So, I have been helping out at this museum one day a week, just helping them fix their english translations (which it turns out they actually paid a professional translation company to d0...quality isn't really a business priority here haha). So yesterday I was going through the museum and editing the descriptions they have on placques and stuff on the spot, just sitting on the ground with my laptop. First, a group of monks walked by, and I assumed they would just kind of look at me like I was an alien and say something to themselves and then keep walking, but they actually came right up and looked at my screen, and then at me, then back at my screen. So I just smiled, pointed at the sign and said "I'm fixing it" in english, knowing full well they would have no idea what I was saying. Maybe they did understand...I don't know, my ability to express things without being able to say them is pretty impressive. Anyway, they just laughed and waved and kept walking. Later, a group of wealthy looking Chinese people, probably in their late 20s walks by. This one guy leaves the tour group, squats down beside me and looks at my screen, then looks at me and starts talking in Chinese. I smile and say "I don't speak Chinese", and of course, true to form, he keeps talking to me anyway. Then his friends come over, and they are all standing there speaking to me and not understanding anything Im saying to them in return. Then one guy just comes and stares at my computer for like 5 minutes until I look up and smile at him, at which point he looks all awkward and walks away. Later still, this one little 9 year old monk walks by me, looks at me very closely then walks away. A 13 year old monk comes into the hall to find the younger kid, and they both start looking over my shoulder. I said hello to them in Chinese, but they probably spoke Tibetan, so they just smiled. I realized that the younger one was really interested in my computer, so I opened up Photobooth (the application that takes pictures) and showed him how it could distort our faces. Before I could get a good picture he giggled and ran away. However, I'm fairly confident I blew his mind with my crazy Western magic white computer box thing.
The other thing to relay about the museum is that a couple of the halls scare the crap out of me because they have life sized statues of people and stuffed animals and stuff. As some of you know, I have a pretty serious phobia of things that look human but aren't, including clowns, mannequins and statues. On top of this, the lights in the museum are on a timer, so that if no movement is detected for about 10 minutes, they go off. So, picture me sitting in this museum with these statues of monks debating behind me, knowing that the lights are going to go off any second. It is in situations like these where my overexposure to sci-fi and fantasy stories kicks in and I start to think about how I would be able to defend myself from the attacking monk statues that probably come to life in the dark and probably want to harm me, probably because I'm a whitey and shouldn't be in their museum at all. This particular fear of being killed by statues in the dark comes from a terrifying episode of Dr. Who, actually hahaha. So, it's scary and I have an overactive imagination, and it for real stresses me out. I've decided to wait a month or two before trying to explain my fear of the museum statues to anyone at the museum and use that time to convince them that I'm not crazy before I reveal that I am.
In other news, we have finally finished going through all the video footage. He has 640 clips about food production in his village, and we watched every single one of them, gave it a name, and catalogued and categorized it so that he can access them easily when putting together his film. This film is supposed to be ready to go by the end of January, because the professor wants him to show it in Toronto in February. That is like, no time to do the post-production junk needed for a documentary. I am stressed out for him (he's not stressed at all...probably Buddha's fault). Once I know more about that I will let you know, because I want you guys to go see it, especially if I end up putting as much work into it as I'm starting to think might happen. The up side is, I now know to make butter and cheese and bread and other wonderful things that Tibetans eat. Also, they like juice. A LOT! Random right? The other upside is that when I'm at the office, one of the guys will usually order my food for me at a restaurant, which is something I still can't do haha.
I started my chinese lessons this week. They are actually already helping. When people speak to me I am able to pick up on a few more things and I feel like if they would speak a little slower I would be getting so close to understanding. The only two other people in the class are a young married couple from Switzerland. They seem really cool, even though i suspect they may be missionaries a little bit. I'm okay with it as long as they keep being cool and inviting me out for apple pie and refraining from missionizing me. It's nice to have some other english speaking people in the same boat as me anyway. If I was taking these classes all by myself I would be WAY less motivated.
My Tibetan bossman INSISTED that us young Canadians watch Avatar because he feels it accurately represents Tibet. My one roomate had never seen it, so I warned her about it and then we watched it. We are now expecting an impending debate of doom in which I predict I will end up having to explain white guilt and the noble savage myth and such. I'm not looking forward to it. I sent him an article critiquing the movie as a buffer. I'll let you know how it goes.
I haven't really made any friends outside of my roomates yet but I feel like I may be on the verge. I am starting to think the guys at the office are pretty big nerds and thus don't actually have a lot going on that they could invite me or they are shy about inviting me. I will crack them soon though. I DID get invited out for drinks by some guy I have never met (or even seen apparently?). He called me, said something like "you don't know me but I saw you and I want to know you" and refused to tell me who gave him my number. I thought it sounded a little sketchy (probably should have told me where he got my number or at least been like "I work at the museum!"). I asked my roomate what she thought of it and it turns out that between Tibetans, if someone asks you out for 'drinks', as opposed to asking you to hang out in a group or even just dinner, it is pretty much the equivalent of someone asking you to sleep with them. And as my roomate said "They pretty much think that all white women are Paris Hilton." So the good news is I'm hot, and the bad news is only the creepy guys are inviting me to hang out with them. This happened on Tuesday and I haven't heard from him since, so I think I might be in the clear haha.
I've been trying to think about thesis and stuff, but it's just too hard. There are too many complications with putting people at risk and such. I need to spend some time thinking about it and asking around to profs and such who have done/are doing research here, because it's too stressful to think about without having someone acting as a sounding board.
Also, we found this:
and we're pretty sure this phenomenon occurs because of the high levels of MSG in the food. The first thing on my list of things to learn how to say is "no MSG please" haha.
And it's starting to get cold...feels pretty similar to Canadian fall. I've been told by several people I need to go do some mountain climbing soon because now is the prettiest time. Hopefully I can get it done soon. Apparently there is a big week long holiday coming up in the beginning of October during which I should probably do some sight-seeing. When I figure it out I will let you know.
Okay. That's all for now. Thanks for reading guys!