Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Of dreams and hope

At the start of March, I sat for the IELTS examination in Thimphu. I am here to talk only about my speaking test though. 

The test was conducted in a small hotel room. My interviewer was an Indian lady, presumably in late 30s. She began the test by asking my name, profession and hobbies. I felt that I answered it well, choosing my words carefully, correctly.     
For the next couple of minutes, she wanted to hear from me about my hometown and workplace. Then, she jumped into questioning me on other topics where I struggled a little.

“Is there any prize that you want to win in your life?” the interviewer asked me as her face glowed in expansive smile.

I said, yes.

“Which prize you want to win?” she insisted on me to say the prize.  

For quite a while, I rolled my hands searching for the answer, particularly the prize.

“Nobel Peace Prize!” I told her adding with an air of absolute sureness, “This is the prize that I want to win in my life.”

Well, these words trotted out involuntarily.

But she confirmed, “Do you think you can win this prize?”

I replied, “I think I can.”

This time, she reacted in a nervous way. Perhaps that could be her first time hearing someone declaring about a wish to win the world’s most prestigious prize.

She quickly ran her eyes up and down me and asked again, “Why you want to win it?”

For which, I gave her a handful of reasons and I was pretty sure they were not satisfactory. In fact, I had no idea what I was really even saying; it just came on my mind. She seemed interested to know more about it, but we got limited time.

We ran into the last part of the interview where I was asked about the merits and demerits of giving prize in the schools and workplace.

Answering it, I started feeling disturbed because something strange started bothering me. In the middle of the conversation, I felt that I should have never said that thing. Moreover, I was just thinking when she would complete the interview.

The interview wrapped up in a hurried manner and I rushed back home.

After that, when I thought about the test, I got goose-bumps and felt embarrassed. It didn’t stop for many days. Because the prize that I had believed I can win was far above my reach and capacity. In actuality, no ordinary person like me has been linked with it.

However, from that day, I have been seriously contemplating about the Nobel Peace Prize. I have spent many days studying about it online and those individuals who have won it. The prize was very powerful and the laureates - including my favorites Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa - were ever remarkable and inspirational. 

Their outstanding works of humanitarian services and peace promotion have hugely inspired me.

So right now, almost 11 pm, as I complete writing this post, I stand at the window of my house. My eyes wander out towards the dark sky and far afar I can spot a star blinking mesmerizingly.

And I find myself hoping…. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A spring walk

Finally, the mountaintops see off snow and the wind stopped fetching on icy cold air. Once again the weather in Thimphu has become a brilliant pleasant, and I can’t tell you exactly how excited I am to resume my regular evening walks.

Walking is one of my favorite things to do, so to say. And quite surprisingly, it too turned out to be my wife’s favorite. So yesterday evening, we decided to take a quick stroll in our neighbourhood, Motithang.

In our walk, we noticed the arrival of spring, that is abundant everywhere. Peach plants dress in pink, grasses and trees rejuvenate in lush green, and even thorns bear beautiful flowers.
As we walked across the road to Zilukha, my wife mentioned, “You know ... March signals the end of the first quarter of the year and the beginning of spring. Oh we are already into April, but it is a great time to reflect on how we have spent it and where we are heading to.”

To me, especially, 2015 unfolded in a rough ride - some hiccups in both of my personal and professional life. It has been, by far, a most challenging phase of my life.

Nevertheless, it is also the year something very special happened in my life, my marriage. That’s why, in this particular walk, I was accompanied by my wife.    

Meanwhile, we chose a mound beside the road to take a quick rest. Taking out her small camera, my wife started taking pictures of peach plants around and Thimphu City. However, I took my time to brood, reflect on the year 2015 thus far.
There were bad days, there were good days too. Some of the days I felt like I was defeated, but there were also the days when I felt like I was on the top of the world. Generally, it was a mixed experience - of bad and good, of vulnerability and power, of dejection and hope.

Perhaps that’s what life is all about, a paradox. Isn’t it?

It was already dark when we returned home. But this time we returned inspired, free, and joyful.

Let me say a few words more. Something about taking a simple walk through the neighbourhood and breathing fresh air and observing colourful leaves and flowers is simply magical. It puts everything into perspective; sometime’s life’s great lessons too.

Also, dear reader, enjoy the pictures of this year’s spring I took. Have a beautiful day and pleasant spring! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Buddha Dordenma

I always wanted to take the pictures of Buddha Dordemna statue at Kuensel Phodrang in Thimphu. From different angles though. However, I am not yet successful photographing the exact image that I have in my mind. Perhaps that is the mystery of the world’s largest and tallest Buddha statue. No matter what, I have brought here some pictures of it I took in recent time.      

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