Wednesday, August 31, 2011

People, People, Holy People

In the morning, Martin picked me up to teach English again in the local Monastery.  We walked up the beautifully decorated stairway to the Meditation room.  Tibetan decorations consist of many bright colors and icons.  In the meditation room, the kids sat on long strips of carpet decorated with dragons and symbols.  Today, all of the kids were surprisingly focused.  Martin said that today we would let the young monks paint.  Like in the U.S.A, I could tell a big difference between the kids who had previous training and kids who had never painted before.  Some kids drew sloppy Tibetan men and women, or the sun, but others drew beautiful flowers with perfect color composition, and eagles with perfectly sketched wings.  Like yesterday, I had lunch with the monks.  Lunch consisted of potatoes, rice, noodles, and cabbage.  The food was relatively good, and I left with a full belly. 

I returned to the clinic to find a note from my mom and dad saying that they had gone on a hike and that they would be back at 4:00 PM.  While they were gone, I was to do one and a half lessons of math and 60 pages of reading.  I am currently reading a fantasy, called The Sea of Trolls, that enthralls me with it’s battles with dragons and it’s superb vocabulary. 

While I was working, a big white mini van pulled up into the drive way.  Suddenly commotion burst out outside of the clinic.  Lee and his crew had arrived...  I held my breath from fear when the huge group stormed into the clinic.  The gang had arrived for the health festival.  Also, Dawn, Drolma, and Phunsok arrived from their journey to recruit CHWs.  Once everybody had settled down, we had a big dinner of peppers and many other delicious foods. 

After dinner we Skyped with my dad’s mom.  She is a dog breeder and her champion dog is pregnant!  Congratulations GrandmaLish!  She also told me that a group of school kids my age are reading my blog in St Petersburg, Florida.  I am super excited that you guys are reading!  I look forward to your comments.


Thank you for reading Rohan geographic!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Math For Rohan in Surmang

Big Surprise, Lee and his crew are arriving not today, but tomorrow!  I had another day of work on my hands, and, to be straight forward, I did nothing but work the entire day:  I wrote and published yesterday's blog, did one and a half lessons of math, 150 pages of reading, wrote this blog (today's), and my word of the day!  My parents and Wambao drew a Tibetan Auspicious Sign on the wall that you first see when you enter the clinic.  The Tibetan script means "Tashi Delek" which translates into English as "Good Fortune".   They drew this mural to welcome all the attendants of the Health Festival that will be starting next week.  Well, I had on of my worst days on the trip, but I am pretty sure my Parents had a fun time...
My dad and Wambao

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!   

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Busy Day

Today, we happily slept in until 9:00, and ate a filling breakfast of eggs and potatoes.  My dad burned the eggs, but they still tasted good.  The day ahead involved teaching the monks English, playing soccer, helping getting ready for the festival, a math test, and a party.

Teaching the young monks with Martin was fun, but they were super hard to teach.  Like last time, they were rough housing, or not paying attention, through the whole class.  They were lying down on the traditional dragon carpets, and some of them actually fell asleep.  We started the class with meditation, though that took too much focus for most kids.  After the lesson, he kids invited us for lunch, and I was lead into a smokey room with a pot of potatoes and noodles.  I took a bowl full, and sat with Martin and the other monks on the steps of the monastery.  I loved the food and was impressed with the kindness of the young monks to invite me for lunch.

After teaching, I came home to read my book.  It was a sunny, bright day and more young monks were playing soccer outside.  My super mom sent me outside to play.  The game was fun and I kicked butts.  I scored 4 or 5 goals, against the four players on the opposite team.  Alas, towards the end of the game, I slipped and hit my head hard and came home dizzy. 

When I came home from playing soccer, we took time to prepare for the festival.  Mom and Dad were cutting grass to form paths, and at the end of the paths, Tibetans were setting up tents.  The rest of the gang were moving beds into the tents.  One Tibetan lady, Atchey, was sprinkling water on to the dirt floor, we think to get rid of the dust and make it easier to sweep.  We caught wind that Lee and his crew are arriving tomorrow!  They were supposed to come two days later, and this is a big change for all of us. 

Tent Being Set Up with Beds

When I had finished helping out in the clinic it was time to go on to real work.  I had my fourth math test of the season.  My dad told me that if I completed my math test, above 90%, I would be allowed Infinity Blade In the middle of the sunny day.  Well....I scored 95% on my test!

When evening came, we had a party celebrating our last night as a small group. 
Attending the party were Wambao, Droga, Martin, Atchey and Ocho, and the toddlers: Drolma Laka and Tensing Chudren.  Missing were Pansi, who was with her sister who just gave birth, and Drolma and Dawn, who were away recruiting CHWs.  We all sang songs from all of our different cultures.  I played my first guitar song in public, “Helpless.”    Because of my great test, we watched TRON Legacy after the party. 

Dinner Party
Droma Laka and Tensing Chudren
Watching Droga, Wamboa, and Ocho doing Tibetan Dance

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!           


Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Sky Burial

This morning, we had scrambled eggs, mixed with potatoes.  This was new to many of the Tibetans.  We decided to have eggs this morning because the Tibetan diet does not have much protein.  Their main source of protein is yak meat, but we’re not eating meat here.  We have seen skinned yak meat hanging out in the sun with flies buzzing all around it, and I am sad for all the dead yaks. 

Also this morning Dawn, Drolma, and Phunsok left.  They are going to a town near Jeigu to recruit and train new CHWs (community health workers.)  We are savoring time at the clinic with few people.  Left here at the clinic are Wamboa, Drogra, Mom, Dad and I.  The day after Dawn, Drolma, and Phunsok come back (Wednesday), ten more people are coming to get ready for the Health Festival that begins on September 6th.  The ten new arrivals include Lee, his assistant, BeiBei, a film crew, an architect, and some public health professionals.  

Later in the day, Suna Ladja, the young monk who, the other day was learning English and examining our guitars, arrived at the clinic.  He came in to get some eye drops for his eye.  After he got his eye drops, he and I went outside to play basketball.  I taught him some English like “so close” and “good.”

Mom and I then went for hike up a stream drainage while dad went for a run up the road.  On our hike we saw many beautiful flowers.  We hiked up along a stream one valley over from the Retreat Center.  We crossed into the valley of the Center directly beneath it.  Below our crossing was another spiritual spot for the Buddhists.  It is called a Sky Burial, and it’s purpose is to dispose of the body of a person after he dies.  This is a platform where the Monks cut the body into chunks and leave the chunks for the birds.  This is a way of giving back to life.  You see, the human dies and the birds find life in the dead body.

Inscriptions on a Stone
A Bad Cut on My Hand

My Lovely Mom
The Sky Burial Site

We ended our hike right smack in the middle of the Stupa.  We walked home just in time for dinner.  We filled our bellies, and are now enjoying our relaxing evening. Martin just came over and we are going to watch a movie.  Harrison Ford, my favorite!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!  `                           

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Day at Our Relaxing Clinic

This morning, I had a little bit of math to do, but not much compared to the last two days.  I only had to complete one hundred pages of reading and one lesson of math.  Before doing my work, we tried Skype again.  We had a lovely video chat with Grandma Doris (Mom's mom).  Later, when we tried Grandma Lish (Dad’s mom) we could not hear each other.  In spite of having some trouble with Skyping Grandma Lish, we are all impressed with the technology of the new program.  The Tibetans, especially, are impressed with Skype.  They are not used to computers, and they love to come in and interact with the person on the other end.  They smile, wave, squeeze together in front of the camera, and laugh. 

When I had finished my math, I went outside to fly a kite with my mom and dad.  We tried, but there was no wind.  Martin came along and we all sat down on the grass and talked about boring adult things.  Finally, we played a game of two on two soccer.  The score was six  (Martin and me) to eleven (Mom and Dad).  Dad eventually said “Next goal wins!”  I shot the ball from the side right between Mom and Dad into a little corner of unblocked goal. 


After we had our play, we decided to test out our shower.  Mom and Dad brought a bucket of cold water up from the river, which we mixed together with two thermoses of hot water from the kitchen.  This we poured in the bucket connected to the shower on the roof of the shower room.  Mom and I took showers, but we ran out of water before Dad's turn.  To obtain the needed water for his shower, Dad brought up, not only one bucket of water, but two full buckets from the river.  He did this using the traditional bamboo sling.  Dad realized that bringing water up from the river is a lot of hard work.  Pansi and Ocho bring up water from the river in this manner two or three times a day!  Initially, when we mixed the hot and cold water, we discovered a leak in the shower bucket.  So, we all switched positions after every shower;  one person helped the person in the shower, the other person covered the crack in the bucket with a hand to prevent too much leakage.   

Dad, the Tibetan Lady

We were all hungry for dinner at this point, and ran into the kitchen for some good food.  We ate some doughy and delicious noodles made by Droga.  Another dinner came and went in the peaceful clinic among the beautiful, rolling hills of Tibet.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic! 


Friday, August 26, 2011

Motorbikes, the Sequel!

Today I woke up excited that my work schedule only included one hundred pages of reading and my word of the day.   Since I did not have very much work, I asked Wambao If he wanted to go for another motor bike ride.  He kindly said yes, and would go with me after some supplies arrived at the clinic.    The supplies included mattresses and comforters for people coming to the upcoming health festival. While we were waiting for Wambao, my uncle Peter Skyped us, and we introduced him to all the members of the clinic.

To pass the time waiting for the supplies, we did some more work on the shower room.  On the roof of the room there is a bucket with a hose connected to a shower head. To take a shower,  you fill the bucket with hot water and use the shower head and valve.  This has not been used for awhile, so we thought that the bucket would be filled with gross water.  Not to our surprise, in the bucket was a dead bird, mold and algae.  I came up with the idea of taping a cup to a stick and using it as a ladle to fish the dirty water out.  Soon after, the supply truck arrived, I helped unload supplies, and Wambao and I were on our way.

Our first stop was the same place where we had lunch on my last motorbike trip.  We had to get Dawn’s (the nurse health worker from Boulder) sunglasses.  She had left them there on her journey with Wambao yesterday.  After lunch, we were invited into Wambao's friend's tent.  She lives, cooks and sleeps in the tent.  All around us were his friend's yaks. We then headed into the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) only to find that we were almost out of gas.  We made it back to a neighboring village where we ran out of gas, thankfully near a mud house where we could buy an old beer bottle full of gas.  We had one problem; Wambao had already used up his cash on two sodas and a phone call.  He luckily found a five Yuan note in his back pocket, and we were saved.
Wambao's Friend
Inside the Tent
When we got home, Dad, Mom and I played guitar down by the river.  We had some monks come down and watch us play.  One young monk, named Suna Ladja, examined our iPad and guitars.  My parents had met this boy before and told me he was extremely into learning English.  For dinner tonight, the supply truck had dropped of the heavenly hot peppers.  I just had a spicy dinner of peppers and rice and am going to watch a movie with my Dad and Mom tonight.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!                   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Math Again

This morning we started our day with the Khora.  For those who do not remember, the Khora is a ritual in which one walks around a Stupa. The Stupa next to our clinic, is a row of five or six white stone monuments with Buddha inscriptions and colorful prayer flags.  We walked six times around and had a family conversation about our homesickness and taboo topics.  I would tell you more about this... but it is taboo.  After walking the Khora, I had another full load of work on my hands.  I had to complete two lessons of math, 100 pages of reading, word of the day, and organize my sleeping area. 

My parents took me to lunch at the restaurant across the road.  The restaurant is owned by the monks from the monastery.  The building has two rooms.  The first room is a dirty, unorganized, shop, selling candies, and what appears to me as junk.  The next room has tables, decorated with traditional Tibetan signs and furniture.  We sat on decorative Tibetan carpets.  We were served noodles and bread.  I found the noodles tasty and the bread interesting and cold.

View from Restaurant Door
Our Noodle Soup
Droga (foreground) and the Cook
The Kitchen
The Kitchen Shelves

Towards the end of the day, my dad tried Skype again.  This time he manged to call his mom, Grandma Lish, on her home phone.  We had a lovely conversation with my Grandma.  We then tried to connect with her computer.  We had a video connection but we could not hear anything.  By the way Grandma, in what place are the Rays in their division?

Tonight, Dad and I are going to watch some episodes of Jonny Quest.  We also will play some of my beloved game,  Infinity Blade.     

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Math for Me

Today, I had an extra amount of school work on my list.  I took few pictures today, and dedicated my day to school. 

While I was working, my mom and dad figured out how to Skype.  This was important to us because many of our close friends use Skype.  We first downloaded Skype onto the iPad, the decided to test it by Skyping Peter, Mom's brother.  The time in California (where Peter lives) was ten a’clock at night, but we did not realize this until after we Skyped him.  His gracious spouse, Tatjana, answered the call.  We were all glad that we did not wake them up.  The iPad had poor speakers, so she couldn't hear us.  So we had to download Skype again onto the laptop, and call them again.  The second time we had success, we were able to talk to Tatjana.

After my parents finished their Skype work, they journeyed off to fix the shower.  Actually, it is more like an outside shower room.  In order to bathe, we have to take a basin and dump water over ourselves, soap up, then rinse off with more water from the basin.  The floor is made out of all bricks and grass.  Before Mom and Dad cleaned the room, it was in pretty bad condition.  My parents put a handle on the door and attached clothes hangers. They also fixed the tarp on the wall, and created a path to the shower room.
The Shower Room 

Inside the Shower Room

By the time my parents finished, it was already time to settle down and write my blog.  So I did not have the greatest day, but my parents got a lot of things done.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Motorbikes and More

Today, I started to do my math when I was interrupted by a request.  Wambao wanted me to take a day trip with him on the back of his motorbike.  We had to visit a school in the far away village of Tsokie, and give the kids a basketball.  In this region, there are very few stores and resources.  We have, at the clinic, many basketballs and other sports equipment.  I was excited to ride the motorbike and give the kids something they needed.

Yaks fighting

Yak dung for fuel
A little while along our journey, we stopped for lunch at Wambao's friend's house.  They spoke only Tibetan, so I do not know her name.  She is a CHW (Community Health Worker) and works with the doctors at the clinic.  She cooked for us greens and baked fresh, delicious bread.  We ate in her Tibetan house with wooden pillars for a roof.  We sat on carpets decorated with dragons.  I loved the experience, and soon we were on our way.

We eventually made it to the school, and delivered the ball.  The kids asked us to play and we got our butts kicked.  We played half court with four players on a team.  The Tibetan kids were my age, between 10 and 13.  The kids played roughly with pushing, shoving, and many fouls.  We still had a blast.  We bought some sodas from the school store and headed home. 

On the way back to the clinic, we ran into Wanbo's friend again.  We sat by the water in a vast grass land and talked with her.  Wanbo then taught me how to ride the motor bike.  First, he had me pull a lever on the handle and push a button.  The motorbike vibrated and the engine started.  I then twisted the handle and the bike accelerated.  In order to shift gears, I pushed down on a foot lever.  The bike had four gears.  I drove the bike along the grassland over bumpy mounds of grass and dirt.  I also drove a little bit on the road.  I found it more scary driving on the deserted dirt road.  But, it was easy as there were practically no cars.  I had a blast! 

We made it home safely.  It gave me a sense of independence to have an adventure with out my parents. Back at home, Mom made me bathe and wash my hair with a basin of water in a small shack behind the clinic.   Now, I am hungry for dinner.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Go Fly a Kite

This morning I started my day with a long load of work.  I had to complete 100 pages of reading and a lesson of math.  My book is getting really good, and I am loving laying in my bed and getting lost in the story.  The story intrigues me with its mixture of fantasy, magic, and battles between trolls and humans.

I finished up my work, excited to go outside and fly my kite.  In Amsterdam, Dad bought a big sport kite and we have only used it once or twice.  We decided to take it out today because the wind was strong.  The first time we flew it we realized that the kite was dangerous.  The kite has two strings and hand holds.  By moving your hands, one can keep the kite steady or make it dive.  When the kite dives, it sometimes hits the ground.  This does not happen gently.  In Amsterdam, we flew the kite on a beach and the kite dive bombed an old lady.  Today the kite crashed hard and almost hit a couple of young monks. 

After we flew the kite, I played guitar with my dad.  We started out playing in the kitchen. The hardest part of playing for me is being watched.  When people come up to me and smile and watch me play, I feel self conscious.  I find this a challenge, to over come my fear and shyness. 

After playing guitar for a while, I went out with Martin to fly the kite again but there was no wind.  Later, Dad and I went down to the river to play more guitar.  He taught me a couple more songs.  I am chasing after Dad with my guitar playing.  I hope I get calluses some time soon. 

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!    

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Basketball Head

This morning I got up and read some of my current book,  “Sea of Trolls.”  This book is downloaded on my iPad and I miss looking at an actual book.  On the iPad, it is hard to read for a long time.  My brain gets all fuzzy and tired after several hours of looking at the screen.  With a book, one is not looking at a screen and the paper feels more soulful.  I am enjoying my current book, a fantasy about the battle between trolls and humans, and I find it very exciting.

Today, as an additional difficulty to my reading, Droga’s two year old daughter wanted to play with me.  Drolma Laka is practically obsessed with me.  She calls me her brother in Tibetan, “Aou”.  Whenever she sees me she follows me around.  Today, she came into my room with a non-inflated basketball.   She was wearing the ball on her head, and using it as a drum.  She was hilarious but it was hard to get my work done.

Drolma Laka
For the rest of the day, I played guitar.  Mom taught Drolma and me for five whole hours.  Drolma learned a Russian folk song, and I learned “Angle from Montgomery.”   We took turns practicing and learning from Mom.  We both now know six chords: A, D, E, Em, C, and G. 

Drolma Jams!
This evening, Dad and the crew, came home from their long journey.  They stocked up on produce and peppers from Jeigu Town.  The peppers in these parts taste amazing!  They are spicy, but not so spicy that you cannot taste the flavor.  I played “Yellow Submarine” and “Angel from Montgomery” for Dad.  He is impressed with my two songs, and says that we can play together.  That will be very fun! 

Tonight Pansi and Ocho baked the usual batch of delicious bread.  I have already had five pieces.  I should not have said that because dad is looking at this...

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!                      

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Day

This morning I tackled a math test directly after breakfast.  To my great surprise, I scored 95%!  The most stressful part of taking home school tests, is watching my mom or dad score my test.  At this part of the procedure I normally leave the room.  In regular school, my teacher corrects the test after I leave for the day. 

Whenever I pass a math test, I always get a special treat, thanks to an idea from my super dad.  This time, for my special treat, mom let me watch “The Dark Night” (Batman).  The joker is such a good actor!  He creeps me out even in the day! 

We did not get to see the end of the movie, because we had to go help the women at the clinic.  They were pulling weeds from the ground to clear an area for tents, in which people will be sleeping when the festival happens next month (see last blog). During a rest break, Drolma, our translator, gave me a piece of plant that one can chew as gum.  To me the gum tasted bitter and gross.  While we were weeding, Droga’s 1 year old approached some dogs.  She was wearing a pair of overhauls with an opening in the bottom area.  She squatted and pooped and the dog ate her waste.  Wow, I have never seen anything like that in the U.S.A.!  That, is the first reason you should never pet any of the dogs here!

Dogs in this area are mostly wild.  They are not feed very much, only food scraps from people’s homes and other waste products.  At night time, the dogs are very aggressive.  There are stories of the dogs surrounding and wounding people.  Yesterday a man came to the clinic with a bad dog bite on his arm.  Only one word to say about that:  ouch!   

This evening, Pansi and Ocho, the housekeepers, made a new batch of bread.  We also received some yak yogurt from one of Phunsuk’s relatives.  Tibetans have an interesting custom of how to eat yogurt.  They tilt the bowl and lick the yogurt from the from the far side of the bowl. 

Tonight mom and I are going to finish “The Dark Night.”   

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!