Monday, March 23, 2015

Writing a new chapter of my life

If a husband had to treat his wife a lavish wedding and honeymoon, then I’m failing already. If he had to gift his bride rich jewelry, then I’ve stumbled. For neither had I treated my wife wedding and honeymoon, nor any jewelry.

The traditions of the family I was raised have it though. However, it was largely my wife’s effort to shun it. She had reiterated in a firm tone, “They are not necessary. How we take on this marriage and life matters.”
So one fine afternoon, I offered her this proposition - if we could visit my village to celebrate our union with family members. She agreed instantly.

In a couple of weeks, after that, we rode to Gelephu. It’s a full day journey from Thimphu; plus my village is two more hours walk from Gelephu town.

This visit was my wife’s first time to Chuzagang. All along the journey, she wondered about my village and family members.

She appeared delighted when I told her that my parents still live in the village and practise traditional farming. But it amusingly shocked her when she heard from me that my father married two wives and has 11 children.

Some of my family members
“Oh goodness! Two wives. 11 children,” she reacted intensely in a can’t-believe gesture. For hers a small family of three.

Then she made her statement clear, rather laughingly, “I hope you wouldn’t follow your father and marry another woman.”

Well, that time Chuzagang was blessed with a soft and gentle weather. During the noon, the hot sun fairly pricked us; however, other time it was pleasant. Only my family members gathered for the occasion. We are 47 and four generations living together.

My wife was literally blown away, and she asked me again and again for sureness, “Are you sure these are all your family members?” 

Meanwhile, as was customary, I took around my wife and introduced my parents, siblings, in-laws, nephews and nieces to her. To the end, I saw her struggling as she tried recollecting the person and their names.

Then, she whispered in my ear, “I can only remember your parents. Rest…I am confused. Too many. All alike. He-he.”
Towards the evening, I took my wife out to see our farmland, cattle and crops. Anyone visiting my village would be awed by its vast plane, stunning patterns of rice fields and magnificent sunset.

As we walked around, I explained to her that this is the place where I had spent my entire childhood. I grew up playing with other village kids, working in the fields and looking after cows and sheep.
My childhood was hard, she knew it. Every morning, before I would go to school, I helped my father plough the field. After the school, too, I would work in the farm.

By the way, the village’s children had a strange attitude. All of them wanted to get married and settle down at young age, or to study up to sixth grade and join either police or driving. But I think I was different. I had a dream of acquiring degree certificate, to work as a civil servant, travel and know the world’s wisdoms. Ultimately, I soared away from the village.  
Here I was again, in my 31, back in my own village. I have fulfilled all of my childhood dreams – attended college, joined civil service, and travelled several countries. Moreover, I got married.   

And here, I was not only reminiscing about my childhood memories, but walking with my wife and creating memories too. Of course, I was writing a fresh chapter of my life, this time my wife along.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One step closer to Russia

The dragon boys gave a spectacular performance in the second leg match (World Cup Qualifying) against Sri Lanka at Changlimithang Stadium this afternoon. We won with final score 2:1 (aggregate 3:1). What a treat have had watched the game! What a happiness to know that Bhutan finally progresses to next round!

To put it straight, drukpa boys completely dominated the game and had many open chances. However, the end result justified everything. Above all, Chencho Gyeltshen, the forward, scored both goals. It’s Chencho’s day; it’s Bhutan’s day.   

On the other hand, the spectators were simply amazing – forty thousand plus. I believe this is the largest, craziest crowd ever gathered by Changlimithang. The crowd supported the national team hard and really behaved well, treated the players of both teams with respect and honour. Truly Drukpa. Impressed everyone.

So here, I brought you some pictures of the match. Sorry for the picture quality; it’s shot in my 16 megapixel digital camera.
The Dragon bonding
Spectators flagged off yellows and oranges 
First Druk 11
Sri Lanka 11
Dragons press forward
Unlikely a dragon rider

Good luck dragon boys in your next game!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Finally, the dragon roars

Like you, I was also awestricken with the way the Bhutanese football team performed and won from our first World Cup qualifying match against Sri Lanka. In fact, hardly anyone had expected a victory. To be honest, I was simply praying that the team ranked rock bottom with FIFA, 209/209, would not concede as much goals as we lost 20-0 to Kuwait in 2000.  
 This time I was proved wrong, as all else.

But now, this particular moment, I am more awestruck with the way Bhutanese started showing respect, wishes and support for the national squad, football in Bhutan. This particular win brought the entire nation together; I can feel a sense of true patriotism and unity all over. On social media sites, streets, restaurants, discotheques and offices.
Supporters welcome the winners
Goodness, it’s alarmingly heartening!

So as to add, some enterprises and business companies are already showering unbelievable accompaniments. Free live match screening, increase bandwidth of internet, free refreshment, and so on.  
The supposedly Bhutanese way of cheering on

The local volunteers, athletes and individuals are working hard towards making the second leg an extraordinary experience this Tuesday at Changlimithang. 

“Face paintings”, filling the stadium with “yellow and orange colour” shirts, banners, cheering on the home team players with drums, and most importantly, respecting the visiting team.

Even the mainstream media like TV and newspapers, which were almost silent, have now revved up their interest and the BBS2 will be broadcasting the game live. This is unbelievable!

If the dragon would ever make a noise, then this is it. If the dragon would ever show its true colour and blood, then this is it.
Readying up for the big match
The tiny dragon nation has roared, finally; it made a thunderous noise never heard before. The dragon is just awake. And considering the noise, power, support and prayers, there is no denying that the Drukpa team would gulp its opponents and emerge victorious again in our own land. Moreover, there is no denying that our country would be playing in the World Cup sooner.

I pray, rather earnestly, that this already awoken thirsty dragon would not march back to sleep again. Instead, it would keep on roaring, gliding and overcome as much bigger opponents as it can on its long road to playing the World Cup.
And let the dragon roar even louder, quake the world.

Palden Drukpa Gyalo!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Of my marriage

This seems like a good time to mention something else, something that was never written on this blog of mine before. It’s my marriage; indeed, I got married. I know that it surprises you, but even it has come as big surprise to me. 
Marriage was a distant call of my life just a few months before. And I was simply wondering I would ever get married. Even if I do, then I was wondering who she be, how she looks and from where. But today, here I’m, married; in fact, I’ve no idea how it came to be. Perhaps I’m right where I need to be at this moment, in my rightful place.
Sometimes life intervenes, anyway. To me, it seems like life chose this marriage, this wife for me. We married in less than two months. We didn’t have to think about or make any choices about it because we knew what we are about and what we wanted of this life.

Above all, this marriage is largely arranged one, on both sides. Even bigger surprise, isn’t it? However, the actual ceremony of marriage and wedding are yet to happen.

It gives me strange mixed feelings - of surprise and happiness, of sadness and excitement, of grief and love. This is normal feelings. Maybe. Marriage means lots of sacrifices and coming together – from being me and you, to becoming us.

Few years back, I read in a book these beautiful lines of life and marriage and it goes,

Life is a journey and marriage is the second phase. Only this time it is not one person walking alone but two special persons walking together.
The spring (my favourite season) is a good time of the year to start new things, so we are just walking in this new phase of life, in a new frame of mind. We’d walk this life’s journey ever together creating millions of tiny memories and discovering happiness that one cannot find alone.
“Marriage doesn’t make you happy – you make your marriage happy.”
-Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

KFC in Bhutan

So far, I’ve visited almost all the restaurants that sell fried chicken in Thimphu City. Quite surprisingly, I discovered four – two in the core town, one each in Changangkha and Motithang. But I am sure there are many more. 
We know that Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) hasn’t yet made into Bhutan, but we can see it emerging in different forms and names. Shyam Fried Chicken (SFC). Karma Fried Chicken (KFC). Changangkha Fried Chicken (CFC). Motithang Fried Chicken (MFC).
These restaurants are already hugely popular among the KFC lovers. Besides fried chicken, they too serve you other KFC products like chicken burgers, French fries, soft drinks and breakfast (fried rice). They got almost everything that of KFC; its flavourings and taste remotely similar.
Above all, it is becoming increasingly popular even in other dzongkhags.
A Happy Losar, dear reader!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Politics in taxi

One afternoon, a week ago, I was journeying back home from Paro. It was in a taxi; a 45-minute drive to Thimphu. We were five altogether - four passengers, and the cabbie.

A passenger, staying in the front seat, offered doma to the cabbie. The young cabbie accepted it, took a khamto. The smell of doma immediately gushed in the car giving me a feeling of nasty nausea.
She turned back and offered it to me. Such an attractive woman to decline her offer, by the way; but I shook my head. Two other passengers sitting on my left and right declined too.         

I never take doma, just to let you know. And I still remember warning a girl, “I will never kiss you if you take doma.” 

A phone rang. Everybody checked their phones - that’s the thing when we keep common ringtone. The cabbie received it, it’s his. The call got disconnected in the middle of conversation.

“Aw…this is the problem with the B-mobile service,” he tsked his tongue and grumbled.

He dialed his call; the service was unavailable. Frustrated, he added, “The government deducts five percent tax. And see, this is what we get.”

The front seat woman supported him, “The present government, PDP, is very fond of imposing tax on people. One after another. As all else, the vehicle tax is unfair. I think they would never let the poor to own cars. Moreover, we never see them improving public transportation service.” 
I agreed with her. Our domestic air service was defunct. The bus service was poor. The taxis were expensive. But I agreed more when she stated how “selfish” and “narrow-minded” our politicians were. Indeed, they burdened people with more and more taxes. Indeed, they walked tax-free.  

The young man sitting my right was a fresh teacher graduate. He too joined the discussion and he was unhappy with the government’s recent decision to select new teacher graduates in the schools.
On my left was a teenage girl who stood bored throughout the journey. Nothing really concerned her - neither the fellow-passengers nor the conversation. She remained indifferent, earpiece inserted into her ears.

Today’s youth are what they are - apathetic, a quick thought crossed my mind, and very soon she would face the consequence like this young teacher graduate.    

We rode on and our conversation bounced from one topic to another. We discussed a great deal about the power tillers and Boleros when we spotted these machines on the road.

Then, almost automatically, our topic became lighthearted and fascinating as we suddenly jumped into talking about PDP’s helicopters and the case between Dasho Benji and DPT.  

The cabbie asked, “Where is Jigme Y Thinley, our former Prime Minister? He is unheard after his fall?”

A vague response came from my fellow-passengers that JYT has been kept under home confinement at his resident called Jigmeling near the Royal Thimphu College. It could be a rumour, I thought. But long time back, I heard him offered the UN’s one of the top jobs.   

About 15 minutes’ ride down Paro brought us to the Chunzom. The road to Haa from the confluence reminded us about the corruption case of Lhakhang Karpo construction.

“Gosh, how could the alleged corrupt people get elected as the ministers? It happened in the past and now too. It’s an insult to the Bhutanese democracy,” the young graduate remarked seemingly concerned.       
We came across huge trucks lumbering carrying tons of hydropower project materials as soon as we stepped on the Phuentsholing-Thimphu highway. We talked, almost instantly, about the alleged corrupt practices in the hydropower business and subsequent surrendering of three government secretaries by the PM Office.  

A little beyond Chunzom, we caught a sight of the new road to Education City, an unpopular unfinished business of DPT.

“That’s the thing when we change the government. Conflict of interest. Clash of egos. Millions of ngultrums already spent there, and all of a sudden everything stopped. Complete waste of public resources,” the woman grieved.

I didn’t realize that we already almost reached Thimphu. For the last, we concluded our discussion stating “the democracy is not good for a small nation like Bhutan”, “the politics is often dirty and deceiving”, and “We prefer monarchy”.

Somehow, someway, I just wonder now. We didn’t know each other, at all, in that taxi. We never met before. But for the record, we gabbed about politics so wide open, free and fully vibrant. It’s quite strange. Perhaps that is the taxi’s own way of communication.

Happy V-DAY, dear reader!

Monday, February 2, 2015

The dark’s light

It wasn’t a perfect evening, if I say so. My mood wasn’t perfect too. So I retreated to my room, shut the door and sat looking out from the window. I wasn’t looking anywhere particularly; I wasn’t thinking about anything. 
Outside, the rain was falling silently. Cold evening, it was. And the dark clouds covered the entire valley of Thimphu. The January rain is pretty bizarre as I could catch a glint of meanness and cruelty in it.

As I stared outside, my mind started bouncing from one thought to another, one problem to another. So automatically. Then my heart raced abnormally. I felt it, I heard it. Too loud. Too much. I was left shaken, anxious.

Meanwhile, in the room, I picked up my phone and logged in to my Instagram and Facebook account. To calm down my racing heart, probably. I randomly liked and commented on some of my friends’ pictures and statuses.

Simply put, this year’s January has been the roughest ride of my life. Unending hurdles encountered, both personal and career. It was never stopping and clearing away exactly like the cruel dark rain and clouds outside. I got muddled, I slogged, and I stumbled.

However, I kept scrolling up and down my phone’s screen when my attention suddenly stopped at a Facebook status. It reads,  
I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.

I scrolled up to see the writer; it’s Yeshey Lhamo. I hardly knew her; however, she too studied at Sherubtse. Quite wondrously, her words soothed my heart. The power of the words, the wisdoms expressed, the inspiration inspired so instantly cleansed my cold dark thoughts.
Immediately, I stood up and looked up as wide-eyed at the sky. I was, indeed, quite surprised to see the clear sky; I wondered where the rain and clouds disappeared so quickly. And deep in the sky, I caught a handful of stars blinking mesmerizingly.

Then, a realization struck me - all true and insightful - without the darkness I could never see those stars. It’s meant to be like that - you like it or not. Similarly, without experiencing hurdles and dark thoughts, I could never understand and see the bright side of my mind. Joy. Happiness. 

Today, right now, as I write this post the vast saying buzzes so beautifully in my head, my heart. I can see that I feel better and peaceful. As the adverse weather does, the difficult period of my life has just passed. 
Of darkness, of light
People touch our lives; a few words impact the way we take on our life. Sometimes they don’t know just how much they do, or why.