Dried fish

In Rakhine State, with its sinewy spine dunked in the warmth of the Bay of Bengal, staples naturally come from the water. In Sittwe’s sprawling riverside markets enormous quantities of marine life end up in sacks like the ones in the picture. Dried, and bundled up. Ready to go.


While I was in that part of the world last month people were still talking about plots to poison the local food supply. Such rumours were dismissed by the local authorities but, at a time of greatly heightened sectarian emotion, many people believe the worst. Threats to food strike fear into shoppers and sellers alike. Even monks, who rely on the populace for their daily nourishment, were not immune to the panic.

And even where there is no poison, the notion becomes a powerful proxy for resentments that are hiding just below the surface.

This micro-post is part of a series based on time in Myanmar, January-February 2013.