The Green Thumb
There was an old Chinese saying which goes like “if you want to be happy for six months, get married but if you want to be happy for life, grow some trees”. Well, I’ve been happily married for my whole life but plants have been my second love all along. As a hobby, I dealt with plants not less than a professional horticulturist or an agriculturist would have.
I have tried my hand at various genera and species of the plant kingdom from baby-corn to bonsai, over a span of the last four decades and thus acquired some basic but essential knowledge in the ways of plants, understanding how to keep them alive and thriving, including but not limited to growing vegetables, various orchids, a little bit of landscaping here and there and the use of natural as well as synthetic enhancements like fertilizers all of which finally came to my aide in the ultimate art of growing and nurturing my own bonsais.
Being a Bonsai enthusiast myself for many years, I searched high and low for information regarding the art of bonsai and the actual bonsai samples from which to learn the various steps in the creation of bonsais. However, I had a hard time finding information in Myanmar language as well as the actual bonsais in real life in my country around that time.
After I retired recently and having extra time on my hand, to explore my hobbies and realize my dreams, I wrote a book on creating and nurturing bonsais after going through several books on the art itself which helped me compile the information therein and also supplied various relevant photographs to explain the facts better.
This has been a dream realized and at the same time, essentially fulfilling my desire to introduce, familiarize and promote awareness of the people of Myanmar, in the art of Bonsai. The title of that book, loosely translated in English would be: “Creating Bonsais and Maintaining them”.
The financial return from publishing that book didn’t make me any wealthier because like all self publishing in our country, the money only came back to me piecemeal. However, it was an immense satisfaction to me to be able to tell my story, to be able to tell my countrymen how they can enjoy an art, the art of bonsai. It was an unprecedented success to be able to sell 3,000 books on a subject matter as alien as this because even up to now, there were people who has never heard of the word “Bonsai” in our country.
And now I am working hard to publish a second edition which is essentially adding a few corrections and some extra procedures. The main reason for this second edition is that people asked me about that book and told me that it’s nowhere to be found which makes me feel so proud as I don’t usually measure my success in monetary terms but in terms of how much people I can help with that book. Three thousand books meant I helped 3,000 people create at least 1,000 bonsais.
After all those years of my life, now I found myself not a tad bit rich by any standard at all, however, I’ve always felt that my life was enriched beyond any mortal measures, for I lived a happy and content life full of my green treasures, the contentment of a man who lived his days growing plants…
Myat Su Yin Bonsai Shop
The end product (or rather the never-ending product, for growing bonsai is a process both continual and dynamic) of my green thumb, the bonsais that I made, were not for sale at first but with the growing number of bonsais crowding my place, I applied for a shop in Myaypadaythar Plants and Accessories Shops at Kandawgyi Park and got a shop with the number C.3.
I gave it the name Myat Su Yin, honoring my youngest daughter since she was the one who helped me most with all the plants.
At first not many people come around to my shop as it was not situated on the main road through the park. But as the people gradually got familiarized with the art of bonsai, demand for bonsais has gradually risen over the years.
The price of the bonsais sold usually ranged from 50,000 kyats to 200,000 kyats (which will change with time). I am talking about the prices not because I wanted to show off but to show some appreciation for the enthusiasm of the people who bought my bonsais and the regard they have for them.
Bonsais from my shop can be compared to those big plants that the construction and landscaping companies were providing, and comparing the effort, time spent and care given, they are worth twice the prices that I am selling which should run in the bigger part of a six digit figure.
Various people bought bonsais from me, diplomats from other countries, foreigners, government officials, housewives, young entrepreneurs of both sexes and pensioners my age from all works of life, for all different reasons, most of them as gifts for
their loved ones and some for their own pleasures. Bonsais can be fun and are great gifts for all ages because once you are hooked, you will learn to enjoy the pleasure of nurturing your own bonsai which in my opinion can be likened to the care you have given to your children who moved out after they got married.
But my clients were not limited to senior citizens, young adults most of whom lived overseas for years with exposure to the art of bonsai either through internet or other media, come to me.
Some even bought bonsais for their loved ones from abroad on special occasions such as the Valentine’s Day or Christmas and New Year and gave them as presents. I understand that bonsais for them must have a special meaning in that it has a long life, enduring hardships, well-weathered thus representing their everlasting and lifelong love.
Since I have other businesses to deal with during most days, I can only be at the shop on certain days, so the appropriate way to meet me in person for advice on bonsais or to talk about price of a selected bonsai that you browsed from out of the shop, is to call me on the phone and ask me to come over to the shop, which if I were free would take around ten minutes else we can make arrangements to meet some other day.
Contacting me should be an easy matter as contact information was provided on the “Contact Us” page here and the same information is available at the shop. You can also come and visit my shop for restoring your bonsais, bought elsewhere or from me, free of charge as an after-sales service and also a token of gratitude for buying from me as well as sharing our experiences.
Further dreams that I plan to pursue include, importing bonsais from Japan, China, Thailand, etc. and distribute them as a wholesale business. I also wished to make instruction videos on making bonsais and nurturing them. I am hoping that these dreams will be realized in 3 to 4 years.
The Hand that holds the Pen
Another relaxing hobby of mine which soothe my soul and nurture my mind: Reading, especially stories from olden but golden Reader's Digests from an era circa 1960s during which time, one can find several great stories concerning human survival, perseverance, endurance, struggle, all of them expressing the value of human relationship and reading them left me many a goosebumps, exhilaration, happiness, contentment and that sensation whereby one can be sure that humanity is still there.
After so many such stories, an unquenchable urge to give my fellow Myanmar people a chance to experience those heartwarming stories but in a translated form which would undoubtedly be easier to reach a far greater audience in Myanmar language than in their own original English text.
Writing a story or translating one, in my opinion, basically is to share these sensational experiences with others and to give them strength, share great ideas and to believe in something larger than life itself. I kept translating, not for the financial gain as every writer knows how much one can earn through writing in our society, but for my own personal desire not to let
these great stories go unappreciated, unread and wasted away in books from a bygone era. If not for my efforts, these Reader’s Digests would have been sold by the kilogram and probably be recycled by now.
These translated stories have been chosen to be published by various magazines. Some translated and published stories were grouped together in a small collection available at stores as "Rain Drops Evaporated and Collected in the Heart". A part of that book and a couple of personal stories written by my own can be found in the "Short Stories" section.
Since I continue to translate during my free time and submit them to various magazines and periodicals, more short stories will be chosen to be published by various magazines. They will be periodically and continually uploaded as soon as I found time to type, upload and update them. They can be found under the section, “Magazine Stories”.
I am only doing all this in the hope that they be found by many in the same way that I found them, “treasures on paper”…
As a parting word, I would like to thank the visitor for visiting me at my website and for spending time to look around and I do wish that I can fill some gaps in your heart with the products of my hard labor: Bonsais and Short Stories…