Chew, Don't Speak

Ma Thenegi is a native of Myanmar who has led an interesting life. She has worked as a painter and a journalist, and now edits a travel magazine called Enchanting Myanmar. She was also a former assistant to Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who is currently under house arreest in Myanmar. Ma Thenegi herself spent three years in prison for her involvement in that country's 1988 political protests. She now lives in Yangon.

Her travel book, The Native Tourist: a Holiday Pilgrimage in Myanmar, was recently published by Silkworm Books. The book is an informative and humorous account of an 18-day group bus tour of 60 famous pagodas in Myanmar that she took in 1996. In one chapter the author describes a local family's methodical manner of dining:

"As is the custom of Myanmar people at meals, they were eating seriously, silently, quickly, scooping up the rice tidily with four fingers of their right hand, eyes on their plates. To converse during meals is a horrifying insult to food."

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