Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hideaway Summit

Happy Birthday Jerry the Space Pilot
“Goodbye mama and papa, goodbye Jack and Jill, the grass ain’t greener, the wine ain’t sweeter either side of the hill” Ramble on Rose 

On Thursday I made a pilgrimage to Shakshang Goempa located an hour and a half above the school. Shakshang is a small but prominent temple more than a century old it is the sight of our communal Tsechu in the fall. It’s both beautiful and spooky as our local deity resides in a twisted oak coppice just below the temple. The deity must be wide awake after the completion of the farm road last year which has disturbed vibrations in the area. From a rock just above the new road one can see in every direction including Trashigang and Kanglung to the South, Tawang province to the East, and Yangtse side to the Northwest, plus a grandiose view of the Dagme Chu as it snakes through the narrow valley towards Doksom. From that spot I feel like a king surveying my empire and the best part is I don’t own any of it. On this evening a shaft of golden light emanated from a chunky mountain beaming back towards the western sky. The scope of the mountains are apparent as they swiftly rise three thousand feet from the river to their jagged baby bounces ridgelines, the foot of the mountains dipping their toes into the muddy Dagme Chu itself. On the Yangtse side of Shakshang the earth rolls in resplendent green terraces dotted with chortens that blend into stands of oak and bushes interrupted by a cypress or banana tree outside a traditional black and white farmhouse. I love to worship at the simple outdoor chortens that seem to link Buddhism with Bon (Eastern Pagan traditions) that conjure up local spirits and Guru Rinpoche at midnight in a rainstorm. On this day Shakshang is deserted as the natives are toiling in the fields tending the maize crop that towers twenty feet in the air and rattles like an opiate rain stick in the evening breeze. It’s a far cry from Tsechu with the VIP tent packed tight like backstage at a Rolling Stones concert with lamas, dignitaries, and Karma Om spilling Ara on her silk Taegu. Now the air is fragrant with cow pies and wood smoke a Brokpa aroma that permeates all of eastern Bhutan today stemming from an ancient barefoot hunchbacked woman in dusty kira touting a bamboo basket full of chopped wood gathered from the forest. For a moment I cannot remember what century we reside in and I chuckle at this marvel who’s managed to stop the world. We smile at one another and exchange a merry greeting that the other cannot comprehend before moving on in opposite directions. My direction was home where I had an interview with some class eight boys to help them prepare a presentation on the art of listening. This hike was memorable for the sunshine that is precious in the torrential heart of the monsoon. In fact coming to you live on a Saturday Morning the fog is so thick that the hostel is merely a ghostly silhouette and I watch out for Shaggy and Scooby to go slinking by, Zoinks! Jeepers! And the local demon might have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those meddling kids...But I must go now and attend assembly and a half day of Saturday classes starring in my own cartoon. 

The rest of the weekend proceeded like this: First a core group of boys came over to help clean the hut and take lunch. Afterwards I hopped a ride to Gom Kora did a quick circumambulation and then a pagan prayer to the roaring Dagme Chu. One must navigate boulders and sandy washes to reach the river which is a torrent freshly merged with the Kulongchu and flowing towards the Manas. Twilights silver curtain was veiling the straining summer light as I hailed a ride to T-Gang for an interview with Rebecca. We spent the night talking (mostly I talked and she attentively listened) and we went to the bus stop where I ordered Chi Chi’s chilli chicken. Trashigang is exploding with verdant greens, pastel flowers, and ripe banana trees.  The sticky air is perfumed with sweet subtropical blossoms. T-Gang is at an elevation of roughly 2,500 feet, Tsenkharla is 6,000 and the pass outside Tawang on the Chinese border is 15,000 feet which gives one a vague idea of topography in these parts. Therefore T-Gang is a tropical vacation where buzzing insects chime in your ears and beads of sweat drip from your crown. The modern version of Trashigang compared to old Tashigang offers hot showers, HD TV, and cold, nothing like South Asian infarmertials selling skin cream to housewives in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Dubai, and Bahrain.  Life in the town is downright luxurious compared to Jamie’s era and the modern BCF teacher is pampered comparatively but really not much has changed as smelly Brokpa examine heaps of smelly dried fish on the pavement.  But for me T-Gang proves an essential respite from the grinding stone of Rangthangwoong.  On this stay the barking K-9’s kept me up half the night so I waxed philosophical on the perils of religion in my journal while eating jelly here are some highlights.

(Journal excerpt from 7/28/13)

People are the only animals that have jobs the most advanced and destructive species turning the tables on evolution. A cocky animal who is bent on satisfying his/her own ego. His biological instincts corrupted into othering his/her fellow man. But as the dogs bark and I’m watching a lioness devour a Thompsons Gazelle on television the primal truth hit me like a ton of bricks. Oh how frivolous and marvellous life is with all creation sharing in death. So much wider than our narrow perspective if you’re lucky enough to find love that’s groovy, many of us hope for grace, and most settle for survival. What are the stories of the Indian road workers huddled in dingy sooty shacks? Or the pixie shinning by my side? Or the red panda snoozing in the treetops of Merak? Even our sun will die and the Milky Way will dissipate or swallow itself whole. Let go and enjoy the ride, reincarnation a coaster called the mind eraser in Bardo Land. Race through the turnstile and take the ride again. How can one religion be correct when right and wrong are shaky concepts. Would God really be like a vindictive nincompoop playing favorites with his own sons and daughters? Religion is divisive and murderous (examine the Middle East) and all the goodhearted faithful can’t right the ship of fools. At least Buddhism emphasises tolerance and prayer for all sentient beings not just its own club members. Poor Jesus must have locked himself in a divine closet with all the shit people have flung in his name. Not blasphemy y’all just an observation on a hot night in the old town tonight. Somewhere on a steamy evening in Abilene Fat Franky eats 36 hotdogs in five minutes to win the big eaters cup while in Bombay a child starves to death!    

Back at Tsenkharla I taught Cat Steven’s Peace Train to class seven. I played the original version of the song from the artist formally known as Cat Stevens.  After singing them the song we made our own peace trains with each pupil making their own boxcar that we will connect on the wall. School is going fine but its challenging to get them speaking English. They admit to feeling uncomfortable speaking English especially to each other in social situations which I wholeheartedly understand. I have devised a plan to have them speak in pairs on impromptu topics in a relaxed atmosphere and I will update you on the results. But they are good kids and rarely cause trouble although some naughty boys from class eight were being unruly during afterschool reading. Another challenge especially with my class niner’s is getting them to ask questions. Sonam Choden on the other hand rapidly fires inquiries mainly concerning the origins of food items or inanimate objects in my house. She gagged because she thought a can of hot dogs actually contained dog meat (the can is from Bangladesh so who knows, right)  Sonam Choden is one of a kind another classic commentary was when she announced she wanted to stay a night at the K.C Hotel and would bring a pack lunch. You have to be a foreign worker in Bhutan to see the mirthfulness in that one. They do love their pack lunches and frankly so do I. Picture throngs of Bhutanese in colorful gho and kira huddled roadside with thermoses of tea and containers of curry and rice. All ribbing aside Karlos and Sonam right now are my best friends on the planet as the whole world fades away leaving only Bhutan. How does one ever say farewell to this precious place? BHUTAN IS A STATE OF MIND! For Becky its cucumber vines training up a palisade and for me it’s that smell or the open view clear into Tawang. I estimate seventy miles through a corridor of interlocking mountains ending at a saddle fifty miles deep in Arrunachal Pradesh. In January one is lucky to see Kiney but in the monsoon or rather because of the monsoon when the sun breaks the clouds it’s clear as a bell being struck by a revolving prayer wheel. This morning I awoke at 5:30 AM to see a tangerine sky (of course I immediately sunk back to sleep in my netted grotto) and at 5:30 PM a rainbow arcing across the impossibly steep range disappeared somewheres near Doksom. Topological variance to wit: Within my field of inadequate vision on the clearest October day are peaks over 15,000 feet and the river bed at 2,000 feet the only place to compare would be the stomach tightening view from Chommerang the wheelhouse of the Annapurna Sanctuary. That view is more dramatic but nothing trumps Tsenkharla in its expansive 360 degree gaze. Oh how to say goodbye indeed? On cue the summer rain pelts my tin roof and today peels of thunder for desert after a delicious chicken lunch cooked by aforementioned Sonam.  But its short sleeve weather without oppressive heat and in class a butterfly fluttered into my palm. I let it go outside only to have it return for a repeat performance. Cupping it gently I let it go this time out the door watching its black and yellow patterns gyrate and disappear into a flowerbed. Beyond the assortment of pretty petals the maize is starting to resemble Jacks bean stock towering into a silver blue puddle where Guru Rinpoche waits above the clouds. Zangtopelri means Guru Rinpoche’s copper mountain of paradise so I literally live in heaven. Made sweeter by the fact that in all likelihood there is no omnipotent God and when I die my picayune light will recycle back into the glop of the collective pot of Emadatsi. As for the precious master he is accessible here and now in this very moment. Why live for heaven when life is here and now. Internally I query why live in the past or future when I am fulfilling my dream this instant. As a matter of fact Bhutan was my dream (is my dream come true) and wouldn’t you know it I am still a neurotic mess. My veep told me I was a complaint box a revelation that hit home. What am I projecting to the world in my incessant negativity? Yet there’s a ray of hope since the old Tim would have gotten defensive at his comment but new Tim thanked him for his potent insight.  It doesn’t matter though since I am one of the few who can say there dream came true. What does that dream cost? Sacrificing homeland and illusionary desires, disconnecting from my loved ones but the scope of what I am doing now supersedes the wildest nights on the rail or that forgotten fishy carnal embrace with the one whose name means from the sea. This is an illusion too but its closer to the source of awareness or ultimate enlightenment which means not giving a flying tiger’s fuck about anything. Only then can a body function at optimal prowess. I ain’t there yet kiddos and awareness of my silly neurosis only agitates the brain gremlins who strike back with egotistical vengeance. I used to think I was part of the rock n roll elect but now I realize were all meat off the same bone. Buddha battled those demons until he gave up under some tree and finally stopped the world. He left a hot princess and deserted his family forever leaving the palace on a moonlit light and never looking back. I left my mom’s house on a misty January morning and now the journey unfolds continually but my trip is no more relevant or special than yours as it’s truly all the same. Nonetheless thank you all for sharing it with me by reading these ridiculous words of unholy babble. I am still not simple enough and these kids remind me of it always. They never complain in fact Bhutanese only whinge about the weather either being too hot or too cold but it’s more a conversational piece. In that way they are like Goldilocks sampling porridge if Goldilocks was a seventeen year old girl who spent twelve hours a day toiling in the fields helping her mother. One of those fairytale teens is Karma Eden a two year pupil of mine who is in the hospital so if you have any prayers on the shelf bust them out please. Meanwhile throngs of American teenyboppers glide through the mall of America painted up like Jezebel. At heart I’m more like an entitled Yank than a humble Druk but like a river changing course change takes time. OR maybe time’s the problem we don’t have any of it at all since it’s manufactured and canned. STOP THE WORLD like the rattling of Zeke’s maracas during Devils Dream or a shaman snacking on Peyote buttons, or an ascetic in a cave high on meditation. Crawl inside the moment and give your heart to IT a particularly juicy challenge for an anxious bugger like myself. Let’s own up to our impending doom which is terrifying and causes us to fidget through life as masters of distraction. That’s why I get off on live music so much, good songs stopping the world altogether, that and sweaty blonde sweeties whose manes stick to damp shoulders or chestnut bangs obscuring Cheshire smiles. It goes deeper than that though as Bobby is a shaman rattling the pagan tambourine during Iko Iko. Now I’m on my own yet more a part of things here than I freely admit as a lot goes unspoken in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Mr. Tim has found his place and all that comes with that wild frenetic territory. The backwash of Eastern Bhutan lies far beyond my preconceived end of the world and from this sentence onward I will be blindly trekking back to the source and to you dear reader.                

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Cats Down Under the Stars

“What else do you lack to make it right? Cats down under the stars tonight” Jerry Garcia

There are bright spots like the sun burning a hole through a sea of foamy clouds, a streak of rainbow smearing the sky over Tawang. In the classroom I was impressed by 9C’s writing about their vacation. I know what did you do over summer break is trite but this moldy oldie gets results. The students feel at ease writing about their own experiences and I get to glean insight into their lives. Pema spent her break toiling in the fields and I felt a twinge of guilt thinking of my own burger filled escapades. Most of them devoted the break to ceaselessly helping family and villagers with the unending cycle of field work, weeding the maize terraces or transplanting chillies. I admire these kids so much and their well rounded attributes. One of my brightest students in class nine admitted to using drugs over break in his beautifully poetic writing. When I asked which drugs he said smoking and alcohol and his honesty was touching as I hope my students feel free to be candid. Of course I cautioned the class about use of substances but they are teenagers on the cusp of adulthood and must choose wisely themselves and most just helped their parents brew Ara without partaking. But the writing was solid and even the strugglers managed to communicate efficiently so that made my day. Speaking is a challenge but intelligence courses through their noggins so that’s reassuring. Overall it is great to be back in the classroom but fatiguing and I worry that teaching exacts too much fuel from my leaky tank, or maybe its improper diet? Afterschool was Social Service Club, the ongoing battle with trash. With classes, the reading program, and social service I have plenty of balls in the air to play with but still find myself lonely. Pangs of DESIRE flood my data board and I am left to ponder things. Things like will I ever find romantic love or will it find me like the ephemeral voice in my head promised one golden afternoon inside the gilded main chamber of Zangtopelri. Meanwhile a teacher’s life consists of thousands and thousands of tasks and questions.  I remember hearing that teachers answer three thousand requests a day or something like that.  (I am the god of the toilet) since “May I go to the bathroom, sir” is the number one question. Sometimes the poorer students just say, “toilet” So it goes as tuffs of steamy clouds smother the ridges as fluff rises from below, it wouldn’t be a lie to say I have my head in the clouds. Bhutan definitely is the most beautiful place in this world but it’s a might bit dark and cloudy. Except last night a mercurial moon poisoned the night sky burning away mauve clouds with radiant lunar heat. A phosphorus disc howling at the earth hence that hastily scribbled dribble posted herewith. But it was good to see old pock faced Luna our constant concubine through the ages. What did the ancients think peering at her glare and was Tsangma surprised to see her glow kissing his house in old Rangthangwoong. Something tells me our good refugee prince had the company of a woman to wax or wane with though. (Remember kids the moon is female not the old man in the moon, and I’m yet to see a cow jump over her yet) For dinner a can of cream corn (acquired in Thimphu Town) that familiar side at a manly Grossman dinner taking center stage. Now I will take temporary leave to wander the three minutes into Village Incognito for a Coke and a smile, or better yet come along! We step out into the mild night and a faint glimmer from splattering stars paint the planetarium. Starlight from whence we came merely pin pricks in carbon paper but the real celestial light comes from electric constellations smattering the ridges. Trashigang burns an orangey Milky Way and I view it like an alien who took a wrong turn at Neptune three thousand years ago. I wish I was somewhere else says the wayfaring alien piloting his own vessel on inertia nearly bumping into a cosmic cow in the dark road. At Sonam’s shop where they have chilled Coke Karlos is butchering a hide for drying while both Dawa Dema and I hungrily glower and growl at the raw beef. If we were let off our chains simultaneously we might rip both the beef and each other to shreds. DESIRE! A group of teachers talks Sharshop in the shop so I bid farewell and walk back home under a cobalt sky, a big cat under the stars of South Asia.

Images from the east..

T-Gang Dzong and countryside

Wooded Trashigang

Phuntsho Wangmo with karma Sonam

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Monsoon Moon

Monsoon Moon

 Mercury tendrils
spill translucent seepage 
outshining mushroom cloudlets
lapping against the dilapidated stones
of Prince Tsangma’s fortress
shimmering off citrusy lemon grass
on the empty periphery
of the ambivalent Kulong Chu,
a night bird wailing from Tibet
beating through silky gloom
towards reunification
with the source
that binds everything
including the lumpy Shampula
nudging lunar dimples
with its charcoal hump,
beyond that the lone orangey light
twangs a bleak chord     
the end  

Monsoon in Monyul

For Reed and Paige the two cutest forms in the void

One cannot possibly measure all of the space in the Eastern Heavens. Diamond Sutra

Monyul translates to dark land and is a former moniker for Bhutan as is Lhomon land of southern Darkness (South of Tibet) what a world right? We scream Free Tibet but long ago Tibet threatened Tang China itself. So we should whisper free humanity isn’t it? Bhutan just hosted elections in their fledgling democracy. I don’t have must interest in politics in general but only hope democracy won’t run amuck. Bhutan has been blessed with noble royalty but His Excellency the Fourth King wanted to ensure a promising future giving citizens a hand in governance. Bhutan is a special place and the world needs Bhutan even if they don’t know it exists. The tigers need Bhutan too climbing ever higher along forested slopes following prey to 13,000 feet.  Bhutanese themselves take a keen interest in politics and travel long distances back to their native villages to vote. It’s inspiring to see such vigorous participation and passion for their countries affairs which is definitely a Drukyul trait. Long Live the King and Democracy in Bhutan. Bhutanese unanimously adore the royal family which is a fairytale ideal in today’s world. And here I am perched on a precipice at the fringe of this magical Kingdom looking into peaceful Tawang which might be similar but ain’t Bhutan. As far as I know there are no tigers in Tawang.  

Tonight is Thursday Night in the backwash of Eastern Bhutan but the circus is subdued yet present in the rich aroma of foggy woods and the hymns from the students in the MP hall with a bank of butter lamps glowing and cedar smoke billowing outside as a student feeds the fire. Oh fire thank you for your blessings! They amaze me at their dirge so focused and communal and I sometimes envy their devotion but mostly just hope for that contact high riding their golden coattails to heaven. They are adept at taping into that source that sustains the Dragon folk bonding them together harmoniously. As Nancy says we are fortunate to view Bhutan from the inside and without Nancy we all wouldn’t be here and that’s a fact. The rest of this soggy night will be consumed planning lessons and reading yet another Tom Robbins mystery. I realize the mood of these last few posts has been rather solemn but not to worry mom I am doing alright just growing pains in tangled samsara. I love you guys more than anything and am fortunate to be born into such a loving and supportive family. Without your tireless support both emotionally and financially I would have never made it to this outpost in East Bhutan. I don’t mention enough how grateful I am. Thank You! Give Reed and Paige a hug and kiss from Uncle Timmy...Also thanks to the donors like Professor Gholson who contributed $200 dollars to help fulfil a former students dream. Now I’m the teacher handing out chump change Ngultrum to buy Tashi new shoes.

Tiger! Tiger! Burning Bright
Won’t you FREE my soul tonight?

A Mid Summer Nights Nightmare

Finally I have resumed teaching lessons with both a mix of enthusiasm and fatigue. I find teaching a taxing profession but I love my students so the effort is worth it. Nonetheless I have worlds to progress in technique but focus on preparation. A teacher’s work is never done and can always be improved upon, especially in Bhutan. To wit, despite the hype Bhutanese students are poor in speaking and communicating in English. When I called students to the front to talk about their vacation, they could only stammer out a few words. The problem is obvious students only use limited English at school since English is the medium of instruction. But they are not expected to contribute much to their subject classes since lessons are mainly delivered as lectures. Furthermore they never use English in the hostel or in the schoolyard so how can they feel at ease speaking in front of peers in a classroom setting. I challenge them to commit to speaking English with friends and reading and writing each day. But reading and writing are not revered in Bhutanese culture and free time is spent praying or working on traditional dance. It’s an uphill battle for an ESL instructor to improve the skills of his or her students. Many Bhutanese students are incredibly bright speaking multiple languages but very few feel at ease in communicating English. There are exceptions including my pal Phuntsho the shopkeeper or Indra, the spritely young lass that works in another Trashigang shop. A few years back she missed the mark for advancing past class ten by a point thus ending her academic career (tragic) and putting her into the workforce. Now she seems quite adept at her trade and speaks relaxed and coherent English. Like many Southern Bhutanese of Nepali descent she also possesses the easy manner of her clan. I happened upon the shop she worked in to order plastic chairs for the library, part of my generous BCF grant. Yeah about that reading program I initiated. It has been commandeered by another English teacher who is frankly abusive to the students hitting the boys aside their head and berating the girls. The poor teenage boys getting slapped around could kick this teachers butt if they rebelled but that isn’t the Bhutanese way. Anyway the vibe in the reading room is pensive and fearful and I feel my role as helper is diminished. I can’t be an advocate against violence as I learned long ago that a foreign teacher cannot change the system. What’s worse is students are conditioned to only respond to blunt force rather than positive reinforcement in the classroom. They know I won’t beat them so I have to find other ways to motivate them to behave. There are many challenges and I’m still ironing out the kinks whilst trying not to destroy the culture.  I also do my best to facilitate group work and individual expression both devalued in the current system but when I have to resort to rote methods the students lap it up like Emadatsi sauce. What to do?
It was nice talking to Bra and hearing about his incessant revelry in both sports and music (Not that that boy don’t work for it) but Christ for a moment I questioned my own position as he was off to the Mother ship to see Bobby, DESIRE! I guess my chattering on impermanence and death poppies has rattled my dad’s cage and the folks at home are wondering whether your compulsive author might fling himself over his rock into oblivion. Not to worry daddy-o I’m in it to win it but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a giant sized pinch of angst, perhaps a hippie midlife crisis of sorts. This world has always felt unreal and illusionary for me and now the dharma has revealed that my suspicions are correct, but what now? Life is an empty vessel sinking midstream and we are born to depart so what’s the point. I always cashed my chips in the rib eye of hedonism which looks pretty juicy on a bland monsoon evening. I try to invest my energies in hard work but my mind is eternally restless and my soul is a patchwork of melancholies and wistfulness. WELCOME TO THE VOID if you’re looking for CLUB DESIRE its two continents back. I bristled when my brother suggested I leave Bhutan if I ever wanted to find a mate. OH YEAH that old loveless tune like the velvety roll of Wasserman’s Bass soloing, shaking the foundations of the earth. NOTHINGNESS! If there was a moon your author might HOWL at it, perhaps I saw that old moon last night or I might have dreamt it. Who Am I anyway or who are you reading this? Can you really tell me true? Blah Blah Blah Words Words Words.  

“Bolt of inspiration, the way you strike me now”

Is Bobby singing to Guru Rinpoche during Supplication? That old thunderbolt striking each moment in powdery blue gold illumination. The power of the moment is the sucking lotus mandala of breathing Chrysanthemum Mountains. Throw down your neurosis and jump naked into the cosmic soup, the formless elixir that we all bubbled up from before putting on masks proclaiming identity and reinforcing the ego that separates IT from US. If it’s all too cryptic for the reader I apologize but I learned it that way from the reptilian queen raging in ruby dawn who banished her king on forked tongue. So you want reality okay here it is. My lessons are planned and tomorrows a new chance to reach the students. Although how much they understand me is anyone’s guess.  An ESL teacher’s work is itinerant and we rarely see the reward that often reveals itself in a student’s later life. Back in my other itinerant life of cosmic gaiety it was much the same dancing a blue streak with glorious Buddha’s I will never know again. Just the other night I found some musical tertons hidden by MK on a hot desert night but I couldn’t reach him to say thanks.   

“Knock Knock”
Who’s there?
“Karma Sir”
“What’s up Buddy?”
“I need money!”

Karma wants cash for clothes but I insist that we go together so I can verify the expenditures. Life in Bhutan for these kids is hand to mouth and it’s hard to refuse needs and in Bhutan lending money or an object means giving it away. What the kids give me exceeds anything monetary as one gleans what’s truly important in this salty liquid universe. Love makes the world go round and there is plenty to spare in the birds and trees and affection from the students. So dearest dad don’t worry on me since a touch of grey will always permeate my wayward soul just as my eyes will always shake like terrified bunny’s. What to Do Kathmandu? I will concede that I think far too much and am guilty of attaching meaning to those obsessive thoughts. But occasionally I’m a man of action (The international man of mystery) a comet of chalk dust blazing across the Himalayas in this funky illusionary transitory parade called existence. Just don’t forget to dance while the music is playing!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Heart of Gold...Picture walk...

Some photos from Trashigang the heart of East Bhutan...Featuring the T-Gang Dzong established 1667.

National highway Near Chasm

I Love My Dzong!

T-Gang Street

Outer Courtyard

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tiger! Tiger! Burning Bright

For Sylvie
The monsoon has banged its way up from the Bay of Bengal and is thrashing East Bhutan.  Living at an elevation of 6,000 feet I am in a region known as the inner Himalayan hills. As the Himalayas stretch east the inner hills become more rugged and narrow until settlements must perch on ridges or more often cling to the side of towering slopes. No more true valleys in Eastern Bhutan only gorge like creases that follow the rivers that run from the highlands down to the duars. I feel blessed to have a peak to peer from and not be working a terrace on a near vertical face. How can someone live like that I marvel? It’s a rough and tough landscape out here compared to the amicable valleys of Paro, Thimphu, or Kathmandu.  Up North the thrown of the gods separate us from the Tibetan desert plateau.  These giant’s stretch from K2 to Jhomolahari and beyond into Arrunachal Pradesh, with 8 of the 10 tallest peaks in the world, a despondent landscape fit for gods, mountain goats, and nocturnal snow leopards. Southwards are the Duars or fertile farmlands bordering Assam and west Bengal interspersed with jungle habitat and stretching east to the Terrai of Nepal’s flatlands.  I have been fortunate to make brief excursions to both the highlands and lowlands of Nepal but spend most of my days within those deep verdant inner hills that turn a muddy brown in winter but now explode with lush greens traversing the spectrum with a gazillion shades from juicy to pale. 
Another lazy day at school as the rain pounded the hut all night muddying up the campus. I have begun teaching lessons again and feel relieved to be back into the routine of work. It’s good to spend time with students again both in and out of the classroom setting.  I volunteered to supervise the younglings in the library and forgot how spirited a group of class three kids can be. By class nine they are transitioning into adults through those self searching teenage years, after class seven no more skipping rope or grassy sack. But I do enjoy working with teenagers and all the challenges that come there with. It seems harder to reach them through all the social dogma that surrounds any youth anywhere in the world. Gosh in some ways I still feel like a self searching teenager myself but always have to play the role of confident teacher. Only readers of this blog get the real scoop on the state of my consciousness as I use this as a confessional space or E- journal to rant and rave. So let’s get on with it! In the morning I watched drifting plumes and tuffs of monsoon mist roll across peaks a hole revealing the shimmering silver Dagme Chu lay bare on the damp earth. OH DAGME CHU I LOVE YOU! So it’s a misty sort of lost world day as the students live in their world and I in mine and we meet up to exchange cultural knowledge. Like karma trying peanut butter for the first time or the kids teaching me words in sharshop. For lunch leftover Emadatsi sigh, but alas a cold Coke keeps it on the level something to remind me of other home. GOD BLESS COCA COLA!  The mist curls around the wispy pines below my rock and gorgeous flowers burst their blooms in the absence of direct sunlight. The earth and sky swap steam in a carnal monsoon embrace that is as old as the firma that rose out of the sea.  But the monsoon also gives me the blues or the greys. Bhutan is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen but it can be a dark penetrating beauty that broods on my soul. (As if my soul didn’t brood enough on its own in sunny California) On these occasions I feel insignificant and out of place feeling like everyone knows the secret except me, that old illusion of separation from the whole that is the root cause of all suffering. We invent meaning to fill in the gaps but this emptiness will gnaw at our gut causing us to distract ourselves with stimulation. Outward stimulation is non existence at times except vibing off nature and one must look inward. For some of us this can be scary and intense and for me this is true. Then one must reckon the emptiness and illusion of form and except the illusionary nature of all things. Yikes! No fun Ace. I find more resonance in Buddhist beliefs then Christianity but I also find it depressing. But we are the body of the godhead not individual vessels sailing in the void. So if you can obliterate the ego and retract into the void you might find immeasurable pleasure and well being. But in my fangled mind I am so far from that it is hilarious. I try to throw myself into work to improve the plight of others but feel I am not good enough at my taxing trade. So I summon the Guru’s strength to be a better educator and mentor to my students who know more about certain aspects of life than me. Sometimes I wonder if Bhutan has made me a stronger person or merely agitated my condition. It doesn’t matter anyway as the world stops for no one unless you can stop the world like the enlightened can. So I stare into the void which birthed all forms and the pantheon of goddesses succeeded by Pan the horned ones, and then Buddha and Christ. Perhaps we lost our way when man wrestled away the power from women? Now the pixies are pushed into the fungus realm unless one chooses to see them or believes in them.  And Christ rules the West with his sexless piety and the devil has been assigned horns. Perhaps Lucifer just liked to have too much fun and was banished to the subterranean realm and renamed Satan.  From the Big Bang came polytheism then monotheism but in my opinion it’s all one. To label god or goddess only words words words to mold the great vibration into form. WE LIKE FORM ISN’T IT? The thunder of silence that all the saints felt but went wrong when they spoke of it since there is nothing really to say...  
TIGER! TIGER! Burning Bright
Can You Stop The World Tonight?