In a temple in the mountains…

Past the large painted Buddha that greets you as you walk into what would be a large garage if it weren’t a temple, across the green concrete floor, up the stairs to where there are identical crystal Buddha sculptures peacefully smiling at you from within identical curved alcoves, through a stairway where there neat shelves of slippers to flip flop across granite floors of shadows into a room filled with stacks of pink plastic doors, there are the ashes of my grandparents and my uncle and aunt.

My cousin drove us up the mountains and through the curvy roads in his modified Mazda.

My grandmother was actually Catholic, but my uncle said she wouldn’t mind resting there, where there are chants that soothe them through round speakers in the ceiling.

It really feels like a library of the dead.  Each door is the same, names in gold on a blue background.  I managed to thrill my father by happening to stand right in front of my uncle’s door, and actually read his name in Chinese aloud.  It helps that his name was made up of some of the most common characters in the language, which I happen to actually recognize.

We trooped out and did the obligatory squint photo, and headed back on the road along the coast to stop and eat very fresh seafood (I have huge sympathy for vegetarians– watching my lunch thrash wildly as it was picked up by the net was rather disturbing…  But I confess… I ate it.  It was delicious.  I don’t think it died in vain, but maybe that’s rather selfish of me.)

I also managed to impress my parents by reading from a Buddhist Sutras book which has the zhuyin fuhao bo po mo fo printed on the sides of the characters.  The only literature here that has zhuyin fuhao on the sides of the characters seems to be children’s books and Buddhist Sutras.  I think a friend of mine explained that the zhuyin is actually supposed to approximate the original language in some cases.

So, although wo de zhongwen sze bu hao, at least I can still impress my parents a little bit, even though they still correct me most generously…  😉


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Free Rice

July 2007
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