Saturday, November 10, 2007

Quest For Fire

In Samoeng, I go to the market on alms round just when the light starts to penetrate the fog, just before 6 AM, and am back around 7 AM to light my fire.

Here's how my fire goes: I gather up whatever is lying around - old boards, old branches (those the termites haven't claimed), old schoolbooks, old teak leaves, etc. I smash the boards with a sledge hammer (no axe yet...), arrange the pieces on a board which carries the charred coals from yesterday so that they create a covered channel to carry air into the coals, leaves, paper and branches, then I light paper and stick it into the channel and blow until the old coals are red again.

I then take whatever luke-warm soups I've recieved as alms and pour them together into one pot (for a flavour few Thais have every tasted), together with noodles, if any, and place the covered pot on the top of the outer boards, right over the coals. Then blow some more into the channel, until a) the soup boils, b) I hyperventilate, or c) the smoke in my eyes makes it impossible to see where I'm blowing.

Eventually, the deed is done, and I can eat my one meal of the day, around 8 AM. I wash up, gather up the remaing coals (having earlier scattered them), and return to my kuti to practice and study (and check email, from time to time).

Update: a group of meditators from Chiang Mai took pity on me, and donated a gas stove. A cavemonk no more...