Thursday, May 30, 2013

Threat to all bloggers!

Dear blogger frens, 

You must have noticed that your blog stats have shot up immediately. It’s a good thing to see, isn't it? Hundreds have been visiting from a URL named: http://topblogstories.com/

By the way, do not click on that link if you’re in your office or your friends or beloved ones around. It takes you to somewhere very obscene and repugnant. Very embarrassing! 

More surprisingly, I learned from my friends that this site can transmit malware in the form of SPAM and robots circulating in Blogger and Wordpress networks. Be careful now! 

Now, I would like to request the Bhutan Telecom Ltd. to block this malicious site in Bhutan immediately to save the Bhutanese bloggers from embarrassment and spreading of malware in our computers.

For solutions and technical helps, refer this site: http://www.tecnoxps.com/2012/08/how-much-spam-visit-your-blog-some.html

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Full moon in Tokyo

On the Vesak, last Friday night, in the Tokyo beach. I took this picture of full moon. Perfectly beautiful above the sea, rising from the city, way beyond the horizon. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Two little sisters

The day was a Sunday. Last Sunday. It was a bright day, scorching sun outside. And I was walking down towards the town in Thimphu. And here, outside, at the footpath, I spotted these two little sisters reading and writing together. It was very lovely. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Maid of Astolat

Today, one blog that I miss the most is http://maidofastolate.blogspot.com/. An undergraduate girl, this anonymous blogger used to write extensively on teenage life, unlikely romance and her untreated crush on classics literature. Like her, many good Bhutanese bloggers have stopped blogging (for better or worst - I hope for the better). And here, I share one of her stories that I loved so very much. Read it below:

Five-minute taxi ride

“Hey stop!!!' I screamed as usual hurrying past the gate of my house. Oh, it’s 8 am and the school assembly starts at 8.15. I was getting late. Darn!

My tego was still half-worn, my hair uncombed - half flying, half tied. I’ve my packed lunch bag in one hand and water bottle in other. And the bag on my back. It’s my usual routine though. I was a student of Yangchenphug HSS and always I would run to my school late. Everyday, I would wake up at around 7.30. And it would be 8 for me to wash up and get half-dressed for school.

Every morning, at 8, I’ve to run frantically and it’s not at all easy to find a taxi here. I lived in Jungshina, about 7 km north from Thimphu City. Sometimes, luck would fetch a cab for me right away. But every day was not Sunday, and my name would be already called out by my captain in the school and be marked absent.

However, today was another lucky day for me, for the car that I shouted at had stopped for me. “Thank god, at least…I won't be late today,” I sighed in a sheer relief.

I dashed into the backseat of the car and without looking at the driver, I shouted, “Auu, please reach me at YHS.” Meanwhile, I started shoving my hands through my tego’s sleeves and doing my hair - hoping that the car would zoom off immediately.

But the driver even didn’t start the car’s engine. I looked up at him, angrily. And I saw the driver turning back, looking straight at me, as if I had horns sprouting out of my head.

'Auu, be fast la. Please, I’m already late for school,' I pleaded, still trying on to get my tego on.

He showed me his regal face, and I wondered that how come a cabbie being so rude to his passenger. I just stopped for a moment and looked at him again – he is a good looking young man, well dressed - presumably, in his 20s. How come a taxi driver so good looking? I wondered again. But since I was in a rush, I didn’t dwell on it for long.

“Yes madam!” he obeyed my instruction, uttering it all in a mocking tone. He started driving. But a sort of an amusement flashed on his face before he said that.

I felt angry and disgusted at the driver as when I treated him well he acted sarcastic at me. Since I was getting late, I concentrated back on my tego, pulling it on properly and start folding its sleeves and wonju. Then, I started doing my hair. I pulled out the comb from my pencil bag and combed back my hair looking on the mirror to make sure it was being tied properly. I saw the driver's eyes on me, his expression amused. I ignored him, murmuring, “Irritating driver, huh.”

Then, I fetched out the lips gloss from my hand case and started pushing it against my lips. And I applied lotion on my hands and face. I could see the driver glaring at me in his rearview mirror. But, I purposely glared back at him, annoyed.

His face turned into a huge grin. Laughing, he asked me, in accented English, “Do you always get dressed in the cab?”

“I don't!” I replied him in a bitter tone. But I was still engrossed wearing myself.

“It looks like you are dressing up for me,” I remember him saying. I noticed his accented English and I must have wondered how a cabbie could speak English so well. But I ignored it as I was busy wearing my make-ups and only worrying about getting late. You would hardly meet a cabbie who speaks so good English in Thimphu, but jeez, this man had British accent. 

I replied him, “It’s just ah...small modifications”. Somehow that made him laugh loud, throwing his head back. I threw a dagger at him with my eyes.

“Alright, alright, I give up,” he said raising his hands as if in defeat though his smirk said otherwise. I arranged my books in my bag. He continued starting at me in the rearview mirror in a grin expression.

“Hey, do you mind driving faster, I am getting late,” I remember ordering him.

“Laso la madam!” he mocked at me, turning back and staring at me. I ignored him. 

I reached my school gate. All done by then- I put in my water bottle and arranged my bag and did little tidying up with my wonju and tego, still ignoring the driver. My hair perfectly tied. My tego neatly folded, wonju perfectly made. I looked like a typical good school girl. The driver looked at me and smiled broad, appreciatively though.

Annoyed, I hit at him, “What?”

He just laughed and said, “Nothing Madam.” I glared at him.

The school students were still walking towards school. And my friends were waiting for me on the footpath. Thank god, I was not late, I sighed. The anger left me, instantly. Though the driver has been intrusive and annoying, he reached me school safe and on time.

I asked him the fare, “How much?”

He stared at me, his eyeballs rolled for a while and replied me, “Tell you what, it is free, you don't have to pay.”

I didn’t expect that. Since I didn’t like him and I didn't want to remain in debt to this rude man, I shouted at him, “No, take this money.” I threw Nu 40 on his lap.

He simply smiled and said, “You’re one stubborn lady, aren't you?” And he continued, “I bet your teachers are having tough time keeping you under control.”

My anger resurfaced. “Mind your own business,” I said and came out, slamming his car door.

His only reaction was a loud laugh. 

As I walked towards my friends, how I wanted to tell them what a horrible driver I met that morning. But as I soon as I reached them, they waved and cried at me, “Who is that hot guy who just dropped you here?” 

Puzzled, I looked back and to my surprise, it’s not a taxi. Err…I had climbed into a private car. I had mistaken it for a taxi and took a ride and treated him very rude. I felt so embarrassed and to think, I paid him. As I looked back at him, realizing my mistake and blushing, he laughed glaring at me. The Nu 40 (that I threw on his lap) tugged in his fingers he saluted at me and drove past me back to the town.

Today I try remembering him, but I cannot. Even, I don’t remember his face. I’ve no idea of his working address, and his name. I don't think anyone be so kind to drop a crazy school girl at her school. I don’t think that anyone would tolerate my behavior and rude words like the way he did.  By the way, I tried looking for him, at least, to beg from him forgiveness and to thank him. And I looked at the drivers of all cars I came across, thinking he would be the one, but I never found him. But I know that I’ll always remember him – he stays deep in my heart. However, this writing article is one way to remember him, to thank him for his generosity. Since then, I’ve never mistaken a private car for taxi. But how I wish I’d mistake it again and again. Perhaps I would meet him.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Travel to India


I’ve made up my mind, eventually. It’s Kolkata. And it was in last February that I took my travel to this 300-year-old city. I didn’t take plane. Let me travel by train, I reasoned; after all, I was travelling to India.

But I didn’t get the train ticket. So, I booked a bus ticket from Phuentsholing to Kolkata. I carried a small bag with me. I had inside it some shirts, a pair of pants, my cosmetics, a camera, a notebook, pen and a novel.

When I reached Phuentsholing, I knew how lousy I was in travelling. No Indian ATM/Master cards. No SIM card. I had only a few thousands Indian Rupees in my purse. That’s all. How terrible!  

It’s only when I stepped inside the bus in Phuentsholing that I felt a touch of alarm. I saw only strange faces. I spread out the Kolkata map and looked at it. Oh, so many names of the roads, towns, parks, bazaars, stations. It’s such a big city. 
Kolkata is home for over 15 million people. You cannot imagine, simply. But the brutal truth is that I was travelling to a place where I didn’t know a single soul. I felt like I was on a mission of going-to-get-lost. It’s obvious though.

I was travelling there…umm, just like that. I don’t know precisely. Sometimes, I just go crazy. Like this. And inside the bus, nervousness came out to me naturally. I, huh, nearly jumped out of the bus and return home in Thimphu. But something held me back.

And let me tell you that I always had a fascination towards Kolkata for several reasons. I was first introduced about it by a novelist Dominique Lapierre in his book ‘The City of Joy’, where he was overwhelmingly enthused by the City and named it “City of Joy”.

The city has bred Nobel Prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore and spoken of Oscar-winning film director Satyajit Roy. This place, too, has hugely inspired a Macedonian Catholic nun Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu to make Kolkata her home and become Mother Teresa.

So my journey began in the early evening. It’s a bogey ride in a dusty and noisy road - over the vast open plain of the north Bengal. The scattered settlements and farmlands stretched clear for acres and acres on all sides.

In the west, over the horizon, the marmalade sun was about to set. And I watched it, aghast and amazed, until I went into a deep sleep due to a long and arduous journey. We travelled all night.

The next morning, at 10, we reached Kolkata. The bus conductor announced, “We are in Kolkata, but it will take one hour to reach the Bus Station.” Oh my god, fear started running down my cheeks because I didn’t have any designated place to go in Kolkata.     

Outside, the streets were noisy lanes packed with never-ending pedestrians, vendors, bicycles, rickshaws, cabs, trams, cars, beggars, elephants, monkey, cows and goats. Everything. Billboards hung at the building-tops and on the fields, advertising McDonald, Pepsi and sultry movie stars. After each handful of minutes, you meet with traffic jam. In corners, people (all tanned, dark and skinny) were fighting for water. And for the first in my life, amongst millions of people, I felt I was the best looking. Sorry la, he-he, my precious ego.

It’s almost noon when we arrived at the Dharamsala Bus Station. Other passengers have their own friends, relatives and officials to pick them up. And in a few minutes, they all left.
But four Indians surrounded me. It seemed like they were my hosts who had come to pick me up. The first one was a middle-aged woman (carrying a tiny baby) who started following me, begging money. I was warned before by one of my friends, “Never give money to beggars. If you give it to one, hundred would come to you.”

So I ignored her. But she never stopped following me. She pinched her baby each time she begged me. As the baby would give a loud cry, she pleads, “Shabji, give me money to buy foods for my starving baby.”

The next one was a bus ticket seller. He went onto pulling me, catching my jacket, and coaxed me to buy the ticket from him. Meanwhile, a short and stocky cabbie started pulling my bag from other end. He insistently asked me where he can drop me. And the fourth one was a street vendor who shouted at me to buy things from him. It’s so scary – more so by the way people reacted to me and those deafening noises.

I walked around the station with no destination in mind. These four people still following me. I was ignoring them, denying them. And the first thing that I learned in India was to ignore and deny.

I knew, then, I had entered the realm of foreigners. Everything was new, strange and difficult. And unforeseen dangers loomed every footstep I took, everywhere. Pick pocketing. I could be cheated by cabbies. I could be mauled by a mob of beggars. I could be kidnapped.  Only then I realized that I had gone too far. And I choked, tears welling up in my eyes.
                                                    Pic: Dorji, Rima and Sonam Wangdi

There, in the crowd and unsure what to do, I met a Bhutanese boy, Sonam Wangdi, a law student in Kolkata. Coming closer, he inquired about me and invited me to his rented apartment. You can never guess how relieved I’ve become.  

Sonam shared his apartment with three other Bhutanese mates. That evening, they cooked a special dinner for me - red rice with phaksa paa and ema datshi. I will remain ever grateful to Sonam Wangdi and his mates. 

The next morning, a Singaporean friend of mine joined us. Together, we visited parks, gardens, malls, and museum. Also, we bellied up to restaurants, ordered five-star breakfast, McDonald, foods and drinks.

The other days, we decided to visit a place where we can experience the real Kolkata, see the real India - traffic, crowds, rickshaws, street foods, beggars and vendors. And it’s the New Town that we decided to visit.  
We hired a yellow cab. For the record, the cabbies of Kolkata are very loud and rude. They never return your change. They manipulate the fare, always charge you more.

The New Town is almost like London with stately buildings, wide boulevards and gothic churches. The ensemble of quality colonial architecture still survives here. The street was buzzing - chock full of activities and countless people.
Every corner of the street was embellished with its own specialties – cocktails, bookstores, curries, fortune tellers, garments, cakes, cinemas, vegetables and fruits. And round the clock, something jaunty is always being played on - cricket commentary, Hindi songs, and party talks. It makes you feel that life is not dull here, but full of excitement.

We jumped into an old tram (that runs on rails) and experienced travelling in it. It runs very slow, but so much fun. After that we rode on a pulled-rickshaw. It felt overwhelmingly exciting, full of joy. Then, we tried auto-rickshaw and cycle rickshaw. All these, you can experience only in India.    
There are many shopping malls, parks and museums that have added further glory to Kolkata, but it’s these vibrant street bazaars that offer you a high energy and buoyant experience.

Picture courtesy: Some of the pictures by Rima and google.