Monday, January 12, 2015

How safe is our transport service?

Last Wednesday, I travelled to Gelephu and as always, I did in a public transport service. Passenger bus, Bumpa Transport Service.

The moment I entered the bus, I was very surprised, nervous too. The door almost collapsing. A few windowpanes about to come out. Holes appeared on the bus’s floor and the cold air and smoke gushed in as the bus sped up.

Each time the driver changed the gear, it produced horrible sound that of a true symptom of rokho gari. That morning, before the departure, the RSTA official was there but I assume they inspected only whether the buses were departing on time.

I must say that this was a terrible journey. I was like riding a death race, literally. But I was lucky, there wasn’t any mishap. 
However, those 17 people traveling in a passenger bus, Bumpa Transport Service, from Phuentsholing to Tsirang weren’t lucky. They met with an accident on January 10, fell off the highway at Taksha more than 17 feet and got injured.

I arrived at the accident scene at around 5:00 pm that day and the injured passengers were still being taken out in DCM truck and ambulances. The people at the scene and passengers had many explanations about the cause of accident. “Deadly speed”. Driver chhang dim nam mey”.  And the Kuensel reported, “the bus stopped twice for maintenance- once at Semtokha and again at Hesothangkha”.

Now it boils down to one concern – how safe is our transport service? And this concern hits hard person like me who travels in a public transport service. I pray that soon the concerned authorities would remove all those rokho buses from operation, or at least change the road safety regulations, or strengthen enforcing the rules.

I earnestly pray!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

As we are

Most of today’s morning, I sat in my office alone. In fact, particularly, I was contemplating on the first week of 2015. So I was asking myself questions. Has the New Year started out the way I wanted? Was the first week of 2015 enthralling and significant?   
After mulling over the questions, it has left me shaken and anxious than usual; mostly by a thought how fast time flies. I feel that we have just entered into this brand new year, and now we are here, end of the first week, already.

So I walked off my chair, and marched towards the window. As I pulled the curtains aside, I watched outside, across the City and over the valley. The dark clouds were still hanging in the sky; gradually cleared away. The snow has fallen too. Not heavy though, not yet – only a promise to come.    

It fed a warm pleasure in my heart. Almost instantly, this weather, this feelings brought me to the subject I wanted to tell you today.

So here I begin. Paro, the name of the place. January 1, 2015, the date was. A handful of words, the subject is. 

That late afternoon, my friend Sonam and I just parked the car outside Ta Dazong, the National Museum of Bhutan and we walked leisurely on the road chit-chatting. Randomly though. About family, love and life.
Meanwhile, we disengaged from our chat and turned attentions to the valley and filled with wonder. The valley was beautiful, to say the least.

Sonam told me, “Riku, now, right now, I remember Anaïs Nin’s words. And it goes like this,

We don't see things as they are,
We see things as we are’.”

As he quoted it, he smiled radiantly at me. The way he said it, the way he emphasized it made my heart lurch.

“Well, I see concrete jungle. You see wonders. I see problems. You see beauty. And someone else might see something different,” my friend supported the quote.   

I simply agreed with him, “Yes friend, it is something to do with our mind.”

My eyes kept wandering over the giant piece of valley delightfully adorned by rice fields, farmlands and river. Amidst, the Paro Town perched still preserving the traditional architectural design.

“Umm…The way we see something and interpret it or how we try to understand and make judgement talks more about us as a person than about the way we see it,” he pushed on his words, as we watched the valley, this time louder.

We, as humans, are almost limited by our own belief, experience, perception and emotion, Sonam explained further.

How insightfully true! I read and contemplated his words in my mind. Oh, how I loved listening to his words, the resonant power of his messages – all relevant and searching!

Right here, in my office, this handful of words of my friend got me thinking again. As I pondered in retrospect, it helped me to listen to the inklings of my heart and re-evaluate my life’s sojourn.

With these words in my heart, ever reverberating, I am hoping that this year would become a lot meaningful and happier. And most importantly, I am hoping to see things as they really are and not as I am. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The New Year’s proposal

Yesterday evening I had a date. I believe I can call it a date; at least on my part. Believe me, for there isn’t any better way to name it. Maybe – just maybe – it’d be called as a blind date.
“So tomorrow’s the New Year’s Eve. Any plans?” she started conversation as soon as I returned after placing our order at the counter.

I responded, “Don’t have any plans; just being grateful for the wonderful year 2014. But I’m excited and look forward to embracing, living each day of the New Year.” 

It was a small restaurant with cozy and intimate ambience. As I pulled out my chair and sat in front her, a mojo of feelings ran through me. Nervousness too. Yes, we were meeting for the first time, but I’m still not sure it’s a date. To tell you that she was fair and slim; and has a shy manner, a gentle voice.  

Looking straight at me, she smiled expansively and reaffirmed, “So your name is Riku Dhan Subba?”

I nodded and then I pulled my jacket tighter because it’s was very cold.

“I thought it’s your nickname,” she ran her fingers over her phone and burst into a laugh.

“Everybody thinks like that,” I laughed with her.

Meanwhile, the order arrived on our table. Coffee and some snacks.

As we sipped coffee, I continued, “Because my name is very strange. Actually my late grandpa gave me this name. And nobody knows its real meaning, not even my parents.”  

“That’s strange. I wonder you are as strange as your name,” she inquired quickly, this time rubbing a bit more.

“I think I am,” I answered.

After a moment, I joked laughing again, “Of all, I feel that I am extraordinary. For my name is extraordinary. Joke aside, I still wonder from where my grandpa got this name and why he chose the name for me.”  

Inside, the sound system came into life and the COLDPLAY sang a live version of “A sky full of stars”. A warm, intimate mood took hold of me as the song enfolded the room, as two of us talked into the gentle evening.    

“So how have you spent 2014?” I asked my date - I called her date for the lack of better word.

She took a moment to think about it. She summed it “a difficult year” but instantaneously justified, “Life isn’t fair, you know, but it’s still good”. Then we talked a great deal about life’s struggling and miracle and together agreed “the more we praise and celebrate our life the happier we become”.

Quite typically, we jumped into talking our New Year’s resolutions.

“I have three: to study abroad, write a book and get married. I would be happy if I could fulfill even one of these,” I stated.

As soon as I stated my resolutions, oh goodness, I started sweating hard. For my resolutions are not at all easy. All entail a lot of perseverance and hard work; most importantly, the luck.   

She expressed a big surprise; however, consoled me, “It’s always good to have the resolutions even they may be too ambitious at times. I wish you all the lucks.”

I thanked her.
We cleared our bills and slowly walked out of the restaurant. It was unusually cold outside, the air blew deep chill and the mountaintops were blanketed in snows.

I turned back to her and declared, “I am considering proposing you one fine day. I like you.” 

In fact, I meant it, more than I could tell her.


She smiled radiantly at me and answered, blushing, “Oh I look forward to that fine day.”

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The autumn's last bloom

This year's December has been the busiest month. You know it well how we Bhutanese are. We drag everything towards the end and here I am struggling to complete works before the year's end. However, last weekend, I spared a handful of minutes and walked around my office and was awe-inspired by hydrangeas growing so beautifully for us. So pictures here.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

She and I, Lazy

That evening, if I say so, I had plenty of time on my hands. Even after leisurely shopping and eating foods and struggling with Indian vendors (bargaining and denying) in Jaigaon, I had this time. So I phoned a close friend of mine who lived there, having had decided to meet him.

“Zangdopelri. Yep. Wait there, dude, I will be in a while,” he hung the phone.
So I walked to the Zangdopelri, a Buddhist monastery in the middle of Phuentsholing town. The darkness gradually enfolded the town; however, the power promptly came to light. The monastery was a serene, heavenly place and was perfectly illuminated by the glittering lights. A green park with neatly trimmed trees and benches spread around encircling the monastery where people both old and young were relaxing.

Meanwhile, I joined a group of elderly people and circumambulated the monastery. As we walked around, we kept turning the prayer wheels and breathing in the sweet odour of incense and butter lamps. Many people, all walks of life, were saying their evening prayers, prostrating and circumambulating the monastery.  

“Kota, where you from?” an elderly man from the group asked me in Sharchopkha as we continued turning the prayer wheels.

I responded, “From Chuzagang Gelephu.”

“Oh we were thinking you Sharchokpa. Because you got the Sarchop looks,” the meme’s wife quickly reacted.      

For the next stretch of time, we kept circumambulating, we kept talking. About our villages, our family members, and our lives. This heavenly monastery and this wonderful conversation with elderly people fed on me a refined kind of energy and humbling experience.

I phoned my friend, to check where he reached. His phone was busy. Then I chose a bench in the park and sat there. A big dog came running to me, tail wagging. I stroke his head and fed him some Indian sweets that I bought from Jaigaon. He climbed on the bench and snuggled brushing against me.


Already I had snapped several pictures in my phone. I filtered a few and when I was about to post on Instagram, a woman called out at me from behind, “Hello, Aue!”

I turned around and was dazzled. A gorgeous woman, tall and slim, stood staring at me. She wore dark short and sleeveless blouse revealing her fair arms. Oh goodness, she is hot, I whispered, inwardly though.  

“Aue, can I take away my dog?” she asked me, pointing at my new found friend sitting next to me. 

“Oh ok you can. But you need to refund me what he ate – a packet of sweets,” I joked, as I handed the strap of the dog to her.   

She pulled the dog from me and shouted, “Lazy, let’s go home.”

Before she left, she turned back and smiled at me. Oh, she appeared way more beautiful. My eyes followed her until she disappeared way beyond the Zangdopelri. Beautiful, beautiful, I kept on saying as if like chanting mantra.  
 
When I was debating with myself whether to phone my friend again, my phone rang. Yes, it’s him, “I’ve reached here, dude. Come straight right in front of the GOI building.”

I ran towards the building. It’s a frenzied last hours in the border town; both merchants and customers were busily engaged in the final commercial activity of the day.

“Hey here, Riku!” my friend waved at me from his car. We hugged, and he took me to his place for dinner. His house was about 10 minutes drive away from the town.

My friend rang the bell. As soon as the door was opened, Lazy sprinted out, wagging his furry tail. A giddy nervousness started to fill my head because I knew what’s coming next. 

“Meet my wife,” my friend introduced his wife to me.

I got ambushed.

Pictures: googlesearch

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Photographs

You know it well that the autumn has just gave its way into winter and it's unassumingly cold here in Thimphu. Hope all of you are keeping yourself warm and happy.  However, I bring to you here some pictures of my village Chuzargang that I took during my last visit. Hope you enjoy going through all. Have a lovely weekend!

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