Submitted by Zach Hyman
These objects hang from many balconies of multi-story buildings in urban Yangon. They can function as several things; a doorbell if you attach a bell to the end, and a mailbox if you hook a plastic bag around the end. Why not just use a normal doorbell, or get a conventional mailbox, you may ask? There isn't always electricity, and hence there isn't always a way to make the doorbell ring (despite the idea of a "bell" being something you can just hit to make work, the idea today is not that simple). Nobody wants to trudge up 6 flights of stairs in the dark only to find that the person who they wanted to see is not home - much easier to pull on a rope that has a bell attached to the top end of it so that if an apartment's inhabitants are home they will hear the bell and come to the balcony.
As for mailboxes, well, why incorporate something into a building in a dense urban environment where space is already very scarce when you can instead place it outside in the air, an uncrowded and relatively limitless space? Standard protocol dictates that a deliverer of any mail will give several courtesy rings on the ring-rope to notify inhabitants of a delivery.