Archives for posts with tag: Family

Sooooo this is my first post of 2017  and yet its been a (mostly) good year. There has been so much to <3, I am just out of the blogging habit ( hint, hint Sarah.) So I am going to cheat a little and make this post a list of ALL the things that I <3ed so far in 2017.

  1. My attempt to make read more a habit seems to have stuck. Reading more has also meant that I am reading more widely,  including genres like Fantasy and Self-Help and even classics ( like “Wuthering Heights) that I had spent a life-time ignoring.  I feel like reading not only brings me great pleasure but it also continues to help me slow down, think more deeply and empathetically and of course , it’s a cliche but yes it makes me continue to learn and stay curious about the world.
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My Goodread reader challenge as of today! ( I am like 6 books ahead of schedule!)

2.  I started the year with a new year party (at my sister’s house) where I did tarot readings for everyone present ( including an assortment of my sister’s friends.) My mother once told  us as children that the way you start the year ( your mood, your behavior, your attitude) tells you what the rest of the year will be like. I think it was a pretty transparent attempt to get us to behave well but it’s kind of stuck with me as a superstition and I do make an extra effort to do something good or brave or special on days like new year and my birthday.  In this case it’s been a good year for me with Tarot, I get a lot of requests from people to read and I even “came out” at work and read from everyone from my boss to the lady who runs the canteen to I think every single member of the IT team! I love that I don’t have to advertise and offer readings as much  as I used to and that I no longer tell people I am ” just practicing.”  I also love being able to help people think through issues and dilemmas,  a friend (Katie Alexander) once called tarot “cheap therapy” ( she meant it in a good way)   and I think she was on to something there.

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The spread ( both tarot and other treats) at my sister’s new year party.

3. Since I moved back to Bhutan I have hardly traveled and only left the country once ( to go to a commercial town in India just across the border). Part of its has been  a money issue and part of it has been about feeling stuck and feeling unworthy and unready to not be stuck. When my sister decided to have her baby in Sri Lanka I told her almost immediately ( without thinking about how the heck I could afford it) that I would go down and be with her until my semester started. My parents, who for the last few years have been begging me to let them buy me a ticket somewhere for a holiday , jumped immediately and bought our tickets before I could change my mind.

 

Before going to Sri Lanka in February, I also landed up agreeing to go on a work workshop to Samtse, a part of Bhutan that I have never been to. It scared me a little to think about going and I barely knew the other guy from my college who had been nominated to go, but I had already decided that 2017 would be about getting out of my comfort zone and this was a HUGE leap out of my comfort zone. And as these things do, it paid off. I learnt a lot. I meet a lot of new and interesting people. I got to know someone from my college who I had not had much opportunity to interact with before. And I explored a part of my country that was less familiar to me.

 

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Samtse.

I think the success of Samtse made me ready to expect the best in Sri Lanka. It was a perfect baby-steps holiday for someone who hasn’t traveled in a long time. We were staying with my sister’s parents-in-law in their huge and comfortable house.  They had a car and driver to take us around and sometimes even insisted that a Bhutanese medical student ( many of whom study in Sir Lanka) go along with us to act as a guide/chaperone . Sri Lanka itself felt wonderfully unhurried after the frantic energy of Kolkata. We shopped and visited temples ( lots of holy places for Buddhists) and ate yummy seafood and relaxed and relaxed and relaxed.  The trip reminded me both that I CAN travel and that it can be pleasurable. Also my sister and I traveled so much together ( as boarding school girls  we once knew Bangkok airport like the back of our hands) and I realized that this was our last trip together before everything changes for my sister. So that was bittersweet.  But I think you can ❤ things even if there are not 100% happy.

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At the beach on my very last day in Colombo. ( I also started wearing dresses and skirts a lot more after this trip- I had forgotten how much I loved wearing them)

4. Sarah and I used to throw epic Oscars parties, first together and then when Sarah moved to DC separately. An important part of the these parties was the Oscar’s pool where everyone uses a ballot to record who they thought they would win in which categories. Last year I persuaded my siblings that we should do a pool too and being competitive and movie buffs it was a lot of fun. There was a LOT of trash talking! This year we were in three different counties but I managed to convince them to do it over google docs. Everyone put in their votes and then we watched and chatted over messenger throughout the ceremony. It made me so happy to still be ” together” for the Oscars despite the geographical distant. ( And there was again a LOT of trash talking)

5.  For the last few years I have been teaching sociology and occasionally political science classes. I have been okay with what I teach  but I do miss anthropology so I was so super excited when my college asked us ( there are two other anthropologists working at my college) to start the paperwork necessary to propose to the University  to start a BA in Anthropology! Bhutan’s first! We are not 100% through (yet!) , Bhutan has a very complex. extended approval process but we got through first 2 of 3 steps so it starting to look very likely (Fingers crossed) So ❤ that I could be getting ready to teach the first batch of Bhutanese anthropology students this time next year and I am super super proud of the hard work that has gone into getting us this far.

6. And the thing I ❤ ❤ ❤ the most in 2017 is the arrival of my niece CZ on April 24th.  I can’t even really explain in words how much I ❤ having CZ in our lives. I worry a little bit that with all of us rearranging our lives around her needs she is going to be super spoilt but for right now none of us can stop telling her how beautiful she is or stop taking photos of her. Our phone memories are overwhelmed!

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My sister in action on the set of ” Honeygiver among the dogs” ( Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing)

 

My sister spent most of the last three years working on her first feature film, “Honeygiver among the dogs”  and it is really really really her baby. She wrote the script, cast everyone, assembled a team, cobbled together financing, directed it and then spent months editing it like the perfectionist she is. Start to finish, conception to final polish this was her film.

And then earlier this month it premiered at Busan International Film Festival  and got the glowing  review her hard work and passion and brilliance ( its such a smart beautiful film)  deserved in the Hollywood Reporter no less ( I googled it- its a big deal according to Wikipedia).  In the very first line the reviewer Clarence Tsui writes, ” A genre long associated with sex and sleaze, film noir receives a surprisingly spiritual and feminine reworking in Bhutanese filmmaker Dechen Roder’s beautiful and inventive debut.”

I can’t help but hope that is is beginning of many more people discovering this wonderful film and the depth of my sister’s talents.

( Below are a couple more picture of my sister on set and in action. All of them are taken by her talented Director of Photography Jigme Tenzing )

 

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( Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing) 

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Photo credit: Jigme Tenzing 

I was covering classes for a colleague this week and so I had to walk into class rooms that are not on my usual orbit. I walked into on classroom set my things down on the teacher’s desk and then noticed something stuck on the wall behind me :

 

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It took me a second or two but I quickly realized that the plot mapped out in the tree came from my mother’s novel. That the students in this class were studying her book.

 

Chills!

 

 

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Baked by our housekeeper , Yeshi.

 

It was my birthday on Tuesday.

One of things I most appreciate about my birthday is that I share it with a cousin, in fact I was famously born during her first birthday party. Starting from sixth grade we were at the same Indian  boarding school  and  she and I were even in the same class, so from my 12th to my 18th birthday we always celebrated together.

I am  desperately uncomfortable in the limelight .(In fact I hate being photographs so much  that Sarah and I are only in like 3 photographs together on facebook) so having a shared birthday was always a HUGE relief, specially during those awkward teenage years when you are secretly convinced that no one could possibly actually like you. My cousin and I settled into a celebration routine  that included us ordering a cake each and giving one away to the “class boys.” ( Yes, I went to a school with sex-segregated birthdays, tres sheltered I know but that is a whole other story).

When I went to college in Australia I tried ( with some success) to continue the traditions of joint birthdays by convincing two of my friends with March birthdays to do celebrate together.

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Joint birthday dinner at a Greek restaurant the year I turned 20

Since then birthdays have  been awkward, worse so in Bhutan now that I have moved back . I have few friends I feel comfortable inviting and the local tradition is that the birthday person brings a treat for everyone else . One year I spent a weekend making packages of cookies to give out to people at work but that was exhausting and so I have more or less given up on celebrations beyond the family. I usually make an effort to see my cousin on our joint birthday but we haven’t had a joint birthday party since high school.

Then two years ago another cousin’s son was born on our birthday! Can you imagine that? Three of us with the same birthday  in the same family? This year was the first year that all three of us celebrated together.

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Cake my cousin’s sister-in-law brought to dinner. I loved that it has 3 stars for  the 3 stars of the night!

 

And you know what it was the best birthday I have had in years!

 

Here is my favorite cake of the day, with all three of us on it. Baked by my sister and painted by my brother-in-law.

 

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So I admit it, this week what is making me happy is getting my very first smart phone. Despite really enjoying social media  and occasionally ogling other people’s smart phones, I have managed to hold onto my very old Indian Nokia phone  for the whole three years that I have been home in Bhutan. I used to joke it was “theft-proof” since no one would bother to steal such an unsophisticated phone. But it wasn’t losing-proof and on Monday my first day back at work I managed to misplace it and despite roaming the halls calling myself I couldn’t find it.  In the meantime my thoughtful sister emailed my parents who were in Bangkok this week and suggested they buy me a smart phone and my generous parents did.  So shallow and materialistic as it might sound, getting my first smart phone is what is making me happy this week.

I have so much grading to do right now that my heads hurts calculating if I can finish it all before the end of the semester.

Despite that I spent part of the weekend hanging out with my nephew who is at the walking but not quite talking stage. He is cute and adventurous and very, very entertaining. He spent part of the afternoon having long imaginary conversations on my cell phone, running around in just his diaper, trying to open every jar, every tube and every bottle and putting his hands together in prayer whenever he sees something holy ( prayer beads, the big Buddha on the hill, prayer flags out of the car window) .

It was probably the most fun I have had in weeks and I know, know, know, know, I need to do this more often because while I grade and stress and complain about work, he is laughing and exploring and growing.

And I love being able to watch that in person so every much.

 

Below is a gift that my brother-in-law picked up for me on a trip to India. There is just something so heartwarming about your family being in another country and seeing something that reminds them of you. I love that.

 

Ladybird flipflops

 

Of course it doesn’t hurt that these would be adorable even if I didn’t have a thing for lady bird…

Last Saturday we woke up to the first snow of the year. Here is Rocklee considering the snow fall from our back door…
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The snow fall was not very heavy but it was the first snow of 2014.  Here is our patio with a dusting of snow.
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We decided this was the perfect excuse to stay indoors,light a fire and watch movies. Here is my sister, Rocklee and Kitty taking a nap in the warmest room of the house.
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Rocklee did spend some time outdoors getting wet and so he came back in smelling not so great. Here he is climbing on the couch for some family time while everyone else is covering their nose!

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After several years of mild Arizona winters I most definitely do not love winter cold but the excuse the snow gave us to slow down and relax and just hang out, I do ❤  that, I ❤ that a lot.

My little sister is a filmmaker. Her most recent project is a beautiful and sad short film called ” The Heart in the Mandala.” ( You can check out the Kickstarter project page for it here)

While she was editing her final version of the film she was listening a lot to one of her favorite bands,  Grandhallway particularly their song ” Little Sister.” Her film is centered around a sibling relationship so the song felt particularly right. She would be sitting in her office, editing and singing along. At some point she decided to write to Grandhallway and ask them if she could not only use the song but re-record it Dzongkha. She wrote to them via facebook. I thought she was nuts! She shrugged– it never hurts to ask.

And guess what? They said yes!

So she re-recording with a local singer, the amazing Dechen Zam ( who rewrote the song in Dzongkha)  at M-studio  and the result is beautiful and haunting.

I ❤ that she asked to use the song, I ❤ that Grandhallway said yes but I think I would ❤ this song even without the great back story!

 

My amazing siblings ( along with my sister’s boyfriend) recently pulled together an amazing 5 day short film festival.  They had 32 films, both local and international, live music every night, workshops during the day and good audiences for almost all the events. It was intense and exhausting and hugely successful.

But rarely still for a large scale event  in Bhutan– it was informal and inclusive and fun. I can’t even begin to explain how much there is a tendency towards the super formal in Bhutan. And while for some events it make perfect sense, for an event like this that was about art and pleasure and community the informality was just the right tone.

The picture below of the Minister of Communication being served tea on opening night sort of highlights how laidback and casual the event was. The serving girls are wearing t-shirt over their kira. There is a group of kids playing in the background (later they took over the empty bench near the minister). Seated in front of the minister are my causally dressed sister and the projectionist.

 

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Informality– what’s not to ❤

 

PS also video put together by my siblings to advertise the event:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=628956217148673&set=vb.195858340458465&type=2&theater