It was a late afternoon, after our workers (aka “our special workers” – reference to them being on loan to us from our temple, as well as other reasons) had knocked off for the day and I had provided liquid refreshment in the form of Leo see kuat (four bottles of Leo beer).
I had been allowed back on the premises only after the anti-termite chemical had dried the day before. We sat on a grass mat that had seen better days. On it stood the four 630 ml beer bottles, a small ice chest with ice, ice thongs, glasses, and a coupld of small packs of small pork rinds – an Isaan favorite, especially with beer.
As Lott and Naht spoke together mostly about our “farm house,” I admired the structure at the same time as I gave it a critical eye. I was not alone in this, as I knew our head monk Lungpaw also regularly visited the site, checking the progress on the house and the quality of the work.
Our family and friends were highly critical of Lott and Naht taking so long building our “cabin on stilts.” But, my attitude was that I didn’t care how long it took, as long as it was well built and the workmanship of quality.
I had taken my cue from Lungpaw, actually, who once in a light hearted moment joked with Thip when she had mentioned to him that she wanted our workers to build Bann Nah as if they were building their own homes. Lungpaw corrected her, reminding her of what their homes looked like. No, he said, you want them to build it as if they were building another structure belonging to the wat (temple). And that’s pretty much what has happened.
With these thoughts running through my mind while I checked the house closely, drank my beer and served my friends – occasionally responding to one of their jokes – I kept noticing an area of dark gray/blue on the northwest horizon.
From Bann Nah, you can see out a quarter of a mile in three directions at ground level and many miles/kilometers in all directions, skywards. We’re out in the middle of 9 rai of rice paddies, after all, with many more rice paddies adjacent to ours. The views can be stupendous (like that night of the lunar eclipse the night of Ohpensa, last fall).
That patch of dark gray/blue kept slowly getting bigger, but there was no air being pushed our way from its direction, so I didn’t think much of it. Only later did I realize that big Isaan storms don’t push as much air our as much as it sucks it into its vortex – much like a tornado.
There was a point reached when it was obvious that whatever was out there was heading our way.
“Fone toke (rain),” Lott said; Naht nodding, as we could now see the electrical storms lighting up the insides of the gray/blue.
We finished our beers – no rush or quick gulps, just steady pulls – then packed up what remained and moved out. Again, there were no quick movements or hurry. It was just understood that there was no more hanging around. Naht lead the way on his motosai, followed by Lott on his mechanical buffalo with cart attached, and me bringing up the rear in my samlor.
I had just reached our village home, about a mile from Bann Nah, when the storm struck with hard rain, fierce wind, thunder and lightning. It went on like that all night long; at one point making me think that our roof might even blow off.
Next morning, after the electricity and internet slowly came back on and the sky lightened up, there were many who thought that the storm surely would have blown Bann Nah’s roof off – it being out in the middle of the rice paddies with no protective covering around it – or even knocked the whole structure down. Nope!