The Guard House


As Norlha grew, the small, original buildings that had been built on a low budget around the interior of the south wall were replaced with better built and more functional structures. Only one of these remain, left of the gate, the guard room, referred to by Dechen as ‘the pimple.’

Norlha has four guards, middle aged burly men who have handed over control of their animals to their children. They stay on the premises in shifts, 24 hours a day. They feed the furnaces, maintain a constant supply of boiling water in large thermoses for tea, keep roaming animals from wandering in, and open the gate to visitors all while providing an impromptu gathering place for the other employees during break time, which is always marked by peels of roaring laughter.

Imbibed in contemporary local flavor, the tiny space is dominated by a stove that insures warmth at all times and makes for an ideal place to breed and rear cats. It is a place for friends or suppliers to stop for a chat, and a favorite refuge for children (the guards have strings of grandchildren and their friends), where they do their homework, take naps or lend an ear to the endless pool of gossip that passes through the guardroom.