So, tomorrow I'll start my third week at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, where I'm studying the Tibetan language. Classes are really hard work, but although progress is slow, I was actually able to understand a little bit of a conversation I heard on the street today so something is sticking!
Here's a little insight into my day.
I get up at 4.30am every day (weekends included) and go with my host Mother, Kalsang, to do Kora, which means to circumambulate (go clock-wise) around the large stupa at Boudhanath, which I showed you last week. I go for the exercise rather than to build up merit, but there is a good mix of people jogging, walking and prostrating at this time in the morning. After a hour taking the circuit, we meet up with Kalsang's friends and go to a local tea shop for sweet tea or jhar and to catch up on the local gossip. The women talk quickly but I'm slowly picking up the odd words.
We're back home for 7am, I have breakfast, do a little bit of study and then off I go to school for 8am. Classes are very intense. In the first week I had to learn the alphabet and the many changes that happen to the sounds of words once another letter is put in front or behind it. I'm still getting to grips with this and I hope that the extra classes I'll be fitting in from next week will help me get this straight in my mind! The unique thing about the school is that for two hours a day we get to practice our Tibetan language skills, one-on-one with Tibetans. This is an amazing experience which allows you to pick up pronunciations and changes in tones much easier.
This image shows part of my route to school. You can see the stupa in the background.
Classes finish at 1.30pm, but that's not the end of the school day. We have homework everyday and there is plenty to go over from the day's lessons.
On several days during the week, there are 'load-sheddings' across Kathmandu, which basically means that the electric power goes out across Boudhanath for a couple of hours. This is done for all sorts of reasons, to stop the system over-loading, but it means that study is pretty impossible after 7pm, so it's often an early night ready for my 4.30am start the next morning.
I am loving every minute of it, but without a doubt this is the hardest thing I have ever done!
More later in the week, homework permitting!