Sunday, September 23, 2007

Book stories

I have two book stories to share:

I mentioned in my previous post that we're seeing a friend of ours on Wednesday at his coffee shop in Berkeley. His Thai ex-wife, A, was friends with another Thai woman named Dii who stayed in Mr. Coffee and A's home before their marriage ended. Years ago, Golf worked out of Mr. Coffee and A's home helping with the Thai Language books that A later became well known for. Anyway, Dii and Golf became friends and they enjoyed each other's company. They did fall out of touch and have not seen or heard from one another for a few years now. Mr. Coffee called us last week and said Dii was in town and could we meet at his coffeeshop in Berkeley on Wednesday. So we're going to go meet Dii and have a nice visit with Mr. Coffee and I'm going to tell him about my fantastic service that will save him tons of moola.

A few months ago, Golf, Aidan and I walked into a local thrift store one Saturday morning. I found a book with a Buddha image on the cover and it turned out to be a travelogue and spiritually contemplative book about a Canadian man who went to live in a forest monestary famous for ordaining foreigners in eastern Thailand. This part of Thailand is very poor and the time the author stayed in this monestary was in the early 80s.

I really wanted this book, I didn't have ANY money with me and while itwas only 50 cents, I still had the cashier put it on hold and we went to the ATM a few blocks away, bought some stuff to get change and came back later to get it. Shows you how much I wanted it!

In one of his stories he spoke of meeting a teenage girl whose mother had cancer and ended up putting a bullet through her head to end her misery. The monks asked this girl's father if they could keep the mother's bones on display in the temple since Buddhist custom does not allow for cremation by those who commit suicide. It was a way to remind the laypeople of the transitory nature of our life and how to nurture our spirit that goes on, but our bodies do not.

The author had met the daughter and she asked him if he wanted to meet her mother, and then took him to see the bones, which shocked him, no less. Her mother's photo was next to the skeleton. The author had asked the girl how she spoke English so well (remember this is poor and rural Thailand) and she said had gotten a scholarship to study in the US.

Out of curiousity, I visited the author's website and it turned out there were photos from his time there at the forest monestary. There was a photo of the girl with her mother's skeleton, and she had a sweet smile on her face. For the sake of privacy, I'm not including the photo on my blog, but if you'd like to see the picture, please email me and I will send you the link, you'll see why when you read on.

I had told Golf about bits of the book and included this story. Later on, he had remembered that Dii had said she had gone to this temple frequently and that her mother had committed suicide and her bones were at there on display! I said No way! This is the same girl!!! I had found the part in the book and read it to him, then went to the website to show him the photo. Yes, that was his friend Dii! Can you believe the coincidence!

Now I'm completely fascinated with this woman. How did Dii end up living in the United States? I know she studied here as a girl, but even knowing English, how does a poor village girl get the opporunity to come here? Did she marry an American? What kind of life has she had here in the US? Her story has got to be so interesting and the path that got us together (which is not even complete yet since I won't have met her til this Wednesday) is quite unique.

I will let you know!

2nd quick book story: OPRAH announced on Friday that she's having Elizabeth Gilbert as a guest on October 5th to discuss her book Eat Pray Love. WOW! I'm in the vibe and the groove of Oprah lately. Don't know why, but I do love that woman and I'm NOT a celebrity worshipper (far from it). So mark your calendars ladies, I'm very excited! :)


Vern said...

THank you for the cool story! - Vern

: ) said...

Oh, by the way - I've seen two sets of skeletons at Wat Pah Nanachat - which I think is the monastery you're referring to. One is accompanied by a photo of a woman... and there is a baby, still born I would guess that is floating in formaldehyde. I have a photo somewhere, I'll find the link and put it here: Baby and Skeleton at Wat Pah.

There is also another wat in the northeast that fits the description - wat Nong Pa Pong... I've seen two skeletons there, and have photos - but harder to find the photos as they're archived. I'll look anyway... I'll post later if I find them. -- vern