Thursday, 1 November 2007

Beyond The Frame: Bhutanese Novices

Image Copyright © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved

During my 2006 Bhutan Photo-Expedition, I was photographing at the Jambey Lhakhang, one of the oldest monasteries in the country, a few hours before its annual festive tshechu, and came across these two novices horsing around with toy-guns. I guess boys will be boys, but seeing two Budhhist novices possessing such toys was still a surprise....after all, Buddhism teaches non-violence, no? I took some solace in the presumption that when these toy guns were found by their teachers, they'd be confiscated.

After decades of fighting off outside technological influences like television, the King of Bhutan allowed transmissions to commence in the Kingdom for the first time in June of 1999. This has had a fundamental change over the people of Bhutan. To me, it's clear from the pose taken by the novice on the right that he's imitating something he's seen on television.

Another noticeable change in Bhutan is in women's hairstyles. Before the advent of television in 1999, the majority of Bhutanese women had their hair in pageboy style (I was told then that Bhutan was the only Asian country where this was the norm)...however, women are now influenced by Indian Bollywood stars, and wear their hair long.

You may think this is a rant...but it's not, honest. It's just an observation. I'll use my rant quota at a later date when I write about the "toxic" side effects of globalism on travel photography...such as the Balinese rice-farmers who wear NY baseball caps...or Virginia Is For Lovers T-shirts.