Silk. Cotton. Wool. Women with fingers faster than the eye can catch. Prices that could make you cry and then make you rethink your last years of college payments. Patterns both fine and intricate while colorful and vibrant. And don’t forget the adoring fans back at home who cannot live without several pounds of it. Yes, I am talking about fabric, but not just any fabric. I am talking about Bhutanese, hand woven, (preferably from Trashigang) fabric. These fabrics in Bhutan are considered hand woven, vegetable-dyed rainbows. And this, my friend, is how we have broken the bank, ran the financial rivers dry, and scrapped the bottom of the money barrel.
It is no secret that this group of student seems to be burning through the greenback at a much more rapid speed than our predecessors, and it should be known why. It has often been said that our group was woefully underprepared for our stay here, more so than the last group BECAUSE we thought we were prepared. Little did we know just how wrong we were…. We were not told that before 1 PM in order to not offend our hostess we would have to drink six cups of Ara. We were not told about the foul and persnickety nature of the weather in Thimphu. And we were not properly warned about the fabrics.
Have you ever seen a puppy open its eyes for the first time? It stumbles around, yipping at the bright and dark objects, licking some, and simply staring at others. The little puppy is simply dumbfounded. Now imagine us as those little puppies at the fabric markets in Trashigang, or in the open markets of Thimphu and Bumthang.
If you can imagine that, imagine one student (Marijose) dragging another (myself) around by a piece of fabric while they bickered openly – and loudly - over who would get to buy it.
For all of the mothers and fathers who occasionally read this blog, please understand. Vegetable dyed rainbows! When we arrive home broke, loaded down with not our clothes, not our toothbrushes and toothpaste, not our socks or shoes, but loads of brightly colored goodies, please realize that we were those baby puppies. (And keep that image close when you see our bank statements)