OTY: A good reason to stay alert while on deck is avoid decapitation. If a barge hits a sand/gravel bar, cables snap and whip around the deck. Those flying cables can take out a boatman. We hit the sand/gravel bars three times during the summer. Even with our pilot boat scouting the river ahead, it was difficult to judge the river bottom changes even between two downriver trips. Submerged barriers lurked to impede our progress. Getting off the bar took a couple of days of propeller backwash to erode the bar sufficiently to free the barge. We managed to save our necks and save the load.
OYA: When visiting a Buddhist monastic school, we were introduced to the most senior monk. Our guide presented gifts to the monk who sat in a zero gravity chair. Whether he was enlightened I could not judge, but he certainly must have felt lighter floating on that chair. It seemed a little incongruous. I am not sure what I expected – maybe a wooden stool with carved lotus blossoms. Certainly not something I could get at Big Five. When told we could ask anything of the kindly old gentleman, I posed the conundrum. My question did not even get translated. Just silence. Michele was not too pleased that I had tried to provoke the monk with the indelicate inquiry, but I really had hoped that the man would have some pearls of wisdom. We had come a long way to ask the question, but sublimated prejudice lurked and blocked progress. A year later, hatred surfaced in violence against the Rohingya people.