Hilaneh Mahmoudi

Myanmar, Reflection on a Reverie
Location: Istanbul
Nationality: Iranian
Biography: Born in Tehran, Hilaneh Mahmoudi has degrees in mathematics and education from Azad University in Iran and York University in Canada. She has worked as a photographer on commissions by international NGOs in social and developmental projects... read on
Public Story
Myanmar, Reflection on a Reverie
Credits: hilaneh mahmoudi
Date of Work: 12/31/69 - 12/31/69
Updated: 06/13/18

I stand in front of the sea, in the middle of the fishing village of Jaketaw in Ngapali, watching local life as it unfolds. I see a perfect line-up of children, older ones carrying younger siblings. They are taking turns swinging from a tree branch. Some cling to the trunk of the tilted tree, some are on the ground, which is deep in rotting fish and waste of all sorts. Crippled dogs sleep nearby. Women sort fish and men return in their boats to unload the catch of the day. It is hot and humid, but the stench of rotten fish and garbage that hits me very quickly dissipates. A little girl named Aye comes to me with a big smile and offers me a perfect seashell in a pink bag that is probably her most precious belonging. I spend the next two hours going around the village with Aye and her friends, visiting sheds and interacting with people. It has never been so easy to connect without the exchange of words. The thought goes through my head that this is a different way of looking at life. I wish everyone could experience it...

Myanmar to me was equanimity. It was the perfect concoction of scents, colors and tastes. It was chaos one minute and complete silence the next. It was old preserved culture and traditions. It was kindness and contentment despite the obvious difficulties of life.

Time seemed irrelevant in Myanmar. I felt like I was witnessing an ever-so-present yet fading drop of simplicity. Being there was to witness life frozen in time; without the visual cues of “modern” society, it would be difficult to know which century I was in.

We live in a time where many countries like Myanmar are on the verge of change, be it political, social or economic. Some for better, some for worse. The feelings of uncertainty, hope or despair we all share are a part of an unpredictable future.

I traveled to Myanmar in March of 2016. It was a visit that allowed me a small glimpse into Myanmar and left me with intense feelings and a desire to see more. I departed but a part of me remained. The many pictures I took captured the Myanmar I saw. Those pictures are an extension of my time there.


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