November 2017 I am at a total loss as to how to convey what is actually transpiring on this journey. The coming together of cultures with a huge language barrier and incredible cultural and educational differences is not something we all experience every day, if in fact in one’s lifetime.
These comings together are not diplomatic, taking place in elegant ballrooms with fresh coffee and bottled water, no these are taking place on the dingy streets of India.
I am accompanying 41 monks to 8 of the holy sites of Buddha. The primary purpose is to chant the sutras that were written by Buddha in the sites that we are visiting.
The chanting in each site lasts one or more days and in the case of Bodh Gaya, it will be 10.
That is the purpose of this trip, but these posts are going to be more about my experiences, my interactions, my impressions and my thoughts.
Regular readers of Passport and Baggage have come to expect history, architecture, food, and art, and I will, of course, weave those in. But, over the next two months, I trust you will bear with me as I depart from my usual format and turn this into much more.
I hope that you will meet individual monks and if I can I will try to tell their stories.
I mentioned, there is a very large language barrier. Many do not speak more than a word or two of English, and they are from Thailand and Burma, and needless to say, I do not speak a word of their languages as well.
When we arrive at a location, the local monks speak Hindi, so that compounds the language aspect, and we are not traveling with interpreters.
This alone forces us all to help each other to simply get to dinner on time, let alone solve any problems that may arise.
So please follow along, it is going to be an interesting ride.