For only the second time in Bhutan I had to accompany a boy upstairs to our VP’s office since he
directly disobeyed me and back bit me as they say. Namchag Wangdi has caused problems in other classes too and is a constant disruption leading a group of unruly boys also in the class. Classroom management has always been a challenge for me and although I’m pretty permissive I also have limits especially when incessant chattering interrupts my teaching. During a group activity I allow for discussion but when I’m giving direct instruction and students are talking it naturally disturbs me. In this instance I asked the boy to go outside and wait for me and he superciliously sauntered out of the room while smiling and remarking god knows what in Sharchop. So I indeed marched him upstairs since he has acted inappropriately all year. Such occurrences always depress me since I loathe dragging administration into my own disciplinary actions mainly for fear that the boy will get a thrashing which thankfully he didn’t. So now it’s four o’clock and the bell for dismissal rings out over the schoolyard. A few days later a boy named Dawa sexually harassed a girl named Tenzin who came to me crying demanding to see the VP. Apparently the rambunctious rapscallion told some filthy words to Tenzin but I knew the trip up stairs to the admin would turn out badly for Dawa. Sure enough VP started for his stick and I left the room muttering a weak objection to the effect of, “You know how I feel about beating.” I could hear some solid whacks as I drew the curtain leaving the office. Officially beating is banned in the kingdom but most teachers still covertly whack with sticks or pull earlobes etc.
On Tuesday we celebrated a triple gem of a holiday commemorating the beloved Fourth King’s coronation, Social Forestry Day, and the Death Anniversary of Buddha. In honor of the occasion school was cancelled and I took two boys up to Darchin. One of them the reader knows as Nima Gyeltson and the other was Gyempo a strapping lad who is rather reticent with dewy eyes and bulging calves who basically glided up the hillside with a Sherpa stride. We went a different way (still finding new paths) through thick forest reminiscent of a jungle with giant bells of wild honeysuckle cascading from the mossy green canopy. The trail wound through a ravine with vegetation dripping over the vertical walls of the ravine so it seemed we were climbing vines like Tarzan. Mist draped the dripping green ridge creating a most otherworldly habitat with clacking frogs and whirring cicadas keeping our time. Up at the small temple in the rolling green pastures a puja was happening with the sickly acetic lama back in station. In fact he lay wrapped in a gray cloak by the hearth while Kezang the attractive villager I’d met previously from Chakademi served us Suja or butter tea on the other side of the room from the convalescing lama. On the way down the hillsides the boys ran ahead singing popular Bhutanese pop songs as they descended through blue pine and past the last faded rhodedron flower a dying ruby in a ray of light.