- The waterfall had many clear pools amid the boulders and a great many places to sit. I might not have gone to the top if it weren't for the mighty roar of the largest column of falling water. Yet the sound promised natural beauty of the purest sort, such as is found all throughout the Himalayas. This waterfall is nestled between two green hills. It is long and narrow. Its origin is high out of man's reach. Its water falls in white sheets. Its roar is the only sound. We took to the hill, admiring its excellent and clean beauty. It looked like the perfect place to sit in peace. But this was not so. For it was home to a hundred bathing Indian men, and they were all too pleased by the sight of six girls.
- The other day I was walking at the kora and, stopping midway to read, encountered a bearded monk who gave me an old Tibetan book, which he insisted I keep. The writer had been a fine-fingered man who was also likely a monk. The 44 beautiful pages were unbound, their dyed crimson edges exposed on every side, and the pages were an old, stained orange. There were prayers, perfectly formed in Tibetan script, hand-lettered with ebony ink that had smeared in some places, and the whole volume, with its worn corners and small holes from stray incense offerings, seemed to express the religious devotion of a devout community. I brought it to my host family and, while we were entertaining a friend of mine, listened to the title read aloud: "[Insert Tibetan script here]." (I don't know how to type Tibetan script, sorry!)
- It happened at the kora, a holy place for Tibetan Buddhists. I was sitting at the covered pavilion, which is at the halfway point of the path across from the prayer flag garden and the temple's back steps. The monastery entrances are on either side. The pavilion was build for the tired Buddhists to rest before ascending the steep hill to the temple gate. It is not private, but quiet enough. The other benches, set up on the steep hill, are less desirable; cold metal, inadequate roofs, and high traffic. On that day I looked up to see, walking toward me, a man, a Buddhist monk, who had an unshaven head. He was younger than many, perhaps forty, though unorthodox, with long hair and a beard. He was tall, and he was wearing the normal maroon robes that adorn all Tibetan monks. The thing he had in his hand was a find book, old and edged with crimson dye, recalling the treasures displayed in museums. Its shape was long and narrow, its words were perfectly etched in ebony ink, and there was something sacred about its careful preservation, something rarely given to a stranger.
- When I decided to teach English abroad, I thought that teacher training would cross cultures without trouble. I know now that teaching changes with every class; it turns out that Tibetan classes vary as much from each other as they do from their American counterparts.
16 June 2011
These are some short passages I wrote for my travel writing class: