Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Geylang Sojourn

When our society, the BDMS, was burned out last year, Venerable Dhammaratana contacted me within an hour of the fire offering me a place to stay until repairs allowed me to move back in again. Nearly twelve months later I am still at the Buddhist Library in Geylang, but the good news is that  workmen have finally starting the repairs and hopefully within five weeks they will be finished. Geylang is one of the older districts of Singapore, full of old Peranakan shop-houses and pre-war buildings. It is also the “entertainment district” by which I mean  excellent food, seedy bars, short-time hotels and  prostitution. Fortunately, some sort of invisible barrier  stops the ladies of the night (and here morning, noon and afternoon too) at Lorong 24 while the Buddhist Library is at Lorong 24A.  But there is more to Geylang than this.  There are also numerous religious establishments reflecting the spiritual diversity of Singapore. There are Buddhist temples of every sect – Tibetan, Theravada, Thai, Chan and freelance, there are Taoist house shrines and mosques. Supreme Master Ching Hai has a presence here too. There are numerous shops selling things used in traditional Chinese folk religion – so-called hell money (burned during funerals so that the departed can receive it and pay the required fee to get into heaven),  incense,  statues, musical instruments, and candles. Off the bustle of Geylang Rd, the main thoroughfare, are surprisingly quiet and pleasant streets and lanes. I am looking forward to returning to my old place but I will miss Geylang.

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