Chapter 8: Shit Show-More Lickings -The underbelly of Bhutan-Take it all around
Today exposed the underbelly of Shangri-La a place I dearly love. I have just gotten home from Social Service Club where I took the boys to the hostel area for cleaning and Captain Dawa Dema (namesake of pet Dawa Dema) took the girls to their hostel. It was a literal shit show when I came to the boy’s toilets which had feces overflowing out of the squatters and swarms of flies feeding on heaps of crap. Then I was picking up trash in mud/shit overflow while the lazy boys watched. Yes Bhutanese can be quite sincere but they are also like any other kids. I called them out saying it was disgraceful to watch a teacher picking up after them and not lend a hand. Overall the girls are more solid club members and do their work more earnestly. When I got home I washed my hands OCD style (ironically I don’t wash my hands enough in this place) When I told the administration of the problem they shrugged and passed the buck off to the warden and assistant warden. The assistant warden seemed unconcerned telling me that that he will force the kids to eat SHIT someday. I will inform Karlos (the warden) when I see him later tonight. Living so close to that shit bomb I am directly susceptible to any health hazard, and from my point of view it’s a whole bowl of wrong. What a dirty place as my water is coming out black these days and this morning after my bath I was filthier than before. But at least there is H2O on occasion! I had a fine day marvelling at the brutality of the LOT (Land of Terror) My class 7B bore the brunt of a merciless beating as Pema Lhamo showed me the welts on her hand afterwards. The preferred method of administering a licking is with a thick stick some carved with jagged points like a harpoon. The reason for this lashing was for getting incorrect answers. This week teachers have been on a rampage and I have spoken up about it with many of them privately reminding them that it is illegal and does no good anyway.
I enjoyed my classes and interacting with students and now am making rice as the rain falls. My roaming has curtailed drastically since it rains everyday at 4:20 P.M. It’s partly cloudy at 3:30 with blotches of double dipped rainbows but then the clouds swoon in from Arrunachal Pradesh dumping rain. In class students worked in groups on their trash posters with one group actually taping plastic rubbish on their poster. Presentations will happen tomorrow and it’s delightful to witness these young learners working as a team. (Teamwork is Dreamwork as Ashleigh would say) It’s raining harder now and my thoughts go out to Namgang Mo who is traipsing up the mountain with her buddies to Shakshang Goempa. She is a day scholar and must commute two hours each day in the mud out of doors. It’s not easy here and rereading this chapter hunched over my keyboard I wonder if I make it sound terrible? The truth is its amazingly challenging and for every ounce of SHIT there are gorgeous flowers radiant smiles and a simplistic lifestyle that cannot be underestimated. If any prospective teachers are reading this I ONLY want to make them aware of the reality not the BCF brochure take. For one thing travel is difficult in Bhutan but many teachers work it pretty nicely with their Principals, while some clash with their La’s for more freedom. Like the dude told Becky at Dochela on our journey east “It’s all about the village” I have had enough opportunity’s to see the countryside and now am content to make dashes into T-Gang to preserve my sanity. But take it all around I have a great situation at Tsenkharla and I have it on authority that a few alumni are eager to return to the Kingdom to teach which speaks too it. This blog appears negative but that’s just my overactive speaking complaint box. The truth is I’ve found a home here and I consider my placement providence of the highest order. (Thanks Choden, my angel!) It was my theory she just threw darts at the map over a beer but she assured me it was a methodical process to place teachers in the field. This year the ministry favoured the West probably for health reasons since we lost a teacher last year in the far -east. Not a day goes by that I forget how blessed we are to be working immersed in a place folks pay $300 just to glimpse. Ours is a different experience than a tourist, while I may never scale Jhomolahari or explore Manas I HAVE Tsenkharla and the wonderful people that go with it. Bottom line is Bhutan is what you make it, a lesson I don’t always adhere to. But I like that and I like to make it up as I go along. We are a part of something bigger that our selves a mission more profound than any of us can comprehend, WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: NANCY, JAMIE, MR. MARK, and the mythical CATHERINE. So don’t chicken out just come and experience the adventure of a thousand lifetimes. And think of Mr. Tim when you’re sinking your teeth into a juicy cheeseburger stateside with strips of bacon and guacamole with a side of waffle fries and a strawberry shake. Begging your pardon my rice is up and I have to boil a readymade packet of Indian curry that I procured at the K.C store. Oh did I tell you those K.C folks are an enterprise featuring the best digs in town with their hilltop hotel and bustling grocery. Hell its only midweek and I already miss the Gong/Gang.
The Last: Happy B-day Dave!-Yours Truly Mr. Tim-Coda
“I’d fly away if only I could, I’d be a raven if I only could, I’d fly away”
Five years ago tonight I was in old town Las Vegas at the dilapidated Aruba Hotel seeing the Rads. It was a Thursday and Dave Malone’s birthday kicking off a three night run in the forlorn slums of sin city adjacent to a 24 HR wedding chapel whose neon blue bell blazed in the 107 degree fever (the brain boils at 106 degrees) that show was a barnburner a marathon of unbridled rock that seared my soul permanently. Cowboy Dave branded my ass all night with blistering solos coiling from his electric guitar his ecstatic smile reaching every derelict heart in the sweaty lounge. Meanwhile Morgana was up to no good burning the man on the playa, like always our defunct souls were connected by invincible waves. Despite reconfiguring my DNA with lysergic POWER that night Dave (the forever man) taught me to love what I do doing it the right way with boundless enthusiasm. Cheers Davey wherever you roam tonight, I love you man!
The ravens have returned to Rangthangwoong to roost, for whatever reason they come in the autumn congregating cawing up a maelstrom. They soar in fleur-de-lis formation up to Shakshang displaying aerial acrobats, harbingers of magic. On the border summer ploughs on as farmers cut the maize and luscious veggies sprout from the soil on terraces etched into vertical cliffs. I am fortunate to have a perch on this peak and gaze upon villages marooned on steep isolated slopes with no roads their tiny lights making them seem like lonesome constellations. I suppose there ain’t nothing left to tell so I will light out to the village in search of a chilled Coca Cola to alleviate my DESIRE. DESIRE the root of all suffering just ask Adam and Eve or Buddha. Fuck it, who is John Galt anyway???
In Joplin Missouri in 1996 I was hit by a station wagon going 65 MPH while I was crossing the road like the proverbial chicken. Why you are required to inquire. You know it, for a cold coke and recess pieces. I had just stumbled out of the Ozarks after helping clean up after the rainbows and was out of my gourd malnourished and never saw the hick mobile coming. I flew about thirty feet in the middle of the expressway losing a shoe and bloodying my head. It was a miracle not ending up road kill and my fate was sealed on that “Show Me” pavement. Ironically the night before I supped on venison that had died in that same violent vehicular fashion. The universe is copasetic in its own enigmatic way and I lived on to make love, meet Dave Malone, and immerge in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon unscathed.