Lots of our friends are monks of various stripes and degrees. Some have been actual monks, cloistered, and so forth. Now many of our current compadres are living simple single lives dedicated, by choice or not, to contemplation. They are secular monks, or urban monastics. Also, we know now quite a few people who are dividing their time between India and north america. I think I wanted something different, married and thought naturally we'd have children - they could play in the sandbox while I studied Sanskrit, of course - but we have become two monks living together, that's all.
Hand-work is a part of monkish life, hence the masculine spouse chose manual labor over engineering, and i do the low-tech labor of acupuncture, and in the evenings, spend hours meditatively knitting, and/or reading, talking, etcetera. The computer is a weird twist on the monkish life; actually, it fits in quite beautifully. I don't know a single monk who doesn't have (and love) his computer.
Monks often meet at cafes to meditatively watch people pass by, to read, to sip austere beverages like green tea or coffee, to write. On my way to Sagrada the other day, I met one of my monkish friends at this cafe in Oakland. She lives in a one-room cabin behind a house in this neighborhood, and she keeps a lovely little garden there.
She is just back from south India where she witnessed the tsunami. Almost everyone I know who was there was fairly deeply disturbed by the event. Monks usually have sad-looking eyes anyway. I did have a link to photos of the tsunami as it happened on the Kerala Coast (Arabian Sea near the southernmost tip of India) up on one of my websites the day after the event, but the link has expired now. Below are a couple of pictures of the temple where my friend lives during part of every year. I've visited here a number of times. The sea can be glimpsed in the background. It isn't five minutes walk away. It is certainly a beautiful region, and destruction from the sea was unexpected, beyond the annual monsoon storms, of course. From what I understand, most of the villagers did not understand the warning - if they heard it - of a 'big wave coming.' The ocean did come in throughout this temple's compound up to a depth of about six feet, enough to harm the children, livestock and the elderly in particular. People who had the chance were able to get up high, thanks to these buildings. No one living in the temple precincts was harmed, but the surrounding villagers sustained casualties. Many of them did not have the time to reach here. This photo was taken during an ordinary weekly event at the ashram and shows the many visitors who come from all over south India on a regular basis.
This is a picture of the interior of the temple. After the tsunami, cows and an elephant were housed here temporarily. Isn't it pretty? The colors and shapes appeal to me, and I observe that they are very different from what we've had going on here with the glass and steel look: