Who knows the individual hour in which
His habits were first sown, even as a seed;
Who that shall point as with a wand and say,
This portion of the river of my mind
Came from yon fountain?
–Wordsworth, Two-Part Prelude

This trip to Bhutan could be said to start at so many different points: my older brother’s first interest in Tibetan Buddhism, which led to Lobsang Ngudup becoming part of our family; my daughter’s seventh grade teacher firing her imagination with the idea of “gross national happiness;” and so on. Certainly, the voyage began long before we got on the plane. But let’s imagine the story starts with the pre-departure orientation in Washington DC.

“Fulbright?” says Jeremy. “Sign me up!”

At the orientation, we had a chance to meet Bill Long, a research Fulbrighter splitting his time between India and Bhutan. We also had the pleasure of meeting some of the unsung heroes of the Fulbright program: Catherine Matto and Richard Harris of IIE and Theresa Mastrangelo of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

After the orientation, there were some less pleasing preparations to complete:

Notice the virulent color of the rabies shots (3 each). We also had vaccines for Japanese encephalitis (2 each) and typhoid and James had to have Hepatitis B (the rest of us were already covered). We called the bandaid “the pink badge of courage.”

I’m going to be teaching at a new master’s program in English literature at Yonphula in eastern Bhutan, and the Dean had had trouble acquiring all of the relevant books. So Zoë went to work scanning relevant books from the Swarthmore College library and what I’d been able to find on Amazon.

Once the iPads came, she was also the queen of set up and some installation.

Then there was the packing. I was proud of fitting a year’s wardrobe into the space of a carry-on–and then I remembered footwear… 

How on earth did we fail to take a photo of our 8 checked bags (including large digital piano) and 4 carry-ons?