THE PROMPTS FOR THE MONTH
1. IN MY CUP: strong black coffee is the way to start everyday for me and here it is a real treat knowing that it is no mean feat to maintain a regular supply
2. STRIPES: The major choice in patterns for kira and gho is stripes or checks. I love that the stripes are always horizontal on the girls and vertical on the boys. This shot from the Annual Variety Show held on Sunday shows both, with young class VIII girl Samten looking extremely sophisticated, poised and graceful
3. BUTTON: although we call them badges in Oz I am pretty sure that they are buttons in the USA and this one of His Majesty the King is an old one but a favourite. It is worn by many of the students on their school uniform. I have also taken to giving this one and one of the royal couple out as prizes in my classes. They are much more coveted than kangaroo pins from Australia!
4. DYI: When the sun comes out and catches you unprepared just about every Bhutanese can DYI a sun hat from whatever is growing nearby. These 2 buddies whipped their sun protection up as we strolled back to school from our Saturday morning reading activity with the primary students a couple of weeks ago
5. UPSIDEDOWN: when my boots started going mouldy due to the monsoon weather, they needed to scrubbed and cleaned and air-dried and Ian took on the task. When I went out on the balcony to see how it was going they were creatively displayed upsidedown for drying
6. I NEED: I guess it is a legacy from our time in China but sometimes I need (or more rightly – we need..) to make dumplings) Born no doubt from the need to eat them!
7. FATHER: At the very first Teacher parent meeting of the year this father was the only dad in a sea of mums for my class and one of only 7 parents who were literate and able to sign the necessary forms and not just apply their finger print as evidence of having attended. I am sorry to have lost this girl from my class due to illness but glad that her father is such a positive influence in her life and we do get to see him on occasion, as he is a local taxi driver.
8. BROKEN: 3 months down the track and this broken heel bone is just about to be removed from its cast. Fingers crossed for a much better scenario than when the first cast came off 2 months ago and the break was still undiagnosed! I am just so glad to see the smile and know that the spirit is not broken though it easily could have been
9. ORANGE: My favourite colour and at 6am this morning while waiting to begin study duty supervision I remembered this prompt and noticed that not only was I wearing my favourite orange ‘kira’ but everything in my hands was also orange
10. REPETITION: Prayer flags are only ever in 5 colours and they repeat always that is part of the point but this repetition never grows tired for me
11. HOW I FEEL TODAY: apprehensive – today the plaster comes off and we hope to see evidence of healing. My mood is a bit like the sky: not sure if that small patch of blue is expanding to eradicate those dark clouds or being consumed by them
12. SPRING / FALL: Here in Thimphu there is just the slightest hint of autumn in the maple tree near the clock tower. We are patiently waiting to see it in all its flaming red glory and hope that we will have another opportunity to be in the capital later in the season
13. OUT OF PLACE: Chillies are never out of place in Bhutan but I love the way they must all be in groups of near identical types. Oops what’s that greenie doing in with the dried reds.
14. HEALTHY: This is what I call a healthy student- teacher relationship. Class V boy, Phub Thinley B sitting in the centre and his 2 brothers came to visit sir, bearing a cucumber and asking to watch “Jungle Book” on the iPad. Phub had already seen it in class and just knew his brothers had to as well.
15. REMEMBER: I remember when hiking and picnicking were our favourite free time activities in Bhutan. This was the last such adventure and the best in Samtengang, taken just 5 days before Ian’s fall. Since then it has been hobbling rather than hiking but we are hopeful that we will both be back to the fun times soon
16. I DON’T LIKE: hospitals and I have been fortunate enough not to have to spent very much time in any for most of my life, but the last 3 months have been the exception and I have seen more of the Jime Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital than I ever imagined I would
17. KEY: This is the key to the room in which we have spent the last week and will leave today. It is our favourite ‘hotel’ in Thimphu with the loveliest couple as managers and although we only came for 3 nights it looks like the road to recovery is going to be slow and require a lot more time in the capital. Luckily we have the house of BCF executive director for the next few days for me, and about 2 weeks for Ian, while she is back in Canada
18. PERSON: This is one of very few female taxi drivers in Thimphu. With the move to a new location came the need to be collected twice a day for physio treatment from an impossible to describe location and the lovely Leki has stepped in and is Ian’s driver for the duration
19. EVEN: though I cannot read the script in which this prayer book is written, I am assuming it is Dzongkha and think it is both artistic and aesthetically appealing
20. BEGINNING: This is the very first photo I ever took of Bhutan as we flew into Paro Valley in January 2011. It was the beginning of a huge adventure, a steep learning curve, a journey of self-discovery, a love affair with the kingdom of happiness and a first step into understanding unique and beautiful culture. The awe I felt is captured in this breathtaking view and the wonder lives on.
21. FAVE WORD: Sunday September 21st International Day of Peace
22. CRISP: A cool, crisp autumn morning, after 3 consecutive days of almost non-stop rain, the garden at Nancy’s house is looking glorious but it is clear that winter is just around the corner now.
23. TRIANGLE: Warning on an excavator on the lateral road
24. LOUD: Earlier in the year as a part of the Rimdro or School Purification Ritual the entire student body assembled in the hall and at strategic moments were required to whistle, cheer and hoot as loud as possible. The cacophony actually made my already cold ears ache and those who had experienced it before knew to cover their ears
25. ANGLE: The sharp angles of the switchbacks on the farm roads are even more obvious when viewed from across the valley
26. BEST: The best fresh mushrooms I have ever been able to buy in Bhutan. They are my favourite vegetable and rarely available in anything but dry form here in the kingdom. Eaten in a delicious tomato sauce with pasta tonight
27. CELEBRATION: The celebration of the chilli is in full swing here in Samtengang. Now that the harvest is in, all the rooftops are being covered with chillies to dry before the winter sets in. Rice in the fields and chillies on the rooves the season of plenty Bhutanese style!
28. GAME: These boys in my home group should have been doing SUPW (Socially Useful and Productive Work) but with just a ladder they created a great game and I didn’t have the heart to tell them to stop
29. WISH: I wish to live in Thimphu and make this view part of my everyday landscape in 2015. There I’ve said it out loud and published it to boot!
30. WHERE I’M FROM: I’m proud to be from Adelaide: a great little city with an affordable lifestyle and a fabulous small town feel – so why don’t I live there anymore?? Out adventuring but sure planning to come back one day if Tony Abbot doesn’t destroy all the blessings we once had.