at Friday, July 09, 2010 Posted by Mac

Pah Leurat - Friday, July 9

This morning the boys all got up early to give alms to the monks. "Early" is a relative term. Most people here start their days at 5:00, about a half-hour before dawn. The monks normally make their rounds between 6:00 and 6:30, concurrent with school bus departures and farmers heading out to their fields. Today the monks did not arrive until 6:45 because the abbot had tripped over a dog and broken its leg.

Thai temples serve as drop-off points for unwanted pets, and Buddhism teaches that attachments are the root of all suffering. Westerners sometimes get the notion that this means Asians do not value intimacy, but I can guarantee you that the abbot cares deeply about "his" dogs and was acutely feeling that pain of attachment today!

After breakfast (which Boosaba serves to our group every day at 7:00), Benyapa and I spent most of this morning, our next to last teaching in Pah Leurat, observing and photographing Willem and Bowen's outrageous lessons for grades 7 through 9, which included an imaginatively choreographed and vigorously animated presentation of American street slang. It was hilarious, and so over the top that the Thai students were not, at first, quite sure what to make of it. In the end they all knew it was a lesson they'd never forget, and perhaps the best time they'll ever have in a classroom. A new standard has been set!


After school, Aiden meditated with a monk while the others practiced bamboo basket weaving with Benyapa's grandmother and a few of her contemporaries. Bowen hung in there the longest and after four hours I think ended up with four or more finished baskets. These would sell for 1 baht (currently about 3 cents US) each, so Willem joked, "If college doesn't work out..."

I laughed because it was a good joke, but reflecting on it now I see the unimaginable differences in the options available to our young guests and their hosts. I believe very strongly in noblese oblige, passing the ladder back down, paying it forward, and all that, and I hope that their time here will have reenforced those instincts in each of our Inside Thailand alums.