Thursday afternoon saw another trip to Phachi’s temple for the cremation ceremony of the former Watphachi School teacher, following her funeral on Monday. I was a bit confused by this as I was sure that I’d been told she had died 4 years ago and that Monday’s ceremony was an anniversary-type affair, but I guess something got lost in translation.
We arrived to an already large crowd, most of which were mourners who were sitting waiting for the ceremonies to begin. A school marching band also played at the side of the temple area where the teacher’s body laid, who were followed by a group of colourful, traditional Thai dancers.
Aside from that this seemed like a very Watphachi School based affair. For the past couple of days after our morning assemblies and speeches Pilot has been teaching groups of the older students how to serve the guests of the temple, and today they were walking around with trays of water handing out drinks to whoever looked like they needed one.
This meant that I was surrounded by cups of water by the time the cremation was over, as although I tried to say that I had enough on me they insisted on repeatedly coming back to give me more.
The teachers themselves also had an active involvement. During these ceremonies all guests are given a flower that is to be placed in a ‘fire box’ at the end of the event that will then be cremated along with the body. According to Bubpha this fire box had been donated by the Thai King himself, which meant that a large group of teachers from Watphachi and other schools were dressed in their most formal wear in order to deliver the box to the grounds.
Following that were the standard prayers ending with all the guests walking up to the fire box to donate their flowers. A couple of monks were throwing petal-like items from the temple as well, which turned out to be Thai baht coins tightly wrapped up. A student gave me one that she had rushed to collect after it had fallen, but I forgot to open it so at the time of writing I don’t actually know how much richer it has made me.
As I left to go to Wirot’s night class I noticed, for the second day in a row, a massive swarm of dragonflies circling the skies, which I’ve taken to believe will mean that a massive storm is soon to follow. Whilst the one that did wasn’t as bad as Wednesday’s, it did mean that we were stranded at the temple for a while. Personally I would have been fine trying to leg it through a mild storm, but I didn’t want to complain.
Wirot’s night class, which will probably end up being the last one I attend since I’ll likely be packing this time next week, was just as pleasant as it always is. Granted, I’ve had mixed feelings about the last couple that I’ve been to; whilst I enjoy the company, I’ve also had to sit through 3 hour sessions that I don’t get much of a chance to be involved in teaching wise.
This one felt different however, possibly because the class seemed more interested in me after it became apparent that I may not be coming again. Inevitably it ended with a photo session and with me giving my Facebook name out to half of the class (good luck distinguishing which Patrick Scott I am on Facebook’s search system though), following which a group of us crossed to the restaurant on the other side of the road, where I ate too much food and was given copious amounts of Thai Whiskey.
It was a fun end to the day, but I think it also marked the first time that I felt a real sense of finality about everything here. School this week has carried on as normal and, since I seem to have found a pretty natural routine, I think I’m forgetting that I’ve only got a week left. I guess the reality will probably hit a bit more in the next few days.