I had a 90-minute break between two of my afternoon classes on Tuesday and decided to pass the time with coffee and the Taipei Times at Melting Pot just around he corner from my school.
The spot’s been around for a couple of years now and it is still one of my most favorite places in Hsinchu. The same two ladies who started it a couple of years ago are still there baking great cookies, making fun bagels and decent lattes. Every time I walk in after an absence of a few years I’m welcomed back by big smiles from them.
It was the perfect afternoon, with the sun brightening up the space and filling it with a pleasant yellow glow. I had moved from a coffee to a latte and was deeply absorbed in my book when I glanced a monk walking in with a young boy following behind. They ordered and sat down at a table diagonally across from me. The monk was dressed in the mustard smock, grayish pants and gray ‘socks’ that are standard here, the outfit was rounded off with hiking sandals and a dark blue baseball cap. Beautiful.
He was deeply absorbed in some general interest magazines while sipping his latte and enjoying a blueberry tart, the kid was drinking hot chocolate milk while glancing around the café, occasionally starting up a short conversation with the monk.
It was such a deeply satisfying scene. We grow up with certain ideas about the East and especially about religion here. 10 Years ago the thought of a baseball cap wearing monk with some kid in tow hanging out at a fun café drinking lattes on a Tuesday afternoon would have been completely inconceivable to me. These days a scene like this fills me with a deep sense of contentment. I know I’m saying this a lot, but I love Asia and I wish I never had to leave.