Modestly comedic Monks

By Colin Tom

I had already been informed that Yut had been a monk until he was twenty four. Five years later he was working as a tour guide of the Angkort temples.

Judging from the temperament of the monks I had seen quietly strolling within the temples, I anticipated a gentle, passive natured man. Monks were traditionally not allowed to stand within arms length or look into the eyes of any female. Most were soft spoken conversationally and said little to me. Naturally I was a little guarded upon meeting Yut remembering that he had previously practiced a life of devout discipline.

While explaining relief carvings within the Angkor Thom temple, he gestured to figures engaging in daily Cambodian life activity within the twelfth century.

“They’re wrestling,” he said.

“Ah yes, they are,” I said.

Yut’s eyes glowed with a snicker “It’s like WWF Smack down. I like John Cena.”

I laughed, feeling some tension ease from my shoulders. I agreed that John Cena was a great wrestler, but so was Triple H.

Yut smiled and then looked into the sky, shielding his eyes.

“It’s hot here; let’s go up into the shade.”

We left the relief carvings and walked up limestone steps into the ruins of the palace.

He pointed to the face of a large Buddha explaining its significance in relation to the Hindu aesthetic. He paused and asked if I wanted a picture. I agreed and stood by the Buddha face, wearing a proper tourist smile.

“No, pick its nose,” Yut said.

I contorted my face inserting my finger into a large stone nostril.

He snapped a photo and smiled. He pointed to another Buddha face erected on a large pillar.

“Stand on this window sill. If I get you from the right angle, it looks like you’re kissing.”

I gladly complied, equally surprised and thankful that Yut had an amazing sense of humor.


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