After school on Monday this week we had the not so rare treat of watching the young boys from Rangjung LSS amuse themselves on their way home from school. Our balcony has a bird's eye view of this patch of paddies and they were certainly making the most of it.
I am delighted that they are not indoors and glued to a screen but are instead out in the open, devising new games to play and enjoying spending time playing old favourites, but I didn't really want to encourage them to continue the first of their more dangerous games so I photographed from the balcony undetected at first.
What use can you put a now dry paddy field to?? Well the elevated terraces certainly come in handy for....
running as fast as you can up the steep slope to launch yourself.......
Yep straight into a backward flip while hoping that you actually land on your feet again.
Mostly they do! And just about everyone who is anyone can do it or is at least ready to try.
That is at least until some-one (perhaps aiming at becoming a teacher or even policeman in the future) decides to tell them how dangerous their behaviour really is and write their names down in his little black book, so that he can report them to the authorities the following day.
Now I am guessing that is what is taking place here as it is so often the senior students who indignantly report on the younger ones, but in his favour this young man stuck around and watched for a while and no-one seemed intimidated. They did indeed stop their first game only to resume it when he left however.
That sock over the knee look, is a fashion statement of many of the older boys by the way!
Could be that these boys might be in for a punishment at school tomorrow after the assembly!! That age old tradition of I endured it, so now its my turn to make sure that they have to as well, is alive and well in Bhutan. But these youngsters were certainly not out of steam and did not look in the slightest bit phased by the name recorder.
Once my camera and I became visible to them they were all too keen to be photographed and tell the stories of their acrobatic feats and victories in the 'cock fighting."
This equally exciting game instantly replaced the possibility of breaking one's neck with the likely imminent disaster of breaking limbs!!
Yep all you need to do is grapple onto one leg and then elbows out, start launching yourself at anyone else in the hope that they will fall over, and you will be the last man standing.
It is also possible to make it a team event and then when the other team is all down, your team are the winners. Cool Looking Boys - CLB were the outright winners on this day as they were proud to tell me when I emerged from hiding with my camera.
Our students at the high school are engaged in organised games and sports which look decidedly tame and uninspiring by compassion, but I assume they have also played their fair share of creatively dangerous acrobatics in the paddies in their time.
Both boys and girls get a massive number of opportunities to participate in all kinds of games, cultural events and literary activities on a regular basis at Rangjung HSS and every other school in the nation from what I can gather.
A certain amount of acrobatic skill is required at this level too, but in this case it was a teacher taking the risks while the students stood by. What else can you do when there is no ladder and the new net just has to be in place before the basketball finals begin.
Finals usually begin with the staff showcasing their skills in an exhibition match against students first. Our very sporting principal is a keen participant in most sports and is firmly in control of the ball in this shot. In this case the student counsellors were soundly defeated.
Spelling wasn't exactly a priority but everyone was keen to watch.
As far as I can remember, there has not been a single afterschool session or weekend this term when there was no activity taking place.
We have a regular schedule which includes reading, cultural, literary and sporting events and if the odd gap occurs then staff meetings and sensitising the girls to the dangers of teenage pregnancies can be slotted in.
This week I have had the pleasure of supervising the table tennis competitions in our rather dilapidated hut near the boys hostel. The table will be moved to the MPH once we get to the finals but for now it is stand back against the bamboo, woven walls and try not to interfere with the play if you are a spectator or waiting your turn to compete.
This frenzy of sporting activity is set to escalate as we approach the cluster (3 local schools) meet which will soon be held at our school. From there we move on to the district level and if any of of our budding hopefuls make it, on to the national level.
Recently traditional sports have become a much more prominent part of the extra curricular activities and we have a club for all those archery and dart enthusiasts this year too. At any available opportunity they are likely to turn the playing field into a Khuru (Bhutanese darts) pitch??? Is that what you call it?
No doubt last year's frenzy of archery is still to come and that will take place just above the now dry paddy where this saga began. In the meantime, it seems that the same talented few do everything and the others are spectactors and rarely involved in anything, despite the array of opportunities, but that is true of every school in every country, where I have ever worked.
To return to where all this began, while those intent on breaking necks or limbs but thankfully did neither and simply continued until dusk and the poor light made it seem even more likely that someone would be hurt, the good boys.......
and even some of the not so good boys and girls, who live directly below us were......
Yep doing their homework!