Thursday, December 31, 2015

End is a new beginning

I’ve thought long on what to write for today. For, you know it, it’s New Year and this post should be special. As it was our belief, so was I wanted this year ends with a perfect post.   
Once and for all, 2015 had been an important year to me. Like you, I had started the year with a new frame of mind, loud and with conviction. Three ambitious resolutions were asserted; however, I could fulfill only one, marriage. To study abroad and to write a book are still due, huh.

Which is why, I learned to rest my expectations sometimes. It feels good to kick start the year ambitiously. Yet, it’s important to release our imperfections and turn our attentions to what is right and true. Because what we do really is never enough; nothing is. Same with this post, I can never make it perfect. Same with the year, it can be never perfect.

Actually I was overwhelmed at the way 2015 has treated me. I’ve blogged the year-round and continued to stay in tune writing. Finally, I’m realizing the impact of writing online.

I’ve read many books and some of them were so moving and heart-wrenching. They inspired me a lot - understood the power of words, books. To mention a few: Murakami’s ‘1Q84’, and Markus Zusak’s ‘The Book Thief’.   
With my niece
This year, I’ve focused more on my family, siblings, relatives and close friends mostly spending good time with them. The world is full of weird things and is fragile too. All we have is who we have, isn’t it? And I feel better and happier when I’m with my beloved ones.

Moreover, I’ve started to embrace the faith, understanding the role of holiness and blessings in my life. It took me close to God and goodness.   

Surprisingly though, 2015 hit me by a wave of change and grief, continuously limning through my life, throughout the year. Marriage happened early this year and then grief engulfed me. And then I had changed my workplace and another grief had hit me hard. I missed those life and comforts I used to enjoy. I missed my former office, colleagues, youth and their laughter there.

However, they taught me that anytime we move from stage of life to another. The way of life, it is. And there is grief ensuing us. Indeed, we can’t grab on to something new without letting go. But it’s this grief that propelled me forward in life.  
Today is New Year’s Eve. Oh goodness, how come? I ask again and again in disbelief and feeling a twinge of sadness. The wood female sheep year was so close to my heart and I want to hold on to it forever. I really don’t want to walk out of it.

Enough now though. This year’s experience of change and grief taught me a lot. I cannot walk a new road if I don’t let go of this one. I cannot step into the new year and live it, if I don’t let go this year. Indeed, end is a new beginning. And here I embrace you, 2016.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Being grateful, thanking footpath

The afternoon wore on bright with the sun. Still yet, it was frosty and brutal cold outside. Exactly when, I found a way to thank a footpath. Grabbing a sack from my home, I ran towards it. I was happy that I would be doing it eventually.
As soon as I reached the half a mile long footpath, I started collecting all kinds of waste littered around path. It surprised me, as there were a lot of non-degradable trashes such as plastics, pet bottles and rubbers thrown by the walkers.  

Why did I choose to clean this particular footpath? And why at this particular time? You must be wondering. Don’t you?

So to say, I had walked this footpath for the past five years. It is a route that had connected me between my home at Motithang and my previous office (Department of Youth and Sports) every day. However, since my transfer to MoIC last November, I knew that I won’t be setting my foot here anymore.

The humble path had served as a special place for me and it became a part of me. It had always embraced me with its beautiful colours of nature, fragrance and serenity. No matter how bad day I had in the office, walking through this path would always sooth my heart.

In fact, it had offered me an important small space and time to reflect on my life’s sojourn and renew my spirit. Every morning. Every evening. Walking here, I had learned to emphasize the importance of walking, to focus on the positive and seek out beauty in everyday life.  

In the past five years I had walked this footpath alone and accompanied, sad and happy, drunk and sober, adrift and purposeful. I had walked under the warm suns, in the darkness, under the torrential rains and in the snows.
Changangkha Lhakhang (Picture taken in autumn 2014)
This path reached me to the God. Every time I walked here the magnificent Changangkha lhakhang would greet me. At times I would drop by the monastery to pray. I felt more blessing avalanche poured in. I felt more holiness.   

To show my gratitude and to give back to the path which had offered me so much, I decided to clean it. I have collected a sack full of waste and dumped it in a safe place. Definitely I made the path very clean, beautiful.

Being grateful is all that matters. In fact, this is how I want to end this year and embrace 2016.  

Monday, December 21, 2015


I am just learning to take pictures at lowlight, which is the most difficult. Here, I am uploading some of them (pictures of Thimphu) I had shot in the recent time. Enjoy much, and a good day ahead.  
Thimphu Street
Thimphu Street
Memorial Chorten

The main traffic of Thimphu
Changangkha Lhakhang
Thimphu City at night
Memorial Chorten seen from Changangkha

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New job, new chapter of life

The title of this post says it all; yes, I am joining a new place of work. The Department of information and Media, MOIC, as it is called. So I am here and it is what it is. I embrace it.
Surrounded by new people in this new office, understandable anxieties aside, I expect to face new challenges. At the same time, I excitedly hope to learn new experience and skills.

However, the reality is that I have joined the agency with a complete different mandate and work. I feel like a new nervous man in the town. And I believe that it will take some time for me to adapt here.

By the way, I chose to change my office not because that I didn’t love my previous work or the people there. The Department of Youth and Sports (DYS) was a fabulous organization with a wonderful group of staff.

Never did I imagine that I would leave it this soon. Sometimes our life is like a book that its chapter ultimately closes and we have to turn a new page to keep reading. Exactly why, the chapter of my life at DYS was all that. Closed. Done. At least for now. So here, I have just opened a fresh chapter of my life.
Today as I stepped into this new life, I am replaying the whole memory of the past five and half years. On May 10, 2010, I had first joined the office as a gelled-hair boy, young and raw. It was absolutely for the sake of employment and livelihood, I confess.

Oh goodness, instead of studying the office I started looking for beautiful girls. Strange, isn’t it? But gradually, surprisingly enough, my outlook towards work and life had changed, for the better. Making one small step at a time, I worked hard (sometimes forgoing normal office time).

I was not a typical yes-man civil servant. On several occasions, I failed to obey the orders from my bosses which ousted me out of their good book. It put me in a string of unsavory situations. But at the same time, I had learned to work through mutual understanding and respect. 

During my stay at DYS, there were hard times both in my personal and professional life where I felt uncertain, bruised and low. No matter what, my supportive colleagues close by had been always transformative. They are friends whom I met through work. The destiny brought us together, but now it is all in our hands to keep it.
Some of the programs I had conducted
I had learned a lot from the people at the department, more than the words can say. The DYS provided me a platform to serve the Tsa-wa-sum, particularly to bring positive change in the lives of youth. A few activities that I had initiated failed, but there are many activities that I am proud to say that I had carried out and some of them are:

1. Promotion of youth volunteerism: When I first joined the service, the awareness level on volunteerism among Bhutanese youth was very low. After I took over a youth group called Harmony Youth Volunteers in 2010, youth volunteerism had considerably picked up in Thimphu and other dzongkhags. My hard work and sacrifices paid when the group was institutionalized with proper guidelines and office bearers. Today, eight different Youth Centers have their own youth groups which totaled to 463 volunteers.
Strengths of youth volunteers in different years
2. Celebration of International Youth Day: The celebration of International Youth Day was one of the important projects of DYS and I had coordinated it from 2010 to 2014. During the time, the approach of the observation had been shifted to more intellectual from fun and cultural activities. Many important issues (youth migration, youth development and mental health) were highlighted during the observations through comprehensive studies/surveys making the national headlines. 
3. Sustainability of youth programs: Most of the programs/projects were funded by the donor agencies. And it was a serious concern. Realizing this, the Harmony Youth Volunteers was trained to be a self-sustaining and independent youth group. Also, some Youth Centers started conducting programs for youth mobilizing only the local resources. 

4. Publications: I had coordinated development of three important documents. These documents enhanced proper functioning of the office’s works and programs. They are:
                         i.  ‘Directory of Youth Services’ (2012)
                        ii.  ‘Operational Guidelines of Harmony Youth Volunteers’ (2014)
                       iii.  ‘Orientation Manual of Youth Center Managers’ (2015)
I knew that I blew my own trumpet loud, huh. In fact, I am doing it only to record my achievements (though small) on my blog. My supervisor and manager, my colleagues, and the participating stakeholders and youth - all of them deserved a huge share of praise too. Without their guidance, support and participation, I could do almost nothing.

The time spent at DYS was not quite long, but it was one of the most significant and memorable episodes of my life. Abraham Lincoln rightly said, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

As have I joined my new office, I look forward to walking on next stage of my life, which I am sure will be full of great moments. Hopefully. And I am eager enough to write here on my blog about my new experience, new people and new life.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The year’s last smile - photographs

William Cullen Bryant says it right, Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” I just took a hurried walk around the Thimphu City last weekend, camera in my hand. Gosh, some pockets of the city were brilliantly burnt with autumn like a running flame over the trees and hill.

To me, it appeared like the last, loveliest smile of the nature. It is, though. It instantaneously brought a smile on my face.

I have captured some here in my lens. They are beautiful (at least to me). I hope you would like them too; I hope they would bring a lovely smile on your face too. Hopefully!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A date with my wife

When we were in my village last month, I told my wife that I’d take her out for a date. She appeared intrigued, flattered too. In fact, it behooved us to walk on another date as the previous one was long time back.

“Here in the village? Huh, where?” she asked me, and her face turned in smile.
Actually she was seriously wondering where the date would be. You know it well, like in any other villages even my village, Chuzagang, got no decent restaurants, malls, cinema theatres and parks. Where would the date be?

So, one late afternoon, when the sun was already starting to descend, I took her out for the promised date. My wife still wondering where it would be, she appeared excited too. Born and brought up in urban places, she had a rare experience of rural life.

The afternoon heat has just dropped down. So instantly, everything felt pleasant as the gentle evening was gathering around. We walked into a lush rice field, and that’s where I was taking my wife for date - to spend some quiet time together.

She screamed, “Wow! I can’t believe this; it is so beautiful.”
I was glad that she liked. In fact, I grew up as a kid playing in this place. Observing every stream, irrigational canal, tree and footpath, I narrated to my wife some of my naughty and embarrassing incidences connected to each of them. And she liked it even more.

Once we were into the field, everywhere it was the vast land of ripening colors of paddy fields. The setting sun light glowed like embers. There was something so bewitchingly evocative about the way it danced playfully on the thin plates of rice leaves.

Truly, it seemed like the nature has swollen to its fullest beauty - particularly for a couple like us.

We walked around, noticing it, feeling elusively delightful and loving. As the sun was completely buried behind the horizon, we affectionately observed the final activities of the day:

The birds were flying back home to their nests.
The rustic peasants, a handful, spades on their shoulders,
were marching home from work.
A village yonder, a ceaseless hum of cattle returning to their sheds
 heard momentarily.
And ah, we smelled the dinner cooking.
Come what may, this date was wonderful - way better than any of those we had in the past. There’s something arresting and special the village life does to people.

In a village like this, I realized we are humble, genuine, and there was sincere about us. And it feels so good to be REAL to fully understand one another as individuals, as a married couple.
I wanted to say this to her, but she had understood my feelings already.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

For all times, Fourth King of Bhutan

Art by Kinzang Tshering
I was debating with myself whether to write this post; I felt overall intrigued and nervous. For a long time, I hesitated as I thought my pen was not mighty enough to write about our Fourth Druk Gyalpo. But if not today, then when?

To begin this, I run momentarily at a loss of words. In fact, so much have been recorded in words and said about our godly King, extensively, venerably. In this ocean of profound writing, my writing comes as just a drop of water.  

I consider that I’m one of the luckiest persons to have lived in the era of Drukgyal Zhipa. Truly speaking, I’ve never seen Him with my naked eyes. His Majesty the King didn’t visit the schools and college during the time I was studying. I was out of luck, though. But I think I saw Him in a couple of occasions; I’m not sure, though. Maybe I’m wrong.

On first occasion, it was at Kurje Lhakhang, Bumthang somewhere between 2001 and 2002. That evening, it was raining lightly, foggy too. Along with my friends, I was returning to our school (Jakar HSS) after visiting the lhakhang. At that moment, a Toyota landcruiser just ran by.

My friends whispered, “Look, King! King!”

I turned my gaze and stole a quick glance of the person behind the closed window glass of the car. Yes, the person sitting on the front seat looked like our Drukgyal Zhipa. But was he really the One? No matter what, that evening I returned my hostel feeling deeply blessed; for I believed I saw the King.

On another occasion, I think I saw Drukgyal Zhipa at Jungshina, Thimphu in 2010. Then, late evening, I was out for my regular evening walk. Two men in black gho came cycling - one ahead and another following. My instinct made a quick judgement, He could be the Fourth King.

But I couldn’t say it with guarantee. It was dark and I couldn’t really recognize people. Still then, it had made my day.  

Several other occasions, I saw the King at Changlimithang but from far afar. I wish to see the divine King and experience that feeling of melting myself in reverence in front of Him.

No matter what, the image of our Dharma King has deeply seeped into my heart and His words are engraved deep into my mind. Since young, I’ve lived by His accruing words and wisdom always feeling inspired and patriotic.
Drukgyal Zhipa, who mostly wears sethra gho, is the most handsome person I ever saw. Those people who saw Him told me the King looks way more charming in person. He literally glows, they say proudly.

He is a King who hardly smiles. But when He smiles, it naturally brings smiles on me and on everyone else too. I grew up believing that a King would be someone very handsome with many beautiful queens, and the King is supposed to smile very less.     

Known as “Fearless Lion”, His actions and words were full of the fearless and sacrifices. I felt new admiration when He himself led army troop to fight the military insurgents in the southern Bhutan in 2003 and when He instituted democracy sacrificing His own throne.   

In disposition of pure and noble heart, He lives a simple life serving the people and ensuring peace, sovereignty, socio-economic development and happiness. So much had changed under His leadership, for better. His contributions are so huge; I cannot say it all, even a tiny portion.   

When I was delving into finding my own selfish endeavors, Drukgyal Zhipa, the Kidu Gi Pham, was working hard towards nation building, entirely for us, forgoing His leisure time and comfort. He has played a central role in each and every one of our lives. The nation as is today, the Bhutanese as are today, all thanks to our “Father of the Nation”.  

Today, as the nation celebrates His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary, my heart swelled with pride and utmost gratefulness. I was simply astounded looking at the way we, the Bhutanese people, carry love and respect for our King. In small ways of our own, we took different initiatives to show our love and gratitude for Him.

I am not sad that I couldn’t meet my King in person. But today I proudly declare that I’m one of the reflections (small though) of Drukgyal Zhipa’s vision; I believe that I’m what He aspires to see in His people. For a King like Him doesn’t belong to our time, a particular time; Drukgyal Zhipa is for all times.

On your 60th Birth Anniversary, Your Majesty, I pledge myself to serve my King and nation with my best ability in my own little ways. Happy Birthday, Druk Gyalpo and May you live long!   

Sunday, November 8, 2015

An occasion never like before, pictures

This evening, I walked around Thimphu City with my wife to see how the City has readied itself for the big occasion - celebration of 60th Birth Anniversary of our Fourth Druk Gyalpo. We were simply astounded by the transformation.

Almost all the offices, business or enterprises, corporations, associations and individuals have beautifully decorated their working places, streets and monasteries. The roundabouts have been erected beautifully with new structures and creativity.

In festive moods, people are putting effort for the occasion never like before. I am amazed at the way they are working towards making this occasion ever glorious and significant event in our history. Some pictures uploaded here.

Entrance gate
Clock Tower
Main traffic
Decoration going on the roof of NPPF building

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A kind of love

I am uploading some more pictures from my recent visit to my village in Chuzagang. You must be wondering why I frequent my village and stress on writing more and uploading pictures of my village. There isn’t any hidden agenda; it’s simply a love - a kind of love that is shared between a village and its inhabitant.

It is adequately described by an Italian writer, Cesare Pavese,

“You need a village, if only for the pleasure of leaving it. Your own village means that you're not alone, that you know there's something of you in the people and the plants and the soil, that even when you are not there it waits to welcome you.”

Figs, grow abundant in Chuzagang
This chilli resembles dalley; my dad got its seeds from Sikkim and planted in his garden
Young monk in Gelephu
The flower that resembles the colours of our national flag
Shot at early-morning sunlight