Tuesday, January 30, 2007

13 minutes

That's how long it's taken me to sign on to Google mail, on to Blogspot and then to navigate to the page where I can compose new messages. Obviously, I'm on a dial-up account, which is all they've got here in Nepal. Fortunately I've found an internet cafe that has it's own generator, otherwise I wouldn't be able to use the computer at all.

Soon as I arrived and checked in to the guest house, I ordered a bite and settled down to lunch with the local newspaper, where I learned form a front page story that Nepal is expected to experience a severe power shortage this year. The government expects 6 hour power blackouts daily beginning in mid-February. I later found out that the blackouts have in fact already started, daily for 3 hours from 5-8pm. The guest house has solar generators to handle its water heaters, so I was able to have a shower last night. I think it was perhaps the first time I've ever had one by candlelight. I suppose we'll all adjust by getting up early to take advantage of as much sunlight as possible.

My first day of school was rather unremarkable, I suppose, except for having the chance to meet Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, the 14-year reincarnation of the master who founded the monastery where I'm studying. He was in town today and holding audience, so the woman who has been my contact at the school arranged for some of the foreigners to meet him and receive his blessing.

The morning is spent drawing. They do things the old fashioned way here, drawing on slate boards covered with yak butter. The butter is dusted with powdered limestone to keep the surface dry and you draw in the butter with a stylus, either made from plastic or in my case whittled from bamboo. If you make a mistake, you just pat the butter, dab it with a little dust, and redraw.

In the afternoon we work with colors. Some of the more advanced students are working on full-size paintings on canvas, while the rest of the beginners work on paper.

I spent the day drawing and painting leaves, and not doing such a great job of it. But after doing it for most of the day there was one small break through moment, where without thinking about it my hand was able to reproduce in the minimum number of strokes possible a leaf that looked fairly close to the model. The excitement of that accomplishment, though, ruined successful endeavors as I was from then on conscious of my hand movements.

I haven't yet taken any photos at school. It was just the first day and I didn't want to start snapping away before I have a chance to meet most people and let them feel comfortable around me. Displaying photos here my be problematic given the slow internet connection, but I'll see what I can manage.

Until next time . . .



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