Part 2 in a series of live blogs from Bhutan by Meg Jordan, Professor and Chair of the Integrative Health Studies Department
Last night was my first attempt to sleep in the land of the thunder dragon, which could have easily been named land of the incessant barking dogs instead. Earplugs did no good; but I'm still thrilled to be here.
Today I hiked up toward the famous Tiger's Nest monastery, which looks like it was thrown against a cliff at 10,000 feet or so. It was founded by Guru Rinpoche in 796 AD when, legend has it, he flew in on a tiger's back and meditated there, conquering the local demons and convincing them to protect the spread of Buddhism instead of troubling the local villagers. Quite the diplomat. The monastery was completed sometime in the 17th century.
My interpreter, Pema, complained of chest pain all the way to the Tea House (about half-way to the monastary). I played doctor-nurse, and made sure we weren't aggravating a medical condition that was either exertional angina or a hiatal hernia. Bhutan "belly" is growing more prominent with increasing prosperity. His pain resided when we stopped the hike. I'm taking him to the one hospital in Thimpu (built around 1960) for an EKG.
Now we're back in Paro at the only Internet cafe in western Bhutan, where I'm surrounded by a small crowd of curious onlookers, who want to know about online dating sites in the U.S. Talk about a dilemma. The anthropologist in me is delighted to be in a country with such a fierce commitment to preserving cultural integrity, and yet there's no stopping cultural change—it's a dynamic force.
So, I let them know about a free site, plentyoffish.com, and three young Bhutanese men are posting photos and bios within seconds. "Come here, Meggy! Look at this—I got a response already from Nadia in Tuck-Son!"
Happiness—how do we measure it? That will be my question to the Health Minister on Monday. Until then; photos to come.