Today I walked to town for the first time. I felt something brush up against my leg. Just a stray, no biggie. He stopped in front of me, and I passed him. Again, he brushed my leg as he zipped past. Funny little games these mutts play here, and this guy was particularly spunky. He crossed the road and began to bark. It was like a chain reaction. I felt like I was watching 101 Dalmatians. “Sound the alarm!” Dogs ran out from the all the buildings and hopped into their packs; big ones, small ones, long-haired, short, ones you may pet, and some you would cross the street to walk around. You can’t help but wonder how the heck all these breeds got up here into the Himalayas. And there use to be more. I heard that a while back, a truck came and rounded a bunch up, throwing them into a ditch so as not to directly kill the dogs. After all, Buddhist culture does not believe in killing. Apparently this was very controversial here, as many people love animals.
After some shopping and lunch, my roommate and I walked home by the events center. We had heard about a pool and were particularly curious to see what it was all about. As we arrived, we had no idea where to go, so we stopped and asked some guys. It went like this:
“Do you know where the pool is?”
“Hmmm. Oh the swimming pool, it is closed.”
“When will it open?”
“Is it warm?”
“Yes, pretty warm.”
“Do many people swim?”
“No not really.”
“Well, looks like we may be some of the few.”
“We will come watch.”
I am still trying to get use to people watching me and I hope it will lessen as I am here longer. I am the blond that runs here. It’s a rare sight. The children run up to me in the streets. “Ma’am. Do you have a man? Where are you from? Do you know it is Losar today? This is my sister cousin. Will you be our big sister?” You can’t help but smile and answer the rapid fire questions, especially because most of the children are lugging around a mini version of themselves who is likely a cousin or friend, but always a “sister”. My favorite thing about the children are the rosy cheeks, stung by the cold and kissed by the sun. This alone, makes you want to gobble them up.
Today was also a big basketball tournament that had been in the paper every day this week. K4 (the fourth king) really enjoys basketball, and now it is big here. We were in for treat!! It drew a crowd! A small crowd, but a crowd none the less, and possibly a large one by Bhutanese standards.
At half court, a large picture of the king hung on the wall. Around him were the banners with the teams names on them. I was particularly shocked when I saw the banner for The Unicorns. In the first match up we saw the Lakers vs. the Trans Formers (yes, two words). The refs were from the men’s national team. The teams warmed up for a total of 8 minutes and then the whistle blew to begin. Well, it blew a few times because this is Bhutan, and people are laid back and flexible about time. Several minutes into the game, a group of spectating monks entered the stands. I learned that they play only at the monastery and sometimes during half time at the tournaments. Who knew? What a day!