The last few days have been quite eventful. Friday morning, 8 monks came to our home at 7am to bless our house. Travel to Teach moved into our home about a month ago and it is tradition in Thailand to have your home blessed for safety and good luck. The session not only blesses the inhabitants of the home, but the landlord as well.
Groggy-eyed, we all gathered in our living room, scrambling around, trying to figure out what the monks needed, what the protocol was, where we should be sitting, how we should be sitting etc. etc.
There are endless rules associated with Buddhism, especially when it comes to the Buddha and monks. We couldn’t walk on our feet in front of the monks. If we were to approach them, to give them water or milk or something, we had to shuffle on our knees. Sitting, we were instructed not to sit cross-legged because when we got up, we couldn’t put our feet in front of us (towards the monks). Instead, we had to bend our knees and set our feet to the side, opposite the monks.
The monks came with two helpers who unraveled a spool of string, first pulling it through the monk’s hands (between the pointer and thumb while their hands were in prayer). Then, the monks chanted, voices going in and out, maintaining a consistent tone and resonance in the room, vibrating and carrying throughout the home. It was exceptionally cool to not only hear but experience so closely.
Afterwords, they passed the spool around for us to each wrap around our heads. Then, the chanting continued, blessing, I am guessing, us. As they chanted the Westerners shuffled uncomfortably, our legs getting numb or tingling. We exchanged glances to see what the proper etiquette was for adjusting our posture, but for the most part everyone just tried to ride it out and deal. I don’t know how the Thai do it.
During this section of prayer, a childish cell phone jingle broke into the monotone chanting, do- do do do- do, and the head monk looked into his satchel. Pulling out the phone, he hit talk and to everyone’s surprise, carried out a conversation. Now, I didn’t really understand what was going on, but even I felt it was weird. But, the rest of the monks kept chanting and the ceremony continued.
The final step was for each of us to line up in front of the head monk to be individually blessed, each of us receiving a white band of string on our wrists. Then, we served the monks brunch, waited until they had finished and left and then ate ourselves: curry, fried chicken, mystery meat salad, and fried rice, along with gelatinous desserts and fresh fruit.
When we finished eating, it was only 9:30am and we were exhausted.
Yesterday, Emma, Meena and I spent the day in a cooking class. It was exceptionally well organized and for $30, we learned how to make 6 dishes, plus a curry paste, and received an awesome recipe book. All of the food here is super fresh and really rather simple. The most common ingredients were fish sauce, soy sauce, coconut sugar and chilies. I am hoping I will be able to recreate several of the dishes at home! They told us what ingredients to use as alternatives, as several of the plants/fruits aren’t available at home.
Then, in the evening Emma and I wandered to the Night Bazaar where I bought a hat and dress. It’s easy for money to disappear here; you think everything is so cheap, you buy more. I haven’t bought many material goods, but when it comes to food, I think I need a to be a bit more frugal. With two meals out a day, it can add up. Restaurants I find, charge 100-150 baht ($3.2-$5), while street food is only 30 baht ($1). Beer is around 60 baht for a small ($2), 100 b for a large ($3.2). (FYI, there really is no wine here. You can buy local strawberry, lychee (Bonny, I think of you), mangosteen or longan wine, which is really not very good, or imported wine that is absurdly expensive.)
Anyway, today has been chill- hanging out at the house, yoga, blogging, and tonight, the Sunday fair!
Love and miss you all!!