Insight on “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom”

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom has been nominated for Best International Feature Film in the 94th Academy Awards ceremony and as I watch the film, I notice similarities between the movie’s plot, and me watching it as a member of the western world. The film stars a young man who is a teacher but no longer wishes to be. Ugyen is then sent to the most remote school in the world, Lunana, where he is convinced, he will quit and leave. The teacher begins to enjoy the village and teaching more and more as he starts to appreciate what a teacher can really do for the world. “A teacher touches the future,” is what the villagers believe. Throughout the story, the teacher becomes humbled by the villagers as he transitions from his city life. Humbled in a way that he begins to appreciate the hard work and the simple beauty of the village.

As I watch the film, I cannot help but see motifs within the movie. The city the teacher hails from represents western culture with the fun pop music, professional hiking shoes, and a (possibly) Nike jacket. These are the things westerners are comfortable seeing because we do not have to make any sort of effort to understand. These things are exactly the same in the west. As Ugyen transitions into the village, he gradually starts to ease his hold on his familiar city life. Singing is a motif within the film and the contrast between the songs the villagers sing compared to Ugyen is stark. The songs are not something a western person can easily pick up and Ugyen has the same problem, therefore starting to humble us both. The viewer has just as much learning to do as the new teacher. The film teaches both Ugyen and the viewer to always try to understand another person’s way of life. Ugyen constantly complained about Lunana until he started to understand it. As westerners, we make assumptions about the ways others live, even within their own country. I live in a very urban environment and have assumptions about people who live on farms, let alone people who live on a different side of the world, have a different language, different traditions and simply a different way of life. It should be common decency for someone to always try to understand another person’s life before making any assumptions about them.

King to Father

Throughout out readings of King Lear, it is evident that Lear no longer understands the world around him and no longer understands others advise to him. It is said in the very first chapter that Lear is growing older, and he realizes this and therefore he gives away his lands and money but most importantly, he doesn’t give up his title as king. He subconsciously was not ready to give up his claim because he knows no other identity than that as king. He does not realize that there are many things and relationships that make up a person’s identity and because of this, those people have the ability to mold each other’s characters.

Lear does not think of himself as a father. He will say that he is the father of his daughters and that is true but there is more to a father than just biology. A father should be caring, loving and accepting. If these things are believed to be true, then why would a father disown his daughter because she professes that she can love her father and her husband? By the end of the novel, Lear is stripped of his army, his daughters, and his sanity but through it all, he finally understands that he only ever needed one person to love him, not an entire army nor kingdom. His reconciliation with Cordelia was a turning point in Lear’s character because he understands that being king is temporary, but being a father is permanent.

“Let Her Go”, By Passenger

The song “Let Her Go“, by Passenger, All the Little Lights, is an extremely popular song as the nature of the song describes a memory that many people can relate to. At the song’s core, it emphasizes how waiting too long to tell someone else how you feel may be too late and that person may have moved on. Nearly every line has tones of regret stricken through it especially in the lines

Well, you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
‘Cause you loved her too much, and you dived too deep

This set of lines also has a rhyme scheme at the end of each line indicating the congruent thoughts and feelings. Rhyme schemes are also present in every other verse but very slightly. In this quote, however, the metaphor of “[diving] too deep” serves on levels because a person can dive, or fall, into sleep just as a person could dive into love.

But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go

The chorus of the song makes many comparisons between what was and what is, allowing the listener to contemplate what they regret seeing, feeling, or hearing. The chorus also has a rhyme scheme which is almost all the same ending sound except for “home” which makes the word stick out. The listener is forced to confront first the definition of “home” and then what this might mean to the listener personally, simply enhancing the theme of seizing your opportunity. All in all, I think the song is beautiful and forces reality to emerge from often a blissful love story or from a tragic one.

Thoughts on Exit West

To me, Exit West seemed anticlimactic. The book was built as if it is the opposite of the traditional pyramid where there are smaller events that build up to the climax near the end of the novel then a small resolution to complete the story. Exit West seems to be built like the climax is at the beginning of the story, when Saeed and Nadia first leave their home country, and everything after that is them dealing with that first change in the story. Exit West seems to be built like the climax is at the beginning of the story, when Saeed and Nadia first leave their home country, and everything after that is them dealing with that first change in the story. Every new place they go is just another change in their lives that again uproot them and lead to Saeed and Nadia’s inevitable separation. I say “inevitable” because it is hinted at that they will separate during their trip to Mykonos and is very foreshadowed in London. Because of all this foreshadowing, the reader could predict the ending, making the actual ending to the book very anticlimactic. The ending was gentle and fitting to the story but when it comes down to it, nothing really happened that couldn’t already be predicted. The book has a strong emphasis on change and how change is okay and is a natural part of life and I thought the ending of the novel fit this theme very well.

What is Happiness?

What does it mean to be happy? What makes people happy? Most people will say that their family or their religion makes them happy but where did we get this attachment to these things? Does our family really make us happy or are we obligated to see them? Does our religion make us happy or are we obligated to worship something? Our society attaches value to our objects and relationships that really mean nothing because they simply make our limited lifespan more manageable for our brains, in terms of avoiding the inevitable. But by having all of these relationships, we do complicate our lives by having to navigate all these other people when in reality, these inevitable squabbles are pointless just like our relationships.

Meursault exemplifies this perfectly though his absolute lack of friendships or relationships. When Raymond asks Meursault if he would like to be “pals” with him, Meursault responds with “‘Yes’. I didn’t mind being his pal, and he seemed set on it,” (pg. 33). Meursault responds the same way when Marie asks him if he would like to marry her, always responding “We could if she wanted to,” (pg. 41). Meursault understands that he is here on this earth for a good time, not a long time so he doesn’t distract himself with useless relationships, unless they give him pleasure.

Is it Better to Not Care?

Meursault is a person who doesn’t give much thought to anything, not even his girlfriend. Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her and he simply responds with “We could if she wanted to” (41). Mearsault lives his life without doing anything of any substance and somehow get himself into dramatic situations. He never has an opinion about anything, always going with whatever the other party says should happen.

So is it better to not care about your own life? Is it better to never have to worry about your own opinion or anyone else’s because you simply don’t care enough? More specifically, does Meursault not care about life choices because he really has no opinion or does he just lack the energy to fight back or did he never even develop a sense of things he actually cares about? I wish to figure out this book.