Umbrella Shop 2004-2014

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Monks walking up the monastery road near the library 2014. (Double umbrella)

Excerpt from Going For Broke: Monasterynote5: Walkman Karaoke, 2004

Rainy Season is luckily my favorite and I love all five months of it. It is the perfect temperature also, not too hot, not too cold. It’s quiet and the noises around me get white washed out from the rain striking the metal corrugated roofing. We had over 350 Bhikkhus and a total of more than 600 residents this past Rainy Season (2004). One problem is that nearly everyone has the same brown or silver umbrellas. Surprisingly, up until last Rainy Season, everyone sort of knew which umbrella was theirs just by the markings. Some would put string on the handle while others might have some tape along the fabric to stop the leaks.

This past Rainy Season gave us a little too much confusion and we now have laminated umbrella name tags in addition to the markings. One time, when someone took my umbrella, I replaced it with a communal umbrella, and the next day someone took that one too! Later on, I recovered my lost/taken umbrellas, but if you don’t have an umbrella during rainy season, you are in big trouble.

Umbrellas surely break, and we now have an Umbrella Repair Service Station at Kuti #1. I call this monk “U Htee” which means Venerable Umbrella. You can actually use the “I’m sorry I was late, my umbrella was in the shop.” as an excuse in this monastery. With this umbrella service, I was able to make my umbrella last almost two rainy seasons before giving it away to a visiting monk. Umbrellas really take a beating here and my umbrella was in the shop three times!

Umbrella Shop: Kuti #1 (taken in 2014 and a different monk from the story)

U Htee is a real pro. He can do anything with your umbrella and there are plenty of parts available from the umbrella graveyard. Once there was a person who donated a few high-tech umbrellas from Brookstone, a nifty gadget retail store in The States. It has two umbrellas in one: an upper deck and a lower deck. It’s like an umbrella with a rain-fly. My teacher was offered one of these umbrellas and shortly afterwards, many of the reconditioned umbrellas started to appear in the same style. Sometimes the simple life can get high-tech too.

And so it is the simple life that I live. It allows me to appreciate the small things when they would normally get lost
in the day-to-day schedules of my previous way of life which was simpler than most.

Several Pa-Auk Ⓡ double layer umbrellas on the Pa-Auk meditation hall staircase with different markings on the handles or tags, 2014.

This post was from the book Going for Broke:

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