After watching invigorating archery and giant dart matches in which men sang and danced after each series of successful trails, I proceeded to the Memorial Chorten and walked around its white dome until I got to a small enclosed meditation hall where a monk was carefully placing food offerings in front of an alter. I sat quietly in the back and looked at the beautiful hard wood floor, the statues of the Buddha and the traditional instruments set around the room.
One of the wonderful things about Bhutan is that most people can speak very good English. This sometimes feels unreal. This morning I was walking around the weekend market and decided to have a meal of fried red rice there. The old Bhutanese man who worked at the small cafe spoke excellent English. Sometimes it feels like I am living in a dubbed documentary about Asia! The Bhutanese I have met so far are invariably polite and courteous. Combined with the amazing mountain scenery and the wonderful way time stretches here (especially since I have not had Internet here for the past few days), there is a feeling of magic that I try not to get to excited about lest it is disrupted by a jealous twist of fate!
Once the monk had finished setting up the offerings. He came and sat besides me. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Canada”, I said and smiled, happy at this wonderful opportunity to talk with him. We talked a little bit about the length of my stay in Bhutan, what I was doing back home and his life in the monastery. To my surprise, he pulled out a smart phone and showed me Canada on Google Earth. He told me about cranes who fly to his village every year from Tibet and stay there for the winter. He showed me their pictures. They were majestic beautiful birds.
Next, he asked me of a good program for translation to which I responded by showing him Google Translate. He wanted to translate something a friend had written him on Facebook. Before I knew it we were Facebook friends and he invited me to his Monastery which is about 8 kilometres north of Thimphu. He kindly offered me some tasty milk tea and as we sat there sipping tea and eating rice puffs, an older monk entered with a child on his back. My friend told me that he was a senior meditating monk. This was hard to believe as he put down the child and proceeded to play with him in a carefree and fun manner, giving him the ancient looking instruments to play with and teasing him with a loud brass instrument. I loved his fresh, childlike presence. After tea, I said goodbye to my new found friend and walked back to my apartment.