Book learning


Book Learning – What Happened and Why?


Location: Dharamsala, India

Student: Female, 20


Three weeks after I arrived in Dharamsala, India, my host family and I were invited for a special dinner at a relative’s house. I knew the dinner would last for hours and hours, and I couldn't leave to study for my exam the next day because it would be considered rude to do so. Therefore, I stayed and studied during the long preparation of the dinner. I read and highlighted our textbook, A Joyful Picnic for Those Who Have Come from Afar

Visiting Tibetan monks were watching me with what I thought was fascination. I continued to read and highlighted more. As the dinner was served, I placed my textbook at my side near my feet. (I was sitting in a meditation posture, with my feet on the chair.) While I began enjoying my meal, the monks were still staring at me, this time with anguished looks. Suddenly they emotionally addressed the group in Tibetan. It was obvious they were both angry and frustrated and they glared at me the whole time. My host mother apologized, explaining to the monks, "inji, inji" (Westerner).

What did I do wrong?  

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