June 7th, 2011
Kuzuzampo! Class is in session, let us begin:
Being in Bhutan has been great. The people are lovely, the hospitality amazing, the scenery gorgeous, and the students never seize to make you smile, even when they’re annoying. Just today I was able to have a ‘Bhutanese’ day. A day where you look around and feel settled, feel at home, know the routines, know the landscape. Or so I thought. I was just walking home when I made the connection that, even though I live on a plateau at the top of a mountain, my village is still enveloped by larger mountains. For how long I have been living here, this seems like something I would have noticed. But honestly, it took a while to get adjusted, to figure out the ropes, so that a small detail like this seemed to slip by my conscious attention. And there are other small things similar to this. I now know which dogs belong to which pack and where their territories seem to lay. I know who’s running for local election. I know how to play the local games and even partake in them (A traditional bow is currently being made for me). I’m noticing things that aren’t particularly important, but carry importance in relation to my stay here; they show me that I’m thriving here and that I’m not just passing through (a feeling hard to shake when you’re new to a country – it feels like a vacation at first).
Maybe this all hit me today because some tourists were poking around just outside our school. I could see them walking here and there, cameras attached, head on a swivel, taking in the scenes. Although I never talked to them, my reaction had two sides. One, ‘how lucky to be them, seeing Bhutan for the first time,’ and two, ‘thank god I’m not them.’ I mean, I’m glad I don’t have to drive everyday to see something new or go to a new experience. I’m glad that I have students and a community to experience Bhutan through and with. I’m glad that today, I was invited to a tea party held by my class 9’s; they made delicious tea and we spent the time making jokes and even had a singing competition (I’m pretty sure they won). I’m also glad that mid-terms are here and that the break is coming. I can start the next term fresh with some small chance that I know what I’m doing (in fact, I’ve figured a few things out that will come in handy) and also see parts of Bhutan that I don’t see everyday…18 glorious days of relaxation.
I’ll be sure to update you on whatever adventures befall me.
But until then, please enjoy some above average experiences/happenings that I felt worthy of your notice.
Best. Student. Ever.
You know those moments in your life that will last forever? Those times that you know you will look fondly back on in your wizened and elderly state? Such an event took place recently. It was the middle of a hot day and I had just entered my 7th period class, 7B English, when one of my students ripped out her tooth. My reaction was something like this:
Carson: ‘Oh my god! Are you alright?’
Phub D.: ‘Look, my tooth.’
Carson: ‘Uh, yeah, look at that! Does it hurt?’
Phub D.: ‘Yeah, it’s paining a little.’
Perhaps it was shock, or most likely her blank stare as she ripped out a tooth while looking deep into my eyes, but I couldn’t help but laugh at this point, WHAT THE WHAT?! I asked if she wanted to go see the matron, who could get her some help or some painkillers, but she refused. ‘No, let me go for water and come quickly, I will stay in class.’ Now, what happened next will forever impress myself (for actually doing it at an appropriate moment) and create a deep loving bond with class 7B. My natural instinct, I shit you not, was to begin a slow clap….yes, a slow clap. What’s even better is that my class immediately picked up on the history being made and joined in. The class slowly erupted into a triumphant cacophony of praise, admiration, and joy. May May 26th, 2011 be a day to live on in infamy (sorry for the repetition but how often do you get to say May May?). This student was easily my favorite before but after? Forget about it! (You’re not supposed to have favorites as a teacher but, I mean, come on!)
The days have started to progressively become hotter. This is obviously typical in summer (unless you’re a super lame weirdo and live in the southern hemisphere, LOSER). However, I usually am not wearing a blanket to work during the summer. All the supreme strengths of Bhutan’s national dress are quickly bitch slapped by the fact that you border on heat stroke every time you wear it. Thankfully, the summer is also blessed with rainfall and each afternoon we are being graced by the sweet kiss of a storm. If not for the rain, I’m pretty sure I would need to shower every half hour. But, there is also another type of rain blessing me these days…a rain of maggots. I’ll wait while you throw up in the nearby garbage…..back? Okay good. This phenomenon is foul and off-putting, so why does it also amuse me? I mean, think about it. Every day, I know I can expect one or two new friends waiting for me on my desk. I get to excitedly await the next deployment of maggot paratroopers as I work on exams. I guess I laugh because it’s so goddamn ridiculous, raining maggots? WTF! In truth, teachers told me that a pigeon probably died in the ceiling and these little buggers are falling through the cracks…I don’t really laugh so much at that part.
I hope some of you are enjoying this email while eating a nice bowl of Pops, Lucky Charms, or at the very least, Corn Flakes. Delicious cold milk, nice crunchy cereal, a spoon…what I would give. But the Bhutanese have a different style for breakfast altogether. Recently I have been dining at the mess in the mornings because 1) it’s quick and 2) it’s free (BOO YA!). A Bhutanese breakfast consists of a warm cup of naja (thank god) and a bowl of rice with eze and is eaten with your fingers (try eating rice with your fingers, it’s hilarious and makes you feel like a 5 year old). Eze is a mixture of chillies, onions, and some cheese. So I down a bowl for breakfast and a few things happen; 1) my mouth no longer feels any sensation except for burning, 2) my breath reeks of onions (awesome!), 3) I start to feel sick and my belly is more like a coal fire. The rest of the day is spent trying to ditch the taste of onions, douse my coal-fire-belly and avoid quick movements. So why don’t I stop? Did I mention it’s free breakfast? ‘Nough said.
Hope you are all doing well and enjoying some warm weather somewhere!
All the best,