23 home again, and the dead


I've been AFK for a few days.  Got a bit sick there, but I'm better now.  A story I'll relate another time.

We're back in Lom Sak – home.  Rained all day yesterday.  Not that  piddley cold rain we get  in seattle- genuine downpours, with intermittent breaks, then whoosh! Down it comes.  And it only cools off a bit.  Doesn't get cold and drive you into the house.   The ground gets all soft and squishy.  I took advantage of that to hack away at a stump I've been trying to dig out.  When the ground is dry, the  dirt is like crumbly stone, you get a quarter inch gain with one whack of a shovel.  After the rain yesterday, I could at least get the spade into the dirt to dig. 

The  rain also woke up the frogs.  They were doing their competing chirps and growls with vigor and persistence last night.  Tok brought me in a bucket that had been sitting outside that had maybe 20 frogs in it.  They had all jumped in. why I don't know, maybe for a party?  Oh. Now she's laughing at me… tells me "Sorry Nu, the frogs didn't jump in the bucket, my relatives went to the fields and caught them for mama to cook."  Ha Ha.  Gullible farang. 

I was dismayed to learn upon our return that Somkid's Dad died while we were away.  Somkid is the boyfriend of the shop owner where Tok works.  His dad was a likeable guy.  A bit annoying when he was drunk sometimes (which was like, everyday).  But he was a happy drunk.  He really liked me.  He was always talking to me, and of course I didn't understand anything.  But he was quick to offer me a seat, some food or drink.  He would come up and grab my arm and shake my hand over and over- which is a bit unusual, Thais aren't real big on public touching.  He crashed his motorbike on a sharp curve.  Probably had a few or more, dunno.

The father of one of Toks friends died this week also.  This afternoon we went to the "funeral".  I didn't know what would be going on, Tok said we were just going to her friends house, so I didn't bring my VDO camera.  Very interesting.  There were a hundred or so people at the house up the road in the village.  There were tables and chairs food and drink.  Monks were chanting inside the house.  The sound is piped out to a big stack of speakers outside, so you can hear, loudly.  After a while, they broke down the ornate displays around the casket fridge and took it all out to a flatbed truck.  They don't do embalming like we do in the west.  They leave the lid off the casket and put it in a big ornately decorated refrigerator.  The top of the cooler has a window so people and look in and see the body- if they like.  After the casket and all of its adornments were transferred to the truck, there was a procession to the temple nearby.  There were a gaggle of monks in orange robes that led the way, each holding on to a string that ran back to the truck, where the other end was goes inside the casket, tied to the lid.  Everybody followed behind the truck, which of course had enormous speakers tied to the roof and was playing music.

At the temple the procession went three times around the crematory building.  The building houses an oven with a tall square chimney into the sky.  They brought the casket and all its decorations to the top of the stairs and assembled them.  Then there was chanting by the monks.  They ran the string from the casket up over the trees and into the temple where the string was run across the rows of monks, so each held on to it.  Tok told me that they believe that the prayers go thru the string back to the body and the spirit of the dead.  Kind of a spiritual soup can and string telephone line I think.  The mans life story was told by his family over the speakers.  Everyone was sitting in the nearest shade, on red resin chairs.  The monks all had orange Fanta sodas and a bottle of water in front of them.  I asked tok if they only drink orange Fanta because it matches their robes.  She didn't think that was it.  Finally, everyone went up the stairs, women on one side, men on the other and left a joss (incense) stick on the casket, then descended down the center staircase and the ceremonies were complete.  I'm not sure when they burn the body.  Tok tells me that the family will return tomorrow to collect the ashes.  They keep the ashes at the house for 100 days, during which time the spirit of the dead person is believed to be still around.  After that, they have various ways to treat the ashes.  There are mausoleums, sometimes the family keeps the ashes, and sometimes they are buried.

Always something interesting, everyday.

BTW, replies and comments are well received and I do reply.


i am in thailand at the moment. to be added or deleted from my travelogue, send request to this address. view previous posts at:   http://thaikarl.blogspot.com/

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