Dedicated to the one and only Morgan Amber Neiman on her Birthday! May we tromp in The Canyon Forever…
Darkness falls and seasons change, same old friends the wind and rain” Weather Report Suite
The weather pattern has settled into a daily deluge of rain. We had a whopper the other day culminating in a bolt of lightning shattering a tree outside my door with the loudest crash boom ever heard which sent folks running out of there huts in terror and wonderment. Prayer flags blew over sinking in the mud, the dénouement was the sonic blast of thunder and lightning coinciding upon my front yard, demolishing the tree into a dozen charred toothpicks. Holy Shit! I yelled a split second after. Yelama or wow in Sharshop the primary language of East Bhutan which has no written form. There are close to 100 dialects in this tiny kingdom which doesn’t feel tiny at all when driving from Point A to B. It stays cold in spring with the nicest time being the early mornings before the clouds slowly build setting the stage, bursting then dispersing by bedtime. The big bang also zapped our power for two days. It was nice having pure darkness and candlelight to read about primal Oregonian existence as the Stampers fell the big trees in “Sometimes a Great Notion” An epic story of sibling rivalry (You ought to read it bra.) Or watching the candlelight flicker, swaying to Jessica’s sax solo, blow girl blow! Zippa, Look Out!
“Gonna see a change, gonna see a change”
I ambled around the grounds in the rain doing some gardening, planting geranium clippings in the saturated soil. Just add some cow dung and Bob’s your uncle, presto geranium! The flowers are popping up from everywhere. The crimson roses are magnificent and fragrant. These simple pleasures are what make Bhutan endurable and enjoyable. Every once in awhile in the ebb of my sulk cycle I realize how enchanting this land is, even every more then once in awhile. Right now I’m digging in for the long haul. This means getting my projects running and getting a thumb on my classes. The confusion lifts like the morning mist revealing heavier mist and more confusion, and a spot of subtle blue. The grounds are cleaner that’s indisputable. The trails outside campus are still a mess but progress is being made. I often stop poor unsuspecting students leading them in impromptu trash removal in between bells. About that bell, not Tim’s bell but Bhutan’s bell or rather the schools bell. An iron circle cast bonked with a striker that announces all aspects of carefully planned chaotic life here. At 5 AM it serves as my snooze bar as students wake up for duty. It rings for class, for club, for dinner, for bed. It sounds like heaven. Not the automotive slave toll of the western bell. This is the bell of Mt. Olympus calling the gods and goddesses to order. Calling the little boogers to assembly to sing their precious National Anthem and murmur there peculiar prayers that sound like obsolete mumblings. But their National Anthem stirs me far more than the Stars and Stripes with its bombs bursting in the friggen’ air! By damned if I don’t rush to assembly out of fear of missing the tune to hang my day on. Each time ringing out “hey bub, your dream has come true!” And don’t forget to pick up three pieces on your way to class and put em’ in the dust bin. My mantra! is anybody listening to the crazy felincpa!
There is so much to do and so much time to do it in. No instruction from the institution is both a blessing and a curse. Because of my nature I will start with the curse. I never now what the hell is happening! What am I supposed to teach? Or I miss school meetings because no one bothered to tell me about them in English. I grope along making things up as I go. The blessing, I miss school meetings and grope along and make things up as I go. No observations, no parent teacher conferences. Today a kid was playing with a Kuru dart in the front row of class, a mini javelin. Hopefully he did not intent to spear our hero during the lesson. One of Becky’s pupils had a cat in his gho. A scene repeated out of Zeppa’s book. How much has really changed in East Bhutan. Then there are the brooms made of twigs bound together at the top, making the boys and girls appear out of Hansel and Gretel when they sweep the classroom stirring up clouds of dust in their matching gho’s and Kiras. This place is surreal. Then there’s the TB, Chicken pocks, boils, and endless infernal house flies. Or as the Indian teacher, who calls me Butterfly observed in a thick Indian accent, “This is the time of the fly!” So thick a swarm in class it appears the students are waving at me as I pass on a parade float. Or perhaps they are waving west across Bhutan at our heroine Sabrina (the Princess of Chummay) as she waved to assembly on her first day as if just crowned first prize in a beauty pageant. (See Sabrina in Bhutan post, “The first day of school”) On cue the dogs howl in their incorrigible chorus and I am happy to report that Sabrina has been adopted by the tribe and doing splendidly in Bumthang, the heartland of the Kingdom! Yah!
“Will not speak but stand inside the rain, listen to the thunder shout, I am, I am, I am” Let it Grow
Yeppers, it was great to see Rebecca, Martha, and Vicky and Ian this weekend. How fortunate to be conversing on teaching strategies, women’s struggles, and ornery principals. Ah Rangjoon! Vicky and Ian have taught around Asia for years and I bet anything they have made lunch for people in Japan, and China as well as Bhutan. They are eternally young and properly whimsical and cynical at once. One might wonder what keeps them out in Asia plugging along after so many years of work travel instead of settling down under. Ian cast some light on this query while teaching me how to prepare Dal. “Its pretty addicting isn’t it” he remarked on the ESL life. Is it? All the teachers here are a source of inspiration but I feel compelled to highlight these two Aussies for their generosity of spirit and keen wisdom. There house is a quaint palace (traditional architecture) glowing in simplicity and grace. There pad, a bastion and beacon of civilization in the region of “terror” known as the Far East of Bhutan. Is It? Yes it’s a fact Jack, we are all indeed lucky to be here now. Alive N’ kicken in the Kingdom.