Considerations in Life at the Burmese Vihar That Are Not Relevant in My Normal Life






1. If I am outside of my room, I have to wear clothes that cover my shoulders. And I have to wear pants long enough to cover my ankles.

2. I should wear an Indian punjabi suit, especially if I am going to walk into town. I have to limit my use of Western clothes because I must look like a foreign resident, not a tourist. And wearing traditionally Indian clothing means that I will get less attention on the streets in town.

3. If I am going into town, I need to be wearing a dupatta (scarf) even if it is excruciatingly hot and humid. Or else my punjabi suit would be incomplete. Same reasons as above. However, if I am going to stay in the monastery, I don’t have to wear the dupatta.

4. When showering, I cannot open my mouth.

5. When buying soap or anything that I use on my body, check if there are whitening properties before buying/using.

6. Close shower door when not using in order to ensure that rats don’t come in through the hole in the wall that acts as a drain.

7. Brush teeth (NOT IN SHOWER) with filtered water.

6. Put sunscreen on every day, since sensitivity to the sun is a side effect of my malaria meditation, docxycycline.

7. Take all vitamins ever created in the world. Not actually. But, vitamin B complex with B 12 in liquid form, vitamin C in tablet form, grapefruit seed extract. Sometimes some anti-diarrheal. Sometimes an extra boost of emergen-C. Sometimes some powerade. Sometimes some Indian form of powdered gatorade, Electral.

8. Drink only filtered water. Dry dishes and water bottle before using.

9. Laundry takes two days to get delivered back, so rewear until absolutely disgusting and have enough kurta salwars to last you those two days.

10. Make sure to have a bucket full of water in the shower which ere are many power outages during the day. The water pump doesn’t work if we don’t have enough power. Aka, have a bucket full of water literally all the time because there have been so many power outages. Until more pilgrims come, the government will not give the town more power.

They’re saving it for when there are more people in town to impress.

11. Have a headlamp at all times of the night, in case of power outages when we’re trying to do homework. Or light a candle if necessary.

12. Don’t talk to men in closed rooms.

13. Don’t walk with only another man in town.

14. Don’t say hello to every person you meet on the street. Don’t say hello to everyone who says hello.

15. Don’t make eye contact with men in town that you are not doing business with. That is considered an invitation.

16. Be wary of “friendly guides” that will befriend us in hope that developing a long term friendship and ambiguous friend/tour guide relationship will lead to support via money or a marriage and a visa.

These are the men that hand outside the gate waiting for the “Antioch” group to walk into town.

17. Bring small bills into town. They may not have change where I’m are going.

18. Don’t assume pedestrians have the right of way. In India, bigger things take precedent over littler things. Autorickshaws and bicycle rickshaws take priority.  A honk means to move out of the way.

19. When riding a bicycle rickshaw, consider whether I will have to go uphill. It isn’t worth it to take a the rickshaw if I am going uphill because I will have to walk alongside it anyway. Don’t get ripped off.

20. Sleep under mosquito net no matter how much it blocks the fan. Even if the power’s out at night.

21. Learn to lay in bed with no skin touching other skin.

22. Tip: take a shower right before going to sleep and airdry without clothes on to stay cool at night. Or else I will not sleep.

23. Take so many navy showers.

24. Stay a yard away from the abbot when speaking to him. Listen carefully, he speaks in highly accented English.

25. Don’t use toilet paper. Use the sprayer and wipe with left hand. Then wash hands. If  toilet paper is used, don’t let waste particles sit in the bathroom. That invites critters. Throw away the toilet paper right away. Keep in mind that the staff have to burn it.

26. Wash luggage with antibacterial liquid every week. Or else it will get moldly from the humidity.

27. The gate closes at 9:30pm. Don’t get caught outside of the gate.

28. Don’t go anywhere at night. Especially not the countryside.