Why the hotel staff is convinced that I'm a lunatic

I started this on Facebook, but here’s a more thorough list of why the hotel staff thinks I’m crazy:

  • Virtually everyone who visits here only stays a night, as they leave for Bagan or Mandalay the next day — or just arrived from there and are flying home. I’ve been here a month.
  • I carry a dictionary with me everywhere like it was my colostomy bag or some other vital health necessity to have on my person. 
  • Every morning they see me tracing out Burmese letters and pronouncing them to myself like I was in an imaginary preschool, trying to copy answers from Snuffalupagus’ homework. 
  • By the time I’ve finished my chili-laden breakfast, my orthography practice, and my 6-12 tiny cups of tea, I have a bandeau of sweat fully seeped through both my undershirt and outershirt from navel to clavicle. (Do boiled beverages in 100-degree heat tend to have that effect…?)
  • I willfully stay in the 2nd-worst room in the hotel — the one right by the check-in desk — though I did upgrade from the orchid nursery I started in. Granted I tend to be roused (with the staff) every time a new guest arrives at 3 a.m., but at least I no longer wake to sodden clothing. 
  • I come back from the gym most afternoons so drenched from head to toe I might has well have swam home. (I think my gym should advertise Bikram Weightlifting!) Mercifully my room has a drying rack. 
  • I always have prodigious quantities of tea salad in my room — thanks to Zaw’s dad’s generosity — and the dense, mulchy odor of the fermented tea copulates with the dense, mulchy odor of my gym-clothing to create a jungle miasma probably akin to the breath of a hyena or some other carrion-eating, hot-mouthed mammal.
  • I eschew the toast, butter, and jam they offer at breakfast and instead take the local “pe pyo” (boiled baby chickpeas, served with fried rice and an egg) and, as mentioned, cover it with chilis.  (And, note, most Burmese are physically terrified of hot peppers. it’s very fun to try to get them to eat them…)  I’ve seen other foreigners get served the pe pyo, but they never seem to touch it.
  • When the staff does brave the effluvium of my room, they find an empty bottle of local whiskey in my trash every week or so, but no evidence of ice or mixers. (And another thing the Burmese are afraid of is drinking whiskey neat. Every time I do that, I get little head-cocking gestures from the other bar patrons that seem to mean, “Damn, dude.”)
  • I’ve spurned backpacks and instead gone the local route, toting a yellow plastic bag fashioned out of the plastic covering of a crate that once held 20 kilos of Me-O brand cat food. In the same way that black plastic trashbags are often called “Irish luggage,” I think these hand-sewn guys are Burmese working-class Louis Vuittons. 
  • They often run into me at the street food vendors they frequent, my knees up by my ears as I crouch in an undersized chair, sweat dripping from my forearms onto my shorts’ hems, darkening them visibly.
  • Some days I speak to them in accurate Burmese and other days I utterly botch everything. I’ve known them since I started studying, so it’s a little like visiting your family and being thrown back into some atavistic version of yourself you forgot even existed. (ex: When I’m around my family, my handyman skills go out the window, while when I’m alone, I’m passably adroit..). Suffice it to say that the hotel guys make me nervous.
  • All the reasons all of you already know I’m crazy, which I think I wear pretty plainly on my sweat-soaked sleeves.