Yours in the Dharma:  Essays from a Buddhist perspective by Sandy Garson

This blog, Yours in the Dharma by Sandy Garson, is an effort to navigate life between the fast track and the breakdown lane, on the Buddhist path. It tries to use a heritage of precious, ancient teachings to steer clear of today's pain and confusion to clear the path to what's truly happening.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

More on monastic daily life

Yesterday was the monks day off and they went to one of those massive Hong Kong style malls where they bought shoes and gorged on a huge indian buffet lunch whose unctuous remains are now in boxes on our kitchen counter Gelak, the tiny Chinese lady they've given this Tibetan name, took advantage of their absence to spend the entire day, 7 hours, scrubbing every millimeter of the kitchen and every utensil in it. "I like do this when they no here... More easy for me," she said when I wandered in to use the oven.

I'd been told to make something special for a special visitor coming at 4:00 pm. I thought I heard Lama say "an actor" but although his english is fluent, his accent is so thick he sounds like he's speaking Martian. There was a flurry of high energy fussing around 2 when demands came for real Tibetan tea and the fancy cups stored somewhere. Plates of cookies materialized and lots of ordinary cups and saucers were carried upstairs on lots of trays. With anxious monks hovering over my shoulder and prayers to the dakinis, i nervously sliced out two perfect wedges of my newly invented pumpkin pie without the pie part (because of health issues at the monastery we use no white flour, salt or sugar). I added a tiny ginger snap to each plate as they were whisked away. When the kitchen door was opened to let the monk out, I saw the "special guest" passing by. Steven Seagal.

We're back to normal now although there is a lot of forms making going on for tonight's special prayer ceremony at 7:30. Two of our most regular, energetic and cheerful volunteers, Chinese Canadian ladies named Lorna and Wendy, are here kneading the oats and butter Tormas are sculpted from. Today is a lucky day on the Tibetan calendar when all good deeds are magnified so we expect a crowd tonight. That means more dinner to be cooked

Hopefully the endlessly smiling Chinese Woman named Joan will show up as she faithfully cooks dinner for the monks at least four nights every week. She shows up In her Mercedes van filled with ingredients for whatever she will with miraculous ease throw together in the next 90 minutes sometimes it's just Joan but sometimes her teenaged daughter is with her, less frequently her husband, a wealthy businessman who when he gets back from hong kong gets dragooned into being the prep person eternally chopping. We don't have that humility in America.

When Joan puts on her apron, it covers a lot but not the fact that her dark colored tee shirt barely brushes her waist and black leggings because her little butt remains exposed up heard she once owned a restaurant which is why quantity cooking doesn't faze her and can vouch that she does wrangle up all sorts of Chinese dishes with all sorts of ingredients i can't identify. From cooking In the kitchen I know from the condiments, staples and utensils, it's set up for her and not a western cook like me. The Chinese stir with a chopstick and dont use rubber spatulas, have an array of strange smelling pastes and use varied soy sauces Some of the volunteers privately say her cooking is oily and I would agree but the monks eat heartily.

More later I have to run to make tea for 3 before the next prayer service. And the blogger app for this iPad sucks. It is almost impossible to use.