Saturday, March 31, 2012

Don’t propose girls in Dzongkha

I mean it. Seriously. Don’t ever propose girls in Dzongkha. I’ll tell you why. Dzongkha is terribly unromantic language. Because, ermm, it’s a loud hectoring accented language and has far, far fewer romantic  terminologies. You cannot admire a girl in Dzongkha, you cannot even like her. But you can only propose her. Bluntly. Unchivalrously. Like this, Nga gi tshey lu ga! And any girl would be shell-shocked to hear this, all at once. Huh, this makes your courting offensive and expression of love dull. That’s why, often, you hear many guys becoming penlop, rejected by girls. Whew, don’t propose girls in Dzongkha. 

In the past Dzongkha was spoken in dzongs. This was the language used by Buddhist monks and the administrative staff in dzongs. And those days, during Zhabdrung’s reign and even after his death, the dratshangs and administrative posts in dzongs were all occupied by men. Now just imagine how administrative staff in those days would speak to each other. Full of masculinity, loudness. Again, imagine when monks were smitten with leather whips what kinds of words kudrung would utter. Unmerciful. Monstrosity. 

And from where Dzongkha originated? Ahem, from western Bhutan, from Ngalong, isn’t it? Ngalong, in no doubt, are people with nga-gyel-excessive pride and promising ego. Sorry for being so blunt, but it’s quite true. With pride and ego, comes sternness and masculinity. Am I right? You see Ngalonpa have this attitude. Overpowering and dominating and are resolute to rule others. So, frankly, do I tell you their language, Dzongkha, too is equally astute and egoistic. 

If you don’t believe me, watch people locking horns. Even if they’re Sharchop or Kheng or Lhotsham, they go raving and ranting all in Dzongkha-perhaps to potentially wreak terror over their opponents shouting with help of language. Dominating language, Dzongkha. Rolling up their gho or tego sleeves, they fight. Jedha. Shek taw mey. Jhandey. 

You may grudgingly admit it, but Dzongkha is a language of domination. It’s one-way-traffic language. As was our customary, only parents (especially fathers) and officials holding high ranks do the talking. Barking orders. From top to bottom. Women, children and subordinates were kept silence and were speechless and powerless. Theirs only responsibility was to show respect. Bowing down, in due submission, so low, “Laso la, laso la.” That’s their only language, voice. 

Dzongkha had worked to perfection for leaders of Bhutan-Je Khenpos, Penlops, Desis, Dzongpoens and Kings. Even today watch our leaders speaking, Dzongkha suits them so perfectly. But watch an ordinary man speaking Dzongkha, it proves a menace. Ugh, he sounds disrespectful and disdainful.  It’s even worse when a woman speaks it. Because Dzongkha language contains so much of anger, enrage and loud hectoring accent. And anyone speaking it seems he/she is an angry person and overpowering.

And even today visit any government offices in Bhutan and ask for a small favour from officers. They’d only throw at you a scornful look. “Ahh! Nga meshey!” they’d scold you back, in Dzongkha. And all in your mind only, you’d react (tempers boil over), “Jedha!” 

This could be one solid reason why youth, today, lost interest in learning Dzongkha. Today’s youth are in love and they want to express love, feelings. That’s why they write love letters or exchange greetings cards only in English. 

Note: This post is overtly sensitized, and for fun reading only.

Photo courtesy:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Even Nature welcomes our Royal Couple

It seemed that spring had swollen to its fullest meaning, just for our King and Queen. It's something so rich, so evocative. Just extraordinarily beautiful!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So yesterday

I always try to press ahead-not to retrospect too often. But yesterday, well, while dusting off my closet, I came across a photo that set me back with reminiscences. This photo contains so much of an intense emotion, overwhelming passion and innocence that I’ve never realized before. It made me cry, really cry. And today, I cannot help, but share this with you.

This photograph was taken in 2005. I was a first year student. At Sherubtse College in Kanglung. I was, then, young-young in everything. Even in love. My girlfriend, sad though, was not there in Kanglung (she was studying in Punakha). There’s over 500 miles between us. And now you must be wondering how I had maintained contact with her. Those days, Kanglung had no access to internet, therefore, no e-mail. No mobile network, so no Short Message Services and phone calls.

But every fortnight, on the college notice board, notification from the Kanglung Post Office would read,
Riku Dhan Subba,
First Year, BA (Hons) English
Sherubtse College, Kanglung.

Please, visit the post office to collect your registered letter.

My class forgotten, I’d dart off to the post office. A gorgeous lady, the postmaster, would be sitting in her office. Each time she would make me to sign on a long thick register book. As she would handover an envelope to me, she smiled at me, beautifully.

On the envelope was my name and address. And you just can’t imagine how excited I’d be to receive a letter, my name on it. I’d recognize the handwriting. Ah, it’s my dearest one, my girlfriend’s handwriting! Those letters from my girlfriend were so much to me. More than the monthly money order I used to receive from my father. I’d carefully keep the letter inside pouch of my gho and cherish reading it when I reach home.

Sometimes, letters in my pocket, I used to stroll way above Khangma where the fertile rice and maize fields, fed by water channels, lay luminous for acres and acres. Farmers, rustic, their heads padded with green leaves, curving sickles in their hands, wearing faded kira and gho would be working in fields. And I’d sit down under a handsome tree, unfold the letters hastily but cautiously to avoid damage of envelope and letter inside. Anticipation, thrill, surprise and excitement all would crush into me-which would make me amazed and tearful, all at once. I’d read it once, twice…even a dozen times, until the glare of the sun was sucked out of the day.

In the evening, I’d sprint way down to the Kissing Point. Flock of seabirds would be flying back from somewhere in the east towards their habitats, towards the setting sun, beyond the horizon, beyond those crimson clouds. Against cool evening breeze, I’d walk alone-all in her thoughts-as the stars would begin to switch on one by one and the richly milky moon would come out beautiful.
I’d nestle at the Kissing Point. The play of truck lights, at night, seen from that point would be always mesmeric. Oh, one would feel his/her mind spiraling out, Milky Way style. In a while, the highway would be swarmed with scores of college couples walking hand-in-hand, often misbehaving in public-kissing, hugging and catching and snatching each other’s fingers. And how I’d wish my togetherness with my girlfriend when I could chance to spot shooting stars! So, that way, I had lived on hope. 

Back in my room, again, I’d open and read her letters. Sometimes I used to find rose, petals and her photographs. I used to smile, laugh, even cry and do all sorts of tossing around in my bed while reading letters. In her letters, I could even find her scent. I could feel her when I touched the words on her letters. In each word, I could see a glimpse of the spontaneous flow of her soul and heart. And how sweet, her letters had always stirred up very raw feelings in me-my heart meltdown, my eyes tearful!  

However, it’s never easy to maintain a distant relationship in Kanglung. It’s a couple-driven society. You’re tempted, coaxed, ragged or even dragged into blind dates; then, into unlikely relationship. But nothing did thwart my love, faith for my girlfriend.

And it’s always exciting to go around Upper Market, Lower Market and Post Office buying envelopes and stamps. But, ugh, there always was threat as wicked and venomous seniors would unleash mayhem on us (fresher), anytime. They’d walk straddling in an ungainly waddle swaying from side to side, high on ganja and arra. It was the test of love, though. Temptation. Wicked seniors. All.
I’d spend scores of time choosing the colour of paper to write on and ink to write with. And I’d always write in best words and best handwriting. In a crazed hope, I’d wait for her reply. In each reply, I still remember, how happy I used to be when she appreciated my letters. It’s a motivation to write better in my next letter and improve my handwriting as well.

Good gracious, this is the sheer blessing of writing letter. Today, even after eight years, when I retrospect about writing those letters, it evokes such a delicious nostalgia and happiness.  It makes me cry, really cry and long for those days-pure and noble.         

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

All there for you!

“The earth turns its orbit for you. The oceans ebb and flow for you. The birds sing for you. The sun rises and it sets for you. The stars come out for you. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there for you.”
                                                                                            -Rhonda Byrne, The Secret.

Monday, March 19, 2012

That word is love

I was too tired, last evening, even tired to write. The play of sunset, seen from my bedroom, was mesmerizing. And the fresh aroma of spring was extraordinarily strong in the air.  Since it’s too early for bed, I turned to a gorgeous book and read. I read it in amiable silence, engrossed. Rhonda Byrne’s The Power.

Even now, I’ve not yet been able to put words to just how much I love this book. Rhonda Byrne delighted me with her wide-ranging worldview, critical mind and her compelling deliberation on love. She wrote, 
                       One word frees us all the weight and pain of life. That word is love. 

Again, I love to read a few sentence of this meaningful book:
Love is not just a feeling, love is a positive force. Love is not week, feeble, or soft. Love is the positive force of life. Love is the cause of everything positive and good. Love can create anything good, increase the good things, and change anything negative in your life. You have the power over your health, your wealth, career, relationship, and every area of your life. And that power-love-is inside you.”  

I believe this to be true. And I trust this with all my power. I believe that the power to have all the good and positive things in our life is love. In juxtaposition-just imagine-every single time you experienced something not good, you didn’t love. And the result? Obviously negativity, disappointment and frustration.

And Rhonda Byrne reflected, 
Love is the cause of all the good things in your life, and a lack of love is the cause of all the negative things and all the pain and suffering.

Indeed, it’s never possible to have a great life without love. The wise and successful people think and talk about what they love more than what they don’t love. And just the opposite with those people who are struggling-they think and talk about what they don’t love than what they do love.

This book is more than just a pleasurable reading. It sumptuously healed all negativity in my life (hatred, guilt, disappointment and dreadful past) with love. This book has, instantaneously, helped me resurrect like spring as it enriched my life with warmth, love and understanding about life.      

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Without clinging

"We are like children building a sand castle. We embellish it with beautiful shells, bits of driftwood, and pieces of colored glass. The castle is ours, off-limits to others. We're willing to attack if others threaten to hurt it. Yet despite all our attachment, we know that the tide will inevitably come in and sweep the sand castle away. The trick is to enjoy it fully but without clinging, and when the time comes, let it dissolve back into the sea."
                                                                                                      Anim Pema Chodron 
Courtesy: Through Aby Tharakan's FB wall.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I dance in bliss and plentitude

Yesterday evening I sat, thoughtless, as I was looking out from my window. Oh my God the day was not ok. It’s raining, thick and gray and made me cry, “No, no, no! Common, this is spring. How come raining?” This cold weather only made me want to cuddle in my bed, disgruntling. Burrow deep into my pillows, curl under blankets. 

But I kept staring out the window, quiet and contemplative. And I drew my focus, eventually, closer to a peach plant next to the place I stay. I saw the plant dancing against the raindrops, in bliss and plentitude. I ran down, sat near the peach and watched it, strangely fascinated.

The earth beneath my feet loosened, the plant’s dark barks bearing flowers, the root absorbing rainwater. Flowers and shrubs nearby are sprouting with lush leaves and flowers. And you know this rain (which we, humans, been cursing for making our day worse) is only doing its service duly to the nature, to us. It’s only watering (or feeding) the plants around us. So that once again the plants grow beautiful in lush green and greet us with fresh spring fragrance and colours. 

And like the flock of birds swirling around the peach plant, I danced in a fury of excitement, welcoming the spring, warmth and love.                

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A man behind the Chuzangang rice


I always feel proud to talk about my father. My father is Lal Bdr. Subba and is in late 60s. To tell you, my father is the sole person behind the production of Chuzangang rice, thanks to the agriculture ministry that initiated farm mechanization in my village since 2008. In fact, he is the only person who has started farm mechanization and rice commercialization in Sarpang.

Every year, my father cultivates over 37 acres land of rice plantation in Chuzangang. Annually, he produces from 300 to 500 muri (60 kgs in one muri) of rice. All this harvest is reserved for the agriculture ministry, which later processed by the rice mills and packaged as the Chuzangang Rice. The marketing agent, then, supplies the packaged rice all over Bhutan.

Raw rice for packaging:

My father and his rice mill and maize mill:

His tractor:

Rice dropping machine:

Rice field and irrigation canal:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Once upon a time in Kanglung

Kanglung, intuitively, has become engraved in my heart and mind. And to those who studied at Sherubtse College. I know it makes you giddy with pride and delight, just to utter that you studied here. Because you’ve tons of photos, memories, experiences, friends-all beautiful. All this make you feel nostalgic, no?

I studied in Kanglung from 2005 to 2007. Each time I leaf through my photo album or meet my mates of Sherubtse, I reminisce about Kanglung, of those golden days. In those days, Kanglung was a strange world. Even mysterious, affluent. Away from the urbanity, the college stood forlorn, secluded from the real world and it had continued to be metaphor for fairy land. Obviously a rich and happy land.

A jumbo gate, in front of the college, stood majestically and would gracefully greet newcomers and guests. The monstrous dorms in the campus constituted its ancient glory. The huge, gothic windows were an obvious testimonial for its oldness and persistence grace.

Its inhabitants were young, innocent and tender, yet passionate and determined. The challenges and sufferings of the real world were unheard and unknown here. They lived in a mere perception that life is beautiful. Just beautiful! And they lived to make merry. Nothing more. Above all, to be happy was their maxim. No menacing covetousness and greed ever pervaded and distracted them from this beautiful existence. 

Girls of this land were all strong and beautiful. And virtuous. Tall, slim, well-spoken. They maintained their hair long, straightened, silky, well-perfumed. Boys were, mostly, decent and clean. Their gho well-ironed and they wore it short, above their knee. Their shoes polished, always shining. They kept their hair long-perhaps idolizing the rock stars. They’d speak in accented English. And no wonder, in ramp-walk style, they walked.

Everything in Kanglung was timeless. Its inhabitants never ran after time and the deadlines. Even the assignment submission deadlines and presentation dates could be unarguably postponed. A college boy would patiently wait for months (or even years) for his dream girl to “accept” his proposal. And he’d wait for hours outside her degree hostel-out in the cold, under monsoon rain and sun-just to take her out for date or dinner. For, his girlfriend had to apply her mascara and compact and hairdo. And timelessness here was best demonstrated by the college’s clock tower that remained dead, all time. 

The Sherubtseans were all country-song lovers. John Denver’s,
Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

And Don Williams’,
My heart is out of control
This ole love struck soul
Just lives for the moment you’re around
When I hold on to you
It is all I can do just to keep my feet on the ground
Desperately, Loving you desperately

These songs, you’d hear them singing all time. From morning to midnight. From their washrooms, laundry to classrooms, while in date and at the dining hall and auditorium stage.

Kanglung, in its aloofness, had its own culture and traditions. Rich and ever-flourishing. Each department would welcome their fresher with luxurious party-songs, dances and, yeah, drinks. And the farewell party would be arranged for the outgoing students. The second and first year students would arrange foods, drinks and gifts for the graduating students and wish them good luck in their future.

It had blind date in the beginning of each academic year. Notorious though. Each fresher girl would be fixed with the senior boy and the fresher boy with senior girl. A serious, draconic notification on the college notice board read,
No fresher would be spared. Attendance will be taken and the absentees will be seriously dealt, ragged.
Even the ugliest would be forced into blind date. And this is even more interesting. The seniors always prayed the blind date day would rain. They’d ready an umbrella each in advance. And of course condoms too. When rain, their date would be more close, intimate and affectionate. Two people under one umbrella. Hand-in-hand. Down towards the Kissing-Point or uphill Khangma, they walked whispering eternal love notes. Golden rice fields stretched luminously for acres and acres on all sides. Oh, how romantic!

If both desire for each other, they’d fix another date. And when they pair up, they’d throw a lavish party, called patch-up party. This is one custom, typical one, of Kanglung’s matrimonial institution. And this blind date was no obscene, but a ritual of courting or arranged marriage in Kanglung’s culture, terms. 

Kanglung had their own terminologies, which only the Sherubtseans could speak and understand. If they saw a beautiful girl or good looking boy, they shouted, “Scope!” It meant she or he has room for partner (unlike economical scope). ‘Hawa’ means worthless, ugly. For instance, they’d say, “This year’s fresher girls are all hawa.” But “hawa” was also meant to express disgust, hatred and insignificance. “Hawa date.” “Hawa lecture”. “Hawa lunch.” “Hawa condom.”

Other frequently used words are ‘jigs’, ‘heavy’, ‘solid’ and ‘mercy’. Most of these words are to do with looks and physiques of people. For a hot and gorgeous girl, they said, “Jigs bumo.” Or even “Heavy bumo”, “Mercy girl”. Though a well-built man was called “Heavy”, again “Heavy” and “Mercy” were used to express admiration and satisfaction. They’d say, “Heavy painting”, “Heavy asom juice,” or “He speaks heavy” or “She is mercy hot” or “I kissed her mercy”.

The juniors held high respect for their seniors. They addressed their seniors, “Acho” and “Asim”. And the seniors would equally treat them with love, kindness and support. The relationship between the students and lecturers was very sacred. The students revered them, looked up to them as their own parents. The college’s mutual relationship with its community was beyond everything. The Sherubtseans helped building houses for the poor farmers and keeping their water streams clean. Also, they taught English language to the monks of Kanglung Jangdopelri and the Jangdopelri helped performing annual rimdro at the college.

Without interference from the dzongkhag administration or from the capital, Sherubtse was entirely independent and blissful. There was no crime or fraud in this land, so there was never need of police force to discipline its inhabitants. And way before Bhutan transformed into democracy, Sherubtse had been functioning as a democratic land. The president, secretary, department secretaries, degree-hostel councilors and the class representatives for the FINA (Forum for International and National Awareness), a Union body, had been elected through the franchise system (voting) for good governance in the college administration and management.

And today, after five years from my college, I still sing those country songs and dance in reminiscences. I still say, “Hawa” when my bosses anger me or traffic irritates me, “Heavy” when I have good things. So, it’s about to lunchtime, have your lunch mercy!
                                                              Pic: My classmates (girls)

Photo courtesy: Ngawang Phuntsho; Sonam Pelden

Friday, March 9, 2012

The year's at the spring

The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
                                             ~Julian Grenfell

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It’s your day!

You can do almost anything your mind wishes to…
You can swim the deepest ocean
And climb the highest peak.
Be a doctor or fly a plane.
You can face adversity and still walk tall.
You are strong, beautiful, and compassionate
And much more than words could ever say!
Today is yours and so is every other day.
Happy Women’s Day!
                                                                               Anon author

So, dear friends (women), jump out from your busy schedule, free yourself from the stressful life, have fun and do whatever your heart says. Because today is your day!
Have a wonderful Women’s Day!