Bought an Alms Bowl: Gained a Scholar Friend

I went into Chiang Mai city yesterday (I’m living in the Wat Jed Yod area)

According to the Jinakālamālī chronicle, in 1455 CE the king planted a bodhi tree on the spot and in 1476 CE “had established a large sanctuary in this monastery”, probably for the celebration ceremony commemorating 2000 years of Buddhism. The following year the 8th Buddhist World Council was held at Wat Chet Yod to renew the Tipitaka. Credit: Wiki

to purchase a quality alms bowl from a family owned business in the Old City. It turns out that the patriarch of the shop is a rather famous translator and author, Anatole-Roger Peltier. We discussed our common interest in the Shan people, and with that he asked me to walk back with him to his home where he gave me one of his books and signed it for me.

Being in Thailand can be magical. My trip into the city was routine, but ended with a visit to this “sanghaput” and while I was negotiating the price, this 70 year old gentlemen stepped in (Vietnam-born, speaks Thai, French, English, Lao, and a number of Burmese ethnic languages) to discuss the alms bowl and work out the price with me in perfect English. With my limited Thai and some Pali thrown in the discussion (and his reading my forearm tat of the Buddham saranam gacchami. Dhammam saranam gacchami. Sangham saranam gacchami in Shan script) , our conversation then happily went further, leading to our meeting at his home in the Old City.


What a delightful story, and it does not surprise me at all that this would happen in Chieng Mai. It harbours all sorts of unexpected secrets.