Here is a recollection of a typical pindapata or almsround in England:
This morning after 8 am we started walking towards the town with our almsbowls. I took an antihistamine tablet because during this month there is a lot of grass pollen in the air and I have an allergy. Soon I started sneezing and my nose was running and my eyes were itchy. But we continued walking along the roads through the forest. To avoid going across the fields, we tried another path which went past some rich people's properties with fences around them. From the map it seemed that we could reach another footpath on the other side of the forest, but we got stuck and had to return and then find another way around, which took us quite a long time. In the end, we reached the town and stood in front of the supermarket just after 12 o'clock, with hardly any rest on the way. I was feeling rather dizzy from the hay fever allergy and also tired from the long walk.
We did not have much time left to collect some food, and for the first 15 minutes nobody seemed to notice us. Only one drunk man smoking a hand-rolled cigarette came up to us, greeted us and asked if we are Buddhists. Then he came back later, smiled and said: "George Harrison." He repeated: "George... George. It makes life worth living." I smiled back and said: "Yes, George Harrison. Good music." He must have remembered that the Beatles had experimented with Eastern meditation and went to India to meet some yogis. Then he said to us: "Don't drink. I say this to my nephew, I say this to everybody, drinking is bad for you. But I myself can't stop drinking... Remember: George." And he shook his head and walked away.
Standing there and feeling rather unwell, I was leaning against a tree. I closed my eyes, focused on my breath and repeated in my mind the four qualities "metta, karuna, mudita, upekkha". This is always a good way to prepare the mind for meeting other people in the town. Then a woman came out from the supermarket with a shopping cart, and started walking towards us. She took some money out and wanted to put it into my bowl, but I explained that we only accept food. So she took some uncooked vegetable and offered it to us. I did not say anything, although we could not eat it raw like that. Then she came back again and brought some more cheese and biscuits for us. After that, another three people offered us apples and bananas so that our bowls were full.
We only had about 20 minutes left to eat our food before 1 pm (which is midday according to summer time). Then a man came up to us, greeted us in a Buddhist way and asked if we came from the monastery. He was surprised that we walked so far in the morning, and after we explained our situation, he quickly went to buy some more sandwiches and drinks. Then took us to the lake to eat there, which we just managed before 1 pm. He explained that today it was his birthday, and so he wanted to go to the Buddhist monastery to sit in peace for a few hours with his wife. They were very happy to meet two monks on the way and drive them back. We were also happy that we did not have to walk all the way back...
Bhikkhu GavesakoKiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)ajahnchah.org
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