This is the story of what happens when the author's plans to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Thailand are derailed after he has arrived in the country. Next Life in the Afternoon is spiritual, funny, at times irreverent, and full of personal lessons learned along the way.
I'm squatting naked on a concrete floor in the predawn coolness of Udon Thani, pouring water from a washbasin onto my head to rinse off the bar soap I used as shampoo. My hair is long and stringy. I had counted on it being shaved off by now, so I had let it grow out a bit leading up to the trip. It's about fifty-five degrees, and I am trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake the monks and my traveling companions. The splish-splosh of water is punctuated by my sharp, pronounced inhaling, a result of being doused with such breathtakingly cool water. My toes tingle against the cold floor, and I am momentarily brought back to Boston, where my trip began. It seems to be a different planet, almost, although the air and water hold a familiar chill.
A week into the trip, I still haven't acclimated to everything, and I am stuck somewhere between amazement and culture shock. My mind tries to escape like the cool sudsy water that pools at my feet. The sun is nearly on the horizon, and the temple is coming alive with slow-moving footsteps along the rainy paths outside. I should get going. The morning alms rounds have begun, and I hear familiar voices muffled outside the door. I can't make out many words, but hear one that is familiar: Farang. A half-derogatory Thai word for "foreigner" and the name I have in this country that keeps me at arm's length.
-From Next Life in the Afternoon: A Journey Through Thailand
What's with the name?
"Next life in the afternoon" is a translation of the Thai idiom "Chat na bai bai." It's a lightly humorous expression of frustration in plans not working out as intended. This seemed to be an apt title, since the author was not able to become a monk. It also ties in the concepts of reincarnation and impermanence, which are key in Buddhist belief and thus Thai culture.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.35(d)|
About the Author