Mar 27, 2006
So Lao-Tzu, Buddha and Christ go to the Westbank, you see, and Lao Tzu says...
On the way home, just past the broken, lonely hull of an abandoned Walmart (site of a
fierce gun battle during Katrina), just off the highway, in the middle of strip mall suburbia, I saw the glimmer of what looked like nothing less than a castle from a Chinese fairy tale.
I'd glimpsed this mirage once before, about a year ago, looming up behind a line of ragged trees. Then it disappeared. I never did see it again. I convinced myself that I had hallucinated the whole thing and forgot about it. Unitl today.
Now, however, the trees have been cleared a bit more, due to the storm, and the view is better. Today, with it clearly in my sight, I drove down a little bit, and there is was.
Sitting there, the most incongruous thing you can imagine, in the middle of a few suburban track houses, a few trailers, nestled in the cypresses and milkweed was a flamboyantly ornate Cao Dai-ist temple.
(Cao Dai-ism, so I've learned from my Vietnamese friend/hairdresser Ha, is a strange Buddhist/Christian/Taoist sect originating in Vietnam.)
For whatever reason, they've erected a version of the temple above just off the highway in Harvey, Louisiana.
(Don't tell anyone, but sometimes I actually love the Westbank.)