Saturday, July 21, 2012

Inner Sanctum of a Temple

We set off walking uphill, on our way to renovate a vandalized chorten on the way to Phajodhing. It was mid-morning, a month ago. Sunny day. Bright. We, 12 of Go Youth Go members, carried a load each of lime, paint, sacks, spade, knife, packed lunch and some drinks.   
After almost an hour-in fact, sweated-we reached the spot. Wow, we were into the interior of the forest, all surrounded by beautiful green trees. The air, so clean and cool and pure. I was delighted beyond words. In some ways, this was a great relief for me. Away from the intense, cramped and noisy Thimphu City.

But, eh, in one corner of the hill, sat the chorten abandoned and despised, in sullen silence. It looked bruised, dispirited, looted. Oh, the mere sight of it pained me, provoked such an ache of my heart.
Immediately, we deployed ourselves in rebuilding the chorten. With real gusto though. Responsibilities were divided among us. I received a bucket to fetch water from the stream about a hundred yards downhill. A couple of others got a sack each and spade to ferry clay. Others went onto collect pine needle and made a fire to burn incense and pine needle as was the ritual. Strong boys from the group gathered stones. Two boys, who had good knowledge about architecture, put back the treasures and refilled damaged areas. And of course, a few brought their great humours.
In no time at all, the required materials were gathered. Water. Clay. Pine needle. Stones. It was, in fact, all about teamwork and teambuilding among the group members. Then, we started rebuilding the chorten, so uninterruptedly, so determinedly.
After a while, there’s torrential rain beating down on us, and it’s ferocious.  The rain water mixed with girls’ black mascara, eyeliner and foundation. Boys’ gell streaming down, all milky white. Our clothes wet, our hands and legs muddied.

But no one complained about the downpour. We kept on working, feeling much stronger, against the onslaughts of the pouring rain and cold. We admired work of art, architecture and the efforts our ancestors had invested building this chorten.

In the lunch, we shared our packed lunches. Three had brought rice. A few others, emadatsi. One brought ezey. Others had brought vegetables curries. Even it’s teamwork in having lunch and more importantly, all about sharing.
The lunch warm in our bellies, we resumed our work. And this time, recharged with a commendable spirit and determination. As we worked, we too conversed, laughed, played, tussled and tangled. In fact, sweating profusely.
But the clouds up in the sky never cleared. The downpour never stopped and soaking us. And, oddly, wonderfully, it opened my eyes to the radiance of a deep sense of grace and glow to my heart. Like this rain water, like this sweats and this mud which had dissolved every particle of worldly dust from our body, the effect of laboring rebuilding of the chorten cleansed our tainted souls. Anger, desolation, apathy, weariness and despair-all flushed down. And only the positive feelings had been illuminated in our heart. And a growing belief in a spiritual dimension, developed compassion and heightened sense of love.

And the dispirited, bruised, looted chorten resurrected in its glory. Its treasures restored, its grace returned. Once again, it stood incomparably beautiful, shining in bliss, plentitude. And illuminating in a halo of lights of beauty, love, spiritualism, compassion and protection. This is one plain empirical truth, I had discovered. The chorten like a mirror reflected our own image, inner sanctum of our temple.  
The afternoon was nearing its end when we complete rebuilding the chorten. The rain stopped. Ah, miraculously, the setting sun stood feverishly beautiful in the west as we packed our things and headed our way home downhill-muddy and slippery. Flurries of birds were swirling around us twittering and chirping as if they were thanking us. Fresh wild flowers budded full, supposedly, in enormous gratitude and a sense of homage for us. Rustling leaves waved us farewell.
And downhill, we clambered, with a smile of satisfaction and love. Our heart exalted. Because not only did we resurrect one chorten, but our own negative feelings cleansed and heroically restored with compassion, love, happiness.

Note: Go Youth Go (GyG) is a membership-based community group of highly motivated young people which is committed to bring positive social change in Bhutan. It has over 160 active members.
GyG is on Facebook: www.facebook.com/GoYouthGo

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

All she ever wishes

Do you love reading and everything about the book world? Do you want to spread the love of reading and literature to your children?

Let me introduce you to one of my best-loved programmes that the Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) offers. Book Time, a reading session, engages young children at the DYS library to teach them the true power of the literary world. The session also helps young children recognize the power of books, love and value them.
I’ve been working with children of Book Time for the past two weeks. And honestly, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, all along the way.

During the session, I came across a sweet little girl. Often she stood, alone, holed in a corner reading a book-presumably, delving on the pleasure of the words, story of the book. She was uncommonly alert, communicative once you got to know her. And ah, she enjoyed all sorts of literature.
In one session, I was reading out story from a book about a fairy who granted wishes. When I asked what her wish would, this little girl replied, “I want to write a book someday.” How sweet! I told her that she should. But I wonder if I conveyed how strongly I really would like to.
After the session, I left thinking about how seriously she would take this wish of her. But it gave me such pleasant joy to have known about her passion about writing a book. At very young age. And who knows…in the future or very soon, you and I would be grasping a beautiful book written by this little girl.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Exchange Programme

A group of six children from Chukha dzongkhag are leaving for Japan tomorrow morning. They will be attending the 15-day long youth exchange programme in Koga, southern Japan. Two officials will be escorting them. The programme is to provide young people exposure and broaden understanding of the global perspective. It is also intended to exchange culture. 

Peldan Dorji, 10, a student of Wangchuk MSS told me that he doesn't  know what he is going to do in Japan. "I am blank. But I am very excited to go there," he said.

Another participant, 12-year old Kuendrup Yangchen, a student of Phuentsholing LSS, said, "I have never seen aeroplane in my life, but I am excited that tomorrow I will be experiencing my life's first flight. I am very, very happy."
                                               Pic: Their last lunch before they leave for Japan
The programme is organized by the Department of Youth and Sports, MoE with financial support from the Japan government.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Dad, my Hero

Today, 14 years later, I still remember that incident; in fact, with enormous gratitude and a sense of homage for my Dad. And what has happened that day had irrevocably bound together me with my Dad. 

It happened when I was 14-year old, on a weekend afternoon. Winter? Spring? I don’t remember precisely. My Dad wanted to fell a tree next to our field for firewood. And he wanted me to tag along with him. My Mom had readied fried rice and an omelet each for us. After the lunch, as my Dad hung his long saw over his shoulder, I received the axe in one hand and the tea kettle other.

My Dad scaled the tree, making round, and briskly measuring its size. It’s about 30 feet tall. He, then, asked me to hang at one end of the saw as he started pulling it from other end.

The afternoon sun was heavy on our backs. And we kept moving the saw backwards and forwards as it seeped deeper and deeper into the tree trunk. We sweated profusely. My body exhausted, my back ached.

Suddenly, a loud hectoring sound of the tree rumbled like lightning over us, deafening. In a flick of second, the tree fell down, right on us. All hell was breaking loose, I felt. My body turned cold with fear, my heart chilled to ice, my mind blank. And I stood there, baffled, caught between turmoil and confusion. At that point, I thought we (both father and son) were mauled to death.

Oh, I was stunningly safe! Only a tiny branch of the tree hit me, slightly scratching my right hand. I wondered about such a miracle. But, eh, my Dad was nowhere to be seen around. That moment, I thought I had lost my Dad to the hurtling tree. The tears formed in the corners of my eyes, flowing down my cheeks. I cried, literally.

But to my surprise, oh thank god, my Dad spectacularly rose from beneath the felled tree. He had been hurt real bad. I could see his limbs bruised, bleeding. But without least bother for his own pain, he darted towards me as if it happened so natural for him.

He held me, instantaneously, to ensure his son was ok. I read “Are you ok, son?” expression on his face. As he checked my hands, legs, and head, he burst into tears and put his arms out for a hug. He hugged me, all apologies. And he heaved a sigh of relief.

That afternoon, we made our way home without firewood. But, certainly, I took home an understanding about my Dad, his selfless care, unconditional love and affection and protection for me, his son. And that very, very rare tears in his otherwise masculine eyes has strengthened our father-son bond, emotionally.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What we don't have


Facebooking is not always “waste of time” or misleading. I will show you how. About a month ago, I was chatting with my friend, Gyembo Koottaadogck Namgyal in Pemagatshel and I came to know some significant aspects of life, the real paradox of GNH society and about happiness.

Gyembo wrote:

“Can we afford to ignore these people? Don't they live in a GNH country as well? We boast of having one of the highest GDP per capita in the region and have people living on six digit pay checks while people in the far flung corners live in...conditions like in the picture. As the citizen of the country, both of those who live on the extreme ends have equal rights to the country's wealth but where is the equity and where is the effort to bridge this disparity? I would only say we are seriously pursuing happiness only when we see some of the collective wealth of the nation trickle down to the most needy ones.”
We had this chat during the time when our Lyonchen was proclaiming about GNH in New York. I felt, during that time, that our country should think of making such folks happy than having scholarly discourses around the world. The GNH needs not to be asserted or proclaimed across the outside world, it should be practised in Bhutan, realistically and let the world hear, come and see how we do it here.
Again Gyembo asserted:
“An undeniable reminder of what path awaits us all down the line, rich and poor, powerful and meek, beautiful and ugly and, sophisticated and rustic. All must tread that same path.”
He added:
“Even with all the wealth in the world what do we really achieve-nothing, except that by the time we reach that stage, it is time to bid adieu to everything. And that is the ultimate real truth.”
He was, generally, emphasizing that people always look forward to making their dreams come true. And they struggle (with so much of dedication and desire) for accumulation of wealth, property, sex, fame, money and success. Amidst all this, they forget about the truth of life. At the end, we achieve nothing but this old age. Inevitable though. This is what we achieve after so much of struggles in life-the old worn out bended body.
And Gyembo composed an insightful lyrics for this man he saw on a highway. Read below:
On this lonesome highway...
For umpteenth time, I did travel,
A special man I did see always,
Clearing drain and sweeping tarmac,
So that you and I can drive free of dust!!!
Salute to you, special man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
About happiness, see these pictures:
Photo courtesy:Gyembo Koottaadogck Namgyal