Saturday, November 22, 2014

The place least explored

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

You’re still beautiful to me

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

Celebrating beauty, life

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!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The harvest season

It is the paddy harvest season in Paro. I’ve been long wanted to visit the place and take pictures. I have made it last weekend, but was little late. No matter what, I took some photographs and brought it to you here. Hope you would enjoy la. Have a good time!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

May I trust fireflies

“This year too, son, I am very happy. You have come to meet us,” my father told me as he pulled his chair and sat next to me.

We were sitting in the porch of our house in my village, Chuzagang, Gelephu. It is attached right in front of the house and has been my favorite place to be especially in the evening like this. But before, during my childhood, I used sit here with textbooks and read; sometimes, do painting.
As my father and I talked, the daylight gradually started to grow weaker and weaker. And as usual, the most spectacular thing happened - the sun turned golden, so were the sky and plain. This is the best thing that my village offers and as always, I watched it, awestruck.  

In a while, my mother came with tea for us. As she placed the tea cups in our table, she too pulled a chair and sat with us. So the evening breeze started blowing gently exuding the fragrance of flowers that my mother planted around the porch, we continued talking about farmland and rice cultivation.

My mother agreed with father, “We are expecting better harvest this year. Despite untimely monsoon rain, the paddy so far bearing grains well.”    

Our conversation has been momentarily distracted by my two nephews who ran in and around the porch chasing fireflies following its trailing light. To tell you that so much of my nephews reminds me of my childhood because this is exactly what I used to do when young.

So to add more, the evening came alive with so many activities; it is the most happening time of the day. The farmers returning homes after work. Loud music blaring from radios. The last meal of the day cooking. Cattle and chicken retreating to their shelters.  

Amidst all this, I was simply enjoying this beautiful moment of sitting together and being part of my parents’ life and talking long about their works and life. The more I listened to them did I hear their aspirations, brave hearts and sacrifices. It brought my parents so close to my heart, and the joy that I get from this particular closeness is truly blessing.

However, deep inside me, that moment, something very strange started to prick me hard and I nearly cried. It’s guilt – the guilt that I didn’t put enough effort to visit my parents in the past and spend time with them. My excuse was that I was busy with my works in Thimphu; in fact, I was always charging forward and constantly looking for a life that I wanted. 

So fast, like in minutes, the evening turned into complete darkness.

“Ah, the winter is finally here. It’s getting dark very fast and the days becoming shorter, colder,” my mother reckoned the season, holding her hands.

My father looked at her and nodded. Then he turned his gaze at me. I smiled at him; then he smiled too. Instantly, my mother’s face glowed in all smile in reassurance.
The darkness engulfed the entire village, and the number of fireflies increased significantly. They streamed around, their fire glowing mesmerizingly. My nephews were still chasing the fireflies and collecting in bottles. I joined them, my heart glowing with sheer joy and contentment like the fireflies after a long sleep.

I know, with utter certainty, the fireflies will go back to sleep the next sunrise. Oh, may I trust the fireflies? I mustn’t. This glow, this light and this warmth in my heart will remain for my parents, for ever.

Dear readers, have a wonderful diwali!

Courtesy: 2nd picture from google

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Photographs - Haa Mela

It’s quite strange experience to be in Haa during the Mela. Thousands of people both Indians and Bhutanese gathered at the two-day long IMTRAT’s Raising Day last weekend to celebrate the close friendship we share. Para-jumps, motorbike stunts and cultural programme were presented to the spectators. However, it was food, games and garment stalls that attracted the crowd the most. And here I share with you all some of the pictures I took.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My village, through digital lens

I’m very happy to be back in my village Chuzagang in Gelephu. My goodness, it’s still hot here, extremely, during daytime. Yes, even in October. But that doesn’t mean this visit of mine is adverse. It’s really joyful.

After all, it’s my own village, the place where my parents live, the community where I was born and brought up. Being here means being reconnected to my footing and root; and as always, my heart revels in a sheer joy.       

However, I’ve decided to see this beautiful village of mine through different perspective, through my digital lens. This time too I took over thousand pictures of it; some posted on Instagram already. In fact, it’s a kind of photo journal of things I love to do.

Quite interestingly, through the lens, through the Instagram filters, I see my beloved village way beautiful and stunning. If you don’t believe me, have a look here:
Rice field
The Sunrise 
The Sunset