Granta, Issue 10: Travel Writing

The main often republished factor of Granta Magazine.

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Are not you fearful of the Vietcong? ' they stated . 'No,' I answered, 'the Vietcong consistently behaved good in the direction of foreigners ; i used to be in basic terms petrified of the Khmers Rouges . ' The priests defined that the Vietcong have been vacationing the village each n ight to assemble taxes, yet that they by no means got here into the monastery. The abbot may provide me a few classes i n Khmer if I gave him a few classes in English . every thing appeared fantastic. The clergymen lived what they have been completely ready to confess used to be a truly lazy existence. They joined the monastery as younger males , at their family's request, and they might depart it whilst it grew to become important for them to work from home. in fact, in wartime the temptation to stick on within the monastery used to be nice . They ate nutrients an afternoon, b reakfast and lunch . After that they survived on tea and cigarettes, even supposing for senior priests there could be distinct treats. I as soon as stumbled on the abbot chewing sugar-cane, which he stated counted as ingesting, given that one consistently spat out the fibrous inside. One night we ate a dish referred to as 'fried milk', which consisted of 'Longevity model' condensed milk , combined with coconut and decreased by way of warmth till it reached the 50 Road to Cambodia consistency of treacle toffee . The priests' day used to be spent in classes -Pali and English -trips to the neighborhood villages to beg fo r alms, attendance at non secular ceremonies , and the remainder of the time sitting via the monastery pool, feeding the 2 huge, immense puppy turtles -the priests' stomachs ru mbling as night got here on. The constructions have been jam-packed with surprises. in a single, surrounded through winking lighting fixtures , the final abbot was once mendacity in his coffin. He had died a 12 months earlier than , and it'd be one other years sooner than he was once cremated . the current abbot's condominium used to be filled with souvenirs and junk. It gave the look of the bed room of a few sentimental bit-part actress . there have been pictures , adorns and knick-knacks, and in a loft above our heads there have been piles of embroidered cushions and umbrellas stacked away. yet this was once not anything to the home occupied by means of the oldest monk within the institution, to which we have been invited one night to be able to watch the tv. This was once a superb party. there has been the strangest altar i've got ever obvious . at the most sensible point, there has been a row of varied Buddhas -as one may well count on. lower than those, and in part obscuring them , have been a tv set and 3 bottles of dad, flanked via version Christmas timber with fairy lighting fixtures, and an illuminated celebrity of Bethlehem . at the subsequent point there has been a row of historic biscuit barrels and a wholesale tin of Maxwell residence rapid espresso . on the base there has been a espresso desk cluttered with china frogs , candlesticks , fluffy animals , alarm clocks and glasses filled with previous cutlery, all coated with dirt. The outdated monk additionally confirmed me his cabinets , which have been filled with souvenirs from the seashore , outdated swords and daggers, and but extra alarm clocks. He had a keenness for clocks. He took out one and put it, with nice rite, in my palms ; it used to be a traveling alarm , with a crafty, slatted shutter that may be pulled around the clock face .

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