Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Me and my Afro

The post below is written by Karma Palden, a freelance writer and it was published in the K2. I knew Karma since college. I have been very much amused with his hair since then. And this article has all explanations. Read it below:
It was a winter.  I was travelling to Phuentsholing in a bus.  While stopping over at Gedu for a break, an elderly man, who was hard of hearing, asked me with such sincerity in his tone if I could tell him where I bought my wig.

“I’m planning to get one,” he said.

This wasn’t my first encounter of this kind.  People usually presume it’s a wig I am wearing, and I can’t blame them either.  My hair is big, with tight curls, resembling an Afro.  It’s a mass shaped like a halo, a dark one, around my head.

“It’s not a wig; it’s real hair,” I said.

But he didn’t hear, I suppose, for he kept asking how much it cost and other things.  So when the bus started I was glad.

My hair has always been curly.  But it was in college I started experimenting.  It sat so well with ‘back to basics’ and ‘nature culture’ I was so fond of, that I started keeping it.

And often people took it for a wig.  Whenever I said it was real, they’d touch it and sometimes yank in disbelief.
I do steal a lot of amusing and disapproving stares from toddlers to elderly people, which I dually return with a fitting glance.  But it can be nauseating at times when you are low and down in spirits.  Some youngsters think it is cool, while some break into sudden laughter.

On occasion, some people take me for a wayward person and justifiably, since our society has their granted say on outlandish ways and behaviour.

There are even instances when people keep stakes and of course I have won many bets.  There are others, who inquire the technique to get this big unscrupulous hair.  Well, I have no answer to that, since it is natural and a gene(uine) case with me.

In dark alleys, I’ve often spooked others, not intentionally.  I just happened to be passing by.

My friends usually have chunks of such jokes to heap on me.
It’s been seven years now, and it has become part of who I am.  To me, it means no style statement or whatsoever; it is just that I am comfortable and confident.  It helps in being me; to be precise, it could be perfectly surmised in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

I am trying …

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I sat by the window of a bus at the Phuentsholing Bus Station. I stared out the window the rain falling on the ground with a light pitter-patter sound. The sound of rain, oh! I adored rain and always had, mostly for their sound. And I sat there, in my own imagination, watching and hearing it, reverent.

A woman, presumably in her 50s, arrived with eight sacks of litchi. She looked humble, apparently illiterate. This woman started loading her litchi in a bus all by herself, under the rain. Let me help her, I thought. Subsequently, I dashed out and helped her in dragging and pushing the sack after sack of litchi on the bus top. It took almost a dozen of minutes. And I sweated, the downpour soaked me too.

I sprinted back to the bus, in my seat. The droplets of rain kept splattering against the glass. Bus passengers arrived one after another, and once again I sat watching the rain pouring down, hearing its sound. But this time, also wondering about my journey. You know all this…summer means not just hot weather and rain, but also erosion, flashfloods, roadblocks and road accidents. And I was praying, indeed earnestly, let there be no road blocks.

In a while the driver arrived. He prayed, rather ritualistically, and then started the engine. We had to halt several times and wait for hours at box-cutting (check spelling yourself, he-he) and road clearing areas. However, non-stop Bhutanese rigsar songs made this traveling not boring. Ugyen Pandey’s songs were much played. They were about our Kings, country, friendship, love and the melancholy mysteries of life. I loved and lived by many of his songs. I bought his albums. I know the lyrics.

The sun had already disappeared when we reached Thimphu. At the Lungtenzampa Bus Station crowd, I started looking for a cab after collecting my luggage.

“Kota! Kota!” I heard a voice of woman. I stared back. There, quite unexpectedly, was the woman whom I helped loading her litchi. She ran towards me and took out a bunch of litchi for me. I was not sure how to react. I denied. Once. Twice. Thrice. But she, her smile beautiful, insisted on to take it. She pushed that litchi in my bag and left.

A volume of happiness erupted in me, so automatically. It made my heart melt with love and admiration for her gorgeous heart. She was a peasant, uneducated and apparently without ambition. But I felt sheer smallness of my life in front of her. Even little thing like a bunch of litchi can bring you a joy so vast. And she taught me this. I burst in tears. I didn’t know precisely why-perhaps my happiness was expressed in the form of tears.

I caught a cab and left for home so, so grateful for this caring and thoughtful woman. I left wishing her about the best that life has to offer her.