Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mission Mountains

I thought this blog would probably stay dormant until close to the time of the next Chilies and Happiness festival in 2010. Then again, I thought why not put up occasional updates and thoughts in case anybody is reading it.

Yesterday, I took Passang (Journalism MA student from Bhutan) to Flathead lake before highway I-93 gets all snowed in and not so pleasant to drive on. When my family was here we used to drive up several times, to visit Flathead lake and Polson, Glacier National Park, and for skiing in Big Mountains in Whitefish - and to visit friends who live around there. The Buddhist center in Arlee (EWAM) is a nice stop on the way. My wife and I love the drive past Arlee, especially by St. Ignatius, where you can get a beautiful view of the Mission Mountains.

We had lunch at EWAM and then proceeded to Polson, where we visited with an old friend and had some chai. Passang and I went by the lake and met with a group of very enthusiastic elderly folks fishing. They were very eager to show us their bounty of lake trout. It was fun chatting with them, and talking about Bhutan, and listening to their fishing stories - everybody has one, right?  On the way back, this is what we saw (picture above) - the reason why this is indeed one of my favorite drives! It reminds me of the drive in Tibet, right after you cross the Everest region, and on the way towards Nepal. That is another scenic drive my wife and I were on a few years back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Festival Video

Here's the video on YouTube that gives you a glimpse of the festival.

Chilies and Happiness: Year 3


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Success! Thank You All

Way to go everyone! Thanks for all the help and teamwork. While it was a bit windy (and therefore no bonfire), the event was a total success! We had a very good turnout, and everyone was very happy, thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere, music, food and games. I am glad we had enough food for everyone. And the hot chai was perfect for the cold afternoon. There are so many people to thank, that I will not list the names here, but we do thank you all. I will figure out a way to share the pictures and finally put up a vlog on YouTube very soon. Keep an eye out for that. Thanks everyone for a great day!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back in Missoula Again - Ready to Go!

Yes, I am finally back in Missoula. Great to see that Mary Nellis from FSSS has all the food organization under control. Everybody else has also pitched in to get things going. Passang and Neil, with Robyl, has the arch underway (I just saw it today at the farm); Ari and everyone else have been busy with the flyers and handbills - and we are already getting a lot of questions about the venue, time etc. (they should really read the flyers and handbills! - but we are happy to oblige of course). Ellen's ready with the Costco card to get purchases done Friday with help from Jeanne, Mary and many helpers. And the Bhutanese are all set to put on a good show on Saturday. Josh (PEAS Director) also put in a phone call for some archery equipment - looks like its all coming together. Oh, we also got an offer of venison contribution (true Montana meat) from a well wisher. There's a lot of updating to do, I know. And I have been lost in my travels and work. But I WILL definitely put up more pictures of the days to come, and finally will put up a vlog of the event!

We had an update meeting today at 5:00. Thanks for coming - we took stock of what we have so far, and what else needed to be done. Best of all - no stress. We want this to be an enjoyable process. Its all about fun after all.

Keep up the good work. 2 more days ONLY till the big day!

(Random picture: Tshojong Dzong, Lunana)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Falling behind

Sorry about the delay in posting the last couple of days. I was traveling, and now I am in New York for a series of meetings and such things. Mary Nellis had already checked out kitchen space etc. and Ugen and Neil were asking around for information on the arch. That's all good. We need to get moving. I have responded to Mary by email on the kitchen. Regarding the arch, you all should get in touch with Robl and I will send you his phone number and have him give you a call as well. More to come soon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What lies ahead

Props to all who could make it to the Oval yesterday, and to those who were there in spirit. Apart from the two girls and a guy 'funny dancing' near the grizzly, the background music was alright. But, we did manage to get the following sorted out, in terms of dividing responsibility:
1. Food - Sangay Wangchuk and Mary Nellis
2. Welcome arch - Ugyen Namgyel and Niel Larubbio (plus Rob Lindig)
3. Sports - Passang Norbu and Wangchuk Dorji (plus Robl and Ari?)
4. Transport and Mobility - Ellen Cheng/Robl
5. Music and Sound - Tshering and James Randall?
6. Publicity - Ari LeVaux and Tshewang Wangchuk
7. Prayer flag printing - the Bhutanese ladies
8. Bon fire - TBA
9. Overall coordination - Ari, Tshewang

Hope this covers most of what needs to be done. Dr. Sarah Halverson suggested we subdivide the Food group into 'Harvesters' and 'Preparators.' I think that is a good idea as we will have to coordinate with Josh about the harvests. But we leave it up to the Food group. Thanks Sarah for announcing the event in your class.

If there is anything, please leave comments below.

PS: blog post courtesy of free wi-fi at MSO airport. 

Random picture - (Yak caravan leaving Tshochen, Snowman Trek)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Whither thou, Robgay la??

I have not been able to track down one key person for the event, our very own Robl, or Robgay. A lot of the infrastructure and the darts, of course, depend on this tall man. I am sure he is out enjoying the summer on the river or in the mountains, but we have not heard back from him for a while. So, Robgay la, give us a holler if you are around, soon. 

Missoula is buzzing with activity these days - the River Roots Music Festival just ended this weekend, students are back at the U, professors are all psyched about the new semester (I think), and we are all ready to go! Can't complain about the weather these days, we even had a thunderstorm a few evenings ago. It's pretty pleasant today. See y'all on the Oval.

PS: Just got word that Robl is indeed enjoying the outdoors of Yellowstone, but also saving lives there.

Random picture (Tshokar lake above Singye Dzong).

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Meet, Tuesday September 1 (Oval)

I bumped into several of you today - it is good to see everyone back and ready for action. I am going to be away all of September and will only be back just in time for the festival. So we have some major planning to do and divide responsibilities. So, let us put our collective efficiency into action and set it all up! We start with a discussion on the Oval at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, September 1. Join us if you can - that's tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

More Bhutanese than Ever

This year, UM has the biggest Bhutanese contingent ever: 3 Masters students in Forestry, 1 Masters student in Journalism, 1 Masters in Music and 1 PhD student in Wildlife Biology. This is by far the biggest group of Bhutanese in Missoula. Last week, I went over to the PEAS farm to check on the Bhutanese chilies and they were doing great - I bit on one to see how hot it was, and boy it was HOT! At the Farmers' Market on Saturday (yesterday) I went to see Josh Slotnick, Director of PEAS farm and co-owner (with his wife) of Clark Fork Organics to confirm dates for the festival. Passang Norbu (from Kuensel) and I stopped by our Tibetan friend Tshedor's stall for a while before heading out to the grocery store.

The only places I have tried tripe (goep) in the US are at Vietnamese restaurants (they serve it in Pho) and other Bhutanese homes. Of course you can pick up the fibrous bundle at Asian markets, but not in Missoula. So, we went to the only place where we could get it - WalMart! Yes, of all places. (I know, my friends Ari, Josh and other Missoulian locavores who despise any mysterious meat shipped across thousands of miles, but relish only local meat, including the bountiful game Montana offers, would be in shock, but this is only for culinary experimentation). Back in the kitchen I had to cook it for more than an hour to really get it into an edible state. Pressure cooking might have helped, on hindsight. But we did manage a good "goep paa" with Bhutanese dried chilies, spring onion, ginger and eggplant cooked in olive oil.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bhutan In Montana

In the Fall of 2007 a small group of Bhutanese graduate students at the University of Montana, with their Missoulian friends, organized a Bhutanese Festival - "Chilies and Happiness." The prime motive was to have a good time! And spread cheer the Bhutanese way - through good food, music, games and camaraderie. It was an instant hit and more than 200 people attended it. A good time was indeed had! More people started asking about it the next year and the second festival commenced. It has now become an eagerly awaited Missoulian Fall event. Soon (October 3, 2009 to be precise), we will happily host the third annual Bhutanese festival, as always, at the Program in Ecological Agriculture and Society (PEAS) farm. This blog is about this event and others related to bringing a piece of Bhutan to western Montana. You can also view some of the slides from the first event on YouTube here.

Stay tuned for more information on this year's event! Save the date - Saturday, October 3 (starts at 4:00 PM till whenever...).