A short walk from campus, I was suddenly greeted by one of the most profound sights I have ever been a witness to (see picture above). This majestic scene unfolded before me as I strolled down the winding dirt road to the Dobi. Lugging a bag filled to the brim with dirty clothes behind me, I was eager to reach my final destination; a small hut in which the Dobi makes a living by washing the clothes of students and other persons around the campus. Yes, we do have washing machines, however, just TRY to hang your clothes up on the line without them being stolen (we don’t have dryers here). Besides, it feels pretty fantastic to support the life of the Dobi and his family, while at the same time receiving the cleanest, most well-pressed, and fragrant shirts, pants, socks, and underwear (they call these “hot pants”). Whether assigned to laundry, construction or the custodial arts, countless individuals dedicate their time and effort to the upkeep and enhancement of the school.
Speaking of enhancement, the social life here on campus has made several dramatic strides in the right direction. First and foremost, I have established a tightly-knit group of guy friends, who constantly shower me with gifts, favors, and Bhutanese wine (Ara). Every breakfast, lunch and dinner consists of riveting conversations—these range from cultural idiosyncrasies to Dzongkha lessons (all the dirty words of course) and even to girls…I successfully stay out of this one most of the time—love you Jessie :-P. Additionally, I have become much more accustomed to the city and the life within it. I can successfully navigate my way from the bus stop to the “American Restaurant,” where, for only 150 Nu. (3 American Dollars), I can get myself a good ole’ hamburger. My excitement is suddenly dampened when I see that “hamburger” is not on the menu…instead, my only choice is “ham bugger.” Typo or general misunderstanding?
As I sit staring at the view you see in the above picture, I am told by my good friend Yonten that Bhutan is the only place is the world where the ground touches the sky; the last Shangri-La. He explains the important of patience and the virtue that accompanies living in BST (Bhutan Stretched Time). As each day passes here, I become more comfortable and begin to really establish my element in the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Each day is filled with new sights, sounds, perceptions and adventures—including the every-expanding radio show, In the Mix with Raffi and Atsu (every Monday, Tuesday and Saturday). My dad is pretty intent on visiting at this point to help the radio set up online streaming; still working on mom, although I surely have the upper hand at this point.
To close, I’d like to take you through one of the most incredible nights I have had thus far in Bhutan. On Saturday night, I was invited to attend dinner at the house of the school’s director. Also in attendance was the king’s general, the sister of King IV, and the most popular author in Bhutan. We ate an extensive feast and talked for hours about every aspect of Bhutanese society as well as my own goals and aspirations. I even managed to score some gifts for certain people back at home (wink wink). As the evening came to a close, I played a bit of basketball with the general, received a massive bag of fresh fruit, and was taken home. It was both an honor and a unique privileged to be in the honor of both royalty and other highly respected country members—do I smell another trip to Bhutan in my future? Whose in?
Stay out of Bardo