Daily Life

Trip Start Jan 11, 2006
Trip End Jan 10, 2007

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Flag of India  ,
Monday, August 21, 2006

The day breaks at 6am to the sound of a gong. Like a good snooze alarm clock, the gong rings once the first minute. A few minutes later it rings again. After 15 minutes it rings incessantly for 30 seconds- enough to wake even the deepest sleeper. I usually get up, meditate for 20-30 minutes and then make myself a cup of tea. Class doesn't start until 9:30 and between 7 o'clock and then I usually do some combination of the following: cook breakfast, wash the dishes, wash my clothes by hand, sweep the floor, make my bed, plan the day's lessons, read a book, write a letter. It mostly depends on how groggy I am and what I feel my brain can handle at the time. At 8:00 a herd of buffalo slosh through the mud outside my window, at the same time every day. I usually wait until the afternoon to shower, because there is no hot water, but at least by then the pipes have warmed up a bit.

At 9:30 I head to class. At 11:30 I share the monastery food with some of my students, who each give me a bit of their rice and vegetables so that I may have a full meal. My bowl and cup are closely monitored, and I am quickly asked if I would like more if I stop eating for even a moment. Everything is given to me using two hands- a sign of respect.

Throughout the day sounds of chanting can be heard monastery wide, in the morning, in the evening, from rooftops, from the mango groves.

At 12:00 I head back to the classroom. Usually I will spot one of my students, about an eighth of a mile away, stopped on the side of the road. He is waiting for me to pass- another sign of respect. As I leave my shoes outside the door I am handed a pair of slippers to wear inside the classroom. (They are brown with cream stripes. Each has a penguin embroidered on the front- one with an "N" on its tummy, the other, being a mirror image of the first, with a backwards "N". I think they are ridiculous to wear as it is often so hot in the room anyhow, but if I take them off, even for a moment, someone inevitable shouts out, "But Teacher will get cold!") At the end of class, many of the students say "thank you", again and again, every day. I could not ask for a more appreciative student body.

By 3:30 my English classes are over and if I have time I will practice Tibetan with my friend. Usually I stop at the market on the way home, cooking, eating, and cleaning up dinner by 7pm. From 7-12 all is fair game- hanging out with Namgi, writing a postcard, studying Tibetan, planning future classes, reading a book. I rarely leave the monastery- the nearest town is a 35 minute walk, the nearest city a 2 hour jeep ride.

And that's my day, for those of you who were curious enough to ask.
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