Notes on the Geography of Burma / Myanmar: Moulmein 3: Colonial Houses
Moulmein has its share of the yellow-painted, plastered brick houses so common across the former British Empire, and this set begins with a few examples. Moulmein also has a good number of teak mansions and bungalows made from the timber that played such a large part in the city's economic life.
Sturdy, roomy, and well-ventilated.
Another example, with a cupola that might have served as office or study or sleeping quarters.
Enormous structures like these often had surprisingly few rooms, though the rooms they had were enormous.
Very few of the surviving homes of this type are still single-family dwellings; many have been converted to public uses.
Original use? Perhaps shops downstairs, with quarters upstairs for members of the merchant's extended family.
The ridge that parallels the waterfront but stands a half-mile back of it has some spectacular teak houses, built originally for government offices and still so used, though now often subdivided into apartments.
Down on the lowlands in front of the ridge, there are a few wooden houses like this one, built by a timber merchant who sold it to a senior Burmese civil servant about the time of independence.
The rectangular doors are replacements for the original ones, which curved to fit the doorway. Why replaced? Because the house was used by the Japanese as their local headquarters during the war, and the original doors were destroyed before the house was returned to its owners.
The main downstairs room. The inside is like camping, with walls, like the one on the left, deliberatey open to every breeze, even though it came with small creature. There's no escape from the damp, which may be why there is so little cloth..
At the front door, this sign, put up by the father of the present occupant. Files piled in a corner all these years provide a broken record of the administrative career of a district officer in the 1940s. The letters I.C.S. refer to Indian Civil Service, the elite cadre of colonial officers who presided over a mosaic of districts stretching west from here into what is now Pakistan.
One of the best-maintained of the old colonial houses, this is the district commissioner's home, high atop the ridge. It was photographed hurriedly, but not fast enough to avoid attracting an armed soldier who nearly took the camera.
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