Thursday, August 27, 2009

T & K

Of all the places I have been and all the photographs I have taken this is by far my fave. As I have said in other posts I have a fascination with photographing Thai monks, and this photo is the source of that sparked it all.
I got dumped from the train in the middle of the night at some mysterious junction. I had no money so even if I had been able to find a guesthouse I would not have been able to pay for a room. I did the only thing I could, and slept on a bench in the station. When I awoke these two smiling faces were watching over me.
I walked around the town looking for a bank machine with no luck. The town was home to several monasteries and as I walked around I watched monks begging for their food. Hungry and broke I returned to my bench for more sleep before my train arrived. When I awoke again the same monks were smiling at me.
T, the older monk, introduced himself and offered me a share of his alms. T explained that he had gone to a monastry in the south to pick up K and bring him to his monastry. K's mother had recently died and his father was an abusive alcoholic.
As we traveled T emptied the bag that contained his morning alms. He would take a small bite then offer me the rest, when I offered it back he refused.
My first trip to South East Asia was rough, and I returned a wasted shell of my former self, and the change was sudden and dramatic, I went from 170ish lbs to under 120 in about a month. A few short days before my return I must have looked like a wasted and broken ghost. Having just met me he worried for my welfare and repeatedly offered me sanctuary at his monastery on Koh Chang.
This candid shot speaks to me on so many levels. The grain of the photo suggests a rugged simplicity, but more than anything are the subjects. This shot to me encapsulates buddhism, K's mischievous but innocent smile in the face of personal suffering, juxatposed against T's contemplative introspection.

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