Saturday, October 26, 2013

Three Tshechus in a Week - Part 3

Every tshechu has its own feel and flavour, but in this week of festivities, I think we were lucky to save the best till last.
Prakar or Tarkar village is about 4km down the road from our house, perched on a hill a ten minute walk from the main road. Every time we've been to Chamkar (and that is more than 20 times this year) we've commented on what a picturesque village Tarkar is and talked about going there to have a look around. In spring, peach and apple blossom surrrounded the village in pink fluffiness - it looked magical and I longed to explore and take photos. When we've had visitors we planned to take them for a look, but again, something came up and plans were changed. So finally Prakar Tshechu gave us the opportunity we've been waiting for all year to see this beautiful little place.
Sunday morning we all hopped into our neighbour's car again and drove down the road. Walking to the village requires climbing down some roughly made stone stairs covered in slippery mud and then crossing the raging river below by suspension bridge. Its a very new and 'safe' bridge, though it wobbles a lot as you cross. Then back up the other side on more rustic steps to a chorten at the top from where you can see the Lhakang (temple).

Just the usual traffic-jam on the way to tsechu!

How cute is this kid?! Remy loves wearing his gho now to all the tshechus as he can fill the 'hemcho' pouch with toys and snacks.
Remy checks out some 'tsa tsas' in a rock crevice on the walk up.

As this was a local tshechu, as soon as we arrived we saw all the friends and children we know, and without a doubt, this made the event so much more special. While Bob chatted with a mate of his, Xavier and Remy and I went to see what was happening inside the Lhakang walls. Eager children approached us, and within minutes we had been invited to join the family of some girls in my UNESCO club for tea and biscuits inside a large prayer wheel enclosure.

Greeted by lots of our little friends as we arrived.

With Karma.

Afterwards we went to find Bob. I asked some children 'Have you seen Mr Bob?' - one reply was that he was gambling at one of the 'try your luck' tents, but it turned out he and his friend were having a nice catch up over momos in a little restaurant hut. Sitting at the next table was our monk teacher from school and a friend of his who is a monk at the monastery behind our house. I joined them for momos and a little Dzongkha lesson. I had told the boys that Prakar Tshechu would be our last tshechu for the year, but the monk from Chumey Pong let me know that according to the wishes of the lama at his monastery, a short one or two day tshechu will be held soon (and he'll make sure I know when). That's exciting because it is the only Chumey tshechu and we really will know everyone there.

Although cool in the afternoon, the day was gloriously sunny, and the setting of Prakar tshechu is stunning - surrounded by grass and weathered little temples, and a backdrop on all sides of pine-covered mountains, it was an afternoon to settle in and lose myself in the atmosphere and chat with little friends. At the end of the day, I didn't rule out returning for the final day on Monday, but wasn't sure how we'd get there....

Dancers rush into crowd in a frenzy of drumming and dong everyone on the head as a blessing (this happens over and over through afternoon!)


How beautiful are Kuenzang and Tshomo?

Remy's having a lovely time playing with his friends.

A friend of Remy's from day-care.


I was so impressed when Phuntsho from my class introduced me to her friend in Class 2 at a nearby school. Her friend couldn't speak or understand English, while Phuntsho is so confident now.

Can't say no to an offer of a bowl of ara!

How blue is the late afternoon sky. What a great day.

Early Sunday morning, as I had just put a bowl of wholemeal fruit bread dough out to rise in our sunny spare room, my friend Ms Lekden, a Dzongkha teacher at school called to invite us to go with her family to the final day of the Tshechu.

Bob and the boys were all tshechued out, but I had one more day in me, so I said yes, and gave hasty instructions to Bob to finish off baking the bread.

Ms Lekden has two sons about the same ages as Xavier and Remy and has recently had a little daughter. It was lovely to be invited to go with her family and I had such a lovely day. This time I didn't spend the day watching the dancing, but rather sitting around chatting  (and eating and drinking) with Ms Lekden and her family and other teachers and children from school. Later in the day Kimi, a Japanese volunteer who lives in Thimphu arrived and it was nice to catch up with her (after having met a few times already this year).

With little baby Sonam.

As usual I have intense kira-envy!

A big friendly picnic - rice, a few types of ema-datsi, kewa datsi and various chilli-meat dishes - everyone shares whatever they've brought around the crowd.

So different to an Australian picnic, but the feeling is the same.

Little Kuenzang has mastered English and is now moving on to Japanese (seriously!)


I had an awesome day - one where I could really appreciate how I have made friends and become part of this community. I feel sad already knowing we are leaving this peaceful life and these friends behind soon...

And a little anecdote from Remy today: When I told him tonight we might not have many more tshechus to go to he looked a bit surprised. I explained that we don't have tshechus in Australia, so once we leave, that's it. He looked at me as if to say 'No tshechus in Australia? What do they do there for fun?'

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