By Albert Normandin - Photographer
Over the many years, it has been called Bermah, Birmah, Brama, Burmah, Burma, Myanma, and Myanmar. The country’s current official name is “The Republic of the Union of Myanmar”. But many still prefer to recognize it as “Burma”.
As a child, I remember seeing photographs of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe in National Geographic magazines. I really knew nothing about these countries, but I did know that I had to go there one day.
Years later, once I became an established photographer, I ventured off to my first real trip, and of course, it was to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
My second adventure was to deserts around the world. So it seems, I had become a world traveler. Back then, I was seeking new and different countries to discover, and the list was long.
After years of travel to many other countries in Africa, South America, Europe and Asia, once again, it was time to look for a new undiscovered adventure.
I contacted my very well traveled friend, Eric Meola, for his thoughts. He immediately said ‘Burma”. Not much was known about this closed-off country, it seemed mysterious and exotic enough and would most certainly be an adventure.
So it was decided, “Burma”!
Little did I know back then that this country would take over my life, and actually become my “obsession”.
Obsess: preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually and to a troubling extent.
I think that pretty well describes my obsession with Myanmar. As I travel throughout the country, I am constantly taking notes and making inquiries and plans for the next trip. When I return to Canada, it seems very challenging for me to think of or work on anything else, except for images and ideas to do with Myanmar and of course scheduling the next trip.
In this country of over fifty million people, I cannot hide. Everywhere I go, past subjects and acquaintances seem to find me. Monks, nuns, shop owners, hotel, restaurant and market staff are all waiting for me and expecting my return.
I am deeply moved by the kind, caring people of this country with their peaceful mannerism and their warm invitations. It never ceases to amaze me, this obsession of mine.
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