No, I haven’t switched from literary fiction to porn to penises. This is an account of a truly weird place I visited on a recent photo journey to Bhutan with James B. Martin. For anyone who pays attention to that portion of the world, Bhutan is a very small nation with the world’s highest index of “Gross National Happiness.” It’s a beautiful place of tall mountains, dark blue skies and fluffy cloud formations. The locals are friendly and lodgings there are neither too plain nor too fancy. In other words, Bhutan is just right.
What does this have to do with penises? Search me! Well, not really. Bhutan is the home of the historic Chimi Monastery, reputed to be near the site where the “Mad Monk,” Lama Drupka Kunley, subdued a demon with his “Magic Thunderbolt of Wisdom.” According to legend, Kunley’s “Magic Thunderbolt” was his you-know-what, which he used to scare the demon away. The Monastery is a place to which couples who want to conceive children travel. There the presiding lama performs a ritual using a ten-inch ivory-wood-and-bone penis to bonk on the head women wishing to become pregnant.
I am including photos of the village near the monastery, which is decorated with…you guessed it. I particularly like the photo of the cute little boy who ignored his nana’s instructions and gave the Westerners the “V” sign while eating breakfast outside their elaborately decorated house. In another photo, a local resident goes about her business, oblivious or inured to the penis iconography all around her.
Who knows whether Bhutan is a happy place because of its physical beauty, its friendliness, or its inclusion of penis iconography and legend in Bhutanese Buddhism, but the memory of an elderly woman passing by a gift shop with a row of bright, smiling penises in the window sure increases my Gross International Happiness index.