My New Year’s Eves seem to vacillate between quiet and crazy. Last year I was on Koh Phagnan (an island party famous for its monthly full moon raves), but the year before that I was at a 10-day silent meditation retreat at Wat Suan Mokkh.
This year went back to decidedly quiet. We spent the earlier part of the evening at the drop-in center for Burmese students where Blake teaches night classes. They hosted a new year’s celebration for all of their students with lots of food and a big gift exchange for everyone. There was some heartfelt guitar playing as well (see video above).
After each of the students received a gift, there was one last game.
In America, this game would be considered more than tame, but it seemed to be wildly embarrassing for its Burmese participants.
It went like this: going around the circle, each person took a small rolled up piece of paper out of a cannister and read its contents aloud – sometimes it was blank, in the best case it was a small prize, but in the “worst” case… it was a charade.
Again, these charades were pretty mild – act like you’re late to class, mimic the school’s headmaster, pretend you’re a monkey (Blake got that one), or pick the prettiest girl in the room.
When the latter was picked, the girl who was chosen as the prettiest literally fell off her chair and hid, refusing to get up. The guy next to me also refused to go anywhere near the center of the circle when he was supposed to act like he needed to urgently use the bathroom.
The best part of the gift exchange was probably seeing this kid pull the winning slip for a new bike:
Every went home quickly after the last game ended around 8, and afterwards I had about zero motivation to go out and find somewhere to celebrate the new year. And all of a sudden, it was 2556 (it’s the future here).