|After a couple of
hours' sleep I raised an eyelid half a millimetre or so to take in a ring
of small heads staring at me as it I were some alien jettisoned uninvited
into their world. Not feeling up to interviews, I feigned sleep. These
were the boys of the monastery, sent to study and earn merit for their
families by serving the monks. Whispered conversation ensued. 'His longyi
is homespun, he must be a farmer.' 'How can he be, look, there is a hundred
kyat note sticking out of his shirt pocket.' 'Maybe he is an Indian from
across the border come down to sell betel nuts?' And so on.
It was now dusk and
as the sun set over the walled monastery compound the boys clambered like
monkeys up sprawling fruit trees to collect unripe mangos and tamarind
leaves for cooking with.