Thursday, August 26, 2004

cadence

Every Friday morning, the students at this school as a group perform these ridiculous exercises as a group. While wearing their uniforms, in dress shoes, and in the morning heat (which is slightly less than the midday heat and slightly more than the evening heat) they perform group jumping jacks and arm raises, quite literally to the beating of a drum.

This is as silly as I am trying to make it sound, maybe even more so....and the kids know it. My job is to stand and "supervise", whatever that means. I can only stand think how ridiculous is this? for 30 minutes! But is it only the students out there in the heat marching and performing the prescribed exercises? You may not hear that drum, but are you listening for it?

For whom the drum.....Tolls?

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Colorama

My first real saturday here.

We set out, camera in hand determined to go somewhere, directionless...but certian of one thing, it would be new to us. We found our way to the river and took a river taxi for what seemed like a very long time. I found myself thankful for the direct sunlight for the first time in two weeks as the boat bounced up and down in the river. Over the last few months, being in the amazon, the waterfalls, the rivers, and the daily torrential rains I have developed this great affinity for water. It's almost as if I have become one more part water than I was before...the idea of water, the powerful symbolism of water has begun to make it self apparent.

In search of some "sights", we rested our feet at one of the, literally, hundreds of wats. A wat is a buddhist temple. To give you an idea, these are fantastic buildings with red and gold roofs, spotless and reflecting all light, with walls encrusted with red, gold, blue, and green tiny pieces of hand placed mosiac stone and tile. These wats are surrounded by walls, that somehow seem to block out all sound of the busy streets, and all that you can here are the few monks adorning the traditional orange robs chanting a mantra.

Next we discovered the flower market in Pak Khlong, pronounced as two very stacatto syllables...actually who am i kidding my pronounciation sucks. I felt as if i was floating a sea of orchids, walking until i was tired, my eyes exhausted from seeing what felt like the whole range of visible light and still not reaching the end of the market. I can see myself walking and turning this way and that, almost round, noticing flowers and colors to my right to my left, just behind me...

I remember very carefully seeing the people walk by NOT noticing. How routine can life get, people walking by this sea, no ocean, of flowers, these gorgeous wats and not noticing. How can I say this when I am fully aware that this is me too, not noticing...sometimes not really noticing this beautiful person I am waking up next to every day, the family I have that is missing me every minute I am gone, my friends, and the many innocent, wonderful children with their eyes fixed on me during class.

Good thing I have my camera!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Rise To The Occasion

Our sleeping habits have been off a little bit since we’ve been here, and fortunately for us they haven’t resumed normally with sleeping late and what seems like all the time.

Nope! It’s been 11 days, and every day I’ve been up, I’ve been outside, I’ve been wide awake, before the sun has come up. Every day, I’ve seen the sunrise from the field where I’m exercising or my balcony. It’s exhilarating! To be up, to be alert, to see that purplish-reddish haze in the sky, to see those fantastical few first rays of light fighting through, over the horizon.

‘Big Deal’, you might say. The sun rises every day. It sure does….and until these last several days, seeing the sun rise was only on a special occasion, only under an unusual circumstance. Now my everyday starts with a bright colorful light show, it starts with appreciation….magic. Maybe there’s something to that saying, how does it go? Early to something…early to rise makes a man something, something, and something else.

When was the last time you saw the sunrise?

Friday, August 13, 2004

“Doo-doo” rian

Actually it’s spelled durian, It’s a tropical fruit, like no other I’ve ever seen. And I had the misfortune of mistaking durian flavored ice cream with mango, the most unpleasant experience of recent memory. Just horrible.

To my surprise, people like this? Acquired taste wouldn’t tell the half…it’s a coconut sized fruit covered with hard brown spikes. Imagine a 20 foot tall porcupine laying a brown egg (pretending porcupines laid eggs) or the meanest blowfish and you’d have a durian.

They smell so bad, they’re forbidden to take on public transportation. In the train station they have signs with a picture of a durian with a red circle and a line through it, like a no smoking sign!!! Don’t believe me? Look it up on the web.

Durian the outlaw of the fruits!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

one night in bangkok

it'd be a shame if i didn't use this title as a post title...and as i thought of this song while i was here the last few days, i realized...other than this song i'm mostly ignorant of what is, Thai and Bangkok...this song and some wholly unauthentic restaraunts i've discovered. Thai food, thai markets, has this smell of food and seasoning that just permeates everything. I don't like and have yet to become accustomed to it, i don't think i will...other than that one small difficulty this country is great, bustling and beautiful so far...like a huge metropolis with green fighting to break through.

I've again started to notice the things around me, appreciate the things around me good and bad....the stores, the taxis everywhere, the smells...both smell of flowers everywhere and the offensive smell of fish, the monsoon rain, the scores of people and the horrendous traffic.

It's sad, very sad that i had, after so short a time, become oblivious to the world, allowed myself to be broken down by the 9-5 desk job...I'm certain that there are so many things at home, as here, that deserve to be appreciated, noticed, and worthwhile. It's sad i had to come 12 time zones away and be shocked into noticing. When i come home i will hold on to this thought for as long as i can, for dear life...otherwise what's the point?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

antsy

In 36 hours i'll be on a plane, heading towards bangkok. I'll get to see what i'm made of, if i have what it takes to be a teacher. This may be the most challenging thing that i have yet to undertake, and i'm thrilled. I want to write down what i'm feeling right now so i can remember it, read it and help encourage myself to be a better teacher if i find it overwhelming.

I'm giddy with the thought of having many pairs of eager eyes fixed on me, waiting for me to tell them about what I'm most interested in. I hope they are eager, I was eager, with the right teacher anyway...i hope to be that 'right' teacher.

I can remember countless times sitting in class listening to a teacher lecture about something, something that i got. I can remember thinking, "just say it like this...", i know that would make it clear to me, and i think it would help out my friend sitting next to me. I wanna be that teacher that says it like "this" for all the students, i want to read this post and remember how motivated i am to reach, or at least understand my students.

I've tutored before, but never had students...there's a different, a person comes for tutoring and needs help, a student comes to class and is a sponge. I have to realize that each one is probably at least as complex a little person as i was...only then can i understand...only then can i make a difference.

So before i start, i wish myself luck, and when i'm reading this in the future...in my nervousness, i remind myself, "never give up, being part of peoples lives is the most important occupation. Failure is not acceptable."