Thursday, September 18, 2014

Just like a caretaker

I picked the bookmark, placed it between the pages and closed my book. It has been almost an hour that I was reading; I needed a break. Then I logged online - surfed my friends’ pictures on Instagram and checked messages on WeChat, Viber and Facebook.

Almost quite immediately, the Facebook chat bar popped out on my screen. As I touched on it, my friend Gyembo Namgyel from Pemagatshel was greeting me,

“Hello Riku. What you doing there?”

“I’m reading a book. But now taking a short break online here he-he,” I wrote back.

As usual, we jumped into talking about books we read and our writings and blogging. I congratulated him for having created his own blog recently. Gyembo is a former reporter with Bhutan Observer and he writes from his farmland in Pemagatshel.   

“Yeah, I love working in my farm. Now feeling good to see my avocados bearing fruits,” he answered me proudly when I asked him about his farming life.

Generously though, he said, “I enjoy going through your blog and I can see you have improved a lot. Your writing, your reads, your circle of friends; and your outlook of life is what I like most.”

That was too big praise about me and I was greatly astounded. I was sure that I really don’t deserve it. However, that’s what friends are for, aren’t they? So I’m lucky to have one.

For a little while, we chatted how it feels to live a humble life. We’ve agreed, together, it’s simply “beautiful and wonderful”. And then I wrote to him that I always wanted to live a humble life and now emphasizing on it even I stay in a City like Thimphu.

Gyembo responded, “I’m glad that you have found this important direction in life. Riku, always be like that. If we live like this, every moment of our life is just beautiful.”

I thought to myself that this is the key to a happy life on our short stay on earth; and most importantly, I hoped this is the right way to life. 

“Everything is just ephemeral, you know? Nothing tangible. Nothing actually belongs to us. We are just chowkidars (caretakers) of what little we have and have to pass on including this body,” he wrote to me.

I read the message, and reread it more carefully. Oh it penetrated me so deeply that it stirred every part of my body. For a moment I couldn’t digest the fact, this brutal truth.    

Then I turned away from my phone. I pulled up my window curtains, opened the glass and myriad of golden rays of the setting sun flooded into my room. As I craned my head out window, I felt delighted to see the sun shining stunningly through clouds and prayer flags.

I asked the mighty sun in wonder, Are we just caretakers of what little we have including this body? 

I waited for answer. But the sun sank beyond the mountain and horizon and beyond my grasp. I was again left with that vast question still echoing in my head.

However, wondrously, after a brief moment I started feeling deep sense of comfort dwelling in this question. Sometimes the depth of our thoughts is like the presence of sun that exists over the horizon, in the sky, which meant the light of life to us yet its existence is way beyond our grasp, logic.

Meanwhile I turned back in my room and picked up the phone. Instantaneously, I wrote back to Gyembo, “I’m glad I dropped at the right place to take this break from reading. This realization is beautiful. Thank you.”

And I continued reading. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Birthday celebration with words

This morning I got up at 7. The first thing that I did was I gladly thanked my God for this particular day and for having lived so long. After taking quick bath, I had my tea and breakfast. I put on my fresh gho and walked down office.  

Well, it’s beautiful sunny morning and the first fresh aroma of autumn was in the air. However, this walk was quite different that I felt myself smiling all along. As I walked, again, I contemplated on the day - today - the fourth of September.

It’s the day I was born in village of Chuzagang in Gelephu. Oh, I just can’t believe I’m 31 today and that I’ve already lived 30 plus years. Suddenly being 31 and how fast time flies has bothered me in a strange new way. It has kind of shaken me, feeling anxious than usual.

I was anxious because I’ve reached almost halfway to life; after all, it’s one life and there’s still so much to do and experience in life. Am I falling back in life? Have I experienced everything that life has to offer? Have I achieved enough? Did I live my life the way I always wanted? And where I’m heading to?

I asked these vast questions to myself as I walked to my office. Meanwhile, I watched around and saw some people walking in slow pace, others fast, and most were in hurry and driving fast. Immediately, I’ve lowered the pace of my walk; hopefully I could find answers. 

Sometimes, or most often, we need to take slow walk in life. For me, this slow walk helped me to enjoy the gift of a quiet time, to listen to the inklings of my heart and to realign my priorities.

Quite surprisingly, from last year I started to pull my beloved ones closer. I’ve always focused on my family and my friends, and my home. Also, I’ve equally emphasized on my blog and blogger friends, on my writing, and on the good books I read.

I know that I’m lagging behind in life in some aspects. I know that I haven’t yet experienced everything and I still have lots to do and achieve in life. But my beloved ones and this slowing down have helped me to put down all the questions and anxiousness buzzing in my head, and instead filled my life with more love and more intention.

Now, right now, as I sit in front of my computer and have just completed writing this post, I feel all blast and happy. By the way, I don’t celebrate my birthday with cake and party, but with words here on my blog.

And what a joy to participate in the Book Bucket Challenge on my birthday! I graciously thank Rupa Gurung, Dasho Lingi Jamtsho, Nawang Phuntsho, Sonam Tenzin and Langa Tenzin for nominating me in the challenge. So here’s a list 10 books that have hugely impacted my life and writing:

1. ‘Dear Seday’ - Ugyen Gyeltshen
2. ‘Then I saw her face’ – Nawang Phuntsho
3. ‘The Night Hunter’ – Lingi Jamtsho
4. ‘Angela’s Ashes’ – Frank McCourt
5. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ – J D Salinger
6. ‘The Mill on the Floss’ – George Eliot
7. ‘The Secret’ and ‘The Power’ – Ronda Byrne
8. ‘Life of Pi’ – Yann Martel
9. ‘The Kite Runner’ – Khaled Hosseini
10. ‘Norwegian Wood’ – Haruki Murakami

Sunday, August 31, 2014

So close to my heart

I love weekends. I love it more to keep them empty and un-programmed. You know it well that weekdays are all scheduled, committed and busy. These two particular days of the week – Saturdays and Sundays – are exclusively meant for me, to spend time on myself, on what I love, on what is close to my heart.                    
So last weekend, I’ve spent my entire weekend at Chapcha in Chukha with my friends Chencho and Pema. I’ve got a very small circle of friends, and have always emphasized, valued and protected them. They are so close to my heart. 

Chencho’s parents still live in Chapcha and it’s our first time visiting his village. It’s a beautiful village where a handful of traditional houses spread over the valley surrounded by green forest trees and farmlands.

As we entered the village, Chencho showed us the places where he used play archery games with other village kids and the footpath that he used to walk to his primary school. Every nook and corner evoked childhood memories in him.  
We saw a few ruins whose owners had forsaken for urban areas. Then we came across a group of farmers weeding in their field. Chencho knows them well; they too know him. We stopped as Chencho began chatting with an old woman. She knows all the family members of Chencho and what they do and where they work. It’s a pleasant thing to know this; whereas in Thimphu we don’t’ care to know about our next-door neighbors.

The sun was beginning to march down when we reached Chencho’s house. We sat in a room and over tea and snacks we watched his photo albums. The photos gave us rare opportunity to know Chencho’s life from his childhood to boyhood and now as a man.
We could also see some photos that we took together when three of us met for the first time at Sherubtse in 2005. All the memories we had made, the laughs and tears have flashbacked instantaneously. We reminisced at the memories, together, feeling surprised and blessed too.
The window of the house has amazing views looking down at the infinite green valley of Chabcha. My eyes stretched for miles over the fields, valley and mountains that soared high up daring to surpass the heaven.

“How fortunate you’re to be born and brought up in such a beautiful place,” I whispered to Chencho, feeling elated and deeply at peace.
The setting sun shone brilliantly painting the entire valley in golden rays. The evening breeze stirred grasses in the air and how we wished to stay forever gazing at it and spread our wings, fly, soar. Like this.
Then we walked down to potato field of Chencho’s parents. Three of us, three friends, dug a bag full of potatoes to be brought home in Thimphu. Potato is the main cash crop and source of income for the people of Chapcha.

“I could complete my education - primary, high school, university degree and postgraduate – all thanks to this potato,” Chencho explained to us, his face all in smile.
Pema, who is from Paro, agreed and remarked, “In my case, it is apple.”

And as I’m from Chuzagang I reiterated, “I thank rice.”
How wonderful to discover together the important roles that crops have played in our lives. To tell you, rather proudly, this visit helped us understand Chencho’s family and place, upbringing and explored what he was born into. Most importantly, it gave this friendship even greater depth, meaning and respect.

Note: All pictures shot in phone

Friday, August 22, 2014

Working together, blogging together

This is the fifth year of my career in this job. This career – this many years - has brought so many good people in my life. In fact, I’m so happy to say that most have turned into close friendship. Some quit working with us but I’m still in touch with them.
First photo together back in 2011 
So this post is all about my colleague but one in particular. Amrith Bdr Subba. He is my senior. A kind and supportive, he had guided me in all office-related works. I’m so blessed that I’ve met him as my colleague.

Well, this post is more than this. It’s about our common interests and appreciations. I was quite astonished, several months back, when I found out that Amrith too maintains a blog, that too so beautifully and with utmost commitment.

You can’t just imagine how much joy it gave me to know about it and simply go through his blog. It’s absolutely different feeling for me, a kind of blessing-of-kinship feeling. By the way, no other colleagues of mine do blog.

To tell you honestly, after that, for better, almost everything changed between us – our conversations, respect and our outlook toward our work and workplace.

In the past, though we worked under the same roof and building and our rooms apart a few yards only we could hardly meet and talk. We were always busy; for the record, we spend almost half of the day in the office. Even if we did, our talks were mostly about works, programmes and projects. 

However, today even amidst tedious office work, Amrith and I take out our small time together. Over cup of coffee or tea, we jump into the conversation of what we love – writing and blogging. Sometimes other staff join us.

Quite surprisingly, both of us often write about our daily life, family and friends, and love and aspirations which, indeed, are very very important aspects of our life. Chatting and discussing about what we love offers a good break from the daily work. Sometimes it helps the day go from hard to less hard, trust me. 

This is why I feel I’m blessed to have a colleague with same interests and who understands and appreciates what I do. He is not only my senior staff, but a colleague who likes my blog, who asks about my writing life, who tells me not to give up.

I’ve been very busy with my office work lately. And I tell you that I couldn’t write much these days.

It was yesterday when Amrith cheerfully reminded me, “Hey Riku, don’t you think it’s time to update your blog?”

I couldn’t say that I was busy because I know that it’s a lame excuse. So I nodded. So this is the update. This is the post. This is the story of us - two colleagues working together, blogging together.

More about Amrith Bdr Subba:

Amrith is visually impaired person. He lost his eyesight when he was nine. It is amazing to see that he does almost everything on his own - his own household chores, walks, cooking and office works. He has in his name Maters Degree in Counselling, Post Graduate Certificate in Management, and BA (Hons) in English.

One afternoon, he joked, “I am also a VIP.”

It shocked me. After a moment, he declared, “Visually Impaired Person - VIP.”

You would just wonder if you see him using computer. He has far superior knowledge about computer and social media than me. Quite wondrously, he created his blog on his own. Now I am learning from him how to refine my blog. More surprisingly, he administers two other websites Disabled Persons Association of Bhutan and Nazhoen Tewa.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


We live in a beautiful landscape. Clear sky, fresh air, beguiling clouds, green trees and aesthetic architectural designs clothed around us. These are the real staple of it, our proud country, which makes our life always enriching and ever contented. 

A wonderful weekend, dear readers!

Monday, August 4, 2014

You had me from hello

We set out on our journey to Paro Airport. It was still before dawn and all dark. That’s the thing when we’ve to catch early morning flight. Actually I was accompanying my friend Sonam till the airport as he was leaving for studies.
It was raining considerably in Thimphu. Sonam was driving and I sat in the front seat and was feeling pretty woozy. In fact, we were traveling in a stark silence. I tried talking to him but I’ve nothing to say, so I kept quiet.

But it was Sonam who broke the silence, “Hey Riku, get married. When I return from my studies after three years I want to see you complete. Settled down.”

I knew he was pushing on me, jokingly though. So I just smiled at him.

But he was quick to react on his own statement, “But you know what? Marriage is all we wanted in our life. That’s what everybody wanted out of you.”

He pulled down the window glass and the deep chill air gushed into the car. This is exactly what happened to me when people inquired me about marriage – a deep chill runs through my nerve.

“But you’re different, my friend. You are taking your own time. Marriage is not everything. If you think you don’t want it, stay single. That’s also life,” so he comforted me.

In fact, that’s got to be the nicest thing anybody’s said to me in recent time. Then he played on his stereo. Well, it was Bon Jovi and his track You had me from hello. It went on,

At the mirror you fix your hand and put your makeup on
You're insecure about what clothes to wear
An' I can't see nothin' wrong
To me you look so beautiful, when you can't make up your mind

Meanwhile Sonam began singing to the song. As he sang, he strummed his hands on the steering wheel and shook his head to the melody his eyes focused on the road. Now and then, for a brief moment, he glanced and smiled at me in an excited way.

The rain kept pouring down. I watched the nonstop drops of rain tapping on the windshield and how the wiper pushed them away. At the same time, Bon Jovi kept on singing from the stereo; but this time I too hummed it and together we sang it loud,

The first time I saw you, it felt like coming home
If I never told you, and just want you to know
You had me from hello.

We rode through the road on and on. Sometimes bumpy and muddy, other times foggy and dark, but most of the time it was a smooth ride. Our friendship too has been suffused with a bittersweet passage of time. We had highs and lows but often did it sail smoothly. 

When we reached Paro Airport the rain stopped and dark sky gradually opened up for a beautiful morning. After bidding Sonam farewell at the airport, I began my journey back home.
As I drove, I played on that song again. I rolled down the glass and the deep chill air gushed in the car, but this time it felt different – very pleasant and comfortable.

I spread my hand out the window and craned my head too - receiving the air full on my face. Oh, it felt simply amazing. That is it. I needed to open the closed window of my mind and break out to embrace change in my life.

Eventually, the morning sunlight gently flooded the entire valley. It’s a fresh morning and new day. For me it’s new take on life; hopefully marriage and having my own family. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014


“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
                                            ― Friedrich Nietzsche