Saturday, 29 August 2009

Buddhist monk at Wat Opot

The Wat Opot childrens community were I volunteered is part of the Buddhist pagoda and living quarters of the Buddhist monks.
Most mornings when it was still cool before seven o'clock I liked to walk around the village and often came back through the Wat and past the pagoda.
The scent of frangipangi and other trees lingered in the morning air and it was just such a great feeling being part of the surroundings and listening to the chanting of the monks.
But mostly the chanting started earlier in the morning after the sound of the gong at five o'clock.
One morning I took my sketch book along and water colour paints and decided to sit under a tree at one of the tables and do a bit of painting.
I was there for about half an hour and very quietly a monk came over and sat with me at the table.
He was around twenty years old and tried to talk to me in broken English.
Not long after a second monk walked over and decided to sit with me at the table as well and talk to me. He told me he was twenty nine years old and had been a monk since he was eighteen.
Buddhist monks are not allowed to touch a woman or look a woman straight in the eye,because in Buddhist teachings a monk should look down all the time.
A woman can't give a monk anything directly or touch a monk.
These two monks were a bit different!
They tried to practice their English and had no problem looking me directly in the eyes and asked many questions like "Are you married? What is your name? How old are you?"
I was really amused because this was an interesting conversation and both monks wanted to look at my sketches and how I was using my brushes and paints.
I don't know what they were thinking of this tall white woman sitting at their table,but they were not shy!
We parted after an hour with I see you tomorrow in the Pagoda,because the next day a group of Singaporian business people were coming to visit the community and we were going to have a meal with the monks and indeed I saw the same monk again.
This time he didn't smile or talk to me,because maybe he was on 'duty' ,but I really treasure the encounter and talk with the Wat Opot monk.

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