Hledan Days (Junior Win)
The Dream Village That was once ‘Aung Chan Thar’
As the bus conductor calls out ‘Hledan bus stop’, one has only to get down and ask to be guided to Aung Chan Thar street, and you will be transported to a village in the centre of the city of Rangoon, like an oasis in the desert ,a world apart from the hubhub of city life around it. Only the occasional sound of cars and sirens reminds us that we are actually in the centre of the city. Even to the inhabitants of Aung Chan Thar, after a tour round the city, one feels like coming back the dreamland,a world apart. This article is written in memory to this dreamland, a village that was once Aung Chan Tha.
(A drawing of Aung Chan Tha – which told the old memory of this dreamland.)
Especially to people of Rangoon the name ‘Hledan’ was so familiar and used as daily speech as Hledan bus-stop, Hledan market, Hledan main road, or Hledan township, etc. Hledan was a very large place, and situated near the University of Rangoon. There was a mall part of Hledan, called ‘Aung Chan Thar’; about three hundred inhabitants once lived, comfortable with their way of life. We lived near Aung Chan Thar, it needed 20 minutes walk to reach there. Here the story about ‘Aung Chan Thar’ (Hledan) which reminds me of our old memories still warm and new to me.
There was an old house where my grandparents once lived long time ago, was located at Aung Chan Thar (Hledan). So, our home at Pyay Yeiktha Road where we still lived, and the old house at Aung Chan Thar (Hledan) where my grandfather; U Khin Maung Latt once used to go for his teaching, were here I was going to write about.
My grandfather’s old friend; U Thein Maung lived at Aung Chan Thar, was also an English teacher. They two together opened their English classes there. My grandfather walked to Aung Chan Thar every day and sometimes my grandmother accompanied him, and taught literature together.
(An old photo of my grandfather (third from the left to the viewer, with spectacle), and his friends who were teachers of English language at Aung Chan Thar tution house.)
When we were old enough to learn English language, my mother suggested us to go with our grandfather and attend his English classes. My grandfather was so glad that his grandchildren attended his English classes.
(An old photo of Aung Chan Thar)
(In this photo, we twins and our grandparents, our mother standing in front of the old tution house.)
Aung Chan Thar (Hledan) was a very quiet and fairly well-known place as I said before. Whenever I thought about that place, my memory refresh and some unforgettable memoirs appeared as real as before me. People there seemed as a whole family lived together. There were private teaching classes of various subjects, famous Myanmar cuisine shop (Danuphyu Daw Saw Yi), Chinese food cuisine, Women’s wear shop and many popular stores including passport photos clinic, café shops, etc mixed with them. The outer surface of the Aung ChanThar was face to face with the Hledan central point and Pyay Road. So one could easily see shops and stores at the surface of Aung Chan Thar such as famous men hair clinic ‘Win’, Union Photo Clinic, Shan cuisine shop (ShanTaungTan), women wear shop ‘Go Show’, Chinese cuisine shop, ALainMar book shop and Athawka Burmese slippers shop, etc.
(An artist’s impression of what used to be Hleedan cross-roads.)
After the demonstration in 1988 in Burma, Universities were closed for 3 years, and all the private tuitions were forced to close. Since then, my grandfather moved his English classes to our house (Pyay Yeiktha Road) for the rest of his life. But I believed he missed his students and classes which once held at Aung Chan Thar (Hledan). We kept his old tuition house at Aung Chan Thar as our memory of our grandparents. We all hoped that one day we would do something as museum there. After my grandfather died in 1996, and my grandmother died in 1999, ‘Aung Chan Thar’ met unexpected tragedy that we would never forget. But I say it was lucky that it would happen (in 2003) after my grandparents passed away. If they met such catastrophe, I was sure their heart would break. My grandfather’s old tuition house also joined its misfortune, and we would never see our old memory again.
What’s Done Is Done
Now we see a tremendous building mounted proudly which has taken the place of the peaceful habitation of ‘Aung Chan Thar’ (Hledan) of many years ago. The name ‘Hledan Centre’ is engraved on the the front of the building. Only the name ‘Hledan’ remains as the reminder of the dream village that was once ‘Aung Chan Thar’.