Almsround in Sri Lanka is a wonderful thing, something I feel quite honoured to be a part of. The whole village comes out, the majority of houses, they put real, mostly vegetarian, food into the bowl, and they have such sincerity about it (not to mention astonishment in some cases). Some people seemed quite perplexed at first, asking me where I was going (and me feeling a bit proud to know what they said for once). Once I say, "pindapata", the perplexion turns to delight and if they have biscuits, I get biscuits; if they have bananas, I get bananas (or the monkeys do, mostly). Lately, though, word has spread, and I can only go a short walk out of the monastery before my bowl and bag are full and I have to turn around. Short of getting the monks here to go on almsround, I'm going to have to recruit more foreign monks...
Which, comes to the second nice thing about today, that I finally had a fairly clear conversation about the new monastery under development. I have some reassurances, and am willing to keep my stock invested in the company, so to speak, at least until the market changes... so to speak. So, the three foreigners who have already submitted application to ordain should breathe a tentative sigh of relief, and the rest who have been holding back should consider investing. When I returned from Colombo today (there and back with no money is doing pretty well, I should say), there were ten pictures in my gmailbox. You tell me, is this worth the requisite investment of time and energy?
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The final note is about my visa, and confirms that I do indeed have support here. I was sent to a man in a condo in Colombo who made a phone call and told me to go see another man. He mentioned being someone's secretary, and that the man I was to see was the head of immigration. I asked him again what his position was and he said so-and-so's coordinating secretary, some name I can't remember and couldn't pronounce.
Me: "Who is that?"
Me: <blank look />
He: "The president."
At the immigration, I'm sent up to the fourth floor where I wait and am eventually brought by a kindly man who is ostensibly the head of immigration down to the third or second floor, past the line of people waiting to get into the "Extensions" office, past a row of seated monks, novices and even a Bhikkhuni waiting for visa extensions, and into an office where I was told that all I need is for the so-and-so-secretary man to arrange a letter of recommendation from the Buddhasasana office, fill out an application, bring them with some photos, and poof: free one-year monk visa. Beat that, Thailand.
Apologies for a somewhat pleased tone but, after what I've been through, it's nice to know there are still two sides to every coin. And of course, I still don't have things like a pillow, mattress or mosquito repellent, my bathroom door doesn't close (and the inner handle broke off so if I could close it, I'd be locked in), and the toilet sprayer is broken so I have to... well, in the words of the people at Facebook, "it's complicated." So, no accusations of spoiledness, please.
Finally, your dhamma quote of the day, as a random thank you, to you all, for reading the dreary details of my strange life:
yo ca pubbe pamajjitvā, pacchā so nappamajjati.
somaṃ lokaṃ pabhāseti, abbhā muttova candimā.
He who having been heedless is heedless no more,
illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds.
-- Dhp. 173