MEN IN MANDALAY
Walking is still the best way to get around Mandalay. Men stop all the time to adjust their longyi, keeping it from slipping down. This garment is worn like the Scottish kilt, with nothing else. It is often made of plaid fabric reminiscent of Scottish tartans. A remnant of English supremacy? Perhaps, but the longyi is still the rule in Mandalay. It is very practical because it serves as a garment, towel, bag, etc., and can be pulled up and turned into puffy underpants or shorts. Still, although adept in changing it from skirt to shorts, young people on playfields look rather hindered in their longyi ! They are inexpensive and can be bought in packs of 10 in all markets. Each region has its own tartans that differ mainly in colour.
All said, elders fear that young people will abandon this traditional dress as the country opens up to the world.
Many people chew "Kun Ja", or Betel, (arec nuts mixed with tobacco). Euphoric for some, it makes one’s teeth red and gives a slightly repulsive appearance to these smiling faces. I noticed that the higher the social level, the less Burmese people chewed, often under the close supervision of their wives - either because they did not like their assaults, their scarlet mouths, or because the high risk of digestive cancer.