Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monks are people, too...

Before teaching at the monastery, I guess I never thought about the normal lives of monks. I thought all they did was pray and meditate and... I suppose... eat meals. However being at the monastery and interacting with monks all day I learned one important fact. Monks are people, too (this may or may not be a quote from one of my students). Monks do all sorts of things you wouldn't imagine them doing initially.

One thing we did twice a week was have a movie night for the monks so they could practice their English doing something fun. The most popular movies were action movies. They love Jackie Chan and martial arts. Mission Impossible was a big hit with them, as was Rush Hour. I mean, really, they are mostly a bunch of men in their 20's. Why wouldn't they enjoy that stuff, right?

And speaking of them being men, what else to men like better than sports? Sports are huge in the monastery. Apparently, during the main program, the monks' free time is very limited and they only have one or two days a week that they are allowed to play, but during the winter holiday when I was visiting, there were essentially no rules about when they had to do anything (except show up to English class if they had enrolled, of course) and so whenever it was light outside, you could find monks out playing sports. The three most popular sports I saw there were basketball, cricket, and football (soccer). Due to the immense popularity of cricket, not just in the monastery, but throughout India, I was forced to learn the rules of the peculiar game in order to understand what I was watching...

 Monks playing basketball

 Monks playing cricket

 Pitching form is quite important in cricket... apparently...

Another growing passion among the monks is technology. Despite the price of iPads, iPhones, Smartphones and tablets,  it was not so hard to find these devices around the monastery, particularly among the graduate monks who work there. But, even among student monks, there were quite a few smartphones to be had. The Khenpo (instructor) who looks after the English program had an iPhone... which ran on 2G internet. It was literally impossible to do anything with it when it was running on 2G, but it didn't matter. He had it!

Me, one of my students, and one of the administrators

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