Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Dildos are everywhere in Bhutan. Painted on the sides of buildings, hanging under the eaves of homes, wielded to great effect by monks.

When WC and I arrived in Bhutan, we climbed into the van and plastered our faces against the windows. And we began to see something pop up (so speak) repeatedly. The first time we drove by a house with a penis painted on the outside wall, complete with testicles and a few straggly hairs, I blinked and told myself, "Nah. Couldn't have been." But then it kept happening. WC was having a similar experience. Finally, we turned to each simultaneously and said in unison, "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

Then we whispered to her brother, "Ask the guide why there are penises EVERYWHERE."

As it turns out, the penis is a powerful symbol of fertility and good fortune in Bhutan.

We visited a temple with lovely murals painted on the inside walls. Our guide told us the story depicted: One day, a buddha decided to take a new lover. This particular buddha was an accomplished archer and so he took up his bow, fitted an arrow into the shelf, pulled back the string, and let the arrow fly. The thinking here was that the arrow would lead the buddha to his next lover. As it happened, the arrow landed in Bhutan, on the doorstep of a house. When the buddha arrived, he found a beautiful woman living there. So naturally he began to make love to her. Turned out however that she was married and when her husband arrived home to find his wife so occupied with another man, he was understandably a bit peeved.

The buddha, having reached enlightenment, possessed great power and demonstrated it (the exact nature of that demonstration was vague, I suspect something dirty). The husband was appropriately cowed and offered his wife freely, only asking that the buddha bless him before leaving.

With perfect comedic timing, just as WC and I were digesting this remarkable story, a monk appeared in the temple and told us that he would bless us. This sounded lovely, but then he produced his hands out from behind his back and approached us with a bow in one hand, and a perfectly enormous wooden dildo in the other.

I did what I do when scared, I froze in place. WC did what she does when scared, she ducked behind me and pushed me forward.

The priest thwacked me on the top of my head, HARD, with the bow and dildo, and then leaned around me to do the same to WC.

Thusly, we were blessed.

But please note that such behavior would certainly not be considered a blessing if done by anyone other than a Bhutanese Buddhist monk.

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