Home > Bhutan Workshop > Day 6: Final Assignments (And Dressing Up!)

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When I woke up this morning, I rolled over to look out of my window and saw a thin haze filling the valley.  The view out my window was filled with clay red, burnt orange, and curry yellow colors as the light filtered through the haze and turned the valley into a dramatic and gauzy backlit setting to our final day’s workshop.  Of course, this dreamy vision of the valley could easily be part reality and part exhaustion induced delirium…we were all up WAY too late last night!  As I’m laying in my bed, exhausted, trying to rationalize ignoring my alarm, I think about the fact that although it’s been a long week, it’s also passed at such a quick pace that I’m a little bit shocked that it is nearly over.

Our day started according to our routine: breakfast, masala chai, coffee, critique, more coffee, instruction, and then tea (coffee) time. However, today was going to be different, since we were not going to be out on assignment.  Instead, we were going to be revisiting the week’s work and preparing the images for our slideshow, while the students wrote speeches for the graduation ceremony. After lunch, Will gave his instructor slideshow and wowed us all with his fine art images. We sent the students out on a little photo assignment while we worked on edits, so for a couple of hours all was peaceful. After the kids returned from Paro on their short assignment (a photo scavenger hunt), our amazing STC coordinator Sonam was running the kids through their show speeches when Kelzang came in with a giant bag of fabric: he brought two of his personal Gho for Fred and me. While the students were engaged, Kelzang pulled us out to get us dressed.  I’ll explain the process.


Like I mentioned before, the Gho is a robe-like garment made of various fabrics, which depend on the season and the occasion. First, it is put on like a bathrobe, and then more folding and tying begins.  One of the unique features of the Gho is the giant pocket that the flap above the belt makes– during the week, many of the men repeated the popular saying that this is the world’s largest pocket.  To create this pocket, the Gho is hiked up, folded, and layered in a way that closely approaches the complexity of a Rubik’s cube…it’s AT LEAST three-dimensional.

Then a belt of fabric is wrapped three times around the waist and cinched tightly enough to cut off blood flow to your kidneys.  I’m pretty sure mine went numb. Once the belt is in place, the opening at the breast is tied near the right armpit and the outfit is complete. You have wear a robe-like layer under the Gho that, once the outfit was completely fitted, made me feel like is was wearing a sheet and comforter. The impression that I was still in bed (complete with a python around my waist) was unshakable.

When Will’s show wound down and the students turned and saw Fred and I wearing our Gho, they were extremely excited. As the sun set, we headed outside for some portraits.  The Gho were very comfortable, but I was still ready to get out of mine when we finished.  Perhaps had I worn it more traditionally, with just my skivvies underneath instead of jeans and a big clunky belt, I would have found it easier to wear for longer.

After our shenanigans, the instructors returned to work in earnest.  The students were charged with running the post-production completely on their own while we worked.  They downloaded and imported their photos into Lightroom and did a two-round edit of the images before calling over their group leader.  We went over all of the images with the group and then got back to making videos…it was shaping up to be a long night.  With the students off to their rooms, and Fred, Thomas and Sarah off to bed, Will and I started the long haul into the night to finish up the final slideshows.  We are tired but excited to show off the students work.

It’s now 2AM, and the shows have taken on a final form with traditional Bhutanese music backing each of the story shows and an upbeat American track for the gag reel. I’m pretty sure tomorrow’s slideshow is going to be spectacular.

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