Toe the line

I have this policy which has served me well so far, which “whatever there’s a long line for, do it”

Through this policy I’ve found my favorite black oil broth ramen by the University of Tokyo, Rotiboy (remember those, Bangkok peeps?), schoolgirl sushi (a dirt cheap and delicious sushi restaurant frequented entirely by schoolgirls) and numerous other wondrous things.

Today, however, this strategy went totally wrong!

I was walking past a beautiful Catholic monastery in Bangkok, when I heard this angelic choir music, and noticed that mass was being said. I’m not a practicing Catholic, but I was raised Catholic, like almost all French-Canadians. I don’t know what moved me to go inside, perhaps the beautiful church with windows opening onto palm trees and tropical flowers, the music, or the memory of my grandmother, recently passed away, who was a practicing Catholic and prayed often to Le P’tit Jesus, as we say.

There was a line, when I came in, and I thought people were taking communion, this being around Easter time. The prayer books were all in Thai, but I figured Catholicism is Catholicism. I did the sign of the cross with holy water (funny how the memory of that stuff never leaves you), and joined the line. I don’t think too closely about the doctrines and policy of the Catholic church, but I do like some of the stories,and I love the singing.

The ability to die, and live again, isn’t that miraculous?, I thought to myself as I lined up. Isn’t that a metaphor for our own lives, and all the deaths we go through: the death of love, of friendship, of jobs that we leaves, of things that end, and of the new beginnings that often come through those endings, I thought. I thought of my grandmother, and had to hold back my tears.

It’s only when I got to the front of the line that I realized I had made a mistake. People weren’t taking communion, but they were kneeling down and kissing the feet of a small statue of Jesus on the cross! I had never seen this done in the church of my childhood, and this ritual was 1) unfamiliar to me and 2) not something I felt comfortable doing. But having made it to the front of the church, I felt like only a total jerkface would refuse to kiss Jesus at that point, so I did.

But I do feel like I’m going to check more carefully what’s at the front of the line from now on!

2 Responses to “Toe the line”


  1. 1 Jody April 3, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I almost did this in Tokyo but I’m glad I asked a few people what the line was for – it was the new year’s sale of one of Harajuku’s large fashion outlets (Laforet.) Definitely not worth waiting 2 hours for šŸ™‚

  2. 2 julielavoie April 3, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    haha, i can totally see you rocking some harajuku! šŸ™‚


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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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Giving presents to the facilitators!

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