Thursday, June 11, 2015

Inside Out

A Grain in an Hourglass                        
“Ain’t no time to hate, barely time to wait…”
Since my gas cylinder is exhausted I am taking gruel up at the mess. When it’s emadatsi it’s good but when it’s radish or typical potato unadorned…not so much. The curry is served from vats by the somewhat salubriously challenged cooks who stir the rice with canoe paddles with boiled claws. Radish tastes a lot like the dirt from which it is torn which is admirable if not delicious. Fruit season is here! That means the occasional mango (every few weeks) or unripe plums or peaches. We all suffer from scurvy around here. I won’t tell lies, I’m hungry and just scrapping by, one won’t starve here but if you live in the east you might go hungry, albeit I’m not the most innovative bachelor King. A wonderful sound of water splashing into a plastic orange bucket, water is precious. It’s Wednesday June 2015 and I’m living in far eastern Bhutan (how lucky am I?) I feel ragged but healthy, the socks I’m wearing are mismatched and dirty, I’m snacking on a piece of processed cheese. The best part of living in Bhutan is being instantly accepted into the community. Is Bhutan the happiest place on earth? It is the happiest place I’ve been or at least a healthy intact society. Like anywhere in the world there is an underbelly to Bhutan a slimy part of the Dragons tummy but society remains accountable on a person by person basis unlike the faceless and shameless United States of America. Rain patters on my tin roof so I don’t put on those tattered and torn boots just yet and I write and listen to the cuckoo calling from a tree outside. The blending of wilderness, faith, and culture make Bhutan what it is, I’m afraid the rest of the world doesn’t make any sense after sojourning here. This is the place for me but like all places it’s impermanent. That makes me sad but I must rejoice in being here perched over this hourglass valley, surfing the sands. HANG TEN DUDES… Gnarly! ALL RIGHT SAN KHARLA! BRA!
What could I go for if a pixie granted room service? Prime rib MR with gravy and mashed potatoes, a Caesar Salas app with French bread and butter like I used to toss when I was called “Salad Boy” at Garwoods. Maybe an It’s It for dessert. Ah the food game is as much fun as eating itself!

But without food we die so I went for emadatsi at the mess and so I live on. I supplemented the scoop of curry with some crackers that we call biscuits. Even an Oreo Cookie which I don’t have is called a biscuit.
My most embarrassing moment ever as a teacher occurred about an hour ago. I was in a hurry to class in a downpour so I grabbed my grey sweater and hurried to class putting it on as I went. The students upon seeing me burst out in hysterical laughter since I had put the garment inside out with the tag sticking out like a retarded fourth grader. They already compare me to Mr. Bean and I’m sure this wardrobe malfunction will live on in their memories forever.

Butterfly used to warn, “Don’t destroy the culture” and indeed at times I feel like a cultural terrorist. It’s not that I’m iconoclast out to destroy or worse yet proselytize for Jesus. Rather my very personality lacks the subtleties and grace that are exhibited daily by Bhutanese. In fact I feel inferior to the local denizens in many ways and am humbled to spend some time here.  My Western sensibilities often go against the tender grain of sharing peaceable Buddhists. In class I saw the students passing around an album of a student with a class photo with me and my mother amongst faded family photos and pictures of lamas, so at least I will be remembered when I’m gone. 

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