Who teaches Whom?

Just over a month at Northern School for the Blind, and I’m [not] ready to leave. A K-12 school of 210, all but 10 students board here.

Below are not necessarily highlights, because there are too many, but some idea of life at NSBCM, as I’ve known it.

 Week 1: Teaching  NOUNS to Class 1 Wouldn’t I love to say I’ve gained control over the ensuing days; see Week 4, for  the video-truth

Week 4: Thorough review of new nouns – body parts, this time –  again, videos don’t lie. “Head and Shoulders” and etc.

Yes, the students with whom I’ve worked, especially the littles, are an ABSOLUTE HOOT.

In between, there were field trips, the most notable being the one to  what I thought was an enourmous rice field (photos, Facebook). We spent a long morning and part of an afternoon there, working on that rice. The following week I learned it was not RICE, but MUSHROOMS that had been packed in the straw we heaved into the long, rectangular mold and carefully pushed and pummeled until we could then lift out thebundles and set them  in neat stacks. BTW, that experience was so typical of my weeks here, I can’t begin to tell you.

Still, I’ve learned a lot.

The first week I watched lessons about coconuts:  how they are  opened, where that incredible liquid actually spurts from, and where the meat is, in relation to the skin.   Last week, one lesson I took part in was Sticky Rice on a Stick, which some inventive MN Thai has probably already introduced to the MN State Fair, but until this visit, I hadn’t seen.

This past weekend, I went deeper into the Old City – near where Elizabeth and I stayed for awhile –  for  a haircut. This is the mother of the woman who cut my hair. And the haircut set me back… you don’t  want to know, not if you’ve recently had a haircut in the U.S.

She watches over her daughter (who is not a lot younger than I am).

She watches over her daughter’s work. Her daughter is perhaps 2 years my junior.

MUCH, MUCH MORE TO SAY, as they say, but I’m headed out to dinner with the person who has overseen me/answered every question I had and several  I didn’t, given me driving tours of the area — and last week was in Bangkok receiving an award from the government. In Thailand, that means, of course, from  royalty.

The weather forecast for the eastern U.S. at this moment – see it in top right of this weather forecast screenshot – has been mentioned here with what I can only call disbelief!



                                             THE ART OF WALKING                         

I walk to work, passing many shrines, and sometimes, an enormous monastery. I also pass a 7-11 and several restaurants. If you double-click them, the  thumb-nails should (!) enlarge.



If I’m going any distance – Mass, museums, my favorite EngLish language bookstores – I take  a Songthaew (“2 benches”), one of the ubiquitous Red Trucks of Chiang Mai. As long as I don’t ask, 20 Thai Baht, about 60 cents, gets me just about anywhere w/in the Old City. Here’s how it works for me: When  I  arrive at my destination and climb off, I walk to the front, hand a 20 TB note through the window,  and with a huge smile,  murmur, “Korp-kOOn,” as I walk away.  Very Quickly.  

It’s not always a  quick hop-on or hop-off,however. I’ve been known to flag down 4  or 5 Red Trucks before finding a driver willing to take me where I want to go.

What’s more,  the drive can take awhile. Last  Week,  I practiced, as I always do,  the trick  Elizabeth & Roy taught me in Beijing: have the address on your phone, and be sure it’s written in the driver’s language. Normally, this photo gets me to 7 Fountains, the Jesuit retreat house across town:imageNot quite so straightforward, though, last Sunday. I jumped in, and already in the Red Truck were some German university students. We went first to the airport, where they didn’t want to go (“Plane? No! “), then  to the train station, where they DID want to go – before being dropped at 7 Fountains


                                                                THE ART OF WALKING, cont’d

Around Arak Rd, soi 2 (things I pass on my walk to work) —

Coffins and flowers (wreaths)  Shop

Coffins and flowers (wreaths) Shop

i live on soi 2, a studio apartment (truth? A large  bedroom, with armoire & desk; a door from here leads first to a closet holding a refrigerator and plastic electric teapot; from the closet is a  door to ithe bathroom: toilet, sink, and handheld shower head.). It works for me: breakfast here, terrific lunch at school, dinner, out. Every  night. In an ideal world, if I could have either a personal chef or dinner out every night, I’d be hard-pressed to choose.

Besides the funeral shop on my walk to work, I pass those places at the top of this page. The gods of technology are against me right now, so I’m forcEd to end here. I say: GO BACK AND LOOK AT THOSE NICE PHOTOS OF FRIED  BANANAS AND WHITENERS AND WATS!

Happy New Year (+ What about these Wats?)

New Year’s Greetings from Chiang Mai, where it’s already another year, and where lanterns in the sky during the day and  night marked the transition to 2015!

I’ve met some of the children from the Northern School for the Blind – and their lovely teacher/my connection to the school. We met at a festival surrounding a wat – a temple – on the other side of town, where the students were selling crafts they’d made. I took no photos of them and their wares, because it just felt intrusive on a first meeting,  but I did get a chance to observe them, and how they interact with one another. They are all just kids (k-12), so unlike our Vision Loss Resources clients,  have a different relationship with one another, and with their teachers; in any case, that’s my first impression. I’ll have a month to see what’s what.

I visit Wat Dok Eung every day — a good place to sit for meditation, and brilliant; also,  it’s out of the heat and far away from other westerners! I’ve been to Sacred Heart Cathedral, and I’ll go again, but the larger-than-lifesize Santa Claus putting ornaments,  on an even larger Evergreen, wasn’t as compelling as what I have at  Dok Eung