Sunday, May 18, 2014

Matalungchu Beyond My Expectation

Matalungchu is a village above my school, hidden behind the ridge on which Bajo Lhakhang stands. All I have seen in the last many years was that Lhakhang and beyond that is just an imaginary village I have never been to. This weekend School Museum Club members persuaded me to take them on the long promised village tour and we took the journey into the imaginary village.
The Team Musuem
I packed two bananas and a bottle of water for the journey which I assumed to be just as far as behind the Lhakhang but when we reached the top of the ridge I couldn't believe that a whole world lies beyond that tiny hill. My imagination had been betraying me for many years, there is no village behind the lhakhang. The village is across the endless paddies. The village is not small.
Waiting under the only tree in sight!
The landscape is the best geographical art I have seen in Bhutan, with occasional and unusual plateaus rising from the plains of paddies. I wished I could own one of them and build a small cottage on it. But I also noticed that there were no trees as far as the eyes could reach, the farmland has driven the treeline away on to the hills, otherwise it was a dreamland.
From one part of the Village to another...
My team was on the mission to collect rural everyday items for our school museum. I have instructed my children to let the villagers understand what we are after and why we are collecting those items, I also told them not to accept any antiques or expensive items (in case some people turned out to be very kind). So we structured our language this way,
"... we are starting a museum in our school which we intend to create like a typical rural home, for that we need everyday items that were used by our ancestors in the villages, if you have any of those old things that are no more used, please donate to our school..."
The first house which stood all by itself was a bit shocked because two boys rushed in and began asking for old items, but when the woman saw the whole team outside she gave away a plough, and two other bamboo items. We refined our approach and our language, I tested the team leaders on their approach and we even made it a team challenge. By the time we reach the cluster of gigantic houses we were joined by folks themselves, they recommended us places to go and some led us to their own places. We were treated with fresh peaches. A woman patiently demonstrated how traditional weighing scale is used.
Aum Chimi Dem showing my children how many Sangs make up a kg
The villagers agreed that much of what we are seeking have disappeared even from the villages and therefore they complimented our effort in trying to preserve it somewhere for the future to witness.

We lunched at newly renovated Matacungchu Lhakhang, where my children offered me lunch by collecting a spoon each from every tiffin- it turned out that the man who didn't bring packed lunch got the most to eat. An ex student who lives there brought me a cup of hot suja and zaw. With the new energy we headed further into the village. The houses were massive three storeyed structures with aristocratic ancient designs surrounded by unbelievably clean campus- it was nothing like the villages I have known so far.
Truly a Bhutanese Village
As I sat in the middle of the village minding the already collected items I couldn't hold my smile at the sight of my children coming with amazing artifacts from all directions. They were even more excited and encouraged that we extended our journey further across to another part of the village. The village seemed endless but my children won't agree to return after having come so far.
Novin and Leki Wishing if they could take one because we couldn't get one of these.
It was 5pm by the time we could convince ourselves to call it a day and then we realized that we have collected more than we could carry. We adjusted small items into biggers ones and made one load for each one of us, they gave a wooden waa for my shoulder. By my calculation we were at least few hours away from the school and if we had to walk all the way with the load we won't be home for dinner. So I started making calls with my almost dying phone, if someone didn't respond within a few minutes my cell battery would be dead and we would be on our own. But my friend Tandin Tshewang responded promptly and rescued us.
Celebration in my heart!
This first successful and enriching excursion gave birth to our plan of visiting Rinchengang, Wanjokha and Ninzigang over the months. And for the record this time we have collected 53 artifacts from 18 households.

And that is me posing with a jasum and jazi

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