One More Saturday Night
“Everybody dancing at the local armory with a basement full of dynamite and live artillery, temperature keep rising everybody getting high, come the rockin stroke of midnight whole place is gonna fly” Ace
On Saturday night the students put on a remarkable program for their peers and the community. The event was in honor of Sherib Century which is celebrating 100 years of education in Bhutan. And we were here! I know I am bias but my 7 and 8 students stole the show. The class 8 boys did a dance with two boys standing on each other’s shoulders like a man on stilts. Class 7 did a hilarious skit in Sharshop which started with four boys acting drunk on ara. But the capper was the bamboo dance. This tribal dance was Indian in Origin and the boys were shirtless with painted bodies and headdress while the girls wore beautifully colorful kiras. The boys clacked together the giant bamboo shoots while the girls hopped through in time. Wangmo provided the soundtrack with a haunting melody. I was astounded at the creativity and execution from my kids. The evening closed with a group of class ten girls doing traditional dance with candles resting in their palms. I sat next to Karlos, Sonam, and Butterfly my three closest friends. I tried my hand in flirting with Tswering a hottie from Zongposo I had met once before. Single women are a rare and precious commodity in this part of East Bhutan. Not that I am hunting for babes but it’s nice to know this rare species exists. People automatically get married after school and bachelors over twenty five are rare. The culture dictates that people must marry and have kids to take care of their parents in old age. In the remote villages people traditionally marry at 14. The only exception would be the religious community including monks and nuns. As for my students they are intelligent, funny, and speak multiple languages. Teaching English can be challenging and students are burdened with learning all subjects in a foreign tongue. I can remember Sister Martha reaming me on Spanish at Marin Catholic and have so much respect for ESL learners around the world. It takes me many tries just to learn one Sharshop word from the students. My students often speak Dzonglish a combo of English and Dzonka. In Korea they spoke Konglish. The school program cheered me up considerably and I am spending my rainy Sunday sweeping, correcting portfolios and planning lessons. Exams take up the last month of school so believe it or not we are in the home stretch. In the final months of my first official year of teaching I want to put in my best effort. Today I slept until noon which was the first time I have slept past 10 A.M my entire time in the kingdom. I can remember slumbering entire weekends away in Korea when I first arrived. Teaching takes a lot of energy and the hours extend beyond the classroom. I have learned a lot this year and have many areas to improve on. I have learned to some degree what works and what doesn’t. For instance hand gestures are great for teaching vocabulary. And portfolios should be kept in separate folders by me and not in their crumbling government issued notebooks. It has taken a long time to get my bearings in Bhutan and to be honest is an ongoing process.
The deluge continues and the temperature drops. Rain drops catch in spider webs and the wheel turns towards autumn. I look forward to observing this new season in Bhutan. I remember when I arrived wearing my puffy Korean coat and running my tiny heater 24/7. My cement hut was usually colder then outside. Overall Tsenkharla has a favorable climate as the summer never got unbearably hot like in Autsho or Rangjoon. Everywhere in the kingdom gets tons of rain but Phongmay received double compared to Tsenkharla. We all have our challenges and that sweet woman who throws the darts in Thimphu has incredible power. Since I requested the east I can’t complain. I remember when I got word of my placement and the water shortage. They promised it would be fixed in 2012 and were still waiting. WTDL! It’s hard to believe I haven’t left the LOT or is it the TOL in seven months and West Bhutan seems like a different country. I can’t wait for mom and Ty’s visit to Thimphu at Christmas, although it seems like years away from now.
Although I used to consider myself a nationalist I realize we live in a global community. When one travels to other countries they realize it is possible to love another land and still be a patriot. In fact when you do travel you become a representative for your nation. This is especially true when you are immersed. I hope I have helped to inspire students. It’s hard to know ones role here but sense it’s important. The kingdom is reluctant to allow foreign assistance, so HM must feel what we do is imperative. The author takes his responsibilities seriously and hopes the reader gleans that within the turmoil of “tiger.”
On my stroll in the forest an abi stopped me and gave me a plastic bottle filled with warm fluid which I assumed was tea. When I got home I sniffed the contents only to be overwhelmed by the smell of ara. I will give it over to Karlos. Becky told me that our colleague Martha is on her way in an ambulance to Mongor today and she may have typhoid. Several teachers have been seriously ill this year and poor health is a harsh reality of living here. Nobody has been healthy all the time and relative wellness is the best we can ask for. I know I could be more cautious about what I eat but I must live my life. I am confident that in time Martha will be able to return to her post. For now we all put in our best effort and enjoy each day of this precious adventure. But nowhere on earth is one reminded how tenuous each life is.
|Bamboo Dance, 7A|