Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sunset in Gelephu

I spent last solid week with my parents in Gelephu. And what a joy to spend uninterrupted time with them, on them, back in village! Indeed, it offered a break from this intense city – reenergized my mind and heart.

You know what? Often late afternoon, I went out for walk, so in particular I’ve been watching the sunset. The sun was always golden, and so were the sky and plain. I would stop right there, sit, watching the sun, aghast and amazed - in a little bit of terror and a huge amount of wonder.
The sun looked like something out of an exotic magazine and never failed to throw me into a snapping, picture frenzy. I felt an intense need to hold it in my hand and keep it my pocket, he-he. Crazy me. And I wondered, duly, at how the sun turns into so magical, gorgeous as it sets. A magical thing!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Going back to my village

I will be leaving for my village tomorrow. My village, Norbuling, is two-hour walk from Gelephu town. I have no other reasons, except to meet my parents, to spend time on them, with them. And, also to attend a family puja.
Some interesting facts about my village:

We’ve to walk solid two hours over the most infamous river in Bhutan, the 1.8 km long Maokhola, from Gelephu town to reach my village.
The only constituency where the DPT’s manifesto has miserably failed. Over the Maokhola River, during the last election campaign, Prem Kumar Gurung, the DPT candidate for Gelephu constituency had promised constructing 1.8 km long motorable bridge. People are still waiting for the bridge, frustratingly. No sign of the bridge construction yet.

The only place in Bhutan where the works of the party candidate was named against the name of the party candidate. People of this village have named the River, Prem Khola. And, Prem Bridge for the promised motorable bridge. Sarcastically though.
In winter, the locals build bamboo bridges to connect the village with Gelephu.

In summer, when the Moakhola River swells, this temporary bridge will be washed away and the villagers use boats.

Gelephu boils in almost 36 Degree Celsius in summer.
One of the most fertile lands in Bhutan. The Chuzargang rice is produced from here.
The people of Chuzargang are peasants, illiterate or semi-literate and are very tough and strong in physicality. They’re uncommonly humble and always wear slippers.
The villagers don’t work or walk without taking alcohol. Tongpa and bangchang are common amongst the villagers.

Bicycle is one of the modes of transportation here.
Karipa products (children without fathers) are so common here. It’s due to the high rate of teenage pregnancy and school drop-outs especially among girls. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snowfall in Thimphu

This morning when I first opened my window curtains, the view outside awe-struck me. Oh my god, Thimphu has turned into a magical land. We’ve our first gorgeous snowfall of the year today in Thimphu.

The tree limbs are snapped with snow. The dusty winter world is all covered with a crisp winter white. The leaves, footpaths, roofs of buildings and cars and the entire valley dress in white world. Snow falls so thick, so mesmeric, so beautiful.

This snowfall brings children running out their doors. They play with snowballs and run their faces skyward and spinning around, gently falling on the snow piled ground. I go outside and play with children. This snow turns me into a child again, because I let it.   

As I run around to take its pictures, the shimmering of snowflakes glitter in the air, slowing tumbling fall through, on the white ground. It’s as if the lacy flakes dance and twirl and mimic our hearts – I feel lighter, joyful and magical. Some photographs here:

Friday, January 18, 2013

The magical clouds that spread over Thimphu valley

Friends, have you noticed the magical clouds that spread over Thimphu valley this afternoon? What a treat to my eyes and heart! A complete magic, I must say. It has wowed me, honestly! If you had missed it, I’ve here some photographs of it that I took in my Galaxy Note II. You can see so many beautiful patches of clouds, in different shapes, spread over the valley, up in the tantalizingly glorious blue sky. Have a look.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wish that spring was here

In the recent days, the cold in Thimphu has quite surprisingly come down. I feel, instinctively, that we’re transitioning into the warmer season. Spring – it’s undoubtedly a rejuvenating time. At least, for me. That we pull off our warm clothes, come out from our rooms (that we had stayed all winter), and sprint to the out - in the open, so freeing, dancing.

And I just love the way that the world would once again burst into bloom and we admire it on our walks. The spring brings warmness, beauty and love - decorating the entire landscape with fresh green leaves, flowers and its amazingly strong aroma. And the cheerful birds and colourful butterflies and crickets emerge out welcoming the beautiful lush spring. I offer you here some photographs that were taken last spring in Thimphu. 
Have a good day!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

It’s the morning of the year

Today, the 1st day of the 12th month, is the Chunig-pa Losar - the traditional day of offering. I didn’t plan for it, except visiting a friend who invited me for the lunch. This morning, I wake up before the sunrise. It’s still dark and unbearably cold. Let me tell you that in Thimphu, January is the most barren time of the year. December, too.

And since January is already here, we experience that the sun comes up late and goes down early. For me, these two months are usually deep dark – albeit more eloquently, dreary. Because that the daylight is shortened and the night gets prolonged.

As I walk around, I see the trees expose their dark branches and trunks. And the bushes have withered to the ground. The valley, mountains, rivers, and the soil beneath my feet exist starkly naked, barren and dark.

The wind, outrageously chilly and freezing, blows as if God had just opened his refrigerator for us. And we all shiver like a lean prayer flag, until our bones hurt. For me, everything about the winter in Thimphu is cold, dark and long.

And this morning, as I sit in my veranda, I see the day unfurling itself towards morning, and Losar too. From the horizon in the east, the sun begins rising, illuminating gloriously, lighting the otherwise dark valley. It’s the morning. It’s the Losar, too.
As the sun shimmers all over the Thimphu valley, I’m realizing that we’re entering towards the light, daytime. It’s, of course, the morning of the year. Henceforth, the day will become longer and the night shorter. More light, less dark.

The Chunig-pa Losar says it all that we’ve just entered into the last month of the year. But the day is also meant for again celebrating the coming of the new beginning as we enter again towards light. It means that wisdoms would awaken our minds gradually – lighting our own conscience, thus, our darkness and ignorance is dissolved.

A Losar Tashi Delek to all the bloggers and my wonderful readers! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The season of the shortest days

We’ve entered the season of the shortest days. Winter. The barren valley and trees made my heart ache. The cold in Thimphu is unbearable and how we wish each time that spring was here.

But as I walk outside, oh, I love witnessing the barren valley and bare trees. I see the few remaining amber-red leaves on the tree. It’s full of spectral dancing shadows. The light keeps sparkling through the bare branches of the trees, so beautiful, so mesmerizing.
I see birds’ nests visibly exposed in the bare branches after leaves dropped in autumn. The nests sit there, delicately, vulnerably. The blue sky remains as boundless and open as our mind.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lolay at my home

It’s like any other ordinary days for me. The New Year’s Day was spent working in the office and returning home and doing all household chores. I didn’t plan anything special for the day. No celebration, picnicking and dinner to honour the day - except the rejuvenated festive mood deep inside me.

In the evening, at home, I read a new book, a memoir/travelogue, called The Geography of Bliss. It’s the New Year gift from one of dear friends. Oh, what a good feeling to begin this New Year reading this gorgeous book! You never know how much I love the book. Charming and illuminating, this book also talks about Bhutan and the practice of happiness here.

It’s around 9 pm when there’s a gentle knock on the door. I pushed aside this book and ran out to open the door. A group of young boys were standing right in front of the door, all dressed in gho, mufflers and hand gloves to keep away the cold.

One of them was carrying a sack, rice in it. Another boy was holding a big plastic bag, gift boxes inside it.

“Acho, we are here to play lolay. Can we?” the tallest boy amongst the group asked permission from me.

I didn’t know what to say. I went blank for a while, literally.

The truth is that I didn’t know the necessary lolay ritual though I heard about it. Even the school textbooks didn’t teach me about it. I went close to them and asked, “What do I have to do when you play lolay here?”

They explained me, “Acho, after singing lolay, you can give us anything you have like money, rice and maize grains, foods, gifts.”

“Ok then, boys, go ahead,” I permitted them to sing lolay as I went inside to prepare gifts and money for my lolay guests.

They started singing, so rhythmically, so beautifully.  As I handed over gifts and money to them, they blessed me and my family all lucks, happiness and prosperity.

And they wrapped up their song, turned and strode away. All wonderful smile and gratefulness on their faces. And they wished me, “Acho, Happy New Year!”

I burst into tears. Because I felt so grateful. So happy. So blessed. These young boys may not know this – how much their prayers and wishes meant to me. As every new day of 2013 unfolds, I want to think and relish that I’m blessed.

(On the eve of Nyilo, the winter solstice, the kids go around reciting a verse to commemorate the beginning of an auspicious new year. Believed to have originated in Wang (present-day Thimphu), Lolay is a festive celebration that ushers in a good and prosperous new year. Lolay (written loleg) literally means ‘good year’. Source: