I’ve been in Bodhgaya for a week now, in the state of Bihar, the rural heart of India. It’s here that Buddha came to enlightment, under the Bodhi three. Around that three a temple has arisen and around the temple a village. All countries of Buddhist religion have installed a national monastery on this important location: Burma, Thailand, Bhutan and several others. This close together one notices the slight differences between. Which is fun, yet not the reason I linger here. Attempting to achieve enlightment myself would justify a longer stay, but I gave up on that ambition the last time I travelled India.
It’s the coffee that’s keeping me in Bodhgaya: cappuccino and chocolate pie to be precise. Made by a British lady, who knows what she’s doing. And it’s been noticed: her little coffee bar is packed every single hour of the day. And not with tourists – the lonely planet trail hasn’t picked up on her yet – but solely monks. Dressed up in the colours of the Dalai Lama, with a nice warm cap over their bald little heads and always in a fantastic mood. They know the menu by heart and at the door they shout in their order: ‘double macchiato with carrot cake.’ To me it’s sounds like they’ve been meditating on it.
The price of this little treat is of astronomical height considering we’re in India, but that doesn’t keep them from ordering second rounds. My one and only encounter with Buddhism was an experience of hunger and agony: it was supposed to make me see just how temporal life is. As you might expect, I’ve got some trouble connecting that to this otherworldly delicious pampering. Since they’re all eager to talk, I take the opportunity and ask a monk to share his vision with me.
‘Ha,’ he speaks, ‘this coffee no important, but taste very good!’ His smile gives away a self-evident nature that I’m missing out on. Once again it’s painfully clear how far from true wisdom I wander. I console myself with a delicious bite of mind-blowingly good pie and somehow feel hopeful that the monks and I favour the same taste.