Saturday, October 19, 2013

Learning Curve

Although in many contexts two months is a substantial amount of time it is a much smaller span than the ten months I had to look forward to when I moved to Gaselo in February. When I arrived Gaselo was completely foreign to me. I knew where I lived and how to get to school on a daily basis. The area is quite rural, the houses and small villages are scattered around, there is no discernable center or obvious group of businesses. Shopping of any kind seemed to be absolutely minimal. 
Recently it occurred to me how much I have learned about living in Gaselo over the past months. I am now able to procure many local products including red rice, dairy products, garden produce and locally distilled ara. I have learned locations of the few shops and what they are likely to have on the shelves. Recently I purchased, from the wife of one of my colleagues, fabric woven by her hands here in Gaselo which was delivered in two identical rolls. Even in this nascent state the fabric is referred to as a gho. I was guided to a tailor in Bajo to have the fabric stitched into a garment, he took one measurement, base of my neck to the base of my spine. He then snipped a narrow strip off the end of one of the rolls and handed it to me as my receipt which I would have to show to claim the finished product. I was told it would be ready in a week. The following Saturday I stopped in at the tailor, he said it was not ready but took my fabric strip and cut it in half, he kept one part and gave me the other. It appeared to me this was his scheduling system. He could tell everyone to come back in a week, when that person returned he would take half the strip and put it in his pile of short strips which meant they needed to be done soon. This time he told me it would be ready on Tuesday. 

School employs one person as a driver for the seldom used bus. The driver, along with another school employee, both have taxis which they drive as a second job. Very often school sends one of these folks to town to do school business, at this time they are also available and always willing to do errands for faculty. The types of errands are endless but typically domestic in nature; go to the
bank, pick up this or that at a store, drop this off, etc, etc. So on Wednesday I arranged with Kinley to take my fabric strip to the tailor and pick up my gho. Sure enough he came home with it that evening. I have learned an amazing amount about wearing Gho.

Originally I had no idea there could be much to know, how could one be so much different from another? This gho, which seemed to be the same 6-8lb cloak as any other, proved to be very different indeed. The first time I put it on it went on easily and felt right. The fabric is heavy, a bit rough to the touch, the gho is fully lined with a light sheet-like material. It feels substantial when I put it on, the real thing which Bhutanese have been wearing for centuries. The comments all day told me the appearance was good as well, one boy told me I looked like I was 30! Amazing to think this gho had metamorphosed from loose thread to fabric through a hand driven loom and from rolls of fabric to a complete garment via a single measurement, in the end it felt and looked just right.

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