Skip to main content

This is where we are now

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is a king punished to roll a big boulder up a hill. He puts so much effort to roll the boulder up the hill, but as soon as it reaches the top, it rolls down to the bottom of the hill. And the king has to roll it up to the top of the hill only to see it rolling down to the base of the hill. The whole rolling up and rolling down process starts all over and goes on. For eternity. How monotonous can a task get! How futile an effort! What a waste of energy! And where is the charm in such an existence?
  
Today all of us are engaged in a Sisyphus-like task and just like him we take so much pride in doing that. Every day, we go to office. We start our computer and log on. We browse the Internet and update what’s happening at home or on the way on facebook walls. The more we update it, the more it needs to be updated. I won’t be surprised if slowly people start updating what’s going on in their bathroom onto their facebook walls.

And then we all sit down and start complaining of hundred and one things. We complain and condemn unfair laws. We are cowards, afraid of our voices. We write nasty complaints targeted at an individual or organization on online forums. We borrow others’ opinions and express as our won with pride of having launched a rocket in the sky. And a few would agree. Others would attack and curse the anonymous complainant. Everyone has different things to say about the same thing; except that it essentially means the same thing but said in hundred different ways.

We talk of how tall someone is or how short others are. We gossip who has worn what at some elaborate weddings. We complain about our jobs and we complain about our bosses, good or bad. We talk of how in inefficient our colleagues are (hinting how good we are) and start gossiping about politicians. We talk of businessmen and pass our readymade comments on our celebrity figures. Some say we don’t have any such figures in Bhutan. We have only our mighty egos to be blamed. At the end of the day we have nothing much to talk about. At meetings and congregations, we say so many things and don’t even mean quarter of it.  

Our conversations are scripted and we are certain of what is coming next.
“How are you doing?”
“I am doing fine, thank you!”
“How is your family?”
“My family is doing well, thank you!”
“How is your work?”
“My work is going fine, thank you!”

And sometimes the order is reversed whereby the one who asks questions now becomes the one to answer them later. “Oh so you are going home?” we ask, meeting someone on his way home. “So, you are going to the hospital?”we ask on meeting someone on the way to the hospital. “You are eating your lunch now?” is our question on seeing someone eating his lunch. The list goes on. And last week I was having a haircut at a barber’s when one of my friends spotted me. “You are cutting your hair?” was what I got.  

For the first time in years I realized my body was calling in for some exercise and heeding that call, I went on a late Sunday morning walk. It turned out to be more than a walk. It made me think of deeper thoughts. So, as I am walking on this long stretch of footpath that never seems to end, I meet a man, who carries an umbrella in his hand. I am told that’s his only prized possession. And he as walks, he talks to himself. For a while I mistake him for talking on his mobile phone. Now and then he laughs aloud, but abruptly his mood goes solemn. He continues talking and soon finds reasons for laughter. I tell myself, this no ordinary man.

In the next moment, he walks closer to a rivulet. He immerses his legs and slowly wades through the water. Reaching the other side, he talks to himself for a while and starts crossing the water again. I watch him with curiosity and disbelief as he crosses the river many times. Crossing the water back and forth multiple times gives him so much joy or at least relieves him of unspoken concerns or so I suppose. He talks and communicates with the unseen, beyond normal human perception. I see him as a man who has crossed our level of existence.

In our pursuit of materialism, human web of connection is weakening. We are dissociating from ‘others’. We don’t know who lives in the next door flat, but we try to add as much friends on facebook. And there is no consolation and solace whatsoever. We believe less and less in the power of prayer and many are condemned as superstitious. On the other hand we whole heartedly take pride in “Who has viewed your profile” or who has liked our facebook status. And this is where we are now!

P.S: This piece was published in Bhutan Times May 8, 2011 edition.

Comments

  1. how did Sisyphus become a king, if he was so foolish! He could have dug a hole on the top of the hill and place the boulder in there or just roll up some smaller boulder to support the big one... ophhh... what a king!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

So what do you think?

Popular posts from this blog

Alive and kicking

This feels like ages since I last posted anything here. That shows how inactive I have become on my blog. It is such a pain to let it go empty, day after day. And I am sure that all bloggers share the same sentiments.

I have attempted to blog about something for a long time now, only to find myself failing to do so. Maybe that is my laziness. But sometimes, there is nothing new or interesting to blog about. Topics are crucial. As far as my idea of blogging goes, a post cannot be a mere record of personal events - everyday affairs - although there can be blogs about such topics and interests. For example, the one I am writing now - has nothing about anything in particular,  besides citing some personal excuses.

Bhutan is going through yet another interesting era in that we have just had our third parliamentary elections and the new government is in place. I take this opportunity to welcome the new government and a new set of cabinet members, the speaker of the National Assembly and th…

Our throw-it-away culture

Like all grandparents, my late grandma would call food 'tsampa rimpoche' and any fuss made about it would invite everyone's sneer and scoldings. Food is always treated with respect and is never wasted. "If you waste food in any manner," she would admonish us. "One day food will discard you and you will go hungry." 
What remained from the previous meal would be turned either into porridge or sometimes leftover rice would be dried in the sun. The dried rice would then be fried into puffed rice and consumed with cups of suja. When there was so much food left, especially during big events, leftover rice or kharang would be mixed with a small amount of yeast and brewed into ara.  
The only thing that I can vividly recollect from my primary school days is how we would be hungry most of the time. Food we were served was hardly enough to tickle our throats. We would be sent home only once a week on Saturdays and that was our opportunity to replenish our popcorn s…

Utpal Academy - Bhutan's first All-girls High School

Welcome to Bhutan’s first all-girls school. Isn’t that wonderful news to all our parents? Certainly, as a parent of a one-year old daughter I am excited about the coming of a school exclusively dedicated to the needs of girls. Our girls need special treatment, which we can for sure entrust the responsibility to Utal Academy, Paro.
I really like the name – Utpal – in Buddhist world, Utpal is another name for lotus flower, which is believed to grow from mud and yet blossoms into a beautiful and majestic flower. It stands for purity and many deities are depicted holding flower Utpal, more prominently Jestusn Dolma, the Goddess Tara. Symbolically, it also stands for the transformation of our girls. What an apt name for the school!
The Principal’s message posted on the academy’s website promises providing our young women an “opportunity to participate fully in a wide range of extracurricular activities to develop skills and qualities that will lead to successful and fulfilling life.” That’s…