I didn’t mean to interrupt the monk from his studies, I just asked if he wouldn’t mind taking this photo. He smiled and stopped reading Dalai Lama’s ‘The Art of Happiness’, tucking a banana leaf inside to bookmark his page. Probably a book worth reading once in a lifetime. Dressed in bright orange robes, he had the wide smile of a man insulated from the evils of this world. We looked through the new photos on my phone.
“To show your family?” “Yes.” I hung my head slightly. “And Instagram.”
“What’s Instagram?” He asked. Have you been living under a rock, dude? Then I realised he had. Or at least inside an ornately carved rock. So I asked, “how long have you been for a monk for?”
“I live here for five years,” he smiled, nodding at the temple behind me. How fascinating. So he has no idea about anything that’s happened in the last half a decade.
“Do you know Amazon?” I asked. “The rainforest?” He replied. “Sure,” I said, although I’d meant the other Amazon. But now was not the time to tell him an internet retailer is roughly halfway through its plan of world domination.
“Uber?” He shook his head. I guess taxis aren’t required when Buddha handles all the transport towards enlightenment.
How about music, I wondered. “Despacito?” A blank smile. “Kanye West? Pitbull?” Still Silence. His smile made sense now. I’d trade Uber for enlightenment and never again hearing Pitbull shouting his net worth over reggaeton. Maybe I should buy that Dalai Lama book.
I thanked him for his time, he shook my hand. It felt too formal so we upgraded to a hug. I realised I had five seconds for a final question. Tick tock.
“Who is the president of America?” His eyes rose skywards then returned. “Barack Obama?”
“I’m buying the Art of Happiness on Amazon right now. And can we swap lives, please?”