Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Time to leave!

Classes are over and home exams are done and dusted. I felt a sense of loss yesterday when I knew the class IX and XI students would be leaving for home. The boarding students were of course, over the moon about finally returning to their families and I couldn’t bring myself to watch them depart. It is so final seeing those bedrolls and suitcases walk out through the school gates. I took my remaining exam papers home and buried myself in marking for several hours rather than watch them go. Even so I left the campus to calls of
“ Safe journey Madam.”

The Board Exams loom large on the horizon starting with English on the first 2 days. I am having a really tough time, as they like to say here. Hours upon hours of marking papers and even though mostly the scores are higher than I expected it is not the same as teaching. For me it is tedious surviving the complete lack of contact with students: my only reason for being here. Luckily for me my home class has requested an extra grammar class tomorrow and I willingly agreed. We still have some time together and I am careful not to infect them with the gloom I am feeling.

Though it has not been announced here before I suspect that most people are aware we have decided to accept the challenge and adventure of new teaching positions in Tanzania next year. For BCF blog readers Tim rather spilled the beans on that one some time ago!!

Right now I am full of mixed emotions about leaving Bhutan. I feel so connected to my class and every everyday sight is being burned into my memory because we won't get to see this for much longer but at the same time I want to claw my eyes out after marking for 8 hours in a day. I am sad to be leaving whilst simultaneously counting down the days. It is never easy to walk away and currently there is so much left to do and so very little time remaining, that the anxiety grows daily.

To change this mournful tune let me focus on one of the most unique and visually awesome experiences of Bhutan.

The biggest and best celebration of the year happened last weekend in T/gang: TSHECHU.

It afforded us some well overdue time out. I promised myself that I would finish all 3-class sets of English Paper I before going. This is a reward system I have employed for years to get me through the most onerous of tasks. Make the reward so great that you will apply yourself diligently to the task, in order to be rewarded. (I actually think that is how I made it through college!)

This time it meant missing the first day but by the time we did get there it was possible to relax and enjoy it. What a welcome break. Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday was the big event.

We booked into a hotel in T/gang and treated ourselves to lazy nights in front of a TV, hot showers and daytime sojourns to the activity at the Dzong as well as taking time out for long last looks at the spectacular scenery from the lookout, for 2 full days. We had Becky in tow when we left Ranging and she embraced the festivities and time out with the same gusto we did. Ashley called announcing her presence not long after we arrived in town and once it was officially the weekend Tim from Yangste fronted up too, so it was a bit of a break and catch up too even though at no point were all 5 of us in the same place at the same time.

This year quite unexpectedly we even got to spend the afternoon in the "box seats" with VIP and dignitaries of all sorts. This was entirely due to Ashley’s charm and influence but we were glad to go along for the ride. 

We positioned ourselves at the first level up in the “Dzong” administration area, not up in the gods where the lamas and later royalty were, but it was still a great vantage point and I remember looking longingly up to that zone last year when we were watching our first ever Tshechu. I am not so comfortable in exalted company and felt like an impostor despite loving the perspective from a photographic point of view

The final day that space was definitely off limits as Her Majesty the  Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo was present and it was impossible to get anywhere near that sacred territory.

We were happy to spot her from a distance in the crush of the crowd of commoners. If the truth be known we were happier back where we belong with the crowd of fascinated onlookers at ground level. 

In actual fact we were grateful to be inside the Dzong at all, as we had lazed around in the morning adopting a holiday mentality and not long after we entered the performance area, it was declared too full to allow entry to any more spectators.

There were a few new masked dances performed on that final day this year. I believe that they were commemorating the visit and honouring the heroism of the 7-day war fought in 2003. I may be entirely wrong on that front but it was the way they came across.  Though very militaristic, the brand new costumes and masks were very impressive.  

Right now we have to focus on the tasks and responsibilities at hand. Exams…packing…. posting and leaving are all high on the list but one at a time.

Australia is also a welcome thought and I definitely need the brain space before we start our new adventure in Tz. Unbelievably it has been 2 years since we were home. We will arrive in February after a short vacation in the US that was planned and booked when we had no idea where we would be in 2013. I am so looking forward to great cups of coffee, chilled Sauvignon Blanc, long chats, fun bike rides and raw beetroot salads!!! 

1 comment:

  1. My humble apologies for the incorrect title and misinformation about HM Dorji Wangmo being the HM the King's real mother. In fact that is the third HM the Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck.