Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Gift

A few evenings ago in a taxi, I was admiring an amulet with a Buddhist monk hanging from the rear view mirror. I asked the driver if I could take a picture of the amulet, and as I was photographing it, the cabby told me he wanted me to have it. Before I knew it, he pulled to the side of the road and handed it to me. At first, I told him it wasn't necessary for him to give it to me, and that he should have it for good luck in his taxi. But, he insisted I take it. After trying to hand it back to him twice, he held up his hand and pleaded with me to take it. I finally gave in and showed my respect with a traditional "wai" - holding my hands together to my chin and bowing my head .

In Thailand, it's traditional for people to give each other amulets. I once heard that amulets shouldn't be purchased for oneself, and that they should only be given as gifts. I felt very honored when he passed on his amulet to me. And, I've never felt more a part of Thai culture than at that moment.