Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I recently reminded myself of how blessed I am to live in L.A. when I visited a Cambodian Buddhist temple about thirty minutes from my house.

I instantly felt unbound by time and space when I entered the temple because everyone was Cambodian. Monks were chanting mantras in Khmer, the large room was filled with mats where people sat cross-legged and focused in silent prayer, and a large, gold leaf Buddha statue with a neon flashing light behind its head rested in the middle of the room. Smells of curry, a Cambodian version of pho, and incense mixed and lingered in the air. All of these pieces, including the tacky Buddha statue, would only make sense in Cambodia.

I sat down in the back of the room, tuned into my Cambodian flashback, and joined the rest in prayer.

After the procession, I was warmly welcomed by the Cambodians and sat down for a communal lunch. Most of them could barely understand my English and happily chattered away in their own tongues. Strangely enough, they never realized that I couldn’t understand their stories as I used the little Khmer that I knew to supplement their monologues.

Yes, it’s quite amazing to be here. I haven’t had many opportunities to explore all the microcosms of L.A., but I know that anytime my wanderlust flares up, I can always find another spiritual center like this (whether it’s a mosque, synagogue, temple, or church—it’s all here), restaurant, or marketplace of any international flavor. In this sense, I’m always at home, and never too far from the rest of the world.

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