"Why is the Buddha so effeminate?" I asked our guide.
"It's all in the eyes of the artist. The artist wants to make the Buddha the most beautiful thing he or she has ever seen. What would be the most beautiful face, the most beautiful nose, the most beautiful mouth and hands? Those of a woman, of course," he replied.
We sat inside the temple of the reclining Buddha, in what was still meltingly hot shade but at least out of the sun and away from the mad dogs and Englishmen. People were eating their picnic lunches and monks were on their iPhones.
It was his turn now.
"Why do you Christians have so many pieces of the cross? Is the real cross anywhere?"
"I think if you put together all the pieces of the cross in churches around the world, you'd end up with an entire forest," Sam said.
"Christians think everything in the Bible is real," he laughed. We got up to go. "You must see one more shrine," he said. "It contains two of the hairs of Buddha."
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