Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Outside the mist funnels up the steep slope to my front doors licking my toes and steam peels off the treetops in a whimsical curly cue array. The monsoon ungulates reaching its cloudy tendrils into the Himalaya from the Bay of Bengal across the drenched plains through dense jungles and into the chain of vertical hills finally petering out in snow flakes and dying on the barren Tibetan Plateau that ambles unrestrained into the wasteland of Central Asia. But on the borderlands of Eastern Bhutan and Arrunachal Pradesh India there is plenty of moisture to water the crops producing a fine yield. Farmers cart veggies around in baskets up from lost valleys or down from precarious perches to trade or sell in bazaars or roadside stalls all over the kingdom. (Whomever harvest doma bits must make a fortune) Life adheres to the rhythms of the universe according to the seasons and rituals put in place by Guru Rinpoche for the people of this enchanted realm. (WELCOME BACK IAN &VICKYEVERYONES FAVORITE ANTIPODES WHO START THEIR SOJOURN INTO THE KINGDOM TODAY) From my side, it’s another working day and my lessons are prepped and my bag is sitting on the corner of a clean desk, I am ready to go! At dawn I was awaken by the screech of a raven that would send Poe jumping out of his pajamas. But I know that ravens are to be adored rather than feared as this one seemed to call out “DO you plan to start living today” We are both made of stardust and YOU are too and maybe I’m plain tired of denying my divinity. Bhutan chips away at the illusion of separateness which causes one to reinforce their walls against the vivid unity contained in the ravens alarm. We all awaken when were ready and in the meantime we’re all part time Buddha’s.  
At morning assembly the administration cut off the girl’s hair. The girls had an anguished countenance as staff sheared off half their manes leaving the job crudely undone then shoving a handful of hair back into their hands. Hair and jewellery are the only means of personal expression for students who all wear national dress and partake in a strictly regimented academic and religious schedule. Whenever I feel tethered to the system I remember how much freedom I enjoy comparatively. One native teacher remarked that if girls wore shirt and pants they would be inviting rape and even HE would be aroused in the classroom. I politely excused myself from the conversation walking to the edge of campus to calm my emotions. On the way I passed groups of teachers shoving dolma into their mouths then returning the banana leaves to their marsupial style pockets. On the home front I cleaned my house best i could manage taking out mouldy clothes for washing. Mould grows on everything here since the monsoon air is saturated with moisture. For whatever reason this is a particularly harsh period on the body as many students are getting sick as the climate begins to change eventually becoming drier and cooler. The days are receding and the temperature is dropping slightly but the raindrops still pepper the land. I estimate that we have gotten 50 inches of rain this year as it can come down in buckets, cats and dogs, and kitchen sinks all at once. Blessed Rainy Day is approaching and sometime after that rain will taper off and on the heels of the reprise the tourists will gallivant into the kingdom seeping all the way into Trashigang arriving in minivans. The lucky devils will trek and attend Tsechu but it is unlikely any will reach Tsenkharla instead heading to Chorten Kora and T/Yangtse.  90% of tourists never cross the BIG LA and I give props to those who explore the East. The K.C will be full and rooms scarce in town so the next few weeks will be my window to enjoy the solitude of the ancient trading post.
But I did enjoy the K.C Hotel this weekend and on this sterling Sunday Ashleigh, Becky, and I languidly stretched across the bed in the lover’s suite watching Aljazeera. They had come to wake me up and we had breakfast on the patio overlooking the range surrounding the wooded settlement. I slid into Doksom at 3 P.M and found an astounding trail shadowing the Dagme Chu through a rocky playground with lemon grass and an occasional lonesome pine. The trail ended on a reclusive white sand beach on the banks of the muddy Dagme Chu where I baptized myself on the shoreline careful not to wade into the swift current. From the beach I had an imposing view of Shampula 4,000 feet above. My position was a few miles east of Doksom about eight miles downstream from the wastelands of Arrunachal Pradesh in a borderless territory of rock, grass, and water. On the opposite shore a few straggling farms cultivated rice with paddies occasionally broken by stands of banana trees, a tropical touch in an arid and rugged domain. The green coat of September lends the land a gentle veneer but the earth pokes out everywhere with steep walls cut by the racing river. High on the bluffs clumps of squat pines cling to crevices or are tucked into ledges. This is the end of East Bhutan I thought sitting placidly on the sand as the mountaintops turned to gold and mauve hues. A citrusy breeze enveloped my skin as I listened to my singular footsteps on the dusty trail. I caught a ride out of Doksom in the back of a pick up watching the mountains and vegetation spin on the axis of the wheels, a ride as scary as an old wooden coaster with the landscape blurring into dull blue twilight except one lurid tangerine tinted cloud resting on a distant pinnacle. Today was a respite from the blessed rain as the monsoon conquers Assam and North Eastern India with torrential floods, the wet grand finale of a yearly phenomenon essential to life on the subcontinent. Another one day weekend flies by and another work week rapidly approaches. Plan the lessons, do the chores, keep your nose to the grinding stone in old Rangthangwoong...

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