Pride in Bread and Tea, Mandalay City
It had been a frustrating afternoon. My trip to the local spice market had been thwarted as the driver realised, as we arrived, that the market was shut that day. He was insistent that the Yatanar mall was the next best thing but it couldn’t be further from the truth. A half empty, half completed soul-less building, the “highlight” being a fake Pizza Express. In despair, I decided to roam the streets around the mall whilst I waited for the driver to return.
I got as far as crossing the street to the Daw Shan noodle shop – a shed really – a busy, local restaurant, open to the street on two sides. Sitting at the back of the restaurant, next to the bread and tea station, the two men in the kitchen caught my attention. Small stoves on both sides of the cramped, squalid space didn’t leave much room. The tea man had a quick smile and watching him at work was quite hypnotic. Meanwhile his colleague was baking a type of naan bread – flipping them fresh out of the oven.
Before I left, having had a plate of fried Burmese noodles with butter naan (of course), I shot their portrait – my favourite shot of our whole Myanmar trip. As soon as I put the camera to my face, their smiles disappeared and both were serious, formal. Then nervous smiles re-appeared and finally they started to relax.