2018: “The evening walk along the crowded Maha Bandula Road, decorated with Chinese New Year lanterns, on February 15 in Yangon.” (Source) Picture on the right: “Junta under pressure to restore access to electricity in Myanmar” (Source)

Some issues that are prominent includes the following:

  • School and work schedules being disrupted due to power cuts during working hours.
  • Difficulty for students to focus and work.
  • Not being able to continue work that requires electricity.

After enduring and working around power outages for about two months, we’ve discovered and come up with a few ways to solve some of the problems stated above. Of course, there are some issues that are just out of our own capability of fixing. 

There are two types of problem solving in this situation. 1) You power through your obstacles with sheer mental power and sturdiness or 2) You spend some money to make your life just ever-so-slightly easier. Below we’ll detail how to solve some of the aforementioned problems using both types of problem solving. 

Schedules being disrupted

When the power cuts started, it just went out randomly. But now, it can be observed to be following a consistent-enough schedule, emphasis on enough.

So, we should schedule our work according to what time the electricity will be cut. Work on the things that require electricity in the times that electricity is available. But how do we do this?

Learn to make lists. Lots of lists. Too many of them perhaps. The easiest, and possibly the worst, thing that could happen is that you forget about some assignment or project that you have to get done. There’s no feeling more horrible when you wake up in the morning and suddenly get slapped across the face by an assignment that’s due that you’ve completely forgotten about. Completely ruins your mood, I swear.

There are several ways and methods to go about making a list of tasks and assignments. Of course, the easiest method of sorting is to prioritize them by due date. Make sure to finish the assignments that are due earlier; a very no-brainer strat. But there’s something else, something you might not have thought of before. Say you have six assignments and two projects due within the next three weeks or so, you probably have a lot of steps and tasks you need to complete for those assignments. Instead of only having those six assignments and two projects listed into your to-do list, you should also detail the different smaller tasks and steps to complete those assignments and also set a small due date for those tasks. Instead of a due date, you can also add the day you plan to work on that step. For example,

instead of:

To-do List:

  • ICT project (Due 20th)
  • the other ICT project (Due 30th)
  • ELA summative (Due 29th)
  • Bio exam (Due 1st)
  • AP Psych exam (May 3)
  • Biopsych project (Due 25)
  • Maid cafe (May 20)

try going for something like this:

To-do List:

  • ICT project (Due 20th)
    • write initial draft (12)
    • revise (13)
    • begin on multimedia (14)
  • the other ICT project (Due 30th)
    • plan/sketch (21)
    • add vital parts and progamming (22-25)
    • add all the pretty parts (26-28)
    • final testing (29)
  • ELA summative (Due 29th)
    • rough draft (24)
    • revise (25-27)
    • final draft (28-29)
  • Bio exam (Due 1st)
    • review (25)
  • AP Psych exam (May 3)
    • review (24-30)
  • Biopsych project (Due 25)
    • consent forms (12-13)
    • experiment sessions (17-25)
  • Maid cafe (May 20)
    • practice performances (15-16)
    • practice with heels (17)
    • practice with partner (18)
    • practice with partner AND heels (19)
Our very intuitive solutions to heat. Picture on the top (Source) Picture on the bottom (Source)

Difficulty focusing

We understand that working on something else during a blackout is really annoying. But there are some ways to solve it. 

First, we can’t focus because there is no light. So, we recommend you to buy some light bulbs that work on battery, so you can charge and use them. You know what happens when you don’t have power? You don’t have air conditioning. Don’t try to deny it, you need air conditioning as much as we do. Especially in a country like this where the average temperature during the day during the months of March and April is 40 degrees and above. 

How do you solve this? There is no way to reduce the temperature while having a blackout, so you have to calm down. Well, there’s one other way to power through this through pure mentality. Just take more showers. Feel the cool, refreshing sting of cold water against your skin. The only downside observed by this method is that you’ll likely return to your hot and sweaty state soon after your shower if you happen to be an active person. But you know what you can do then? Take more showers. Just keep taking showers. Your problems and worries will wash away like the dead skin cells on your body.

The other method to solve this problem (which also happens to completely dry out your wallet) is by investing in a generator. You’ll be spending a lot of money but at least you won’t drown in your own sweat, right?

Interrupted work

We’ll start off with solving this issue through pure mental capability and strength. What we regret to inform you is that there is no way to solve this issue through mentality and mentality alone. There will always be work and assignments that require the use of your devices which require the use of power. If you really want to try, you can attempt to persuade your teachers to only give out work that you can do on paper but as you’ll have already guessed, they won’t really do much for it.

So now let’s move on to ways to avoid your work being interrupted by spending some money. Imagine this, you’re working on your incredibly important master’s thesis for your physics major but suddenly, the power goes out and you lose all the work you’ve done for the past twelve hours because you forgot to press save. Oh, poor you. Now imagine you had this magical invention called a UPS hooked up to your computer that gives you some extra time, enough time to save. Wow, mind blowing, is it not? So yeah, we’re telling you to spend money on a UPS in exchange for your effort not being lost and in turn, your sanity is preserved. 

You can also spend money on external batteries that then power inverters to keep some power going for a while. If all hope is lost because you’ve been running the inverter too long and it can no longer handle your excessive power usage, you can turn to the battery-powered light bulb to attend to all your light-requiring needs.

Aung Khant swears by these items and tools to preserve his sanity during rampant power outages.

Extra tips and advice

Other than excessively taking showers to lower your boiling body temperature, we have a few more big brain strats and tactics to alleviate the sheer discomfort and pain you’ll endure during power outages.

  1. Stay calm and breathe
    • People say that learning to control your breathing is a great way to relax. It doesn’t hurt to try!
    • It’s also a great way to focus your attention on one thing.
  2. Don’t stress too much
    • There’s a psychology concept that asserts that your performance is determinant on the level of stress you’re experiencing.
    • In general, it’s better to have a intermediate level of stress in order to reach peak performance. Too little stress leads to loss of interest while too much stress leads to impairment of performance due to high arousal.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself
    • You can’t be on top of your game all the time, it’s not humanly possible.
    • If you feel like it, just take a nice, long nap. The power’s out anyway, might as well catch up on all that sleep you’ve deprived yourself of. You can go finish up your work later.
  4. Self-efficacy
    • If you start your day telling yourself that you won’t be able to accomplish anything, you won’t be able to accomplish anything. Mindblowing, right? So, do the opposite. Head into your day telling yourself that you can work on and complete your tasks, errands, and assignments. Of course, you won’t be able to maintain it everyday but it’s a good mindset to have.
  5. Everyone else is struggling too
    • All your friends, teachers, and classmates are getting power outages too. They are most likely having the same issues and problems that you’re facing. They’ll understand if you give them a valid excuse.

In conclusion, your life will be easier if you spend money to fix your problems. Oh we already knew that? Got it. Another thing we can say is that if you really try hard enough, you may be able to solve some problems through sheer mentality. Just some problems though, most problems will require you to spend your money. So go get a job.

Our solution to everything. (Source)

Reflections and Jubilation

A messily written collection of thoughts of a person heading towards the end of high school.

Writing has never been more challenging than racking my brain to write a final blog for a school where I spent years learning, developing, and changing perspectives on life itself. As the final months of school draws to a close, I believe it is a perfect time to provide my reflections on our school and the jubilations I have had the opportunity to experience.

Read more

THE MYANMAR SNACK MENU

The best burmese snacks that will leave you speechless 

    I’ve been eating Burmese snacks ever since I learned how to munch down on food. Burmese snacks, for me, are snacks that remind me of family and community. They’re snacks that aren’t meant to be eaten alone, but instead are to be shared with whoever is willing to have a bite. The bends and the curves of each snack is documentation of the chef’s handiwork and it shows just how much care and attention is put into the creation of each treat. Which makes each one unique. Because of this, these treats are not ones that one would describe as flawless with just a glance. However, they are snacks that will earn this title of perfection with just a bite. 

In my opinion, the best Burmese snacks are not found in places like restaurants, or in shops. The best Burmese snacks are the ones that pass your street one to two times a day, and are sold on trays placed on top of the head of a very loud seller. Sellers whose voices – so loud – would carry into one’s home through their windows – either open or closed – and entice one to listen to what snacks this full throated seller had at hand. 

And as a traditional Burmese citizen of 17 years, I am coaxed into it every time. 

And everytime the seller places her tray down, these snacks are always laid around the circular tray. Waiting to be enjoyed and these are a few of my favorites

Mote Let koute kwin, the burmese donut – Direct translation, bracelet snack. A snack that is rounded into circles and similar to a donut but too thin and much less doughy to be identical. Each Mote Let Koute Kwin is different, because each bracelet has their own unique curves and bends that flaunt the chef’s handiwork on full display. 

This curvy bracelet is commonly paired with a sweet and rich sauce made from jaggery. That, once dipped, coats the bracelet in a dark and smooth gloss that slithers its way around and over the curves before the snack makes its way into the mouth of a hungry Burmese (or tourist 🙂 ). And once tasted, the richness and attractiveness of the sauce tempts one for another bite. 

Truthfully the sauce is the star in this snack. The sweetness of the jaggery has a hold on you like no other, which is why before you know it, you’re going in for a second bite, then a third, then a fourth, a fifth, and finally you’ve devoured the whole tray.

Mote Sain Paung, a cake-like layered stack of delicious sweetened and powdery rice. Starting with white on the bottom, and moving up to a mix and match of brown, white and dark brown. This coconut covered snack is sometimes the star of the tray, since it can be placed in the middle where it towers over all the other treats. Waiting to be cut into and tried.  The mont sein paung has a very unique texture and taste to it. One like no other, because, once tasted it leaves a trace of flavor in your mouth that you may never forget. The treat, since it’s made with grinded rice, has the tendency to crumble once it enters your mouth and make its way onto each individual taste bud. Introducing its flavors to the taste detectors on your tongue. Leaving your mouth speechless within the first bite. Coconut! Bean! Rice, all the flavors adhering to one’s taste pallet. 

The aroma surrounding a mote sein paung is also just as good as the flavors that come with it. The smell is soft and smooth, and is so enticing that it makes whoever is near turn to search for it. This is one of the snacks that is just waiting for someone to try them so the flavor combinations and sensational textures wow them into even disbelief. That’s how good this snack is. 

FRIED, FRIED EVERYTHING FRIED! :

On a street seller’s tray, there is an assortment of snacks but the ones that will catch your eye the most are the fried treats! Almost most of the snacks on the tray will be fried and all of them are definitely worth a taste. 

For example, Mandalay pe kyaw, if you like the savory kind, this is the snack for you. Also known as red bean fritters,these treats are deep fried bean snacks that are full of creamy and crunchy enjoyments.

The fritter has a very distinct smell that entices one to grab one and take a bite. And I am guilty of falling for it everytime. The fritter is also commonly paired with a light and spicy sauce that coats the treat in the most delicious spices, and makes the treat better than it already was. 

Another mentionable fried snack would be the normal pe kyaw. Which is less brown and more light and yellow in complexion, compared to the Mandalay version. Because normal pe kyaw is not fried with red beans, but instead is fried with yellow peas! The snack has the distinct taste of fried yellow peas that any Burmese local would recognize and because of this it is a local delicacy. It can be enjoyed by itself, or with the same sauce dipped by mandalay pe kyaw or even cracked into mohinga!

These are some of my top favorite burmese treats and that is why these are the ones that I chose to include in my essay.  There are many other delicious and noteworthy snacks on a Burmese seller’s tray but these three are the ones that I believe are the ones worth trying the most. The ones that will stay with you forever. 

The Underwater World

If I had a choice to live in a fantasy world, I would want it to be in an underwater world. Where you would be swimming aside fish and zooming around the globe. Taking the occasional break and heading into zones where there is no water. Laws of physics would be bent, many stunts would be pulled and safety would be prioritize.

There would have to be many ground rules, so that humans don’t chase away the fish, which would become our neighbors and so that larger predatory fish would not eat humans. There would most likely be a new job in each street, that would enforce the law of not killing the fish and each human would be given a taser like weapon that would give a small shock at the designated area. Research would have to be done, so that no fish would be harmed with the shock. Safety for humans and animals would be at the utmost priority.

Another movement that would happen would be taming the animals. A beneficial bond would be created so that fish and other underwater living creatures would help humans. Like a mantis ray helping with transportation. These bonds won’t mean much in the early game, but later down the line, these bonds will become similar bonds to what humans and dogs have. This could leave to mistreatment as well, so another perk of living in the underwater world would be that we all share the same communication language. If the animals knew how to talk, there would be less conflict between us and them. They would also have a voice, meaning they can cry for help or settle things in a very civilized way.

A sting ray carrying 3 humans

Earth has gone down a very dark path of littering, so in my fantasy world, trash would dissolve rather quickly. Anything that no longer benefits the world, will eventually disappear. Meaning the environment would be extremely clean. This would help us live longer lives and happier lives, now that no one has to do the dirty work. We would also evolve ways that would help us live underwater. Having larger webs (the skin between our fingers) would help us drastically.

Now that we have gills, there would probably be new brands of clothing that protect them from injury and dust. There would also be new clothing that helps us swim as fast as fish in the underwater world. There would also be sports, challenging many people to get faster and faster in swimming. This would test human creativity and possibly create games in which humans and animals team up to beat one another now that animals learned to talk.

There would have to be a significant increase in technology, both quantity and quality. Now that most areas would need light and warmth, a lot of people would not be able to live in harsh conditions. We might adapt and be built for cold and warm environments but since that is not a guarantee, scientists would have to work hard to improve the current electricity system. There would also be laptop like devices that would be better suited for water for the same purpose as current laptops. They would have faster internet because there will be many ways people will create an easier and more efficient way to transmit electricity that would flow faster then the current wifi.

What life would be like

A better version of current cars might be created to transport people large distances, if animals refuse to help with transportation. It would be more efficient and there would be no car crashes because the cars would stop immediately before collision. They might be a few injuries, but there won’t be anything fatal to the human.

There would be a fish king, that monitors the entire world, and prevent conflicts with a blink of it’s eyes. He would be the most powerful creature in the world and would do no bad. He would be brother of Jesus. There would be no accidents, since he would be there to stop it, and he would create many areas where there’s land inside the water. He would spawn animals when they are heading towards extinction. He would create buildings, where the homeless would live and provide food that does not require killing of any animal. Of course, this would lead to many spoiled people in the world, but the fish king does not care about that. He would continue to help them even if the people use him to their advantage. The fish king would be immortal and anyone that would head near it would turn back immediately and forget what they saw. The fish king would live in a pineapple under the sea, he would see the entire world from there. He would present new technologies if the scientist are unable to, this would reduce product prices drastically.

Schools of fish giving respect to the fish king

Although there appear that everything has negatives in them, the under water world do not. If one appears, the fish king, would immediately remove it from existence. This would cause anyone to feel joy and live everyday, not needing to worry about many things. The fish king would take care of it. Anyone that feel that they are less productive than some people, and feel bad about it, the fish king would grant them their wish so that no one would need to feel bad in the underwater world. Although the fish king may seem like it’s spoiling the whole world, it has one trait that is keeping the world’s creativity afloat. The fish king is curious. It loves to see what other beings have created, and find joy in them creating something that he hadn’t thought of. He would also favor those who create things that surprise him. You might think that this is unfair but the fish king believes that doing this would keep the creativity on the world afloat and he also believes that, “Nobody is prefect.” Though many people believe he is real and they’re seen real miracles, there are always some that will refuse to believe it. This is not changeable and will probably stay this way.

Photos by Matthew using Canva

My Passion – History

For most people, a subject like history has been something that they have never liked. It can be tedious, complicated, and it can feel like it’s useless in this modern world where Google and Wikipedia exist. And I can agree with that to some extent that it can be quite boring at times. However, to me history is one of the most fascinating subjects to learn about, and I’m genuinely passionate about it. I believe that history can tell you a lot about the world. The different cultures, ideologies, and places, the state of the world today, what you see in the news, and what happens in politics.

I had always been interested in the topic of history since I was quite young. When my family would travel to different parts of Myanmar, we would always visit historical sites such as ancient Buddhist temples which I was interested in. I would also visit historically significant places when I go to other countries as well. Though I didn’t know much about history back then, it was always intriguing to try and understand the history of these places, as well as the lives of the people who may have affected it. I never really knew about history back then, and much of the ancient history of Myanmar is more based on myths than it is on real history, but I still found it interesting.

When I was young, my family visited places like Bagan, which made me interested in history. (Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/myanmar-burma-temple-bagan-sunrise-2083640/)

My father is also really passionate about history, constantly reading books about it all the time. He has a collection of hundreds of books ranging from all different types of time periods. I sometimes talk with him about history, and I feel like that has also kept me interested about this topic for a long time too. I also have a lot of books on this topic, mainly about general world history and events rather than about a particular person, or a place. Reading, although I find myself doing less of it these days, is still one of my favorite pastimes, and books about history are my favorite non-fiction genre.

Even when spending my free time, I sometimes watch YouTube videos about history, play games that have a historical setting, and also talk to other people about it online. Of course, it’s not just the only thing I do all day, but it’s still something I enjoy doing. There are some aspects and time periods in history that can make great settings in fiction, games, and movies. I enjoy those mediums much like most other people, so by extension I enjoy the blending of both history and entertainment mediums. Not all movies I watch or games I play with a historical background are great, but I think when done well, it can set themselves apart from others in the genre.

Something that I also enjoy exploring is geography, which ties really well into history. Though I find it to have less depth than history because the concept is quite simple. But much like history, it also has shaped the world in a tremendous way.

I have always been interested in history, but I can’t really tell for certain when I first became passionate about the topic. I’ve always been curious about this topic since I was very young. But my first memory of actually learning about history for the first time was when I was in first grade and my school at the time had a book fair. My father bought me a book about general world history. I thought it was weird because I didn’t read non-fiction books back then. But I read it anyway and I found it interesting. Later on that school year, we had a unit on Mesopotamia, one of the world’s earliest civilizations in the fertile crescent. I remember that my teacher back then (whom I have already forgotten the name of) did a really good job at introducing me to the subject, though I can’t really remember what we actually did. Both of these really made me interested in learning more about history.

Reading this book was my first actual experience with history. (Picture here is my own)

Since then most of what I know about history mostly just comes from the internet. Most of it is from Wikipedia, Google searches, documentaries, and especially YouTube videos. There are plenty of YouTube channels out there that cover history in a fun and interesting way that makes the topic easier to understand and easier to approach.

Here are a few history YouTubers that I recommend. (Compiled by me, logos and names are from respective channels)

In fact, most of what I know about history comes from what I learn from the internet. The internet is such a useful tool, since it means that you can get as much information and resources that you possibly need immediately when you want to pursue a passion. I probably won’t know as much about this topic as I would if it wasn’t for the internet. I’ve learned more about history from the internet than I have at school, and I think that’s quite incredible. Although due dates and tests are a powerful driving force, I think that curiosity is also a very powerful driving force for someone to learn something new.

Some historical time periods I was first interested in were popular ones. Ancient Egypt, Rome, Medieval Europe, the World Wars, etc. I am still very familiar with these historical time periods, but recently I’ve been trying to learn more about more obscure time periods and places in history. Places such as pre-colonial Americas, Africa, and Asia that just aren’t really that talked about too often. 

I think that learning more about history is important in trying to have a better understanding and evaluation of the world. Everything around you has its own unique story to tell with endless potential for exploration within the subject. It tells you about how different people and places around the world are the way they are today. History might not always repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And I believe that if you want to understand the world today, looking back at history is important. That’s why I find myself being passionate about history.

Covid-19 Lessons I’ve learned

Covid-19 has hit all of us hard this year and I think we’ve all had our troubles dealing with it. It’s been mentally tiring having to be at home all the time due to quarantine and having to worry about the virus accidentally spreading to your family. Especially with all the political stuff going on (though we’re not going to talk about that), we’re all a little emotionally aggravated. As a way to turn this into a potentially positive thing, I’ll be talking about things I’ve able to accomplished during this time and lessons Covid-19 has taught me.

One thing that I’ve realized is the amount of free time I now had since I’ve been stuck at home. Although this does has it’s down falls since you can easily become bored after a while, I’m still quite thankful. I’ve gotten a few more hours of free time since I don’t need any transportation to go to school. I’ve used those few free hours to catch up on sleep I couldn’t have before and just relax. In fact, I’ve gotten back to my normal schedule of sleep which I’m very proud at myself for. I have now learned to take some time for myself and just listening to some songs. I was really happy to just be able to sit down and read some novels. I think the happiest times have been when I’ve gotten to enjoy a movie with some snacks. Covid taught me that relaxing and enjoying time won’t kill and is equally as important as catching up on assignments and studying for tests.

A snack I made myself to eat while watching a movie

Of course, that doesn’t mean school assignments aren’t important. I’ve also used this time to carefully do my assignments and study for my tests. Rushing to finish my assignments usually don’t help my grade but it wasn’t really a choice before because of all the events happening at the same time. Honestly, during exam season and especially near the end of the school year, extra time is always welcomed. It’s usually chaotic and full of panic with all the tests you have to study, the assignments you have to finish and having to go to the library to give back the books, etc. Now that I’m going to be in 10th grade, there’s more decisions to make and a lot more thinking to do. It just causes more anxiety and stress so having a few extra hours to study or rest is nice. It did made me realize then that no matter how much time I have in my hands, it might not be enough in the end. Still, though, I pulled through and although the school year hasn’t completely ended, I personally am happy with what I’ve done this year.

How my late night studying usually look like but not as pretty

After the school year end though, I can see myself being bored since I will no longer have anything to keep me busy. Since I can’t really go outside and do much right now, I’ve decided that this summer I’m going to try my best to learn a sports. Covid has taught me how to make the best out of the current situation. After all, my parents have been telling me to learn some martial arts for self defense and with the amount of free time I will have, I really can’t do anything better. Trying to learn a sports or a new language would be the best thing to keep me occupied and I probably would benefit from these lessons in the future. I think I’ll end up choosing one of the above and make the best out of my time.

Future Me? (maybe)

Since I’ve already talked about what I’ve done, been doing and will do, I guess it’s only fair if I talked about what I wish to do. I personally missed my friends and want to see them again. Like the title says, one of the lessons I’ve learned is to appreciate my friends. Although we do talk on the phone and video call a lot, nothing’s like meeting in person and just joking around with each other. I haven’t seen them in about a year now and I’m starting to miss seeing their faces. It isn’t to the point of forgetting their faces, but it’s going there. I’ve probably been deprived of human interactions for months as once I do meet them in person, I want to personally give each of them a big hug. Although I did like being by myself and was happy to be have some time alone to really relax and think, I do want to plan a big get together once everything settle down and have fun with my friends.

Covid-19 has caused all of us major problems. We’ve had change and adjust our pervious lifestyles in order to deal with the effects of the virus. Lots of both good and bad things have happened this year (2020 – 2021). We can only hope things will slowly go back to normal and nothing will cause the situation to escalate. Meanwhile, we should use this time to improve ourselves and learn from this case so that if another pandemic were to happen, everyone would know what to do. This way, the confusion and panic people had will hopefully lessen. With everyone keeping calm, this will slow the virus down and give time for our doctors and scientists to find a solution. I’ve learned lots of new things because of Covid and during Covid. And while this is a horrible time to be in, I did get some good lessons out of this and I’m happy I’ve turned a period of time I hated into something I’m somewhat grateful for.

Image Links :

  1. Picture of studying : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/499688521153734176/
  2. Picture of girl practicing Taekwondo : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7177680642503840/

Along With the Wind

The theme of my blog is “Save Earth! What can I do?” but I decided to focus more on Yangon’s air pollution problems. Since I was young, I lived in the downtowns of Yangon and whenever I woke up in the morning, I would always get the smell of burning plastic and charcoal. It sometimes gets to the point where I would get occasional nose bleeds whenever I wake up in the morning. It’s more than a nuisance and it’s actually harmful to young children and old people. Today, I set out to explore the root of the problem. 

Yangon is a densely populated city. There are 7 million people currently living in Yangon, it is more than Kayah state in eastern part of Myanmar. Because of densely populated housing and residences the amount of waste and trash produced by the people are also in ever increasing numbers. 

Burmese homeowners especially in residential housing complexes, almost all of them have a habit where they would burn dry leaves and trash early in the morning. Not only does this make the air smell terrible, this also puts out a lot of carbon and harmful gases in the atmosphere. 

We know that this puts out a lot of harm but how do we know that this is a problem? To answer that, let’s take a look at the global air quality index. AQI is a global organization that measures air quality and produces active daily reports on certain areas of a country. 

As of February 2021 AQI shows that Yangon has a score of 120 in level.

Which is around the orange region. In this stage, it is harmless for average people but it is unhealthy for sensitive people such as young children and old people with diseases. To get daily reports I recommend downloading this app on your IPhones. 

You can also get daily reviews and reports of air quality index on their facebook page.

“Looking at the pollution numbers recorded over 2019, Myanmar came in with a PM2.5 reading of 31.00 μg/m³ as its yearly average, putting it into the ‘moderate’ rated pollution bracket, one that requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such.

Although it fell into this bracket, it was on the higher end of it somewhat, only a few units of away from being moved up a bracket into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ ranking (35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ required), which as the name implies would cause a number of health issues for vulnerable demographics of the population, with groups such as young children, the elderly, the immunocompromised or those with preexisting health conditions all being at risk, as well as pregnant mothers being prone to some serious adverse effects if exposed to high pollution levels over long periods of time.

This PM2.5 reading of 31 μg/m³ placed Myanmar into 20th place out of all countries ranked worldwide, coming in just behind other countries such as Syria and North Macedonia. The two cities registered in Myanmar (as of early 2020), were Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) and Syria, both of which came in with similar levels of pollution, with Yangon at 31 μg/m³ and Syria at 30.3 μg/m³.” (iqair.com/myanmar) 

Looking at what IQair has stated air pollution in Myanmar would become a hazardous problem if it is not taken seriously. 

When we have identified the problem, how will we solve it? I proposed this solution of using homemade compost for purposes such as biodegradable trash which includes dry leaves and kitchen waste. Start by creating a container shaped box with plastic boards or wooden planks. Then lay the bottom with charcoal which helps in masking the smell when organic things decompose. After that, plastic or metal nets can be laid and filled with soil. Then organic waste can be filled and covered with a lid. After several weeks or so, all the biodegradable waste will decompose into fine soil. This special soil can also be used as plant fertiliser since most of the organic waste is rich in nitrogen and carbon. 

For non organic waste, I think this will need state level support from the authorities. This includes from the way they collect waste to the way they dispose of it. As of now YCDC fills up trash in landfills in the town of Hlaing Thar Yar. This may be a solution but not for long. We already have learnt how the land fill in Hlaing Thar Yar caught on fire and kept on burning consistently for many weeks. 

Not only does this create risk for firefighters and extra costs for extinguishing the fire, this also produces massive amounts of harmful gas. The smoke from the landfills moves across the town across the entire yangon. 

But a practical solution for managing non-organic waste is to have organised disposal sites. This includes from organised trash bins to systematically organised recycle plants. it would be unfair to leave all the work for the recycles, we as citizens should also do our parts, this starts from organising the trash using colored bins. Different colored bins have different purposes such as plastic, styrofoam, cardboard and so on. Local authorities and citizens should cooperate to maintain a clean environment. 

Yangon is not the only city affected by air pollution, almost every major city in the world is affected by air pollution. There are more deaths because of air pollution than smoking and lung diseases. In the future if the air pollution problem is not fixed there will be harsh consequences for human beings. If the citizens of Yangon work together, build discipline and educate each other by doing campaigns and such, I think Yangon can become a better place in no time. Of course this needs effort and time but the reward would be worth it and it can give a pleasant life for us and the upcoming generations. 

If I Lived in a Fantasy Land…

If I lived in fantasy land, I would want two entirely different lands. One filled with technology and one to remember times of the past.

For my first land, I would want it to be a bustling city filled with technology of the greatest kind. With robots that help out with daily life, civilizations on other planets, and space exploration.

I would really want there to be robots because while robots do the work, people will be able to enjoy their life and spend time with loved ones instead of slaving away at work. Sometimes parents are not able to spend enough time with their children at home so having robots do the work could fix that problem.

Having cities and civilizations on other planets would make lives a lot easier because there won’t be overpopulation in current cities and there will be so many more places and sights to explore and if space is able to be regularly accessed then we could discover so many new materials that would help develop new technology that will bring society to an entirely different level.

Futuristic City

However, with this much technology on our hands, I can’t really see the beauty of nature existing in its full glory. So if my fantasy land wasn’t filled with science and technology, I would want it to be a land filled with lush green grass, sparkling oceans, wide desserts, and tall mountains with gorgeous views. I would want there to be mythical creatures or heros of different legends and epics to exist together.

To come to this fantasy land, you need to have been famous or infamous and whether you were real or not doesn’t matter. What matters is how many people have spoke about your tales and how you were remembered.

There would be different kingdoms coexisting peacefully together without any bloodshed. Fantastic rulers from legends such as King Arthur, Gilgamesh, or Zeus all ruling over their respective kingdoms. Courageous heros such as Hercules, Siegfried, and Achilles guarding their people. Mythical creatures such as unicorns, hydras, and gorgons as creatures of the norm you see everyday. Even famous scientists or artists such as Issac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci who are long gone from this world having a second chance at life for their incredible discoveries and talents.

Archilles

The land of the world will be spilt into different areas and each area will have a group of heros or villians from the same legend, epic, or myth. Heros from Greek religion in one area and gods from the Mahabharata in one area. Each land will look different depending on their culture or origins.

The oceans shall not be empty either. Deep down in the ocean, the underwater city of Atlantis filled with merpeople and sirens will thrive. The ocean will be filled with different underwater cities with different sea creatures inhabiting them.

Humans will be able to go underwater using a speical potion or spell and merpeople will be able to temporarily grow legs to visit land. Everyone is able to visit any area they please and enjoy each others cultures.

If my fantasy land were like this then people would be able to travel on great adventures and never be bored. Without technology during this time, people would also be able to focus on other things to do. It will also be peaceful with no blaring noises from cars or air pollution from factories.

I got this idea from imagining how famous deceased people would interact with each other. It was fun to imagine people like Einstein and Galileo having a conversation over a cup of tea or Hades and Karna having a battle of epic proportions. My heart leaps at the thought of seeing these legendary figures in person.

Karna

Although this land is filled with adventure, it lacks several good things that can come with technology and I can’t imagine it will always be peaceful with so many myths and legends crowding the land.

I chose to have two seperate ideas to go with my fantasy land because both sides have their pros and cons. Both sides will never bore you though. You can go on a space trip to Saturn or write a song with Apollo. The choice is yours.

Picture 1 source: https://theconversation.com/robot-cities-three-urban-prototypes-for-future-living-90281

Picture 2 source: https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/achilles

Picture 3 source: https://glorioushinduism.com/2017/04/30/karna/

The world through the eyes of a teenager

A collage of some things that I think would describe the story I had told in this blog. I chose to add pictures of my friends and I and pictures that resemble what my life as a teenager has been.

Ever since I was about 8, I was so excited to grow up, and I’ve always seen 16 as this glorious age. The age where my journey to adulthood would begin. I thought that when I turned 16, the world around me would change as if turning this certain age would make me feel like I had a stronger role in this world. However, the most noticeable change I’ve seen after turning 16 is my attitude towards growing up. Everything else seems to have stayed the way they were, if not even less than what they were before.

It’s kind of funny to think about it because I will always remember the way I saw the world when I was a child. Full of color; a very saturated cloud of hues and pigment. But now, when I look around me, I feel as if those colors have disappeared. As if I have finally taken off the glasses that blinded me from all the grey. When I look at the world now all I see is a dead end. Is this all there is? There surely must be more, but I’m scared to find out that maybe there isn’t.

Throughout these past few months I finally see the world for what it is. A place where fairness and equality are just words used to comfort those who seek it. Society divides between rich and poor, black and white, men and women. And even if the gaps between them have narrowed, there is still a prominent space between the two. Women are still facing sexist comments and are still being treated like objects. People of color are still being seen as less than and the rich are still taking advantage of the poor. 

Due to these unjust divisions of social groups, this year has hit heavy for a lot of people in this country. And through my eyes, I feel that it’s quite unfair that because of a corrupt system, many have to suffer for it. I think I speak for almost everyone in this country when I say that it’s been hard to keep a strong heart. And many people’s view of living and life has been changed. These past few months have made me see the world in such a different way, that I feel if I were to see it through the eyes of myself when I was young, it would be beyond what I could recognize.

It’s obvious that our mind affects how we perceive the world around us. Whether you want to view that glass as half empty or half full is all dependent on you. And these days it’s hard to keep that glass half full. I miss doing a lot of things, I miss the feeling of waking up in the morning and dressing up for school. I miss the way I waited for my friends to walk into class, I miss a lot of things. It’s funny how everything we had and not cared for a few months ago, is now everything we long for. 

I know these times are hard on everyone. The world seems to have changed so much in a span of such a short time that it’s difficult to focus on what had been important to you before. It’s hard to think about moving forward when it feels like everything around you refuses to move with you.

However, even though I have rambled on and on about how everything sucks, having a positive mindset and keeping that glass half full is what’s most important these days. Refusing to let the bad push you down is what will create a change. 

I didn’t choose to write a blog about how the world looked through the eyes of teenagers to show adults what us teens are experiencing during these times. Instead, I chose this because I hope it can come across someone who’s experiencing the same thing I am. Hoping that this jumble of my words and thoughts can be of comfort for someone else who feels the same way. 

So take this as a letter to those who are also feeling lost and stuck. Especially those who are my age, who’ve been feeling empty, tired and angry. I know it’s frustrating these days, with everyone telling you that these last few years of high school are meant to be focused on moving forward and focusing on the future. But how can we when the future itself seems so bleak?

I’ve had a lot of mixed emotions and a lot of them I’ve been taking out at the world. Angry at it for what has happened and, angry at it for breaking the promise it had made to me. The promise that when everyone’s born, they’re born into a world that will hold them with safety and love. However, I now realize that the world isn’t at fault here. It’s the people who made it this way. It’s the people who created the cracks and crevices on this land that only keep on breaking. So if I had to describe the world from the eyes of a teenager, I would tell you that it’s not the world that I see has been ruined. But the people who have ruined it. 

However, even after all I have said, I still do have hope. Because I know that having faith is the only way to keep the possibility of a prosperous world alive. 

So what I would like to say is, overall, even though everything seems like it’s moving against you. Just hang in there and look for the things that bring color to your life. Don’t go too long staring at the grey.

A change will com

A collage of some of my favorite songs and albums.
I included this here to show everyone something that brings color to my life. Using music as sort of escape when everything becomes overwhelming is very VERY effective and wayy cheaper than therapy 🙂

italia, il bellissimo paese

Written by Ricky, a once dewy-eyed tourist in Italy

Ever felt the need for an escape from your confining urban life? Ever felt the desire to see remnants of century-old history? Ever felt the need to eat mouthwatering meals and mind-blowing desserts? Perhaps these are your true desires, perhaps they are not. Perhaps what you wish for has yet to surface or perhaps you have forgotten your own wishes in the midst of the storm of life. In any case, one thing is for sure: a holiday is a must and a great one is one of life’s greatest joys. And so, may I present you…

the Bel Paese Italia or Beautiful Country Italy.

Continue reading