6 September (Wednesday): care packages; temple take two

My students asked how we were doing yesterday and I said that James was losing weight, so today we were given many food stores: fruits and vegetables from Chador Wangmo’s village, and special rice from Eden’s family in Paro. Yummy!

I went to the temple again today, though I was a little late because of coming down the mountain from Yonphula. This time, I went around the temple and went in the ‘back’ door so that I would be over on the side where most people sit. I left my phone at home and tucked some money into the fold of my sleeve for an offering. Then, as I was leaving home, James and Zoë and Jeremy all said, “If you’re going to Lower Market, could you get…” so we dug out 500 ngultrum, which I tried to stick in the other sleeve fold. The old ladies welcomed me and sent me forward, to sit next to some women (who would eventually go up for scarves). I started the prostrations in the wrong direction (to the statue before the dharma teachers), but they put me right. I brought prayer beads this time, and as soon as I sat down, a nice young woman (Norbu Choden—I learned her name later) told me I needed to use my left hand instead of my right. Really? Decades of doing the wrong thing?

There was a group of women sitting next to me. They were very friendly and welcoming. They also spent most of the time taking selfies (many with me!) and chatting. They too were offering tea, and so they went up, performed the prostrations, and received blessings. Unlike the students, however, they came back to sit down again for the rest of the service. The woman who was organizing the whole group gave me her blessing string—when I protested (“But that’s yours!”), she replied, “I have others! I asked for so many!” She also sent an image of the two of us to my student Pema Gyelpo (who was a teacher in the local school system before starting the MA program). She also gave me the little packet of blessing pills/medicine and I tucked it into my sleeve along with the money for shopping. When we got up to do prostrations, I shed money and blessings in all directions! People gathered up my bits and tried to put me back together. At least I didn’t have to do prostrations with my cell phone tucked into my toes this time!