I have now lived in your country for nearly seven months. Perhaps the most repeated theme is that of your culture, and the tenuous position it occupies. At the forefront of every modern Bhutanese dialogue is the fraught dichotomy of tradition vs. modernization. From teaching methods to clothing to our students' essays, every tiny facet of modern life here bears the weight of both Bhutanese cultural pride and the younger generation's urge to Westernize.
It is a near-impossible problem. It seems that every decision, every minute action, represents a declaration of purpose: everything either gives the statement "Traditional culture is what makes this country what it is" or "We are an economically vibrant country who cannot afford to curb its development."
I occupy a bizarre position between these two poles. I cannot help yearning for the comforts of homogenized Westernization, but I cannot deny that the national dress, the language, the way Buddhism is integrated into everyday life--these are the things that lend Bhutan its aura of magic and timelessness. I am certainly a modernist, and a realist, but at the same time, I live in a place which seemingly exists solely to show the meaninglessness of capitalist excess. How can I whine about burrito cravings when I pass wild horses and incense-waving monks on the way home from work?
These are difficult issues in an infinitely complex time. In conclusion, I would like to say one thing to all of you in this wonderful place, a single message borne on the wings of hope and carved from the wood of compassion:
STOP PLAYING THE GODDAMN WAKA WAKA SONG. THE WORLD CUP IS OVER. IT WAS ANNOYING THEN, AND IT'S EVEN WORSE NOW. YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHERE SHAKIRA IS FROM.
Thank you, and God bless.