Friday, February 15, 2013

Home at last

 Several of us have been distributed to our locales. There are many delays with housing but, to my good fortune, my principal was on top of keeping a reserved apartment open for me. It is in a new building and is on the upper floor in a sunny corner. By Bhutanese standards it is quite good. Simple plank floors in the living room and bedrooms. It is nice to have wood, much warmer and softer feel than concrete or stone. The view over the valley includes the rugged snow capped peaks of the Himalaya along the border with Tibet. The apartment is very simple and my belongings few. I use mostly the kitchen and one bedroom as it has a wonderful window. In the apartment there are six doorways, the one to the bathroom and the front door are taller than me. The other four are of various heights all a bit shorter than me, the shortest being the one into the kitchen. That is the one I use the most.
Upon my arrival I was greeted by the Vice Principal, many people here are addressed by their position, so he is known to me as Vice Principal. His name is Sengay Kandu, but there are many Sengay Kandus and only one Vice Principal of Gaselo HSS. He toured me around the school a bit. The Principal was in her office by coincidence checking on a few things between meetings so I was able to meet her. She seemed very straight forward, being a woman in what is pretty much a man’s world means she is confident and likely quite competent. She is fairly young as well so she might not be as bound by cultural traditions as some. This may be a help to me as communicating with the very formal, reticent, conservative older adults is often difficult for me. I hope I will get better at it as time goes and I learn more about how to do it.
My first afternoon I wandered around the “village” a bit. Many villages here are rather spread out groups of farm houses. There are around 80 houses in Gaselo, but it is a couple of miles across and spread along the hillsides. There are 4 shops so a few basics can be purchased. At one shop I bought a couple of B-mobile cell phone vouchers and met a woman who has just returned from Australia where her husband was getting a degree in journalism and they were moving to Thimphu as he worked for Kunsel, one of the several papers in Bhutan. The Bhutanese are very social and rather worried about a person alone with no friend to accompany them. Since I am quite happy on my own I am certainly an anomaly for them.
The following morning I followed the road, which has only recently replaced a trail, about 6 miles up the hill to a Temple and monastery. There, once again everyone was worried about me being alone, perhaps to help me out the young monks served me tea and gave me a tour of the temple. Knowing all the lamas in the murals which cover the walls is second nature to them but quite a feat from my point of view.
This morning I caught a ride with Vice Principal to Bajotung where I have purchased bus tickets to Phobjikha. The black necked cranes are migrating and this is a traditional viewing area at this time of year. I am trying to find some internet access that will allow me to post a couple of blogs along with some pictures. I can check email from my place if I do so before 6:00 am. I am hoping to be able to use the school computer lab access once or twice/week after school starts. I am very impressed, jealous even, of the apple phone, ipad users. Sim cards are cheap and the way the things are linked it works very well. Other phone/notebook combos are good as well, alas, my phone from home does not take a sim card.

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