well here we are. and by we, i really mean I, because i think it’s very unlikely anyone is still reading this blog. but for the sake of closure, i need to write one last post. my great math teacher mr. eckart said something along the lines of “the most important things are how you begin something, and how you end something”. I’ll try to walk away from this blog with some dignity.

but alas, i am leaving tomorrow. it’s that classic mix of not wanting to leave here, but REALLY wanting to be home. just the same as before i left for india. today, thursday, is my last real day. i will say my goodbyes, pack, and mentally prepare myself for the journey home, which consists of:

One 12-15 hr taxi ride from Bir to Delhi
One 4 hour waiting period in the airport
Two flights, the first from Delhi to London, and the second from London to Boston.
One joyous ride home to shutesbury.

it’s actually not too bad, considering the taxi ride could’ve been a bus ride and a night in a sketchy hotel, and the 2 flights could’ve been three.

i had my last english class yesterday, and when it was finished the monks brought in tea and biscuits and candy for our little tea party. but when the head monk came in the room, all of the kids stopped talking and we tea partied in silence, much to my amusement.

but really, there’s not much else to tell. perhaps it wasn’t expressed well enough in this blog, but i LOVED my time here. it has changed me in ways i didn’t expect, and in ways that could not be possible anywhere else. i couldn’t be happier about being rejected from emory university. 🙂

thanks for reading.
end transmission


Evidently, i have not been writing much. this is due mainly to two reasons:
1. My interest in blog writing has waned.
2. There ain’t a whole lot to write about here.

Let me explain. Since practically 60% of the town’s population has left for Bodh Gaya (Kalachakra in Sanskrit, Dorje Den in Tibetan), i don’t do that much blog-worthy. But i’ll say what i can.

New year’s was a BLAST. my friend jigme, his cousin tashi, and their friend kunga, (all over 30 yrs.) and I (a paltry 19) drove together to dharamsala to celebrate. we stopped along the way to have a momo picnic at 9pm in the woods, and then made it there. dharamasala, is usually busy. tourists, businessmen, religious pilgrams, etc. but on new year’s it was SWAMPED. like you couldn’t see the ground because it was covered in people or broken glass. but the thing is, everyone (ok with the exception of literally 5 people), were guys. indian guys. drunk indian guys everywhere, yelling and screaming.

we went to a restaurant, someone poured beer all over me, things were crazy. but we made it back, all in one piece, at 3:40 am. nuts.

besides that, i have been much more solitary. running every other morning at 630 (my first successful resolution), prayers, meditation, tibetan conversation, english class… that’s really it. it’s the same every day, but i like it now. i don’t feel so crappy about being lonely, (i mean granted i’m coming home in 3 weeks) but actually i feel like i’ve accomplished things at the end of the day.

that’s really all i have to say. which is, in a way, kind of peaceful. i’m just here. and that’s ok.


Happy holidays from the Bir Sakya Lama Society English class! (vocalists, consider covering your ears)

So I have been quite pathetic about these blog posts lately. And I am quite aware of it. So, until I can summon the energy to write something worth reading, let me whet your appetite with some photos instead. Enjoy.

Norbulingkha is the Tibetan government’s designated grounds for the development of Tibetan arts and crafts. It’s part garden, part institute, and entirely beautiful. Here is a view of the bridge at the central pool

And from the other side

One of the awesome gutter spouts:

A woodcarver hard at work:

One of his carvings:

Sadly, I really couldn’t get that many photos of the art. Everything that is completed goes to the luxurious store, where photography is prohibited. Wahhhhhh.

Aaaanywho, there was also a creepy puppet museum showing various parts of Tibetan life in the past. Not that great, but this creepy Milarepa is worth seeing:

In the main temple of Norbulingkha, there is nothing but this giant Buddha:

And a lot of wall paintings:

The following weekend, I went to Sherap Ling Monastery’s cham or Lama Dance. It was INCREDIBLE. An enormous room filled with so many Tibetans, and a 9am to 4pm program 9 (sitting on the ground) that blew my mind. Stay tuned for video.
Here is one of the dancers in costume:

And another deity. I don’t entirely understand the symbolism behind the cham, but most are done for purification and good luck.

One of the monks caught in pose:

A really confusing but nonetheless beautiful procession of an old man costume and a peacock.

So the quality is funky, and these photos really don’t do the cham justice. when I have some internet that approaches fast, I will upload the video that I have.

For those of you who have some interest in this blog, I apologize for the inconsistency. i suppose I am a little busy living or something. For those of you who have no interest in this blog, i suggest you stop reading it and go hug your mother, because i sure wish i could.


p.s., english class is going well:

I told myself and others that I was going to india to work in a health clinic and travel around. This is not the case. Let me elaborate.

I rarely leave Bir. And i haven’t been to clinic in two months except to receive treatment for a nasty cold. So really, I tell myself, I am living in India.

My teaching has become quite relaxed and natural, and I usually feel successful at the end of the day. I have to be reasonable: I’m only 18 and not qualified, with no materials, some Tibetan and almost nil Hindi. But without me, they literally would have no instruction. This really motivates me to do the absolute best I can, and in fact today, one monk told me in Tibetan that he didn’t like to study English before, but he does now. These monks are so kind and affectionate, and I reason this is because physical contact with girls, and more importantly, mothers, is totally absent. These monks hang on each other at any chance they can, and their friendships seem to be much warmer. Here are some photos I have taken in and around the classroom and monastery. Enjoy.


Monks chillin


Dorje and Suraj, two of the best students in the class, and I monks whose name I don’t know.


Construction on the school building that will add one classroom. Future plans are to build a second floor to house the young monks’ dormitories.


Front of the shrine room


Monks copying from the board


Look how well and big Yuki is!


A stupa near Choling monastery


The monks’ bikes at Choling monastery



ground painting with patricia’s family for Diwali!

Patricia’s host family’s grandfather… 85 years old and still cutting grass every day

patricia’s host family: 3 daughters, one aunt and one cousin singing late at night:

front of nyingma monastery

midhun, one of the servant / foster children of my Tibetan family:

Sanjay, the other boy:

looking towards the center of town. and this is the main road for two way traffic, people, dogs, and donkeys:

tsewang, my host father:

sonam, my wonderful host mother:

amnyey (grandpa) with a big ol’ plate of rice and sapshi (mixed veggies):

one of the semi stray dogs i befriended. i’ve noticed these pups are so starved for attention, it takes so little to make them happy. they’ll even hang around and bark at seedy passersby:

and finally, me dressed up as a zombie for a halloween party. happy late halloween!


So. Here I am in Spero’s house typing another blog. there’s a lot that’s been happening lately, and i’m not even going to talk about Diwali (big ol’ holiday), but I will make an additional photo only post if that’s what you’re interested in.

Ok. Here goes. I am now the head English teacher for all classes at the Bir Sakya Lama Society, in Sakya Monastary.

uh what?

really i’m still only just getting used to that idea. i don’t mean to make it sound so grandiose, but it’s just really friggin scary. my host father tsewang knows the head lama well, and it turns out they simply didn’t have an english teacher. the last one was there about half a year ago, so these 28 monks, aged probably 8-17, are just copying out of these outdated books. One of them was in italian.

BUT, I did it, I went to the monastery at 9am for tea, and then began the lesson at 930. The lessons goes from 930-12 with 30 min tea break, and then 2-5 with 30 min tea break.

I mostly tried to find things they hadn’t learned yet to get a sense of where they all were. but what i realized, is that I could only go stand in front of these 28 kids and mangle tibetan and maintain order because i realized this was capoeira. for those of you who don’t know, I practice do capoeira. google it.

but seriously, the time i spent teaching class when my instructor was away suddenly manifested when I looked at all these little shaved heads. Suddenly warm ups and stretches were greeting the class and creating dialogue. partner movements became partner dialogues, and teaching new kicks and acrobatics turned into conditional clauses and tag questions.

It was tough, not everyone got it, but the spark in a child’s eye from learning is really amazing. i really owe it to you, Joe.

so that’s that. seriously, i’m working on making these shorter. really.


p.s., baby named Rapka!