Friday, November 2, 2012

Ready, steady walk…..

Recently the trial exams for class X and class XII have been the focus of much of the activity at school even though Classes IX and XI have continued their usual routine of lessons. I, like my home class XC have been firmly focused on getting through the exam period and being well prepared for the next phase. Without any let up in the hours demanded at school, applying oneself to marking exam papers requires discipline and determination. As has always been my way I motivate myself to complete onerous tasks with the promise of rewards.

November begins with a public holiday and others follow so my game plan was to have all my marking and the results sheets completed by today so that I could enjoy the day off knowing that there was really no work hanging over my head. I battled my way through the first of the English papers marking the most grueling of the topics first so that the task got easier and easier. Students asked me daily if I was finished yet: they are dying to know their scores. Telling them that I had only ID numbers and no way I knowing whose paper was whose did not dampen their enthusiasm to know or their determination to ask every time that they saw me. Finally when the first paper was complete I managed to have one free period before the second paper landed on my desk.

Without a second thought, I launched into the worst aspect of that paper and soon discovered that it was going to be much less onerous than the first one, as some students had not even attempted the poetry section, thereby omitting 25% of the paper. Some copied sections of the poem as answers and one actually wrote “Not knowing madam” on the paper under the title Section C: Poetry! The time saved for me certainly amounted to lower scores for them and I grew ever more fearful about just how many of them would fail this paper and possibly English as I approached the end of the job. I am still not sure if their failure will translate to not being able to sit the board exams but like them I hope not. Certainly many more failed paper II than paper I, and the results were much worse than I had expected but I had achieved my goal.

Papers were marked and results had been entered on the spreadsheet by the end of the day on Wednesday.

As I was leaving school it dawned on me that that meant I was free to do whatever I wanted for the Coronation Day public holiday. In fact what we most wanted to do was go for a hike as preparation for the upcoming and somewhat daunting walk we are going to do with our schools, next week.

Much to our delight Becky decided to drop in that evening for dinner and she stayed overnight too so that got us into party mode. Her arrival inspired me to cook up a storm and ensure that we had leftovers for a picnic lunch. She is also walking with her school and for one more day than us, so she too was happy to be in on the hiking plan today.

Since she was aiming for Trashigang and we were undecided about where to go we settled for walking to Longtenzampa, which is on the road and in the direction of Trashigang and only about 7kms. We chatted and walked and laughed our way to our selected picnic spot. Despite our late departure, it was an easy stroll and we were all inspired to continue to Trashigang. Becky was heading there anyway and we were only going to turn around and walk back so we figured why not join her and then taxi home. Rangjung to Trashigang will be the exact first day of walking that we do with our schools next Thursday anyway so we figured that we might just as well do it and see that we would be fine.

Lunch went down a treat and within 30 minutes we were on our feet and walking again. Autumn is certainly one of the prettiest seasons in this part of the world and today’s perfectly clear blue skies, spectacular swirling river eddies and unfolding mountain views reconfirmed the majesty of the Himalayas.

It was another10 kms from the lunch stop to our final destination and the last 5 uphill with a head wind in the bright sun. We staggered into town looking for a place to sit down and a cool drink, which thankfully was easily achieved, but wondering how we would be able to do another 2 days of that kind of walking and almost all of it uphill next week. Becky will have started a day earlier than us so in total she will have 4 days of walking then.

In this season T/gang is teeming with tourists and hotels were actually full which was a bit of a blow to Becky and Tim who had already arrived there and was waiting for her. When we finally strolled into town, he had found them alternative accommodation and they have other plans for the next couple of days. Once we stopped walking we began to cool down very quickly and it was obvious that without jackets we needed to get mobile. So we about faced, found a cab and pulled out soon after arriving. I think that was the first time I have been to Trashigang without printing photos all year!

We did prove that we can walk the distance but we are still feeling a bit stiff at this point and that makes us wonder if we will be able to keep it up for 3 consecutive days, especially when we will be sleeping in classrooms each night and supervising students too. No chance of a hot shower once the day is done either. Time will no doubt tell and we will give it our best shot.

Right now it is time for picnics. Tomorrow Ian’s school has their picnic off campus and at a lovely spot by the river, which we saw was set up as we cruised back into town today. My school picnic will be on Saturday and on campus this year much to my disappointment but I am sure that the students will still make the best of it. Those 2 will be followed in rapid succession by house, class and other institutions’ picnics so once again the picnic season is upon us. Glad we got the ball rolling with our own private “dry picnic” for three today!

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