Namgay painted this mandala a couple of summers ago when we were in Tennessee. He had to get a driver's license and was having a tough time because he couldn't see the signs on the roads. If you live in a place for a while you know what signs to look for. If you've just landed in an alien culture, you have a tough time. I love it that he started combining American iconography in his Buddhist art, his way of making sense out of it all.
While Namgay was experiencing this culture clash he was also becoming addicted to Starbuck's Verona. He'd never had coffee before.
There aren't any road signs to speak of in Bhutan. There's only one road that winds around the mountains; you're pretty much on your own. Signs in Bhutan are religious symbols painted on houses and buildings, prayers painted on rocks, and mandalas like the one above depicting the cosmos: concentric circles of air, fire, water and green earth, and colored symbols within the green symbolizing the four directions. The colored orbits flowing over the water are energy; the blue ones flow east, white ones south, red north and so on.
What's at the center of the universe? Draw your own conclusions.