Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Time heals all wounds"--but not those caused by spicy food!


The longer we have been here the more I found myself thinking about our role within the larger RTC community, and also the role we as a group play in the future of this program.  

One of the first things I was struck by when we arrived was how large and how beautiful the campus at RTC is.  The college is only three years old, and I did not expect they would have come as far in their infrastructure as they have in such a short time.  And the improvements have been visible even in our time here—a new auditorium (said to be the nicest in all of Bhutan) was inaugurated in our first two months, and a new "Executive Centre" has gone from merely a concrete foundation to a large building in the same amount of time.  Given what we are seeing, and the point in the college's history, it is funny to think of what it might be like to visit RTC a few decades down the road—I can only imagine the college will become.

I have also been thinking about what it means to be in a place for four months.  Depending on who is asking you, “How long are you in Bhutan?” four months is either received as, “Wow, that’s great!  So much time!” or, “Wow, so short!”  It is certainly a much longer time than a tourist would be here for, but also much less time than the people we meet whose time in Bhutan can be measured in years (in a few cases decades) as they work on various projects or become plugged into different sectors of Bhutanese society. 

Just yesterday my roommate asked me a question to which I responded “No problem” and automatically tilted my head sideways, which is an Indian and Bhutanese characteristic that I caught myself doing on the basis of instinct.  I laughed out loud and said, “It looks like I will be fully adjusted to Bhutan just in time to leave.”  This is largely true—if you are as here for as long as we are, you really become comfortable and feel a part of things, but cannot go much deeper than that the true feeling of belonging one develops.

But let me qualify the “sense of belonging” with one critical caveat.  I could probably live here for decades, centuries, or millennia and to the day I die still not be used to how ungodly spicy the food is!  I am a total wimp in this respect—even “spicy” by US standards—and what we can consider spicy in the US does not even register as remotely hot here.  The level of spiciness they use here is roughly on par with what I think should be considered biological warfare, and while some in the group have done quite well adjusting to it, I have learned to be good friends with plain white rice as often as needed to avoid spicy food!

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