This year's December has been the busiest month. You know it well how we Bhutanese are. We drag everything towards the end and here I am struggling to complete works before the year's end. However, last weekend, I spared a handful of minutes and walked around my office and was awe-inspired by hydrangeas growing so beautifully for us. So pictures here.
Saturday, December 6, 2014
That evening, if I say so, I had plenty of time on my hands. Even after leisurely shopping and eating foods and struggling with Indian vendors (bargaining and denying) in Jaigaon, I had this time. So I phoned a close friend of mine who lived there, having had decided to meet him.
“Zangdopelri. Yep. Wait there, dude, I will be in a while,” he hung the phone.
So I walked to the Zangdopelri, a Buddhist monastery in the middle of Phuentsholing town. The darkness gradually enfolded the town; however, the power promptly came to light. The monastery was a serene, heavenly place and was perfectly illuminated by the glittering lights. A green park with neatly trimmed trees and benches spread around encircling the monastery where people both old and young were relaxing.
Meanwhile, I joined a group of elderly people and circumambulated the monastery. As we walked around, we kept turning the prayer wheels and breathing in the sweet odour of incense and butter lamps. Many people, all walks of life, were saying their evening prayers, prostrating and circumambulating the monastery.
“Kota, where you from?” an elderly man from the group asked me in Sharchopkha as we continued turning the prayer wheels.
I responded, “From Chuzagang Gelephu.”
“Oh we were thinking you Sharchokpa. Because you got the Sarchop looks,” the meme’s wife quickly reacted.
For the next stretch of time, we kept circumambulating, we kept talking. About our villages, our family members, and our lives. This heavenly monastery and this wonderful conversation with elderly people fed on me a refined kind of energy and humbling experience.
I phoned my friend, to check where he reached. His phone was busy. Then I chose a bench in the park and sat there. A big dog came running to me, tail wagging. I stroke his head and fed him some Indian sweets that I bought from Jaigaon. He climbed on the bench and snuggled brushing against me.
Already I had snapped several pictures in my phone. I filtered a few and when I was about to post on Instagram, a woman called out at me from behind, “Hello, Aue!”
I turned around and was dazzled. A gorgeous woman, tall and slim, stood staring at me. She wore dark short and sleeveless blouse revealing her fair arms. Oh goodness, she is hot, I whispered, inwardly though.
“Aue, can I take away my dog?” she asked me, pointing at my new found friend sitting next to me.
“Oh ok you can. But you need to refund me what he ate – a packet of sweets,” I joked, as I handed the strap of the dog to her.
She pulled the dog from me and shouted, “Lazy, let’s go home.”
Before she left, she turned back and smiled at me. Oh, she appeared way more beautiful. My eyes followed her until she disappeared way beyond the Zangdopelri. Beautiful, beautiful, I kept on saying as if like chanting mantra.
When I was debating with myself whether to phone my friend again, my phone rang. Yes, it’s him, “I’ve reached here, dude. Come straight right in front of the GOI building.”
I ran towards the building. It’s a frenzied last hours in the border town; both merchants and customers were busily engaged in the final commercial activity of the day.
“Hey here, Riku!” my friend waved at me from his car. We hugged, and he took me to his place for dinner. His house was about 10 minutes drive away from the town.
My friend rang the bell. As soon as the door was opened, Lazy sprinted out, wagging his furry tail. A giddy nervousness started to fill my head because I knew what’s coming next.
“Meet my wife,” my friend introduced his wife to me.
I got ambushed.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
You know it well that the autumn has just gave its way into winter and it's unassumingly cold here in Thimphu. Hope all of you are keeping yourself warm and happy. However, I bring to you here some pictures of my village Chuzargang that I took during my last visit. Hope you enjoy going through all. Have a lovely weekend!
Saturday, November 22, 2014
So we set on our journey. We called it road trip; and by then, it was already noon. Our destination was Haa, and then Chelala.
“We have to drive fast; else it will get dark,” my friend Pema who was driving the car told me. Then, he upped the speed.
Quite frequently, we do this, travel outside Thimphu on weekends and holidays; for no better reason than to rejoice our time together and meet other friends. So this particular trip was our fourth time together to Haa only.
A day before, then, a colleague of mine wondered at me, “Of all place, why Haa again? You crazy? I think you have girlfriends there.”
And my colleague spoke it all. Haa, also know as “Hidden-Land Rice Valley”, is still one of the most isolated and least visited dzongkhags. The description list of the place goes on: “tough people”, “dry town”, “cold place”, and “tiny”.
However, Haa is a different and wonderful place; at least for me. My favour for this place comes not misplaced; for I didn’t have any girlfriends there.
There again, Pema and I were travelling. This time was autumn; now we’ve travelled the place in all four different seasons. Once we hit the Haa road from Chuzom confluence, the road became extremely narrow, thin.
The frequency of vehicles greatly reduced; we came across hardly any. We raced on and on and all anxious to reach our destination.
But quite surprisingly, the beauty of autumn and its allure grabbed two of us. Several times, we stopped the car and marveled at the colourful and infinite variety of fields and houses that consumed the landscape. It was overwhelming beautiful. We grabbed our cameras and snapped shots.
All along, the road has amazing views of more spectacular villages and valleys adorned with prayer flags and pristine alpine forests. We simply enjoyed driving, never like before, and all the more fascinated by the innocence and smiles on people’s face and rural peasants toiling humbly. We joined them.
As we neared Haa, the cold air started blowing and the alpine trees appeared richer and dense. Well, the proper Haa is a steep valley with a narrow floor and the entire valley has been so preciously guarded by the venerated three brotherly mountains known as Meri Puensum. The serene Haa River runs right in the middle of valley, feeding the valley and human settlements for ages. Such is Haa. Such is beauty.
After meeting our friend in the town, we set on to our next destination, Chelela. This route has got a gorgeous road and it has amazing views looking down at Haa valley. Oh, I wished that I could fly across the mountaintops for an aerial view of it all.
We were only halfway to our next destination when the sun already started to set; we were worried that we cannot see Chelela. However, we stopped the car again, came out on the road and shared a small talk. The dazzling grass stirred in the air against the yellow, pink and blue hues of the sunset as if enjoying our company.
At that moment a thought crossed my mind, the joy is found not in reaching the destination, but focusing on journey. When we constantly anticipate for the destination we lose sight of all the present moments, isn’t it?
Similarly, our life is not so much about beginnings and endings, and starting and destination. It’s about going on and on and on, and treating the present moments and time as the essence, life.
So we charged forward. So we took our time to appreciate the journey.
Note: Few pictures by Rima
Sunday, November 16, 2014
My unfocussed eyes wandered around the room. It was sparely lit; only a few dim lights illuminated the entire room. Several sets of couches spread over, and then my eyes’ focus ran over the people huddled together face-to-face and drinking beers.
A little farther, one dark corner, I spotted a handful of neatly dressed young men. They were holding microphone each and singing to rigsar song that appeared on the screen mounted on the wall. This is one fine karaoke in Thimphu, I thought.
Then a little right, at the counter, my focus stopped abruptly. A strikingly attractive bartender kept mixing and serving alcoholic drinks. Oh my god, her arms, so slim and graceful; her eyes, so bright and flirtatious! She was at the peak of her beauty.
Each time she passed the drinks to her customers and received money, her face glowed in an expansive smile, all the more prettier. She was a joy to watch, honestly.
Oh, I forgot to talk to you about my friends; I put blame on that bartender. By the way it’s a catch up party, after long time, with my old college friends. After we started working and have our own family, it’s quite difficult to meet often.
So five of us lounged on a couch in the karaoke and we sipped our whiskey. Meanwhile, we passed on microphones and sang to a song of our choice. It’s the Bryan Adam’s “You’re still beautiful to me”:
Turn out the lights and close the door
Put your head on the pillow and let me keep ya warm
I wanna run my hands across your face
Ya lyin’ beside ya still the perfect place
This song – every word, every line, and every stanza – evoked ripe memories of our college time. The time when we were so young, so naïve, so passionate. We remembered those nights when we used to stay late and sing to this particular song.
So once again, we said cheers to our whiskey, this time for our friendship. And we burst into the song, louder, reliving all those reverberating memories:
We’re still goin’ strong
So glad that you came along
Ya babe in every way
You’re still beautiful to me
I just - have to say – you’re still beautiful to me
So beautiful babe
Time and again, the jarim bartender would visit our couch and refill our whiskey glass. And always she smiled in that way, mesmerizingly; how my heart went just zinging and zapping.
I’ve no idea how it came to be, but my eyes following her so much of the time. Furthermore, I was fascinated by her long hair worn straight and swaying right and left where it met her shoulder. Sometimes, it spread wide and ran over her fair arms. Oh, she looked the classiest and the sweetest. Because I had this mysterious attraction for this girl, I don’t know why.
We selected another song, The Calling’s “Wherever you will go”. As my friends burst into the song, I turned my gaze to the bartender again. This time she glanced back at me and smiled when our eyes met. Finally, I made up my mind and walked to the counter. I ordered one more peg of whiskey and sat on bar stool in front of the counter, in front of her.
“I know you,” she told me.
My head swelled with wilderness, and at a loss of words, I took another sip of whiskey.
“Well, you’re Riku Dhan Subba, right?” she asked me with a gleeful smile.
As soon as I nodded my head, she continued, “I follow your blog. You write very well. But I love your pictures the most.”
I thanked her genuinely impressed, but at the same time felt deeply saddened. Firstly, writing is my first love, not photography. Secondly, I asked myself, can I court my follower?
Instantaneously, I ran back to my friends and joined them singing,
If I could, then I would
I’ll go wherever you will go
Way up high or down low
I’ll go wherever you will go
Thursday, November 6, 2014
One morning, these days, I visited this giant river called Torsa in Phuentsholing. I’m not a morning-person though; I hardly rise before eight in the morning. However, just then, I realized what I’ve been missing in my life.
To my amazement, I was stunned by the picture perfect beauty of the sunrise. The way it shimmered over the river, over the Phuentsholing valley, absolutely wowed me. Like a young lad, I ran-rounded the riverside, stumbling at times, but still thirsting for more of the nature’s splendor.
Meanwhile, I sat on the riverside and just enjoyed the water running down so effortlessly, so incessantly like life in itself. The grass like needle that grows tall and abundant around the river decorates it all the more beautiful. Only a few humans were seen supposedly taking early morning leisure walk.
As I sat, my eyes wandered far afar, the other side of the river and then stopped awhile at a flock of birds catching and feeding on fish.
I mused, the early bird catches worm, revisiting the idiom that I learned long before in one of my school textbooks. That moment, I nodded in agreement, exactly after two decades understanding its true meaning. Had I not started my day early I would be missing all this beauty.
All is not well, I thought, I should be living the moment not observing. So I removed my clothes and jumped into the river; ah, it’s very cold and bone chilling.
Soon the sun accompanied me, winking its light on my face reflected from water and fetching me fresh warmth all over my body. The birds swarmed over the river, over us, making harmonious noise. The needle-like plants danced gently blown by the morning breeze. As if all were celebrating beauty, life with me.
So we swam, we danced, in all joy, as if for eternity!