Of masks and swords

Lopen's famous masks cast from mud

The highlight of my student’s cultural program early last month was a performance of the traditional Buddhist Mahakala chaam dance. I had seen the boys practicing but had no idea how elaborate the costumes and show would be.

Also known as the “Dance of Drinking of Blood,” the Mahakala is performed to eliminate obstacles in the Buddhist path.

The dance circle

More photos below.

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Starting the day

Morning prayers

Each school day starts with an assembly of Buddhist prayers and a recitation of India’s national anthem, Jana Gana Mana.

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Walk jane chahiye!

My 2nd-year Albert (orange) leads Anurag and Phurba along.

I love that my kids are excited to go out for a walk in the woods. When I shout “walk jane!” no fewer than two dozen kids come running. They’re a bit like puppies responding to that command.

It’s also taught me appropriate crowd control measures. 1) Delegate to an older child who will be drunk with power and help you keep the younger ones in line. 2) Force everyone to hold some else’s hand. 3) Take toilet breaks. 4) Buy candy half-way through the walk; do not distribute until end.

It’s our chance to get a bit of exercise, singing and maybe some education together. Once we spotted copulating frogs. Another time, a flying squirrel. And I typically rail against litter whenever we’re out and about.

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Eat your chickpeas

Not exactly Wheaties

Each day, I took breakfast with the kids. Every other day involves a bowl of chickpea soup. It’s actually fantastic and perfectly healthy.

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Sometimes he won’t shut up

Talkie, talkie, talkie

By now, some of you are familiar with Bhasha. He likes to talk. This is his face when he’s babbling at me.

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I’ll miss that dog

Asleep. As always.

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Saturday night = momo time

Oh sweet Jesus

Every Saturday afternoon, the kids gather in the kitchen to crank out momos for dinner. It is a glorious sight, these traditional Tibetan wonders.

The students taught me how to properly fold a momo, to get that crescent shape and the bunched edge. I’m particularly bad at it, and they frequently laughed at the momos I made. More pictures below.

Mmmm....


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And on the seventh day, they showered

Styled by yours truly

Sunday is the one day of the week that all the boarding school kids are forced to bathe. The school is also scrubbed down. And usually, it means an afternoon of hairstyling. (And checking for lice. Yes, the kids have it. Pray I don’t.)

The kids have tried to do my short hair up all fancy, but it never works. But they sure are fun to mess with.

Above is Yogita, one of the more engaged first-years who is also a good sport whenever I play with her bowl-cut.

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Eat your greens

Kids help with the cooking

The kids frequently help with preparing dinner. I frequently take pictures of them as they help prepare dinner. It also gives me opportunities to tell small children to eat their vegetables. And then I get to lead by example. (This might surprise some people, but I’ve learned to love the vegetable over here.)

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A walk in the woods

A stroll after the rain

Colleagues Lopen and G.S. walk home after we paid a visit to a wedding farther down our valley. It had been raining most of the afternoon, but the clouds cleared and the sun broke through the trees.

A fine evening.

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