With the school year beginning and my impending work on my senior thesis looming in front of me, I am starting to think about the best way to present my thesis and the sound recordings that accompany it. I’ve started to find out what works (or doesn’t) about various platforms, which has also helped to clarify what I really want to create.
Nearing the end of my time teaching at Kag Chode Monastic School, I decided to take out my camera and capture bits of daily life there. I knew that I would miss my students dearly after I left, and I wanted to have some reminders of the time we had together, but I also wanted to give them the pictures so that they could keep the memories as well.
After classes had finished for the day and many of the students had changed out of their uniform, they all ran outside to play in the courtyard. Seeing my camera, some began to overact, showing off for the camera and making extra big movements to be caught on film. This soon turned into fighting, with groups breaking out across the green. Every few minutes, some of my students would run over and pull my camera down, crowding around me in a circle in order to see the pictures I had taken of their games. Upon approving the ones I had taken so far, they then ran back out into the fray for more.
A lot of people don’t think about the daily life of novice monks, and what they do when they’re not in their robes or learning the teachings of the Buddha. After the month I spent teaching English to these 64 kids, I can definitely say that (at least in their case) they’re just normal kids. They play jokes on each other. Get in to fights. Love to play games in class. Sing popular songs on the radio, and watch the World Cup just like much of the rest of the world. They’re regular kids… who also have the extra role of learning to be a monk.
There is something somehow calming about knowing that there is no way to tell what time you will arrive at your destination. You know that you will get there, eventually. And it will very rarely be at the scheduled time. And there is nothing you can do about it.
Nepal’s timezone is 15 minutes ahead of India’s, setting it just slightly off from the country that surrounds it on three sides. This is NPT – Nepal Standard Time. This partially political statement is just one more way the country is defined as “not India.” The locals, however, know a different NST – Nepal Stretched Time.
Over the 2018-2019 school year, I will be researching and writing a thesis in Anthropology and Religion at the University of Vermont. My work is focused on the relationships between identity and place, and I will be using sound as a lens through which we can experience these relationships.
Here, I plan on talking about my thoughts and feelings regarding the process of writing a thesis. This is basically a way for me to decompress about things, and maybe help someone else in a similar position in the future.