Friday, July 31, 2015

Namling - The road that takes you close to death

If you are traveling to the Eastern Bhutan, one thing that automatically strikes your mind is the Cliff called Namling Brak. Located shortly after Sengor on the way to Mongar from Bumthang, it is the deadliest and wildest cliff of Bhutan. In fact, without passing it you cannot reach the Sharchop region (unless you travel through India).  
At an altitude of 3,000 metres, Namling is usually foggy and is very steep stretch of rocky cliff. Quite wondrously, the East-West National Highway runs through it, perhaps making it one of the world’s wildest roads.

Moreover, the road is very narrow without much roadside protection walls. The moment I look at the cliff below every hair on me stands up shrieking with fear. And that particular moment, I always feel the chill of death. You miss a step and you are spot dead. Oh, that close to death!  
Every time I travel here in the bus, I see a strange behavior among the travelers. The moment we arrive at the cliff, a complete silence ensues in the bus. The travelers take out their rosary and pray reverently. Even the drunk people come into consciousness. Seriously. They start hailing God and conjuring local deities to protect them.

For Bhutanese, Namling is known as “Death Drop” after the national tragic accident where a passenger bus fell 300 metres down the cliff in June 1998 and 58 passengers killed. After that, it has been considered as haunted and ghost-infected place. People have stories to narrate, of ghost and eerie and frightening incidents; they were scared and stopped travelling from Namling after 4 pm.  

For me, it is the longest and most frightening 10 minutes drive of my life.
However, after the horrifying drive, we come to a marvelous waterfall which falls down the cliff. As soon as the travelers spot the waterfall, they sigh in a huge relief. The waterfall falls at a stunning height of about 50 metres.

Your fear and agitation forgotten, you would just run-round in a fury of extreme excitement. It simply is an awe-inspiring spectacle to sit and watch. For ever, and ever.  

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Eastern Bhutan-Roadside pictures

I am so much intrigued by the beautiful valleys, rainfalls, rivers, villages and innocent people of the Eastern Bhutan. So to tell you, I have taken a lot of pictures all along my journey by the roadside, by the East-West highway. Most of the pictures were taken on moving bus and I share with you some of them here, 
An innocent young lad just starts his day to school, just begins his life

Trying to gain attraction from the passing by travelers: Lingmithang kids

Asking for lift

In-built umbrella on his head, handmade one: Rangjung

This board says it all, that you are in the east
All empty beer bottles. Sharchop can really drink
And this says it all, after you get drunk
Liquor agent...? What kind of liquor?
DTH: And this is what you get....phallus on your screen?
Coincident, but same pose: Mongar

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Eastern Bhutan-Landscape pictures

After eight years, I took a travel to the Eastern Bhutan. For this matter, I have a lot to write about the trip and journey itself. This journey is a whole lot roller coaster of reverberating memories of my past, of those times I had spent in Bumthang and Kanglung.

Visiting here, after many years, was like a beautiful nightmare to me. But most importantly, I love peace, serenity and magnificent landscapes of the Eastern Bhutan. And I am pretty sure that my pictures write it all about the journey. So here it is. 
Lingmithang, Mongar
Yathra shop, Chumey
Dangme Chu

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Living a rich life in humble way

If you are a regular visitor here, then you would know that this blogger is a walker too. As much as I love walking, I choose to write about it here on my blog.

I don’t know precisely how I picked this habit, but I have been walking considerably since long time ago. From home to office and back, to the town besides my planned evening walks. But as far as I know, I started walking when I couldn’t afford car.

Often my friends and colleagues asked me, “When are you going to buy car?"

I responded, unsure, “After I get married.”

Now I am married and I have come up with another excuse, “After I get a kid, I will.”

In Thimphu, you are expected to own a car as soon as you start working. It is supposedly to do with maintaining our social status. For those office goers and family person, it is to do with their convenience.

Simply put, without car, I struggled in Thimphu. Taxis were expensive. My bosses would give me works assuming I have car. Often the summer’s monsoon rain was thwarting, and the winter’s cold harsh. Moreover, attending a meeting or workshop was always a problem when I have to travel far away from my office.

A few years ago, I was sharing these concerns to a foreigner friend of mine. And in the meantime, I uttered that I was planning to buy a car.

My friend looked at me wide-eyed and surprised and then reacted, “Bhutan is such a beautiful country: magnificent landscape around you, fresh air, green plants all over and friendly people. Riku, you are very lucky to be born in Bhutan. Why do you want to buy car and cover yourself in a metal box?”  

It hit me hard, for that matter. After that I dropped the idea of owning a car. Instead, I started walking more and many times I declined when others have offered me lift.

It helps maintaining my good health, but much of my walking I just stop by and enjoy the nature. More than I could tell, it marvelously brings me closer to the Mother Nature. I become a part of it, part of beauty. The myriad colours of plants, the fragrance of flowers and the mystery of mountains always leave me astounded, brighter and happier.

Last week, I was hosting dinner to my close friend who just returned from his studies in India. He told me, “Bhutan itself is a five-star facility.” He explained that all that we have - fresh air, pristine forests and rivers, magnificent monasteries, stunning rural farms and undisturbed environment - are rare and precious.
“One can find these facilities only in a five-star hotel elsewhere. You have to pay for them - that too very expensive, artificial,” he continued adding, “But we (Bhutanese) don’t understand it unless we travel outside.” 

I don’t know how far I can maintain this attitude and habit. But as far as I am concerned I will try to avoid dragging myself cocooned in the metal box. Out in the open, wide and free, I will enjoy the five-star facilities walking. Like this, I will try to live my life rich with more intentions in a humble way. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A pilgrimage, photo excursion

On the Birth Anniversary of Guru Rimpoche, my wife and I went to visit the Wangditse Dzong in Thimphu. The purpose of the visit was basically to pray for the wellbeing of ourselves and all the sentient beings on the religious day. However, on the day, I landed up taking lots of pictures that I am going to share with you here. Have a lovely rainy Sunday! 


Thimphu Valley

Takin Zoo

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Story of a stink bug

About a year ago, my friend Chencho Thinley narrated this story to me. When I heard it, I absolutely loved it and since then this beautiful tale has left me hugely inspired. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to my friend; moreover, I can’t wait any longer to share it with you. So here it goes.

Once upon a time, there was an insect by the name of Stink Bug. He lived in a tree with his fellow bugs. But he was never happy because he was very stubborn and pompous. He prided himself for being very smart and clean.

He had a belief that everything and everybody around him was erroneous and tainted. Indeed, he felt sick of everything. One day he decided to leave the wood and his friends. After flying for quite a length of distance, he came across an attractive tree in a forest. He was quite happy to start his life new in this fresh tree.

However, after sometime, he started feeling foul smell in the tree. He veered around and in noisy jerks he stamped his legs on the wood, angrily. More intense pungent smell came; the breeze further spread it. Out of disgust, he cursed the tree for bearing such a foul smell. He left the tree and went on searching another.

This time he spotted new tree, more attractive one. The pest resided in the tree joyfully. After a few days, it started bothering him again. For, he encountered the same noxious smell from this tree. It put him in a foul mood and he cursed this tree too. And as was his habit, he departed from it too in search of another wood.

Likewise, he looked for and resided in handful, dozens and hundreds of trees. He had problem with all of them; the putrid smell was always there, in all trees. At the end, he came to an impression that every tree is bad, stinks.

All his life, the bug landed up being unhappy and cursing the trees for being very smelly and obnoxious. However, the truth is that it was his own smell that was the source of constant disgust and unhappiness for him.

So this is it, the story of a stink bug!

Since I first heard it, the story took me inside of me that I hardly go and has forced me to rethink some of my own prejudices and pride. Indeed, it truly helped me understand and realign my perspectives and life’s sojourn.
I have met many people, some very close to me, who keep hopping on different jobs. Never satisfied, they always blamed the organizations and people that they have worked with. It is a terrible thing to say, but true.

Also, there are people who are unhappy with their relationships, so they change frequently. So I do see those people who are never happy in one place.

But I admit here, I too have been like the bug. I was not happy with what I have and what I was doing. Of course, I did blame the people and circumstance around me and tried looking for new avenue.

The truth is that we tend to shape things to suit our own situations, perspectives, opinions and beliefs. The greater truth is our ego and arrogance will not permit us to become happy and enjoy the beauty of life.
Yay! It's this simple. Put down your prejudices like the clouds here and you can enjoy the beauty across the landscape

So as I end this post here, I leave you a few questions to mull over this evening. How often do you look into your own perceptions, intentions and feelings? Are you aware of it? Are you working towards correcting your prejudices and perspectives? 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

To my man, my Father

I am reposting this story today; yes, again to mark the Father’s Day. This particular post, written in 2012, means a lot for me. Here it is.  
With my Father
Today, 17 years later, I still remember that incident; in fact, with profound gratitude and a sense of homage for my Father. And what had happened that day has irrevocably bound us together.   

It happened when I was 14-year old, on a weekend afternoon. Winter? Spring? I don’t remember it precisely. My Father wanted to fell a tree next to our rice field for firewood. He wanted me to go along to help him cut it.

That noon, my Mother cooked fried rice and an omelet each for us. After having the lunch, as my Father hung his long saw over his shoulder, I received the axe in one hand and tea kettle other.

After reaching the spot, my Father scaled the tree, making a round and briskly measured its size. It’s double my size and about 30 feet tall. He, then, asked me to hang at one end of the saw as he started pulling it from other end.

The afternoon sun was heavy on our backs, and we kept moving the saw backwards and forwards. It seeped deeper and deeper into the tree trunk.

We sweated profusely. My body exhausted, my back ached. But I remained determined and continued cutting the tree.   

Suddenly, a loud hectoring sound of the tree rumbled like lightning over us, deafening too. In a flick of second, the tree fell down, right on us. All hell was breaking loose, I felt. My body turned cold with fear, my heart chilled to ice, my mind went blank.
I stood there, baffled, caught between turmoil and confusion. At that point, I thought both of us - father and son - were mauled to death. Oh, I was stunningly safe! Only a tiny branch of the tree hit me, slightly scratching my right hand. I wondered about such a miracle.

Meanwhile, I had realized that my Father was nowhere to be seen around. That moment, I thought I had lost my Father to the hurtling tree. Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I cried loudly.  

But to my surprise, oh thank god, my Father spectacularly rose from beneath the felled tree. He had been hurt real bad. I could see his hands and legs bruised, fresh blood oozing too. But without least bother to his wounds and pain, he darted towards me.  

He held me, instantaneously, to ensure his son was ok. I read “Are you ok, son?” expression on his face. As he checked my hands, legs, and head, he burst into tears and finally put his arms around me for a hug. He hugged me, all apologies. So he heaved a sigh of relief.

Immediately after that incident, we returned home. That afternoon, we didn’t bring home firewood. But, certainly, I took an understanding about my Father - his selfless care, unconditional love, and affection and protection for me.

Today, on this auspicious occasion of Father’s Day, I wish my Father all the lucks and good blessings. May you live long and keep protecting and inspiring me. A wonderful Father’s Day!