Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Tibetan

Anybody who has heard me speak Tibetan knows that I have a habit of saying 're wa' (རེད་བ་) a lot; it means something like "right?" or "isn't it?" (or maybe like desune in Japanese).

I'm saying "Lhasa is a nice place, right? Tibet has a lot of yaks, right? It's good, right? Right? Right? Right?" and the bottom text says "My way of speaking, right?"

Friday, June 24, 2011

You guys got any bikes?

I'm finally remembering to take my camera with me sometimes when I go out. I assume this is some kind of bicycle repair shop ...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The difference between Kathmandu and Baltimore ...

I've been watching a lot of The Wire on my laptop. If you don't know, it's a really great show about police and drug dealing set in Baltimore. Anyway, it must be getting into my brain because I saw someone toss out a bag of trash from their window and immediately assumed it was drugs ...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just a State of Mind ...

I feel pretty bad that I've been in Nepal for so long and haven't learned very much Nepali at all. So I decided to do a comic in Nepali. The sentence is from a lesson in a textbook I have. He says "Yesterday I didn't go out. I stayed home." (हिजॊ म कतै गइनँ।  घरै बसॆँ। I think ... I'm not very good at typing in Devanagari).

Yesterday the rains finally arrived and I stayed inside nearly all day. There is something really nice about staying in when it is raining, but I want to get better about going out even when it is raining (everything's the same). Since my time in Nepal is starting to wind down, I also want to get out of Boudha a little more and see things that aren't just Tibetan (though I want to see a few more of those things too!). I'm saving some things for when Alex comes here in July (!), but getting out of Boudha and into the rain before then would probably do me some good ...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tibetan Calligraphy

For the last few weeks I've been learning Tibetan calligraphy. There a lot of different Tibetan scripts - you can see some cool examples of Tibetan calligraphy here.

Before I could only read and write in a script called U-chan (dbu chanདབུ་ཅན) which means "with head" because it has a thick horizontal line at the top. This is the script that computers usually have and the one most books are printed in. However, most people can't write it and if they can, it takes a lot of effort like it would to make your handwriting look like a typewriter.

Now I'm learning a script called U-me (bdu medདབུ་མེད) which means "head-less" because it doesn't have the the thick horizontal line at the top (the "head"). My goal though is to learn the Kyu-yig ('khyug yigའཁྱུག་ཡིག) script that most people write letters with. It's difficult because there are a lot of short forms for certain letter combinations.

The picture is a page from my lessons. My teacher writes a sentence in red ink and then I re-write it a few times in black. I thought it would be boring and tedious to practice, but it's actually been really relaxing ... 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pecha Kucha

I'm going to present some of my drawings at the next Pecha Kucha night in Kathmandu. It's this thing where you get 20 slides to show for 20 seconds each. Exciting! (or if not, over quickly)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wittgenstein in Tibetan

I spend a lot of time talking with Tibetan Buddhist monks who have never read any Western philosophy about philosophy. Recently, I wanted to mention a famous Wittgenstein quote to a Geshe I was talking with. It's the final line from his Tractatus:

"Whereof one cannot speak, one must pass over in silence."

in German:

"Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen."

So, I thought I'd try my hand at putting it into Tibetan. Here's what I came up with:


gang la skad cha bshad ma thub//
'di la kha khar sdod dgos yod//

I tried to put into two seven-syllable lines to make it sound more authoritative and authentic. It literally says something like "Of whatever we can't speak, on this we must stay silent." Before I looked it up, I had misremembered the line as being "Whereof one cannot speak clearly, one must pass over in silence." But I must have added that in myself; the 'clearly' is nowhere in the line. Though it still seems to me like the line would make more sense with the 'clearly' added. (Or maybe I'm revealing how little I really know about Wittgenstein!)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Current reading: Franz Kafka

Logic is doubtless unshakable, but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living.

           - Franz Kafka, The Trial
                   (comic by R. Crumb)