The Curiosity of Monks

To be absolutely honest, it isn’t a great photograph. The composition is all wrong- the sun coming into the photograph silhouetting the subjects rather than coming in from behind them and illuminating them. But could it have been otherwise? Probably not. First, I am not very comfortable photographing people whom I don’t know and second if indeed I had asked these three old men permission to take their photograph then the atmosphere would have changed. The picture would be less natural and more “posed” if I can say so.

The Curiosity of Monks
The Curiosity of Monks

To give you a bit of context, this picture was taken atop one of the sky observation decks at the Langkawi cable car attraction. The skybridge itself is closed for maintenance (a pity as the walk could really be a unique experience on the bridge suspended over the gorge). Anyway more on the cable car later some other day. But when we were going up I noticed this group of monks who were also on the cable car and were then slowly trudging their way up the stairs to the observation platforms to admire the view.

Throughout my travels in Asia I have always run into Buddhist monks in tourist locations. I have always found them to have a smile on their faces and armed with an almost childish curiosity about the world around them- something we would probably not expect from wise old people. These days I am careful not to make any stereotypes about them as I even encountered a monk once armed with a DSLR camera mounted on a tripod intently photographing the sunrise at Phu Chi Fa in Thailand. So why should I think that being a monk would rule out any interest in discovering/ documenting new places and experiences?

So I saw these three monks on the observation deck enthusiastically (but slowly) moving from one end to another & pointing at the horizon. I wanted to photograph them and yet didn’t want to make a scene, so I took just one shot of them standing there staring at the horizon stretching endlessly in front of them.  I guess you could also consider it as a metaphorical image – the three of them staring at the sea of learning, the borders stretching to eternity!

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lav says:

    Very vivid and at the same time cloaked in layers of symbolism.
    Glad you took this picture!

  2. Little Miss Sunshine says:

    Your mention of monks with DSLRs remind me of this guy : http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/ : microbiologist, monk, photographer! His talks on TED/NPR are well worth a listen! Seems like a great place to be – monk or otherwise 🙂

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you so much- this looks great and I’m going to check it out!

  3. Nirmala says:

    Interesting !!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you!

  4. The Midnight Thief says:

    I never thought monks would be traveling around in tourist destinations. Learning something new each day 🙂 great post!

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      Thank you! Yep we don’t normally expect it but I’ve seen them around almost everywhere

      1. The Midnight Thief says:

        That’s funny and intriguing at the same time. Kind of makes you wonder what draws them to these places and what do they think about when they see nature’s creations

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