2-3 October (Monday-Tuesday)

We let Jeremy stay home with James, but the result was a great deal of mutual unhappiness. Meanwhile, the prime minister confirmed that he would attend the Yonphula inauguration, so preparations, which had been held in abeyance, suddenly shifted into high gear. Invitations could not be printed without the name of the guest of honor—but now there was only a handful of days in which to print and distribute invitations. High-level ministers would have to be invited by phone; Sherubtse College invitations would be hand-delivered.

By Tuesday, my digital storytelling workshop had been postponed till November because of all the busy-ness associated with the inauguration, but I was still working on slides and assignment structures. I made Zoë come on an afternoon walk with me, and we explored farther down the farm road, past some prayer wheels, to a point where we could see across the valley to the Trashigang road.

Along the way, we came across this interesting sight:

Nakchung the librarian said this was built to defend against bad gossip. The crosspost at the top is a phallus (of course); the cups and bowl and basket are to represent each member of the household. The upper framework is to create a kind of deflecting effect, to drive the gossip away. I still don’t have a good explanation of what certainly looks like arrows driven into a symbolic scrotum (??!!). Perhaps I’m taking the symbolism too far.

It looks as if the prayer flags and prayer wheels may help mark the boundary of some protected land.

After the walk, I asked James to let me try loading my iPads with Afterlight at his office. On the way, we met Chimi Dorji who was carrying some green matting. (Storekeepers had been asking him where they could get some matting and he said he would get them some—from the college, which was replacing the matting! Nothing goes to waste here.) He shifted from his course and offered to let me use his office, with the best wifi on campus, to try the download. As we walked across campus, a variety of housekeeping staff asked him what he was doing with the matting, and he replied, “I’m selling it!”

Of course it took forever for the apps to download, even once I got them all going. James and Chimi Dorji looked into ordering Raspberry pi’s and various attachments. Chencho came and went; Kinley arrived from school. Chimi Dorji and Chencho suggested a trip to a cheese factory at the weekend, and Chimi Dorji said he could get us some local butter in the meantime. He also promised to introduce James to the librarian who is the source of butter and also vegetables. I don’t know how anyone acquires food here without knowing all the right people: the milk van that comes by around 10 a.m. (and the person who will get the milk for you because you’re at work); the local kids who bring beans and greens around campus, selling to anyone who’s interested; the librarian-cum-dairy farmer.

In the evening, James, Jeremy, and I went to the lookout. The clouds and sunset are pretty consistently satisfying here.