A place with roses and frost in the morning, sun not over the mountains yet –
rolling roads, where three new paths have been made because
cars just aren’t meant to be here
and there are bulls that stare at you
and dogs bigger than any you’ve seen here
so much milk tea that it makes your stomach ache
with the love from Bhutanese families who invite you into their home so you can ask them personal questions
whereas Americans feel affronted by the census
you know – privacy.
Tang feels like the dust and grass of Ugyen Choling,
the farmer who speaks Dzongkha, not English (of course), but who wants you to come back when you are happily married
and when you have a good job, to stay at his farmhouse
just to stay
he fed us tai-tai, fresh rice puffs from the tsechu
and heated them on his wood stove, which he offered because we were standing in the cold.
Tang feels like the village next to Laphang Community Forest
where the old woman pours buckwheat onto the red mat and whistles
do you know why? Hemanta asks, having wandered around the house, attracted by the sound.
She is calling the wind. She is calling the wind to dry her buckwheat.
This village is precarious, falling off the ridge into the valleys on either side
up on the top we had lunch – buckwheat pancakes with strawberry jam made here,
an egg, a boiled potato, vegetable curry, and mango juice that comes from The South…
This valley feels like crawling into a sleeping bag at night, when a room feels as cold as outside
and you drink Druk 11000, curled next to the woodstove that the man – brother, as Hemanta calls him –
whose smile lights up Bumthang, has just lit for us.
It feels like sore hips from sitting cross-legged on woven mats all day
listening to Brad ask about ecological knowledge
– they laugh about stinging nettle and never know maple –
and Chrisna speaks in Dzongkha and Nepali to old ladies who offer us ara at nine in the morning
nami sami kadrinchela, but no I’m not going to drink right now
and the babies we play with and the pears we are offered
and giving gifts with both hands and smiling at old women who are beaming at me
and knowing I know nothing about her, but what does she think of me?
She must know something good, to be so kind.
But maybe she just likes that I am here, and likes seeing my face
I sure like seeing her face, and watching the prayer beads glide through her fingers
as she answers my questions in Bumthap, giving me the gift of her life and experience through an interview that is poorly designed, in the grand scheme of things
– why am I not just asking about her life?
Tang is a place I want to be,
yes, I will stay with you during the winter when there is not much to do in the fields
and eat tai-tai and try to learn Dzongkha while I might teach you a little English
and your wife will come back from Thimphu so you are not so lonely and maybe some of your six children will visit.
Perhaps I will learn Dzongkha just so I can walk across the valley
and up the hill
and ask that lady to teach me how to call the wind.