Buddhist monks seek donations

Seconds after walking in the door upon our return from the grocery store, our doorbell rang. Fahim answered it and there our gate were two Buddhist monks (identifiable by their brightly colored robes) and a guy carrying a plastic bag. The guy gave the plastic bag to Fahim and Fahim invited all three up. I had no idea what was going on.

Fahim hands me the bag, and in the kitchen I discover it contains a bunch of small bananas. I don’t mean a small bunch of bananas. A small of bunched bananas? Bananas bunched small? Yeah, there’s only so many ways to combine those words. It was a rather large bunch. The bananas were small. And those are Bombay onions beside it – they’re actually a very faint purple color inside, and those are the largest Bombay onions we’ve found thus far.

But you can see from the picture that the banana flesh itself is about four inches long. The bananas are sweet, which is good (some aren’t), but they’re rubbery compared to standard plain jane boring North American bananas.

Also, what we know of as plantain in North and South America here goes by banana. Or what we know of as banana and plantain are called plantain. Basically, as far as Sri Lankans are concerned, bananas and plantain are the same thing – but they tend to use banana as the favored word.

What we know of as plantain in the Americas is available here. Heck, here, all sorts of different types of bananas (or plantain) are available. We haven’t had any other kind yet other than what the monks brought. Let me rephrase. Fahim, I’m fairly certain, has likely had all or most of the varieties available. We, as in we together have not had any other kind. This is in the event Fahim decides to nitpick my blog. (Smile, my darling.)

I go back into the living room where Fahim and the other three men are conversing in broken English. Fahim isn’t speaking Sinhalese, and I hadn’t even clued in until he pointed it out to me later. Nope, I haven’t changed a bit – I’m still oblivious to what is otherwise obvious to the rest of the planet.

Fahim didn’t want them to know he understood Sinhalese because he didn’t want to be hit up for an even larger donation.

The monks – in their broken, struggling English – got across to Fahim (I listened and still didn’t have a clue. I caught words like “elephant”, and I figured out from the papers they had that they were looking for money, but that was as much as I had figured) that they needed another elephant for the temple procession tomorrow and they were looking for a donation from us.

They assumed we were both foreigners, and as such, assumed that we were wealthy, being paid in US dollars. Fahim could see that other people had donated 5,000 to 15,000 Rupees, and they were expecting a donation of 20,000 Rupees or more. Forget it.

Neither Fahim and I are Buddhist. That’s number one. Number two – how do we know that’s where the money is actually going? How do we know these guys aren’t gonna pocket it? Or use it for something else? This isn’t Canada or the US where charities are registered and you can look them up on the internet to verify their authenticity.

Fahim gave them 500 Rupees. He didn’t think the monks would let him get away with less, and we certainly wouldn’t give them more. Well, I really had no say in the matter at all – it was all a done deal before I even knew what was going on, which was after everyone was gone and Fahim could explain.

And he also explained that he couldn’t give them nothing – the guy who brought the bananas, Fahim thought, worked for the post office. So if we make no donation, we may never see any of our mail. Oh. I see your point, my darling. Uh, yeah, by all means, give them 500 Rupees to shut them up.

Author: LMAshton

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