As Promised, The Monk Story

Hello everyone! I am back in Kathmandu after an INCREDIBLE trek. This is the first of many posts, so bear with me.

When Ellen got to Kathmandu, we decided to make the trek to Bodhnath again. After getting somewhat lost and having at least five Nepalese people standing over a map deciding which direction to point us in, we found the temple by entering down one of the back streets. We walked the clockwise loop a couple of times (which, in Tibetan, is called “cora” or “kora,” as many people have told me!), then happened upon a lovely vegan cafe where we could sit on the roof overlooking the stupa as we drank our tea.

As we chatted animatedly about NOLS, a monk from one of the other tables came to sit down next to us, followed by his friend. They had heard us speaking English from across the room, and since they were both learning English, they decided to come over to listen and to practice. Sonam and his friend were born in Tibet, but had been studying philosophy for 25 years in Southern India. They were spending three years in Nepal teaching philosophy at a monastery, and were taking English lessons in their spare time.

The conversation somehow turned to technology, and Sonam was telling us about presumably the first time they had used a computer. They started by typing Sonam’s name. Sonam was dictating, and his friend was sitting at the keyboard typing each letter. They had never used a keyboard before, nor were they used to English letters, so they would have to search for each key. “S,” Sonam would say, and his friend would search for the S, then punch it with his pointer finger (they acted out this entire thing). “O,” Sonam said, and both monks had to peruse the keyboard to find the “O.” It took them 30 minutes, they claimed, just to type “Sonam.” The two monks acted out the finding and poking keys in such a funny way that all four of us ended up cracking up, laughing harder than I had laughed in a long time. I never would have predicted that I would laugh so hard with a pair of monks!

Sonam gave us a phone number (hopefully he’s better with that than with a computer), so if you ever need the phone number of a Tibetan monk…

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