Painting with a Three Year Old in a Prayer Room – Bhutan

After buying a gift of sugar and powdered milk, my friend took me to her mother’s home to meet her family. A taxi drove us outside of town where we were dropped off near an old wood bridge;  someone was giving the bridge a new coat of paint. It was a beautiful day. Peach trees were in blossom Player flags on high poles were fluttering in the breeze. We walked the rest of the way past water fountains, past pigs and a cow in bamboo pens, past hunting dogs tied up in front of a home and past clothes hung up in the sunshine. Looking ahead of me, sitting up on top of a hill, was Karma’s mother and sister traditionally dressed with their black hair cut in the traditional style. Not having a telephone, they didn’t know we were coming. I was offered yak butter tea or tea with milk and sugar and maze, “corn picked, fried and pounded.”

After tea my friend took me into a beautifully decorated prayer room which, among other things, had a photograph of the Dalai Lama, an altar and a cabinet filled with twelve holy books collected between carved boards, wrapped in orange cloth with blue, orange and gold ribbons. The older ones were made up of pages of calligraphy wrapped in silk and tied with a silken ribbon or leather. The classification system consists of tiny satin flags, color coded to match subjects. I painted with my friend’s three year old niece. She was shy, but I gave her a few crayons and paper. In a few minutes she was drawing, too.

They didn’t know I was coming, but my friend’s sister had prepared a full meal. We ate in the livingroom with her mother, sister and niece. The meal consisted of red rice, spinach, cheese potatoes cooked with onions and chilis, pork and green ferns from the forest. I asked how they had prepared our meal since they didn’t know I was coming. They grow their own potatoes. The rest of the meal was prepared from dried foods they had in their home,

This day was special, never to be forgotten.

6 thoughts on “Painting with a Three Year Old in a Prayer Room – Bhutan

  1. Well, I’ll be honest …I read the last line of the post but it was the photo and title that pulledme in …my instant thought was …your in Bhutan …your painting with a three year old …in a prayer room …in Bhutan …I’m at work in crappy suburb on the east coast of the US …these are the moments that shouldn’t be forgetten as they are all too few and far apart and leave memories that last a lifetime and change one’s perspective on life forever …reminds me of my time in the Himalayas …the kids in Sudan, Ethiopia and Cambodia. Thanks for that


    • Ha ha ha I see what you mean about the expresion on her face. Yes, I’ll have to work on that. Yes, these trips that can be short create memories that last a lifetime and do change one’s perspective of life. What is interesting is I emailed her aunt to ask permission to use the story and photo and her name, Karma. Because there are so many Karma’s I thought it would be OK. She wrote back to me giving me the OK AND told me her son lives in the same city in America that my son lives in. So we connected again after ten or more years. Thanks for the note, John.


  2. It is a privilege to visit a country like Bhutan because of the regulations in allowing the entry of visitors. My husband has been there for work once and really was so impressed by the country and its culture. He told me that it is like the Switzerland of the Himalayas. 😉


    • I haven’t been to Switzerland but the towns and villages were very interesting. I had a week alone while my husband hiked so I was adopted by a family and they included me in some of their activities like going to the temple and going to some of the homes. Yes, very special indeed. One shop owner took me in the back and we played dress up. She dressed both of us in beautiful clothes she kept in an armoire. She wore turquoise stones about two inches in size made up into a necklace. There was some made up of coral too.


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