|My friend Sonam (she is always|
One day I learned that I was going to be TOD for a day. What is TOD? I had no clue! My friend, Sonam Choden, tried to help me by telling me that I would first report to school at 5:45 a.m. for a morning prayer, then I would monitor morning studies, next supervise breakfast, also lunch and finally attend evening studies, which is all for the boarder students (grades 7-10). She also told me not to worry because the students would help me and it was easy. I felt like she might had forgotten to tell me some important details, but instead of asking a million questions, I repeated my favourite mantra: Go with the flow, you will learn as you go. No worries!
At first, my mantra seemed to work because not only did I go to bed with no worries, I woke up feeling confident about my first day as TOD. When I arrived to school, I discovered that Sonam was right about one thing: The students were more than helpful teaching me my morning duties. I learned joyfully as I went along with the flow.
After completing my morning duties with ease, I went to one of my favourite classes to sit in while the students studied and I eagerly waited for breakfast time. I couldn’t wait to eat breakfast with the boarder students because my stomach was in a terribly nasty mood from being woken up so early without its favourite food: RICE. In fact, my stomach was letting out a series of gigantic grumbles that were echoing across the silent classroom and causing my sleepy eyelids to pop wide open.
I thought that I was lucky because I didn’t have to search very hard; right in front of my face was a shiny clean plate with a matching clean cup and spoon. I silently gasped, Wow, how did I get so lucky? How did all the other students miss this beautiful plate? Oh well, it’s mine for the day! I like going with the flow… I should have known that there was a reason why so many girls didn’t snatch this clean, cute set.
|Hot water to clean your plate|
|Students get big scoops of rice|
So here is how it went down:
As I continued to eat it like a starving person, I said, “Mmmmmm, Oh yes, I love the rice! It’s so tasty! Where is your plate of breakfast? Aren’t you going to eat?”
“Ummm, well I’ll eat later after you finish eating because you have my plate, cup and spoon. Do you like it?” she asked smiling.
My jaw dropped and some rice fell out of my mouth at the realization that I unknowingly “stole” her only plate, cup and spoon. I felt terrible and embarrassed. I immediately said, “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know that this plate had an owner. I thought it was first come, first serve! Can I finish my breakfast quickly and then I will wash everything and give it back to you so you can eat too? I’m sooooo sorry.”
|My bright, loving and outspoken student who I adore|
“Oh no, I’m almost finished. I feel so bad…I’m really sorry…” I said with a bright red face.
Then after she entered the MPH, I grinned as I thought, how could Sonam forget to tell me that I had to bring my own plate, cup and spoon to eat with? She is going to have a good laugh at this. Ah ha, now I get why nobody took the cleanest plate; it wasn’t theirs. Hmm is that why all the students were giggling at me? Well I am sure learning as I go. Now I know: bring your own plate next time your TOD. Whoops! However, I didn’t know that I was still in for some more learning as I went along with the flow of breakfast. Hence, that wasn’t the only reason why so many students were giggling at me.
Furthermore, I was determined to hurry up and finish my plate to give it back to its rightful owner because I felt horrible. I hurriedly entered the MPH with the last of the students and sat down at a random table. I began to eat faster than I had ever ate in my life. As I was pouring the rice down my throat without chewing, I found that the girls at the table were giggling at me to the point that they couldn’t even look at me. I thought that I just looked like a funny, starving foreigner so I didn’t mind their giggles.
However, I noticed that they weren’t eating their bowls of rice. I thought that maybe they didn’t want to eat in front of me because I was making them feel shy. I insisted, “Please eat, it’s ok, don’t mind me.” They nodded while trying not to laugh and refusing to touch their rice. I asked, “Why aren’t you eating?” They were struggling to speak English and all they could do was mumble a few words through their giggles, which I didn't understand. I thought that if I left their table then they would eat.
So I moved to another table to sit with my student whose plate I took. I told her that I was just a few more bites away from being finished and she would have it back it no time. I was finishing up my last scoops and guzzling down my tea when I realized that the same thing was occurring at this table that I had experience at the last table; the girls were all giggling at me, trying to look away from me and not eating their bowls of rice. Finally I thought, What is going on? I must be doing something wrong again. I looked around the entire MPH and my eyes bugged out as I realized that no one was eating except me.
That’s when I got a sudden flash of insight, Oh my goodness, everyone isn't eating because they must be waiting for some kind of prayer. Ahhh I’ve been eating the whole time… ever since I got my serving… all the way from the kitchen. This is so embarrassing! I must look like a pig! Ahhhh this is why they are giggling at me. What to do? Just as I realized this, the morning prayer began and I shamefully hung my head down and put my hands into prayer position asking Buddha to forgive me for not praying before eating. Now I know: Don’t eat a meal without praying! Whoops Again!
Although I love my mantra, I discovered that sometimes it is flawed at protecting me from making mistakes and feeling a little embarrassed while learning as I go, but it sure does ring some truth: Whatever you don’t know, you are bound to learn when you go with the flow of lifeJ
|Kitchen - huge electric rice cookers|
|Steaming rice cooker|
|Rice cooker using firewood|
|Boys in one line for breakfast; Girls in another line.|
|Breakfast is served!|