Monday, April 25, 2011

Being Ugly is a Terrible Curse?

Following is a chat history between me and TsheYring, a postgraduate student (social works) in India. Also, she was one of the top three finalists at Miss Bhutan Beauty Pageant 2008. Very beautiful and generous with charismatic personality, she is actively involved in various social activities like counseling HIV/AIDS patients, helping orphans and poor at  various slums in Delhi. She blogs about issues related to women in Bhutan. She is also aiming her big dream of coming up with Cornea Association in Bhutan soon. In a chat below, she questioned the biased stereotype perception of men’s attraction towards beautiful girls to date.
TsheYring: Would you love the fragrance of flower or its color? 

Riku: Color! And both if given two options. But what trick’s here? 

TsheYring: No trick!

Riku: Then? I chose color…

TsheYring: OK! Now tell me one thing…

Riku: Sure

TsheYring: If you date a girl…umm…what would you look into that girl? You’ve just  seen that girl a couple of times

Riku: I go for looks of that girl, beauty first. But what attracts me afterwards is her personality, character

TsheYring: Tell me frankly la…honestly! So…You think firstly a girl has to be pretty to date. Is that what you want to say, right? And what is a beautiful girl to you?

Riku: Correct! A beautiful girl is a joy to behold. She is exciting, mesmerizing and is slim, spotless and stunning of form and of countenance.

TsheYring: Mmm…So you mean every girl needs to be pretty to go for date?

Riku: For me, it is must; the first criteria that I look for in a girl to date. But if this pretty girl appeared dumb, snobbish, immoral or full of vanity or has promising ego then I may lose interest in her. However, presentable looks can do

TsheYring: Don’t talk about that right now

Riku: OK! I promise

TsheYring: Mmmm…So now if I generalize all men want pretty girl for date nee? Can I interpret this way?

Riku: Don’t. This is my opinion, but, yeah, most men would rather date a beautiful girl than a less attractive girl. It is to impress their friends, I think.

TsheYring: Alright! Particularly for you the looks of a girl is must

Riku: Men go for pretty girl to date, but for serious relationship they usually go for the history or character of a girl

TsheYring: Ok, you are giving me two concepts. Now honestly tell me…

Riku: I will. Ask me, my opinion, not general

TsheYring: Would you love a deformed girl?

Riku: Ah! [I scratched my head] It’s conditional. Umm…[I murmured].

TsheYring: Tell me. Tell me!

Riku: I can give my love as a protector, parental one, but as a lover… Ha-ha!

TsheYring: She will be physically challenged, but has perfect character, pure, lovely and starkly clean history. Will you date and marry her?

Riku: Hey, I will relate you an incident. Suppose that I have a beautiful girlfriend or fiancee or wife but after a few years she meets a dreadful accident which paralyzes or deforms her. In this case, I will still accept her, love her as before

TsheYring: Listen to me! She will be untouched, very chaste. Would you accept her, love and live with her forever?

Riku: Ha-ha!

Tsheyring: You changed the situation now. So that means the priority is for pretty girls nee?

Riku: Hey, I can’t date a deformed girl and marry her even if she was chaste or kindhearted. I can’t. Never!

TsheYring: Tell me, why do you want to date pretty girls? That means love is only for pretty girls? Do you think in this world there’s space for only those pretty girls for love and happiness? Are they just worth?

Riku: Umm… Ugly girl is simply ugly, doesn’t have outward beauty. If she is beautiful, her beauty is within. What about you? You go for only good looking men to date?

TsheYring: Answer me, Riku! But mind you, the success of a relationship is not dependent on the physical appearance of a girl. What makes girl astounding is not her looks, it’s her overall outlooks on life. She has true beauty if she has beautiful heart. The truth is that outward beauty go stale with age. Whereas, inner beauty lasts forever. Ultimately, what matters is the joy and radiance she brings to your home and to your life.

Riku: Whatever, you have strikingly jabbed at me with this pertinent question. This question has to be asked to all men with such prejudiced perception about girls. However, I can partly blame our ancestors for prioritizing only those pretty girls. They should have treated all girls equally, with same respect despite diagnosing beauty and ugly. So that I wouldn’t have prioritized beautiful girl and feel disgusted at ugly.

TsheYring: Well, you’ve rightly pointed my next question. But first, ask yourself. What do you really want from out of the relationship? A home of happiness and success or a girl you can stare at all day for her beauty but who doesn’t have a clue how to make you happy or how to manage a home or simply unfaithful to you.

Riku: But it will be a difficult for the 21st Century men to change this mentality. It’s ingrained in our minds.

TsheYring: How do you define ugly? What is ugly for you? Ha-ha! You know what we called this in social term?

Riku: Not exactly

TsheYring: Those people who have such biased perception are known as the people who have VESTED INTEREST

Riku: Oh! And it also didn’t spare me. I too profess this belief. Ha-ha! And I see myself as a victim of this prejudiced perception

TsheYring: Exactly! You know we people are really hypocrite. We speak good, act generous, impartial, yet deviant nature or crooked intention lies within us. 

Riku: Right. We really need to change our attitude towards life and society

TsheYring: We are choosy and hypocrite. We are not what we portray to other. That’s why we are known as human beings.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Joy that Sky can’t hold, but her little Heart can

Assume that you and I were good buddies. Our office was just over and the intermittent rain is showering here in Thimphu. We parked our car outside and cruised into a cozy restaurant, relaxed over a good cup of tea and began a conversation. But, hey, today I will talk and you will listen to me, alright?
I will narrate you a story of my six-year old little sister. It was the fondest memory lurking persistently in my mind, and I laugh each time I recollect it.
My sister, a little princess to me, is a Class PP student at Changzamtog PS. She has red cheeks and is adorable and lively. She looks fairy, gentle and unaggressive. Her hobbies include reading fairytale stories, painting, playing scrabbles, singing nursery rhymes, possessing toys and wearing fairy dress. Beside nagging parent, ata and ana, she has a modest ounce of anger, jealousy and fear.

Her little room is filled with fairytale books, color pencils, bright gowns, toys and magical sticks. The room’s walls were scribbled expansively with crayons and color pencils signaling the expression of her unbounded fantasy and imagination.
Last September, her school organized annual school cultural show. This show was the perfect opportunity for my little princess cast away to a fairy land of magical and supernatural worlds.

Well, escaping to a world of fairies inhibited by magical and mythical creatures was her dream. In real sense, she hates her life in real world as she is intolerant to grief, violence, hatred, suffering and hunger.

The show offered her with plentiful fairy folklore and fun-filled, open-ended activities set against beautiful backgrounds with spell-binding imagery on the school auditorium stage. Beside sweeping her to an enchanting world, this truly provided her a delightful opportunities for exploration and creativity.

A handful of days before the show, my little princess nagged me to buy her a pink gown for her role in an item where she was chosen to enact Snow White. I took her to children shops and bought her a bright gown, circlet crown and a pair of opera gloves. Though trivial, it brought an instant glow to her naive heart, made her most zesty. In advance, my family also booked tickets for her school show. All in buoyed smiles, she desperately longed for the show day like a princess in wretchedness waiting for prince to arrive and rescue her from the enchantress garden.

Finally the cultural day came. Along with my parents, I went to her school to watch it. As soon as she saw us, she clambered down the school auditorium’s stairs in a halo of lights as lovely as princess in a fairy tale. Her cultural coordinator dressed my little princess admirably beautiful. Her face whitened with compact, her hair braided, her hands in gloves and circlet crown on her head. She looked starkly attractive-fairest of all. 

Surprise, disbelief and thrill, all crushed into her-unequaled in her life by any festival or her birthday present. In a fury of excitement, she started showing us her dress turning round again and again explaining in details how her teacher adorned her and how much she liked it. She also went on describing about her rehearsal and the role of Snow White she was going to enact. I thought she would faint for joy. Ha-ha!

I took her pictures randomly. Then we dropped her at the exit door of the stage and we entered into the hall to watch the program. Yuck! Her cultural item was already over by the time we seated inside the hall. It’ll be crushing devastation to my sister, I feared. My little princess never appeared on stage even when the program was over. It’s unbelievably funny, though.

We returned to the stage. My little princess was standing near the backstage door, still exalting in excitement, unmindful that she had missed her cultural item. Her effort though to us was left unceremoniously; however, for her little heart the joy she grasped that evening despite missing her item was insuperable.

And, as we returned home, my little princess still glowed in a triumphant mood oblivious of her failure to enact. Far from being disconcerted, she even didn’t look askance about going home before enacting her ‘Snow White’ dramatization on the stage. Nothing did thwart the progress of her joy. Nothing!

Her inner sanctum of a temple shone uninterruptedly. I know she will never know a joy so vast as she experienced that evening. For my little sister, the whole day was like riding on the charming prince’s horse over a magical hill. Then, finally, she slept afterwards, happy and content.

“Hey, my sister’s story would have bored you,” I exclaimed at you as I sipped my tea last. We went to the counter and clear the bill and depart home.

But, eh, one last thing! How will my sister react when I narrate this same story to her when she grows adult? Perhaps she would laugh uncontrollably at herself in retrospect.

Note: Special thanks to Sonam Dendup for sharing this story of his sister to me and permitting to write and publish the story on my blog. The title of this story was also suggested by him.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gelephu Town: Resurrected in a Different Shape

Giri, a teacher from Rangia, India who visited Gelephu after 20 years with his family was astounded when he found comparatively less crowds and shops in Gelephu. He couldn’t digest the fact the Gelephu Town had become so deserted, lost its past glory. He went around desperately and asked some shopkeepers about the crowds and businesses of the town which had disappeared so abruptly.
                                                        Pic: Deserted Gelephu Town

The 52-year-old Gelephu Town had disappointed many hearts. The town wasn’t the way it is now. It was a busiest business hub in our country just a half decade ago and of course a core commercial centre for the businessmen from Bumthang, Trongsa, Dagana, and Tsirang.

“People from all parts of the central Bhutan would come loaded with sacks of cardamom, pears, orange, ginger, and forest products and sell them here. In return, they would take back home salt, sugar, oil, and clothes,” reminisced 70-year-old Bontiq Majji, one of the oldest shopkeepers of the town.

He added, “They would even hold night and enjoy watching films and mela and spend all their left over money on drinking and shopping spree. Even people from as far as Thimphu and Trashigang used to come here to experience the thrill the town used to offer them.”

Ugyen, 34, recollects how agitated he and his friends would be just going shopping at Gelephu Town. The town was always lively with activities and huge crowd. “The other great activity that would create even more excitement was the Losal Cinema Hall. People from all over would gather here and it was fun to watch the Hindi films and the crowd too,” Ugyen said.

Beside Bhutanese, people from the border towns of Dhatghari and Bongaigoan would depend on Gelephu Town for daily supplies of clothes and edibles. Traders and businessmen would come from India and install business in Gelephu because business was profitable here.

The town started disfiguring its past glory since 1990. Since then Gelephu was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The insurgent of southern problem in 1990, the troubled situation in the neighboring Indian State of Assam, the outburst of bombs in 2003, the war in 2004 with ULFA and armed men across the border robbing the residents disgraced the Town ruthlessly.

Deeply troubled by the frequent violence, people knew life in Gelephu would be a dangerous and they abandoned it. Only people with land, buildings, and official duty stayed back.

Many young ones were pushed away when all the factories (match factory, sugar factory, bricks factory, and poultry farms) which had generated a lot of employment were shut down consecutively. Unsure of their future, young people started boarding the buses to other dzongkhags in search of employment and a safer place of education.

Then the business also shifted to Dhatghari, the border town of India. Many other Bhutanese businessmen shifted their business elsewhere. The vegetable market which used to be very jam-packed remains less than half filled today.

For the past 20 years Gelephu Town has shown no improvement. However, the dreary town has now acquired a new, positive image. Gelephu has triumphantly conquered its infamous past and resurrected in a different form.

With lighter population density and of course lesser young people, the town is free of drug abusers, sex workers, and violence. “It is safer for the women and old people to go out on a walk around or on the streets till late night,” 62-year-old retiree said proudly.

Monthly town cleaning campaign organized by Sarpang Dzongkhag Administration brightens the town month after month reducing the malaria and TB patients’ mortality rate.

Apart from the coming up domestic airport, the new multi-million town planning is sprucing up the town in a new look making it the second National City in the country.

“Unlike other towns of our country, Gelephu is less polluted and noisy. Now people started purchasing land and constructing buildings. Gelephu shows bright hope,” a resident told me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Eat poison, but sprout stronger, beautiful like a peacock

Apprehensive about the voodoo of unending depression that I was undergoing, Sonam Tashi, a friend of mine (senior journalist working with Bhutan Times) wrote a letter of consolation to me, a prodigy in its disposition. This letter was timely that helped me throw away the depression that has blanketed me in recent time. Read it below, the best letter I have ever received in my life: 

Dear Rikku,

A rendezvous of two lovers, once a joyous place, has now turned to a graveyard. With the tall grasses in Kanglung, his pains are growing within. He had never dreamt or imagined that the face of his love could change within a flick of time. Here, another great man fell in love and now I see him sinking in the sea of betrayal and heartbroken.

I have a message for you and a story to share, my friend. Maybe it can help to bring back your spirit of life.

It was a beautiful April night, back at Sherubtse college, when I too fell in love. Like in a maxim that says a pure love takes years to sprout in our hearts or like the roses outside my classroom, my love for my ladylove bloomed big and deep. You know it very well man. As you too were there, then. This was the time when I started singing incomplete love songs of 'The Beatles'. That time I flew with the colorful butterflies and slept on the ocean of dreams.

Every time I kissed her, I felt like I was experiencing the joy of the Heaven, that of cosmic atmosphere. Without a taste of her sweet lips, I couldn’t go to sleep. Such was my love for my ladylove that I didn’t mind waiting for her hours outside her hostel room, braving monsoon rain and summer heat. Such was my love for her that I could run without meals for days to keep her happy, and such was my love for her that even I dared to sacrifice my life for her without regret. Perhaps it was too much, I realized now, but the truth is that I loved her wholeheartedly, unconditionally.

My friend, you know that the day when she showed me her back, it was disheartening, devastating. Really devastating! Thousand bells rang in my ears and I felt a very painful experience of my soul leaving my body. Then, horrific darkness embraced me completely.

I didn’t know whom to blame. Certainly, she was the first person to be accused for no man has a heart to take love for granted and she betrayed a heart that loves her unconditionally. Indeed, the guy who played a dirty game between us was also be blamed for he tricked the two harmonious lovebirds deliberately though he could not hold her for long. For she wasn’t of his type, mentally. But the huge blame came back to me like a boomerang for I gave my heart unconditionally, selflessly.

"There's something wrong in me," I contemplated recklessly. Why me of the whole world? Why me? The fate punished me for giving my heart to her, I reasoned it as unfair treatment from God.

You know my friend, down along the Viewpoint road at several nights, I used to walk alone talking and of course consoling my ravaged heart, “Hey! Why are you crying? It's OK man. You will build a new life, oblivion of your infamous past.” But my heart kept crying uncontrollably like an infant whose mom had left him alone in adversity.

Up above Khangma, I used to strolled solitary like a ghostly figure, brushing against gentle wind whispering to it to carry my earnest message to my ladylove: “Your heart was not so bad but your mind is. Why suddenly and why didn’t you tell me before so that I would have been prepared?”

And I believed the gentle wind did convey my message to her but she never came back to me. For years, I waited for her.

Hey, but it is also true that with the changing seasons, she started fading away slowly from my memory. And my heart no longer craves for her. Today, I hardly remember her and her once sweet smiles.

For these long years, more than half a decade, I had been single. Every time I see women from that angle, I remember those sleepless nights, crying all time, suffering. Today, my mood hardly swings because I have no love life to bother me and I am happy to be single. Seriously, now, I can focus on my works and excel my interest.

You asked me how I could forget her completely. Ask me? It wasn’t easy, though. I had recalled all those bad things that she did unto me when we were together. It is always not easy to forget if you flashback all those good things she did for you. The moment she came on my mind, I used to recall those pricking words that she used to uttered to me and her awkward gestures.

Thus, slowly, I could forget her. Today as she is no more with me, I sometimes smile in sheer fondness recollecting how she used to cry when I failed to meet her or forgot to gift her with a rose on the Rose Day.

Friend, if you still cannot forget her, spend your time with your friends. They will cheer you up. We have a nice, supportive bunch of friends.

Seriously, life is beautiful with or without women. It depends upon one’s take. For me, it’s more beautiful without women but I am also prepared to spend my life with a decent woman.

Cheers!!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wow!

The best shots of the spectacle wondrous Thimphu City ever taken: