This may be my shortest post in history. The internet here in Bhutan is sparse today. Let’s see what I can do.
As soon as my visa issue was resolved last week, I lef Kathmandu for Bhutan. It was a happy day, because my Lama had rented for us a very amazing house in Paro. It’s furnished with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a bathtub, and a shrine room. for heat it has a hot water heater, a powerful wood stove, and a radiator in the bedroom. There’s a large freshly tilled garden behind the house. The caretaker, a relative of the owner, has cows so he can give us raw milk, butter and cheese. Even better, my sister Ghalem just bought a new car, so we can use her former car, a very adequate and safe vehicle. Wow! That means we now have house and a car!
The moment I arrived in Paro, the Lama adopted my beaver hat, a genuine article from Alaska, and gift from my friend Sunhawk. I think it looks great on him! We’re sitting in my sister Tuji Zam’s hotel, which has bunk beds for hostel guests.
As I was leaving Kathmandu, I received an email from my school principal that I would be needed on the teaching schedule within 3 days! But no worries, it was a welcome surprise because Paro was terribly cold. In fact, the pipes froze the first night in our house, which meant no water until afternoon. So we dropped our suitcases in the house and immediately drove 5 hours south to a school in Phuentshorling (I know it’s a mouthful).
All Bhutan schools are in winter recess now, however the Yoetzerling High School in Paro holds a 1-month winter camp in Phoentshorling, a warm and balmy city on the border near West Bengal, India. We arrived to a well organized school with 60 high school children. Students and teachers stay together in a simple dormitory. There are 6 classes a day. All meals are included, and there’s quite a bit of free time. Today they’re having a basketball meet. They put me in a simple hotel because I am American.
So I started teaching January 2nd. I was asked to teach 2 classes a day, alternating 3 subjects: Creative Writing, BodyTalk, and Taichi. In the first, I help the children use the imagination and play with creative expression in words. In the second, I talk about how to listen to the body, brain balancing, and diet. In Taichi we are moving and learning the Beijing 24 form.
The first day of Creative Writing, each student chose a picture from my collection (Thanks to leftover magazines from Santa Fe Public Library and La Posada Spa). Then each student wrote a short story that included all the elements: Setting, Character, Conflict, Plot, Resolution, and Ending. Some students wrote on their cell phones.
This student read her story, inspired by a photo of hikers in a New Mexico landscape.
On the second day of Crative Writing, I showed them how to write a character profile. Then I talked about the life of King Charlemagne that unified Europe in 700 CE.
Today we made a low-tech Word Wall with tape. Everybody came up to choose 6 favorite words to describe King Chalemagne as a character in a story. Then they wrote a brief character profile of King Charlemagne using their 6 words.
The students seemed to enjoy the exercise. But when they read their stories to the class, I really couldn’t understand what they were saying. A strong Indian accent and poor projection is what I hear. I clapped and encouraged. However I would never be able to assess them. I really need to understand them. I plan to suggest to the principle to let me coach them on spoken English, public speaking, and pronunciation.
This strange eatery called to me today, searching for a healthy lunch in Phoentsholing, Bhutan near the Indian border. The place was packed and everyone was having the same thing. A heavy dark-skinned man shuffled toward me. I smiled and asked for a menu. He barked “No menu, Aloo Paratha.” Well, I know Aloo is potato, and it’s probably the closest to a vegetable I’ll find today. So I said “Ok Aloo Paratha”. 1 minute later he plopped it piping hot in front of me with a soup and Masala tea. Oh wow! It was DEEELICIOUS! Total cost: $0.97
The view out my hotel room is of Zangto Pelri, a small and serene monastery in the center of Phuentsholing town. Zangtho Pelri Lhakhang represents the heaven of Guru Rinpoche, with eight manifestation statues of Guru Rinpoche, meaning Padmasambhava. All day everybody from youths, elderly people and Indians from the neighbouring town of Jaigoan gather to walk around it and spend a leisure time.
Well, thanks for checking in. Pray for good cyberspace next week.
Happy New Year 2019! May it be our most joy-inspired year!