Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Charlie Marcus from Lexington, Massachusetts is a seasoned world traveler and the director of Luminosity Light and Sound. He has traveled, worked and visited 30 states in the US and has also been to Israel, Jordan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Recently, he was on a tour to the Kingdom of Bhutan, a country in South Asia located near the eastern end of the Himalayas. And, this in turn has made a tremendous impact on the way he perceives life and the beauty of the world in general.
Originally from Kingstree, Marcus’ spark for tinkering with lighting and sound began at a very early age.
“I guess what got me started on my path was that my mom was a dance teacher for over 30 years,” Marcus said. “Growing up in that background at a young age influenced me. I couldn’t really dance, but I always helped with setting up the show with the sound and lighting.”
The reason for Marcus’ recent travel to Bhutan was that he was a part of a project which was in partnership with the University of Texas, El Paso and the Smithsonian. A technical team was sent to produce and premier the very first live opera performance. The time frame was for about a month where he worked with some of the world’s most talented people, and described it as an experience of a lifetime.
“Arriving there, the first thing you see is Mount Everest,” Marcus said. “Then your adventure starts. It just gets better and better.”
Thimpu, the largest city and the capital of Bhutan was the nearest place for his team to find supplies for the construction of the opera house. It was roughly 12 hours away from where he was stationed. He had to make sure that the process was smooth and no supplies were wasted.
“We built everything from scratch. Their tools were old and torn down, they had no power tools, everything was done manually and none of these guys spoke English. They watched us work, took notes and then started building things,” Marcus mentioned.
One aspect that stood out while he was there was the way of life among the Bhutanese people.
All of the workers had nothing as far as wealth and money goes, but they had peace within them. They were content with what they had. They did not argue or fight, nor did they complain or grumble about the lack. They got along with one another and treated Marcus and his team with equal respect and hospitality.
The idea of traveling to other countries and experiencing other cultures requires one to fully understand the meaning of acceptance. It is an acquired skill. One needs to accept cultures as they are and not compare it to their own; for instance, specifically saying that one’s culture is better than the other. Accepting people the way they are matters as well-- at least while among them.
For Marcus, the experience was personal and felt like the culture had surpassed his expectation.
“The way they treated one and other and the way they treated me was what I loved the most,” he said. “I had a chance to sit down and eat with the common folk and I became friends with the guy at the hardwood store. They just want you to remember the place. They just want you to remember them. The treatment was so warm and, it’s the same treatment I would have received if I was in a palace. They are honest. I’ve done a lot of traveling in Asia and other places like the Caribbean, but I saw that the people in Bhutan are very, very honest.”
The most prominent characteristic that Marcus noticed while spending time with the Bhutanese people was that they took pride in their rich cultural heritage.
It still remains intact because of the isolation of the land from the rest of the world. Not only did the rich culture stand out, but also the aesthetic beauty of the landscapes and its horizons.
“Being able to wear their traditional dress was the best thing,” Marcus said. “These people are not very rich. They are actually very poor. There’s no concept of ‘want.’ They don’t ‘want’ anything. Everybody lives that way and it’s just very peaceful. They don’t know of any bad out there.
They are kind of sheltered in the Himalayan Mountains and it seems that the land is untouched. It’s simply beautiful. They are proud of their place, they are really proud of it.”
If given another chance, Marcus would surely go back to Bhutan for other projects and other teaching or electric programs. He mentioned that people need to have the desire to travel and see other places as often as possible, if they can.
“I want to let the people of Kingstree know that I was proud to represent South Carolina and Kingstree while in Bhutan,” Marcus said. “It’s a long way from home, but I got to see what most people don’t get to see in a lifetime. It’s something I could bring back you know, that good spirit from Bhutan. I want to bring back some of their calmness and share it here.”
He added, “One way of thinking I learned from traveling to Bhutan was that, you always want to be heading somewhere and going somewhere. I got to my destination, but I still got to be on my journey. So, I’m still going somewhere else and, I’m on my way there.
“’It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.’ I think I came back home understanding that.”