THE PROMPTS FOR THE MONTH
1. YOU: on the covered bridge heading for the weekend market in Thimphu. Photo credit goes to Ian
2. FAVOURITE: one of my favourite things about Bhutan is the stands of towering prayer flags flapping in the breeze. This particular group is actually on the roof of a 3 storey building in the capital
3. SOMETHING ORANGE: I love orange and have developed quite a collection of orange things over the past 10 years: so many in fact that it is now bordering on an obsession but this is just the thin edge of the wedge
4. CHILDHOOD: on our last night in Thimphu we found ourselves back in our favourite café and marveling at this child who has spent most of his childhood thus far in his dad’s café. Due to the largely foreign customer base his spoken English is better than many high school students in the country.
5.SQUARE: the traditional kitchen window of our fabulous new home in Samtengang, which we saw for the first time today
6. C IS FOR … cooking in our own somewhat makeshift kitchen. The first kitchen we have had for 8 months
7. UTENSILS: the battered tin ladle with which volunteer kitchen hands were making tea for the hundreds of devotees at the final day of rituals organized by villagers at my new school this morning
8. WATER: the filter that has been cleaned, assembled, filled, flushed out, rinsed, adjusted and now refilled to provide us with clean, fresh, safe drinking water here in Samtengang.
9. DETAILS: the intricate details of the embroidery on my favourite kera (traditional hand-woven belt for the hand-woven kiras (skirts) I will wear to school everyday)
10. I AM… going to be walking along this lakeside trail to get to and from school all this year. I am also in my 35th year of teaching and starting in Samtengang Middle Secondary School (Bhutan) today.
11. MISTAKE: it was a mistake to think that the shop that they we demolishing yesterday had gone forever. They were simply dismantling and reconstructing 200 metres down the hillside as we discovered today!
12. OUT + ABOUT: we headed for the lovely village of Gelekha when we were out + about on our afternoon walk today and it is even more enchanting up close
13. PERFECT: on a day when almost nothing has been even functional at a basic level, (no texts, no power, no toilet, no phone service, no Internet….) perfect doesn’t come easy but it did seem like the perfect time to try out the new mini speaker and change the mood with music!
14. HEART: the heart of the everyday symbolism of the practice of Buddhism here in Bhutan – chortens and prayer flags or in this case a chorten on a prayer flag!
15. MY DRINK OF CHOICE: a bucket of freshly brewed black coffee to start each morning
16. CREATE: it takes time, talent and artistic flair to create these Bung Chung – traditional Bhutanese carrying and serving, woven, bamboo bowls, which lock tightly together and are light weight. I actually bought this one today.
17. VEGETABLE: my obsession with orange extends to vegetables and both carrots and pumpkins are among my favourites – this little one was a treasure discovered in the Sunday market in Bajo. At this time of year they are rarely available for purchase but often seen stored on farmhouse roves
18. MAGIC: That magical view of snow sprinkled peaks between the pines on my walk to school these last few clear mornings
19. FEET: my feet descending the steep ladder like stairs from our front door in traditional Bhutanese dress for the first time this morning – photo credit to Ian
20. PEACE: a message of peace popularized by the city of Hiroshima. These posts are found all over the world and this one, written in English and Dzongkha, is in the garden of the Gangtey Palace Hotel in Paro
21. FUNNY: HoD (Head of Department) Ugyen Dendup plum tuckered out after a frantic morning celebrating the Birth Anniversary of H M Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck- the King of Bhutan. I found it quite funny that this ceremonial scarf used to show respect then became a sunshade as he snoozed through the final presentations
22. AN ACT OF KINDNESS: Ian heading out into the cold and dark to lead our first guests to the front door and guide them up the treacherous stairs
23. THIS IS WHERE I RELAX: out on the trails around our new home in Samtengang, bird spotting and admiring the majesty of the mountains and views – perhaps how I relax is more accurate.
(This one is a Blue-fronted Redstart just for the record)
24. HALF: my daily teaching attire is this collection of mostly hand woven long skirts, which are known as half- kira here in Bhutan where the more traditional ones actually fall from one’s shoulders to one’s ankles
25. CUT: The newly cut poles for the volleyball net and the boundary lines cut into the earth at Ian's school today. Gearing up for sport
26. LIGHT: the gentle light of butter lamps burning on the altar in a Buddhist ceremony at my school
27. MY VIEW TODAY: and everyday, from the bedroom window across the fields and into the mountains on the opposite side of the valley. I am sure that these fields and trees will be the season indictors for us this year in Bhutan. In just the few weeks we have been here we have seen it change from completely barren to budding and green
28. REFLECTION: one from archives to end the month- taken in Jan 2013 on our first visit to Chicago. That amazing sculpture is reflecting the superb skyline and us. That splash of orange and grey in the middle is us!