Thursday, November 29, 2012

A few words about bachelorhood

It’s always a breathlessly exciting topic to talk about. Isn’t it? For lack of a better word, the bachelorhood is fucking great. Bet you! Because I know it; after all, I’m a bachelor.  


So to speak…I live in a rented apartment in Motithang. And guess what? Motithang is the talk of the town (most beautiful women and elites of Thimphu live here). But I tell you that the world here is bizarrely crazy: the sounds of kids and cars during day time; and volley of noises of barking dogs at night. Ha-ha!
And this bachelor doesn’t own car. Yes, not even a motorbike. Honestly. Because the idea of buying a car had slipped through my grasp as I could never learn to trim my spending and the saving always remained negative. For me, everyday was the Pedestrian Day.

This is one reason why many girls denied going out with me, yes, for date. LOL! They say, “Druk 11, please no, no!” or “i11, eh, no chance la.” Well, this is embarrassing and also hysterically funny. And I only scratched my head and muttered, “Huh, jedha”.

The truth is, while I reveled in bachelorhood, I also sought companionship. What I’m referring to is that I did date girls. Occasionally, though. Tsk. Tsk. Not kidding.   
Ahem…I got too little sleep and rest. Allow me to become honest with you, which I prefer. Most nights were spent with rowdy friends bar-hopping, sipping a cocktail on a breezy late night and making intellectual noises (throwing cool comments on politics and business). After that, dance partying, head-banging.
There was no breakfast, and no proper lunch and dinner. I was in hurry and running late, all time: to office, meetings, social gatherings, on dates, everywhere. Sometimes, things got a wee bit out of hand. I had notoriously erred and also survived several desperate scrambles. How insane!   

I dare say a bachelor’s life is very intense, full of milestones. It’s undeniably the most exciting part of my life though. That said, it added further gloss to my life’s experience. It helped me become contemplative, more complete. Now I’ve a greater talent for joy and a larger embrace of life.   

Let’s admit that there is a reason why I’m still a bachelor. You would wonder what the hell was wrong with me. My point is that it’s important to give myself enough time to discover who I’m and where I want to go before I can bring somebody along for the ride.

And pleasing others or just to follow what our society wants us to be must take a back seat. After all, in the end, what matters most is our own happiness. And we’re always starved for that laughter that bubbles up inside you and cannot be faked.

Frankly speaking, bachelorhood has worked to perfection for me. At least, for now.

But I’m realizing something, and trying to accept it, too. I know that with time, things will change and it’s never going to be same forever-not precisely, not ever. There comes a time when bachelorhood won’t anymore serve its purpose to me and another phase of life, marriage, would perfectly suit me.
And lo and behold, this year's autumn has taught me a significant lesson: dropping of leaves - letting go of what no longer serves us or required anymore, so that we can embrace new beginning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catching last glimpse of Fall

The season of fall, autumn, has come to an end. And if you don’t hurry and walk around, you would miss the last extraordinary colours of fall; those vibrant yellows, deep reds and oranges. If you can't, don't worry. Today, I’m here to offer you some beautiful photographs I took last week. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Way back to boyhood

Last weekend was gorgeous. As I had my friends, three of them, come to meet me, at my home. We’re all college buddies, very close. Today, two of them are happily married and have a kid each. And one into serious relationship. All of them are well educated and doing quite well in life with successful careers.

As we sat, we talked about weird things like politics, taxes, economic crisis and corruption. We also have a chat about school choices for our children and what we look for when we are buying a car, home and plot of land.

How weird, I thought, to talk about all this things. It’s so adult of us to talk like this. And who are these grownups? Shouldn’t our parents and those adults be talking about that whole tax, school choices for children and politics things? Five years back, in the college, we would only talk about fun, college hot girls, foods, dates, and movies.

But I looked at my friends and they look same as they always have. Still innocent, impulsive, freaking and boyish.

They, too, looked at me and understood what I was thinking. And we laughed.   

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The industrious entrepreneur

The day has turned bewitchingly colder in Thimphu, the wind more iciness. The bitter winter is here, inevitably. And since the mid-morning, I was waiting for my friend at the Thimphu Town for a work. It’s frost-cold out in the open. My hands turned cold as ice. And the chill spread through my veins and my back ached badly, shrieking with cold.

“Wait, I’m coming…on the way…five minutes,” my friend hung up my phone calls. More than 30 minutes passed, yet he didn’t turn up. Fucking liar, jedha, I grumbled, scratching my head. The obvious tempers boiled over me, making me go mad, literally. Yes, all this cold, backache and frustration of waiting here. Finally, I decided to return home.

So, I walked way up. And you all know that this street is boisterously crowded; all equal-people, cars, shops, and even dogs. But I agree that it’s, undoubtedly, an intense and overwhelming City. And here, you can meet people with various expressions on their faces: excitement, happiness, intoxicated, stress, hunger and pain. Even anger, like mine, he-he.      

And for the record, this street has no dearth of beautiful girls. After each few footsteps, you always come across one after another gorgeous girls. Seriously la! And allow me to be honest with you. Continuing the walk, ahem, I stole quick look at them, each one of them. C’mon man, because they’re so irresistible, and after all, I’m a man.
At the main traffic, oh, I came across a painful scene. An old mustached man, a beggar, was seated on the street lane in a mournful state. I looked at this old man so obsessively, with strange remorse and curiosity. I don’t know why. On his face, I saw, he carried a deep well of destitution and hopelessness.

However, the brutal truth is that when you walk across this street you would meet at least a dozen of beggars, of all ages. And more disheartening…every time, you would see here new beggars, begging embarrassingly.
And this beggar, supposedly in 60s, has his head padded with a monk hat, a drum in his right hand, bell in his left hand and he wore a Buddhist monk’s robes. But one can easily make out that he isn’t a monk. Right in front of him, he has a box. Only a few people have dropped money in that box.

He woke up abruptly and collected his stuff (a walking stick, umbrella, jacket and mat). And he set off to the Norling Complex where he saw better fortune, more people passing by. I followed him. At the alley, right in front of the complex, he dropped his things. He pushed his umbrella and jacket in one corner and arranged his mat on the floor and sat, cross-legged. He placed the money box in front of him, took out his drum and bell and began his daily chore of begging as the mid-morning sun fell heavy on him.

Here, the alley has been swarmed with people passing by, non-stop. Some people looked at him with a surge of pity and affection and altruistically dropped money in his box. Others didn’t even bother to look at him. And a few looked at him disrespect and disdain.

And lo, this surprised me. When he sees more people passing by, he hits his drum harder, rings the bell louder and chants religious mantra. This drum, bell and mantra are all his tools that he deploys exquisitely to attract customers. Even the monk’s robes he wears. When there are no people, he puts down his drum and bell.
                                                 Pic: When he leaves for tea and snacks

Each time his money box is half full, he collects the money and keeps it safe in a bag that he has worn over his chest. And my head filled with amazement. Goodness, he is so well-organized in his work.

There were comic interludes too. His money earns him enemies. That’s why beggars don’t do their work at night. Children and youth always attack their money. See, for example, this small kid fusing closer to steal money from that box.
Like any one else I was also really curious to know his income. So, I went next to him. He eyed me cautiously. But I forced upon him a small token of friendship in Nu 50 note. He told me that he was introduced to begging by his friend a few years back. When asked how long he works here, he answered, “9 am to 5 pm”.

And sitting next to him, I counted each currency note (money) falling into his box. I was shocked witless. In every ten minutes, there’s no fewer than Nu 120 collected in the box. That means he earns around Nu 1,000 a day. And Nu 30,000 a month. He is, oh god, a rich man!

Then I asked him where he keeps his money. He replied me, rather hesitantly, “As soon as my bag is full, I go to my relative who runs a restaurant here. I always deposit my money with him as he looks after my health and children’s education. My children study in India.”

This beggar intrigued me. He is not a mere faceless wretched beggar, but an industrious entrepreneur who taught me that even this work (begging) requires hard work, desire, risks, innovation and entrepreneurship skills.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Brothers’ Day-Bhai Tika

I’m a Hindu, and so is my family. And you all know that yesterday was the Bhai Tika, the fifth and last day of Diwali celebrations. Two of my sisters who live here in Thimphu invited me. Because it’s the most significant day for a brother and sister in our culture; a day where a sister puts tika on forehead of her brother to ensure long life and thank him for the protection he gives. More importantly, this occasion honors brother-sister relationship, celebrating the holy emotional bond we share. 

My sisters have decorated their house with lights and flowers. It looked like a sparkling diamond. In every door and window, small clay lamps filled with oil were lighted to signify how the tiny flickers of light would waive off evil.

To begin the tika ceremony, my sisters performed a puja for Lord Ganesh, Janmaraj (the God of Birth), and Yamaraj. And I was requested to sit on a mat for the tika ceremony, as my sisters broke a walnut, praying for me:
No obstacles to come in my brother’s way,
If came, may it break like this nut.

Then, my sisters poured circles of oil and holy water from a copper pitcher around my body for three times. It signifies as a boundary over which death and evil spirits cannot pass me. Kneeling before me, they worshiped me with the offerings of flowers, nuts, fruits, and rice.

The most important act of the day was applying the special tika on my forehead. The tika consists of seven colored tika (the colours of the rainbow). First, my sisters applied a white base (made from rice paste) on my forehead and on top of it, they dabbed the tika with their fingers.

They have made a special marigold garland for me. As they put this flower garland around my neck and prayed for my long life, happiness and continued prosperity, they chanted this invocation:

Thus do I mark my brother’s forehead and thereby plant a thorn at the Door of Yamaraj, marking entrance into death impossible. As Jamuna streaked the forehead of her brother, so I do my brother’s. As Yamaraj is immortal, so may my brother also be immortal.

Because we believe that the tika drawn by our sisters on our foreheads protects us life from the clutches of Yamaraj, God of death. And performing of these required rituals with love, dedication and gaiety would protect brothers from death and that they will enjoy a long life, health and prosperity.

Then, I was requested to give tika to my sisters in the same fashion. After completing the tika ceremony, my sisters offered me special gifts and a fantastic midday feast. In return, I delighted my sisters with gifts and money. After that, there was a lot of merriment on this occasion. We sang and danced and our mood was generally delirious.

And like every Bhai Tika, the day came to an end with feelings of love and renewal of the brother-sister bond. Yamaraj, the God of Death was again warded off with flowers, holy water, and the precious bhai tika until the next year. And next year it will be done the same…on and on through the cycles of eternity.  As a brother, I’d keep providing my sisters protection, care and support. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Growing up with Blog

My friend, Kama, is the first person who introduced me to blogging. It was in 2009. He showed to me a handful blogs of Bhutanese. A few amongst them are Sogyel, Passu, and Penstar. These people have maintained their blogs beautiful; even more so, they’ve written gloriously. And I can’t tell you how much their words captivated me. Oh, I adored the idea that I, too, could make a difference with words; I could impact people with a blog. I want one such blog, I had desired.

But it was only in July 2010 that I could create my own blog. Yes, this blog. My ex-girlfriend, who is also a blogger, has created this blog for me. In fact, she has played a central role in my creative life. She’s the woman who instilled in me this habit of writing and reading books. Today, wherever she would be, I give her thank for all this.

Now, it’s been two years of blogging and it’s hard for me to imagine my life without it. This blog has a tight claim on my heart. In the beginning, I wrote particularly for myself. I was, then, going through difficult circumstances and writing, for me, was healing.
I didn’t mind spending hours holed, alone, writing. However, writing helped me discover fresh wisdoms and better understanding of life by delving into different circumstances and exploring my feelings and imaginations. The practice of writing here, on my blog, has enormously changed the way I relate and engage with the world.   

But today what stands out for me is this blogging journey that I’ve been privileged to take, the community of blogger friends that I’ve found and kept, and the posts I’ve written. There are many fellow-bloggers that I never met in person, but it seems to me that I know them very well. When I see them in the towns and meetings, I call out and talk to them. And I’m proud to say that many bloggers have come to meet me. Over cup of coffee or tea, we chat, mostly about blogging and bloggers.

It brings me immense pleasure and satisfaction when I hear my post touches a reader and provides a similar sensation to someone else. One of my ardent readers wrote to me:

“Hey, it’s like you’ve pulled all words from my heart and put them on paper, on your blog. Everything you say, I was nodding here. I feel same like you though I could never express it on paper, and thank goodness I realized now that I’m not alone.”

And you know what? I love to spend uninterrupted time going through all your updated blogs. Reading your stories is a favorite pastime of mine. You make me feel nostalgic, amazed, and wiser with your brilliant post and idealisms.
A few published authors told me to stop blogging and free up all time for writing books. Even many of my friends, colleagues and blog followers wanted me to try to do some real writing outside of this blog. But, now and then, I think I just can’t seem to do that. After all, this blog has given me so much that I can’t just ignore it, right away.

Today, there are many Bhutanese newspapers and magazines, and even a few international websites that wanted me to write for them. Also, a few emerging projects and organizations wanted me with them. And yes, this blog reached me to an audience with our beloved King and Queen.

Yet, I know that my blog posts aren’t eloquent or genius. They are boring, cliché and predictable. Because the truth is that I’m still experimenting writing with all the flaws, foibles and fragilities. I’m still a mediocre writer who has lots to learn himself. But I say…my writings are just real. Very raw, spoken like a true teenager, saturated with honesty.

I also know that through writing, I’ve always revealed something about myself. For, I’ve allowed myself to be seen naked, my heart rippened open. Sometimes, I’ve dug deep into my old wounds, my past and I’ve become emotional, over-sensitive and weepy. Other times, I’ve become bitter and sarcastic. I’ve also exposed my weakness and vulnerability and feelings of insecurity, fear, and loneliness. But oftentimes, I’ve stood optimistic and positive, writing about beauty and celebrating life. Well, my blog is all about this. And, in the looking, I find my whole life in it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A tree, four seasons

I am constantly awed and moved by the trees. I loved it so much! Midway to my office from my home, I always see a tree, just a few yards down the road. Always, I inch my way towards it and look at it. And I looked so admirably and take its pictures. It’s exactly one year that I’ve been doing this.

In winter, I saw it exhausted by hardest of wintry weather; in spring, sprouting in fresh leaves and bussing birds; in summer, growing lush in green and abundance; and in autumn, its leaves and seeds have stripped down, decaying on the ground.

More importantly, this tree has become my great master, in its truest sense. It constantly teaches me about different aspects of life. You can view this tree in four different seasons:

In winter:

In spring:

In summer:

In Autumn:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A lot like love

I’ve skipped my evening tea, gave up walk, ignored phone calls, sacrificed my favorite TV shows, and missed the sunset seen from my room. And here, in my little room, I keep writing this post, all happy. It’s all about one of the most beautiful episodes of my life, my little life I had lived 13 years back.

It was in 1999. So to say. I was, then, studying in Class VII at Yebilaptsa MSS, a remote boarding school in Zhemgang. I’ll tell you…it’s all so sweet, so short, and unassumingly strange.

I was a good boy. Disciplined. Excellent in studies. Also, active in extra-curricular activities. Ahem, I had earned many admirers amongst school girls. Seriously, he-he. Many times, uh, I received letters from them, even from the school’s hottest girls. I was a charming, cool, and damn-less, they would say.  

But I had no idea of what love is. I was, more tellingly, too young to understand love and being in a relationship. I had felt that there’s no such feeling called love. Not in this world. Ever. At least, not for me. My priority was to excel in studies and do well in life.

Well, I had a close friend of mine. Yeah, a girl. She, I dare say, was a fair, gorgeous and smart girl. I’d spend my time, mostly, with her. During intervals, we’d always meet and talk, in fact, nothing significant in particular. But we’d just love to do that.

We’d help each other in our homework, assignments. Just before exams and on our birthdays, we’d exchange cards and gifts. She’d share her parcels (packaged foods or groceries) with me. During the mealtimes, she would bring me ezey.
In the evenings, after our class, we’d walk by the school gardens. Hand-in-hand. Occasionally, she’d pluck marigold and give it to me. A few times, she had surprised me with red roses. But no, no, we’re good friends only…yes, yes, very close friends.

And I’m just going to very candid and honest. Ermm…when I fell sick I’d write her letters talking about my health and my hunger for meeting her again. So badly. I used to experience an empty feeling in her absence. So you guess now. Is it love? But I had felt that there was never any feelings for her. She was only a close friend. Nothing more.

Our annual exams was just one week to come. It’s early November, and this time of year in Zhemgang was particularly elusive as days getting bewitchingly shorter and shorter, and colder and colder. Students were seen busy preparing for the exams. Some were busy exchanging wishing cards. Others were just excited to go home for the long winter vacation.
It’s this time, one icy morning, two of us were summoned in the principal’s office. As soon as we entered his office, he barked at us, “Are you two lovers?” I went blank; stood there, flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to react. A strict disciplinarian, he was a voice of god, never to be questioned or challenged.

He told me to bend down. Then, he ruthlessly smacked on my back with a cane stick. 13 times, I still remember. My breath stopped, literally, and I was dead for a moment. He warned me, “If I again hear or see you two together, I will expel you out of this school!’

As I left his office, I heard another eerie and frightening noise of brutal smacking. It was followed by an agonizing sharp cry. Alas, she was on the receiving end.

Our beautiful friendship was lost in a single explosive moment. After that damaging experience, we never met. Exams came and over, yet we didn’t meet. We packed our luggage to go home for vacation, yet we daren’t meet. It was a draconian and unfair farewell, I must say.

I never met her in my life as I had so fervently hoped and desired. I tried to trace her whereabouts, but all in vain. She had completely disappeared out of my life for the last 13 years.

But a little over month before, I met her. Yes, here in Thimphu. You never know how excited I’ve become. I took her in a cozy restaurant to treat her cup of coffee. More than that, I wanted to talk to her. First shock: She is married and has a kid. Damn!

As we kept sipping on hot coffee, we asked and talked about our personal life, our family and career. Then, our conversation tuned into our childhood. We reminisced and talked about it for so long, for hours. It appeared as if we wanted, so badly, to turn back hands of time and start our life together all over again.

Our coffee over and as we moved out from the restaurant, she told me this. Second shock: “If you had proposed me that time, I would certainly accept you!” And I replied her, “Had you been still single today, I’d come to you with a marriage proposal!”

Instantly, she choked up, the tears finding her. Her tears mixed with the black mascara and foundation on her face. As I watched her, I realized something. I had tears too. They were there, in my eyes. And I’m not sure why. My tears surprised me. I tried to lift my head up, with the hope that I could prevent it from flowing down my cheeks. I couldn’t.
Finally, I let the tears plummet down my cheeks. But this crying, bursting out tears was so freeing, so relieving. And this reminded me one important aspect of life. Letting go! Like the tears flowing down, in life we’ve to let go some people or forget our past even though how beautiful or reverberating they appear. Life is, after all, the end of one era, the beginning of another. 

Photo courtesy: