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Showing posts from July, 2009

Courage Coward Conflict

You are walking alone through the streets of Thimphu on a perfect summer evening. It is drizzling and cool breeze embalms your face. Listening to Don Williams strum his guitar, your feet take you far when suddenly out of nowhere you encounter a group of young men wanting to punch you and hit your head with beer bottles. Some carry glasses and others daggers and a few bicycle chains. As they come closer, stench of alcohol sends a bad signal down your lungs. And with no rhyme or reason, they want to beat you up. What will you do? Will you flee or fight back?I was in a similar situation three years ago at a college. I was on my way to the dormitory from a classmate’s birthday when a group of gone-astray-students blocked my way. Now it wasn’t that late. One amongst the group was truly aggressive. He wants to hit me on the head with a Hit bottle while he on the other hand can hardly stand without his friends supporting him. I always thought the college campus was the safest place in the lo…

For God's Sake Leave sex alone

Of late I am really reading the Chinese Birth Chart, which a colleague of mine has given to me, not simply because I am planning to have a child, but I am purely fascinated its sheer accuracy. Basically, the chart determines the sex of children if the age of the mother is known and the month on which the baby is conceived. I thought that was a marvelous piece of device to have a set of balanced number of sons and daughters in a family. And how do you determine its correctness? If you know the age of the mother when the child is born, you have the answer. And if you want to re-determine your sex, you go back nine months from the month you were born in, keeping in mind your mother’s age when you were born. That’s the month when you were conceived according to the chart. There, it would be marked either M or F. That definitely sounds spooky and correct too. I wish our parents have consulted that sheet as well when they were planning to conceive us in the first place. The idea of knowing …

If Revenge is Sweeter than Honey

Once upon a time, in a big forest there lived a happy hen, happy because she laid an unusually big egg that spring. She was busy preparing a nest for her baby. She was really excited and whistling familiar tunes, she would look for twigs and old pieces of clothes human beings had carelessly thrown in the jungle. She really loved the jungle and its cleanliness but at times felt sad for Mother Nature. One day while she was on her way home from her normal work, she ran onto a fierce looking fox.“Hey you little chicken,” said the fox. “I am starving here.” “Please don’t kill me,” pleaded the hapless hen. “I have to take care of my egg.”“Egg or no egg, I am going to have you now.”“Even if you kill me, kill me once my child is big to be able to find food on his own.”But the greedy fox landed a heavy blow on her innocent chest. The pain was too much for her to stomach and it only increased as her enemy continued hitting her with no stint of mercy. Thus, the hen ceased to live. But now the eg…

Gold Coated Bhutanese Chilies

If you happen to visit Phuentsholing, remember to buy a kilogram of local chilies that are either from Sha or Wang. What is so special about that? The answer is so simple because they are coated with gold! And now how do we know they are gold-coated? The answer is simple because it is expensive. It is very interesting to note that after all ema datsi could actually outweigh the much coveted Bhutanese dish of sikam pa or norsha kam. May be this Bhutanese dish shall reign supreme in Bhutan. But unless we are promised nirvana, we could not afford to spend on green chilies today. I have just had my lunch now. And of all the people in the hotel, I happen to be the only veggie in the room. Unlike the last week or the week before that, today’s menu is short of one item. And that means today something is less for me today in the buffet. I go to the proprietor and ask about the absence of ema datsi from the menu. “I am sorry,” she tells me. “But you see, price of chilies has skyrocketed in the…

Good vs Evil

Once upon a time, there lived two friends in a big forest, a hen and a kirwa. A kirwa is a small animal that resembles a cat. The wild cat and the hen were the best friends, best in that part of the jungle.

The hen and the wild cat lived a small house built out of bamboo and wood. It was a big house by any animal standard. They worked together and collected food together.

And one day as the sun was about to set and darkness was yet to fall on in the forest, the wild cat asked the hen, "hey hen, where do you sleep today?"

The voice sounded as if it came from a pair of jalings being blown by the monks to welcome the dawn.

"Today I will sleep near the hearth," she lied and when the world was silent and shining stars were out, the hen was awoken suddenly by a loud crashing sound that landed near the hearth.

"Hey cat, what are doing there?" asked the hen from the windowsill.


"Byar rey mimang rama rema, gun ni mimang saka lung," the wild cat replied. (summe…

Read or Relieve?

There used to be a pile of carefully selected books and magazines in my cousin’s bathroom, but I took some time to find out why he was spending a long time in the toilet. A few claim that they have acquired their reading habits from the toilet while doing the needful. And for me it is a totally intriguing realization that most of the voracious readers are born in the toilets, if the claim holds any water. I would love to have such dexterity in my genes too. But for me relieving and reading seem to be the tasks of two completely different departments. There are joy and excitement attached to both. I can do them equally with certain flexibility but at different times and places. It is like people selling garments or setting up stalls during local tshechus. I am unprepared to sacrifice the joy of one with the other. In both the activities, one has to watch and concentrate and enjoy every phase of it. Reading requires concentration because when we read, we focus and pay attention to every…

The Rate of Growth and Fall

In a lifetime, one can have only two sets of teeth and nine sets of nails. And our hair is wonderful example of how someone can have so much in life while others can only dream. It knows no castes, creed or religion or region. Just like the material wealth, it can only generate on its own, but any act nurturing has no effect. When I was a little boy, my mother used to tell me stories of dead people’s growing hair. When people die on inauspicious days, cremation is withheld. And especially during summer, dead body is either buried temporarily underground or put in the water until it is time for the cremation. But our teeth are allowed only two lives. One set is already gone when we are children and basically, we are left with only one set. If your appetite is for meaty meals, then better take care of your teeth, people. For veggies, no such worry. I can chew cabbages and tomatoes even at 95. But these days with science and technologies, you could even replace your teeth and become 15 a…

A War of Non-Violence

Ants are wonderful animals. When I was kid, I used to watch them carry load much bigger than their bodies and disappear into the ant holes. They work as a team and help each other. Asides from bees, ants have amazing humanlike instincts. Today Phuentsholing is next to Sahara in terms of heat. And ants are invading our kitchens, living-rooms, bathrooms and even the bedrooms. An ant first appeared and slowly more and more joined the mission. Initially, they respected my bed and chose to march a few meters away from my bed instead. But now their tactics have changed. Last night the leader of the ants must have called a meeting and decided to invade even my bed and the mattress. The war zone is increased. And this morning, I wake up to the sight of so many tiny ant soldiers. The war is on. I don’t know what to do and I am worried I might lose the war just as the mighty elephant lost long, long ago. They are so tiny, I cannot even handhold them and lead them away from my house non-violentl…

This Dream Made me Weep

I am given an opportunity to go abroad on a study tour. An uncle of mine is to escort me. Everything is ready and I am thoroughly excited. But one of my friends told me I needed a suit on this long tour. That’s crazy, but if it is important than I need to have one, I think. I don’t have one. I ask my friends whether they have any. None! Finally, a friend takes me to his friend’s friend who has clothing. I ask him if I could borrow it. A crazy idea by any means, but shit happens in dreams. “My suit is quite new…” the boy avoids looking me in the eye. And walking away from us, he apologizes “Sorry, I cannot borrow it to you.”My sky-like hope comes crashing down. And this morning, I wake up sad and embarrassed. I tell her about my dream. I can no longer hide my tears. She hugs me and consoles me saying it was just a dream. That was of some comfort, for me it was more than a dream; it was a life unknown. I was already wounded by the look of hatred and refusal on the boy’s face. Why would …

A Song with Purpose

When I was a little boy I would be fascinated when adults came together during the losar and tshechu. They would sing and dance. Some would sing it from their hearts and silence the audience, often making them break into tears. Particularly I loved a song called Shar ley sharwai thri dhung. It wasn’t because I understood what each stanza was trying to tell me, but because it was sung in such a captivating tune, haunting melody. And listening to that song more closely today, I understand my reason for fascination to that song was well founded.


Sun that Rises in the East
--- a Bhutanese folksong

Chorus:
Sung yang sung yang sung yang,
Sung dang le mo drik song
Sung yang omo mani
Sung dang le mo drik song

The sun that rises in the east,
How happy would I be if it does not rise!
Once it rises it is someone else’s sun
How sad and depressing that is!
Chorus

The river that runs down the mountain,
How happy would I be if it does not run down!
Once it flows down, it is someone else’s river
How sad and depre…

The Trail to My Heart

The trail to my heart,
cold and frozen.
Bidden with flakes of despair,
parched and crest fallen.
The scissor of fate passes by,
darkness and anguish.
The search for the remaining imprints,
spring and revival.
A new trail starts,
warm and radiant.
Bidden with flakes of hope,
Triumph and trumpetings...

Detaching from Materialism

I don't believe in excess wealth. However, in order for a man to be happy, he has to be in a position to provide for his family. If a man fulfills that role, what can a wife ask for? Happiness is a state of mind they say. And there is happiness in the state of wealth, they say.

Wealth is not my domain. But sometimes, I wonder how it would feel to be a millionaire to be able to give to the poor and offer to the Lhakhangs and Goendheys.

And sometimes I question myself, if I have great wealth at my disposal, would I still think ofthe poor and the needy? Would I care about the people who spend their days in mountains and caves or in the gutters? Would I still know how it feels to be poor and suffer for the want of a few ngultrums to make ends meet? Would I still feel responsible for the poorest sections of the society? I wonder. I may and I may not.

I am quite happy with what I have. And I am glad that I have nothing to worry about. And my head has no enemy like the Serpent King'…

Small Things Big Things

There is a major road block at Taktikoti as always. So, the policemen won’t allow us to drive any inch farther than Tsimasham. It is a good experience, but soon I grow impatient. However, I am glad that I could meet two wonderful teachers from Nagaland who are visiting Bhutan for the first time.

Aside from 24-hour wait at the road block site when they first went up to Thimphu, (they are waiting again today while coming down) the two teachers are all praises for Bhutan. They say that from their earlier road block experience, Bhutanese are generally patient and complain less.
Soon, a small crowd of drivers gathers near the policeman. They nearly break into a fight, frustrated and impatient drivers on one side and the angry constable on the other, fingers pointing at each other.

The two teachers are impressed when I tell them that people in the villages drink a lot of alcohol and yet alcoholism is not so much of a problem in the villages. Our people consume ara, but they also work hard in …