Yesterday, we built a mud wall for the entrance to Ban Sai Roong. After walking home from breakfast (spiced pork with sticky rice), the village kids, one by one, started to follow us. I sensed they had this strange intuition, that they knew we needed their help. Now instead of having 3 people to build the wall, we have 20. And every one of them was eager to be involved in the building process. A beautiful collaboration. A one-of-a-kind creation. It is amazing to me how self-assured these children are. They take pride in showing me how things work and treat me as an equal. With patience and understanding, they show me how to make mud into bricks, tell me when and where to wash my feet, take me under their wing. Our mutual respect transcends age and cultural differences. Reminds me that we are all teachers.
Noi gave us a special treat today by showing us around her family farm. She drove Mel, Thip and I down the road and walked us around her 20-acre land that is surrounded by a lake overlooking the mountains of Chiayaphum. She has enough food to feed a post-apocalyptic society. We walked and talked, picked ngo from her trees (a red fruit that tastes sort of like lychee, one of my favorites).
For our goodbye dinner, we ate fish, with noodles and chili sauce, wrapped in pieces of cabbage in the mud house with Isara. He told us more about Buddhist traditions and his plans to visit India to study Tantra. We talked about death and reincarnation, the futility of worrying and the importance of helping others, of giving. His demeanor is different tonight, a bit despondent. It breaks his heart to see us go. He makes us promise to come back and wants to make plans for the future. Isara says we can call him if we need him, any time, for anything. He will always be there for us. I am moved. Such affection and devotion from a man I’ve known for less than a week. He said he feels like we have met before, perhaps in a past life. I feel the same way. We are so familiar to each other. Our interactions are devoid of all roles, all formalities, all fallacies. It’s just us: two souls who dance to the same song, even half way around the world.