Friday, March 26, 2010

Snakes, Spiders and Other Stories

When my landlord was here on the weekend, he mentioned that the reason there are heavy screens on the downstairs windows is because last summer they found a cobra in the kitchen. With the screens, and a strip at the bottom of the door, there shouldn’t be any more cobras in the kitchen. Apparently they are out there though.

The very next day, a student spoke at morning assembly about what to do in case of a snake bite. There were five tips, including “Don’t drink alcohol”, but the main one was “Go to hospital”. Luckily we have a hospital just down the hill.

Then today at “interval” (recess), suddenly there were a lot of screaming kids. A snake had been seen. One of the little girls said it was long and green. I didn’t see it, and no one seemed concerned afterwards.

Then just now I saw a small cockroach in the kitchen. I didn’t know we had those here. That didn’t worry me much, but then a few seconds later, I saw a spider with about a six inch leg span, climbing up the kitchen wall. It looked kind of nasty, but I tried to do the Buddhist thing of just escorting it outside. I also couldn’t bare the thought of all those guts on my kitchen wall if I squashed it. I opened a window (one without a screen), and tried to lure the spider onto a broom to toss it out the window. I was afraid, because I don’t know the habits of these spiders. It looked like it might be the type that could lunge straight for my jugular. Anyway, it didn’t go for the broom lure, and instead scurried off somewhere in my kitchen. It is lurking there now, waiting for me.

Actually, perhaps I should welcome that spider, because flies are becoming somewhat of an issue with the warmer weather here. Fly strips and fly swatters are unheard of here. UnBuddhist you know. On further reflection, perhaps I should welcome the cobra, to eat the spider!

Some mornings I see an unusual vehicle taking people to work outside of town. The people sit in a wooden cart which is pulled by what looks to me like a rototiller. A man sits at the front of the cart, holding the handles of the rototiller, as if he was holding the reins of a horse. Its one wheel pulls the cart along. I also saw these contraptions in other places as we drove across the country, so it’s not unique to this town.

When I first moved into my house here, I was amused to see a treadmill on my neighbours’ balcony. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would need a treadmill when they live on the side of a mountain in the Himalayas, with beautiful trails leading up and down. Well, I heard a funny noise yesterday evening, and sure enough it was my neighbour on the treadmill. He commented that he is getting too fat and as a special police officer he is supposed to stay in shape. I do know that his favourite activity is drinking and gambling. There seems to be a group there most evenings to play cards. I noticed that he only lasted about five minutes on the treadmill before he gave up, sweating and panting.

I opened up a Bhutanese bank account this week, because apparently my pay will get deposited directly. That went more smoothly than cashing a traveller’s cheque, although it required two passport sized photos, proof of employment, and a reference from a local. While I was waiting, a man approached me, and first asked if I was the Canadian teacher working at Mongar Lower SS, and living in Chador’s house. When I said, “Yes”, he explained that he was from the local health department and needed to complete my file. Could I please tell him my name, age and marital status so he could complete his records? I gave him that information, and he seemed quite pleased. If I’d been in Canada, I would have just thought he had a really bad pickup line, but being in Bhutan, I actually believed him.

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