Thursday, March 17, 2016

The heart-son of Bhutan in India

Surprisingly, wonderfully, I met this great personality in New Delhi. He has contributed enormously in fostering the friendly relationships between Bhutan and India. Undoubtedly, he is the closest friend of Bhutan. Mr. R.N. Anil. The founder and secretary general of India-BhutanFriendship Association (IBFA).
Initiated by him, the IBFA hosted dinner for us, seven officials from my office. In addition, the dignitaries and officials from the Bhutan Embassy in India and IBFA attended it. 

With a gleeful and dignified smile, Mr. Anil welcomed us formally and all the board members of his association. And the moment he started talking about Bhutan, his voice took on a new high rhythm.

He began, “Your country is beautiful. The people are very hospitable and kind. Moreover, you have such great kings, you must be proud. Your Kings, both the Fourth and Fifth, always give me utmost warmth and hospitality whenever I visit Bhutan.”

Born in Himachal Pradesh, he called on to his Indian counterparts and insisted, “You must visit this country - the happiest country in the world. 
Everyone watched at the speaker, respectful and feeling incredibly impressed. Instantaneously, my heart swelled with a new confidence and excitement. And I felt proud - proud of being a Drukpa, proud of my Kings, proud of my country.

“I am the recipient of the Druk Thuksey award from your King on December 17, 2013 at Changlimithang,” he stated proudly to the gathering. 

Taking a brief important breath, he went on to explain, “Druk Thuksey award means the heart-son of Bhutan. I am actually the heart-son of Bhutan.”

His Majesty the King awarded this prestigious medal to Mr. Anil for his significant contributions in strengthening the friendship between the two countries through his association. 
During the medal ceremony; Pic: HM FB Page
In 1958, he happened to meet India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, after his visit to Paro. Nehru had inspired him to strengthen relations with Bhutan at the non-governmental level.

When Bhutan had opened its representation in India in early 1970’s, he grabbed the opportunity to establish his close contact with the first Chief Representative of Bhutan in India, Lyonpo Pema Wangchuk. In 1973, he established IBFA; however, only in 1978 when Bhutan opened its mission in New Delhi, he formally inaugurated it. 

The association organizes programmes and seminars between the people’s level for promoting understanding at the cultural, sentimental and economic levels. Mr. Anil has worked with the association for more than 43 years.

Often he writes articles about Bhutan and particularly about warm friendship between India and Bhutan in the leading Indian newspapers. The IBFA and Bhutan Embassy in New Delhi are planning to launch a magazine called “Bhutan Panorama” from this March. To be published quarterly, they will distribute the magazine all around the world. 

He knows so many things about our kingdom, our culture and people. In fact, he is someone with whom I would like to have a long talk. In an article published in Kuensel, Bhutan’s big leap into future, he wrote,
”Religion is visible in everyday life. Every house is having a temple of its own. On the slope of the hills one can see dzongs and fortresses, which evoke memories of Bhutan’s rich past. Also, at every bend one can see white prayer flags fluttering in the gentle breeze, confirming the faith of the people in religion.”
It sounds strange to say, but sometimes we discover more about our country when we travel outside. Sometimes we learn to appreciate more about our place and ourselves when we meet a personality like R.N. Anil.

Long live Mr. Anil! Long live IBFA! Long live India-Bhutan Friendship!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From Calcutta to Delhi: the sky is not the limit

A couple of weeks before, I was travelling in India. To put it more aptly, I was travelling from Calcutta to Delhi through an Indian flight. The airline, IndiGo, was a sophisticated one, and quite surprisingly, punctual too. It impressed me. 

Almost all the passengers were Indians, by the looks of them; and of course, by the talk of them. For, the world knows how they look. For, the world knows how they talk. For, the world knows how they smell.

No sooner did I take my seat, some strange smell started to bother me - that of mixed smell of strong perfume and armpits. That was when I remembered Russell Peter’s joke: he smells Indians as soon as he walks off the Delhi airport. He is a hilarious comedian.

Russell sounds more hilarious when he goes on to tell a God’s practical joke,
“I am going to take this people here and put them in the hottest place in the world. And just for fun, I will cover them with hair. Hot and hairy. Men and women.”

In the plane, everything around me began to turn strangely intriguing. When we were about to take off, many passengers didn’t follow the emergency instructions. Those fair and slim stewards had to run after each passenger to fasten seatbelt, straighten seat and request him or her to switch off their phones.

Everybody - old and young, men and women - talked nonstop. They largely talked about sadhi (marriage), cricket and Bollywood. These three aspects, believe or not, are considered lifelines of Indians. 

Hearing them, I could figure out almost all the passengers were either returning from attending wedding and were going to attend it. An Indian friend of mine once told me, “Indians don’t trust strangers, at all, but they give away their daughter’s hand to a stranger.”

And he added, “We are very jealous people. Success of other people makes us more miserable than our own misery.”

Strange, isn’t it?

However, what I have observed in the plane was that everybody wanted to talk, about everything. As if they were talking machines. I could hear them saying, “Hey, you listen to me na.” Which is why, supposedly, they wouldn’t listen and follow the instructions of the airbus.

They would talk in a thin voice, sweet voice, and furious voice, but mostly in a really high-pitched voice. Only those who shout the loudest be heard in India? Seems like that. But to let you know, it was quiet in the plane. Why they had to shout? Perhaps they are used to talking like that, and they still think they are in a noisy crowded place.  

As I continued listening, I understood a different thing. They were not talking, they were whining - whining about all of the problems. They would shout to the gods, shout to the government, shout to the political parties and shout to the people. And they were venting all kinds of opinions - negative and positive, quiet and wary, happy and sad. 

In a book called The Story of my Assassins, Tarun J Tejpal rightly pointed out, “There was too much opinion in the country, too many sob stories.” In India, rather strangely, everyone wants to whine all of it, vent all of it.

Indians are Indians everywhere they are, in the plane too. Indeed, even the sky is not the limit for them. They are simply incredible, and my respect for each Hindustani for being so unique and brilliant. That's why I love India so much; this is one country I want to explore more.