e-Postcard from The Kingdom of Bhutan

April 20, 2004 

e-Postcard from The Kingdom of Bhutan 

The archer slowly drew back his arrow, his hands steady, the bamboo bow distorted into a widemouthed sideways U. Unlike modern compound bows, which actually get easier to pull the farther you draw back the string, this traditional Bhutanese bamboo bow grew ever harder to pull the further he drew the arrow towards himself. His eyes narrowed into slits. He slowly elevated the bow and arrow towards the sky, finely judging the fiercely blowing and ever changing winds and the 200 yard distance to the tiny target. He ignored the chanted taunts of the opposing team’s cheerleaders questioning his ability to complete the reproductive process, challenging the ability to find certain parts of his anatomy without the aid of optical magnification and allegations of his heritage being closely aligned with Yaks. He blocked out the flicks of their scarves mere inches from his face, and released the arrow. 

On its parabolic arc rode the destiny of his team and his village. Having fought through months of tournaments, he and his ten teammates found themselves locked in a tight battle in the deciding game of the national championship. Yesterday’s two contests had taken a full day, with each of the finalists winning one game. Today’s game would determine the archery national championship, and with it, which team would receive the prestige, honors and adulation of an entire nation. In Bhutan, archery is the national sport, and winning the archery national championship is comparable to simultaneously winning the World Cup, World Series, Super Bowl, Final Four and the local bowling league. 

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