Part 1: Ebb and Flow
“The lust of the goat is the bounty of god.
The Nakedness of woman is the work of god.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps. William Blake
The illusion of time keeps chugging on, bending in loops through expedient worm holes or lagging and trudging through a monsoon mud. It truly is a stretchable phenomenon in Bhutan. I had a hissy fit when the school store ran out of chart paper. I internalized 90% of the tantrum but did complain to principal La. Of course I work in Bhutan where chalk is a luxury item so there is no reason to get worked up about it. But it’s Tim and you all know I get worked up when the wind blows the wrong direction. Here’s a legitimist thing to get worked up over. I stepped on a nail which punctured my shoe and my skin. Ouch! Like the song says, “Walked all the way with a nail in my shoe.” I was in the midst of bagging plastic bottles to send off to civilization for refund. Proceeds will benefit the charity club. It’s been a busy week at school as we gear up for midterms. I am checking each students 5 paragraph essay’s determined to make them better writers. It is not always pretty. One BCF colleague of mine exclaimed that her students writing makes her “want to vomit.” My reaction is somewhat less gustatory but many of my students can’t write coherently, while others are approaching continuity and organization in their compositions. Either way I am setting realistic goals for each writer. It’s all about individual improvement and one rubric cannot satisfy the entire roster, nor should it in my humble opinion. I have been a tad moody of late (since birth) but loosened up enough to have some fun this week. My students really go for the (Jim Carry) physical humor. We love to jump around the room like golden languors at recess where they squeak and squeal like their furry counterparts. They also go in for facial expressions and one liner’s including my Sharshop catch phrase “Yelama” which means wow or surprise. Overall the teaching is going fine and I am slowly acclimating to what I can actually accomplish in the classroom. I would love more individual time with the students but this is nearly impossible with such large class sizes. Someday I would like to work with a small class again. I often think how different my position is from my pal Allison’s job in Sonoma County California. Overall I think she has it rougher in the field due to all the panoptic pressure of the N. American education institute, including parent teacher conferences. But I have some funky challenges too and teaching is never easy anywhere in the world. For instance these kids adore the rote learning style where a teacher lectures out of the text book. Furthermore group work is difficult to execute without CHART PAPER. Boo Hoo for the author. One must get creative out here in the bush and that’s part of the fun it seems. I do notice as I have already noted in past entries that my students have a certain ease and willingness to speak English compared to some of the older students I chat with. So I try to mix up my style and keep them actively involved. More students have been volunteering in class and I have begun calling on the ones who don’t. Of course I cannot adhere to the Harris rule of 80%/20% for the student to teacher lesson ratio but I am still constructing plans that involve the students more then they are accustomed too.
The flies continue to buzz around my head (with my new king’s haircut) and the roses tire and wither off the vine. Monsoon gathers in the Indian Ocean plotting its attack. The other day we awoke in a mist straight out of a horror flick. Straight out of a 3 AM episode of Scooby Doo. Straight out of the Bermuda Triangle. A heavenly mist concealing the pearly gates with their arch angel bouncers. Merlyn’s grey cloak or Gandolph’s beard. For a tick it even smelled like Fort Tuna (The Friendly City) before a dash of Tibet filled my olfactory factory. In other mundane news except to the author, I finished “Another Roadside Attraction” I love this Tom Robbins dude as the astute reader can ascertain from my puny imitations. He is obsessed with Christianity, paganism, sensuality, and adventure like yours truly. He begs the query, what would you do if you found Jesus’ corpse? The end of the novel made me think of a special someone which is not uncommon. His words put chinks in my armor of fear while gleaning perspective on this cosmic board game called life. As I mentioned a hundred times, it’s hard for me to let go perhaps my genetic fear of death on steroids. But in Bhutan it’s all about excepting things as they are. Deep down this is why we ALL came. To scrape the surface of our true natures. (Excuse me fellow teachers if I spoke out of turn, I can only guess your motivations.) But whatever your reason Ho! For doing it YO! Reidi’s words struck a familiar rusty chord with me. Acclamation has also been slower and rougher then anticipated or desired. But acclamation takes time. Just look at our friends in the animal kingdom where evolution takes place over millions of years. (Sorry to offend creationists.) So for four months were doing okay.
My murky ideas about religion are sharpening into focus. I am positive that no one religion is the true religion. This goes against anything and everything I have ever observed or feel in my marrow. The tapestry of the universe ifs far too varied and complex to resound in man’s contrived answers. As the wizard says, “It’s all one!” Whatever the true god or goddess may be, we as a race have raced away from living harmoniously with the planet. Either created by the Earth Mother or Our Father who art in heaven, it is being destroyed and corroded. What would Pan say. He would just do a hoof dance then scurry off into the forest in pursuit of wood nymphs. My kind of fellow indeed. I am sorry to bore you with these silly notions and will try to stick to relevant Bhutanese information. I wouldn’t make much of a journalist. The truth is there is not much to report here. A lot of internal weather patterns shifting in mutable patterns and a lot of hard work simultaneously rewarding and frustrating. I cheer myself up by affirming that I am one of the very few Yanks to ever work in the kingdom. (And that’s a fact Jack.) We Westerners love to be frontiersmen set in a unique mold. AH the ego fly’s. But none the less, on a personal or on a manifested destiny level, it’s pretty satisfying. And culture clash can be awkward or sensational! Lonely or exhilarating. Desperate or joyous. Weird of Bizarre. Can you find the synonym class?
“Sure don’t know what I’m going for, But I’m gonna go for it for sure.”
It’s almost a year to the day since the monumental and DNA decoding concert at the Throck in Mill Valley California, witnessing Bobby solo. Dancing under the calm gaze of a Wookie. For those who don’t know. A Wookie is a hairy longhaired (sometimes dreaded) creature with or without hygienic teeth. He is tall with an unmistakable glint of knowing in his eye. He always has a minimum of three women in his harem and is sometimes attired in a loincloth cape, or rags. There are many imitation Wookies but the trained eye can spot the genuine article. I was fortunate to wiggle in close and dance with one of his allotted women. He allowed me privileged access AHEM, to his stock with placid countenance. I mention this for the one or two readers who may have been in attendance (including my benefactor) or have an interest via an anthropological bent, in proving the existence of mythological creatures. As for the show oh my! I won’t ever forget Ace shinning like a deity, a bearded Buddha in a self contained aura bubble. Channeling Ganeshy on his old guitar. Telling the story of Saint of Circumstance and the source of this blog! The headwaters from which these adventures flows.
Part 2 Indo- Bhutan Dance Party AKA Another Roadside Attraction
I have grooved my way through Asia at some unusual dance parties. Including the discos of Korea, the full moon party (bust), dancing with Lady Boys in Samui, and of course boogying with STS9 and company in the Japanese sunrise. But tonight was the most unusual and miraculous event of them all. First the Bhutanese took the pine needled floor for an hour plus of traditional dance. There lovely choreographed movements and hearty vocals stirred the ancient forces of the night. The participants reminded me of black neck cranes with their graceful movements. I watched from the wings with my Indian pal (Butterfly) where we came up with more prefixes for fly including, bitterfly, beggerfly, betterfly, bonerfly, bathroomfly, bedroomfly, ECT. ECT. ECT.
After dinner the Indian boys took the outdoor floor for an intense disco session set to Hindi music. The Bhutanese stared rather stunned from the bluff. These Indian cats are working on the hydro project and were hosting this get together for the entire community. The party was at a huge pad at the junction (Zongpola) where the road splits three ways to Doksom, Yangtse, and Tsenkharla. Finally two brave girls in Kiras hit the floor. Now you must understand this was no small feat in the wilds of primitive East Bhutan. Where culture can be AHEM rigid. This was a Rosa Parks type bravery being displayed. Obviously I jumped in whooping it up with the sassy young woman in a black Kira. She had some moves too let me tell you! I’m not sure this tension could have been sustained but soon the children joined in the fun, softening the vibe to an innocent splendor. So there we were, a pack of Indians, two Bhutanese chicks, a white boy, and a group of elementary school children dancing together in a light rain. This was the real deal too, with limbs akimbo and huge dung eating grins. A whomp whomp throw-down for the ages. Ah dance the universal language, the purest form of love. Some adorable little girl sensing the power of the moment crept about snapping photos. I posed with the cutie in black. I posed with the gyrating Indians, I posed with Sangay Dempa. It was a scene nothing short of Guru Rimpoche’s sacred flight on the back of his tiger. The possibilities seem endless in this universe if we pulled off a cross cultural coed dance party in East Bhutan. On the bluff an old abi (grandma) waved her arms in approval. So very odd and entertaining in fact one might call it a religious experience for this cowpoke. Whoop Whoop! Indeed another roadside attraction.
Part 3 Acceptance
“Keep on playing children it’s a long hard journey home” Volker
Well another day in Buddha’s paradise. I spent class time combing over student essays meeting with each individual one by one. I have noticed some improvement in writing in certain students. I also trolled the grounds mulling over the trash situation and the unsanitary conditions of the boys toilets. Disgusting and unhealthy is an understatement. The reality is a stool bomb exploded in THEIR stalls. I addressed the issue with principal La. I got an e mail from my dear Morgan that opened a floodgate of emotions. This section is addressed to her. You mentioned “Into the wild,” I only saw the movie with my dad. In the end the protagonist reaches his destination but dies alone. He comes to a conclusion in his death bus that beauty is only truly appreciated when shared with others. Ah the human animal and his/her need for companionship. This fact accompanies me to bed on lonely nights. And most of them are since those days. So your readership means the world to me but you ought to watch the moon instead. And thanks for the art project tip, a fine idea that I will do next week. THERE has to be a creative solution to this trash incursion. Remember Rabes you are freer then you realize and sorely missed.
Checked into Miss Reidi’s blog and saw she is keeping her “joy journal” and watching the butterflies of Lhuntse. Although we are not actively communicating I think of Ms. Smith frequently along with all my other brethren. Only Becky bears the brunt of my misgivings as an unpaid therapist. Ho hum if I had a biological sister she would play that role. Sorry Bunks. Well I know I have many lessons to learn here despite my best efforts of resistance. My own butterfly named Julia tells that, “Life is a never ending lesson of letting go.” I think she would dig this place despite the lack of trees to sit in. The workload has increased and midterms are approaching. I am doing my best to stay focused and stay in the moment, two of my biggest challenges in life. This place will keep you honest. But if the devil approached me with a double cheeseburger from Phyllis’s I might not have Jesus’ restraint.