Thursday, June 30, 2016

One day in the life of a talented farmer

I had been telling him to leave his village. I had been persuading him to come to Thimphu and work here. This, I did persistently, loudly. If he’d work in Thimphu, I was thinking, he’d earn a bigger fortune. I know many others, who know Gyembo Namgyel, felt or did the same. 
Gyembo and me
I used to think, this talented man was a big waste in a remote village of Pemagatshel. For he is the most responsible and ethical Bhutanese journalist I’ve ever met. Besides, he is humble and knowledgeable person.

When we were working together at Bhutan Observer, he used to be very consistent and disciplined reporter. He would bring out pressing issues of eastern Bhutan, and through his stories, many lives were impacted (for better). Indeed, I had always aspired to write like him.

However, my telling fell on his deaf ears, my persuasion left ignored. Gyembo never left his village. Gyembo never came to Thimphu. This man was that adamant, believe it or not.
So last March, I visited him. Instead. At his home. In Pemagatshel. In fact, he was more than happy to host me.

Gyembo’s house was a beautiful one-story house with an intimate space, and a wide-open, free and fully alive surrounding. On my first looking, the place gave me so much of comfortable and peace feeling that I felt like my own.
That time it was a little before evening, and the day’s last sunrays was falling full on the house. Indeed, everything around was illuminated brightly golden.

Gyembo took me to his living room and offered tea. Surprisingly, the living room had neither television nor luxurious sofa set. It had simple wooden divans and chodrum, Bhutanese designed centre table. But I was amazed to see wooden shelves on the walls that were full of books and magazines.  
One of the book shelves
“This is my simple library. I collect books. I want to further grow this space,” he said, wearing a satisfied smile, as we sipped on tea.

His collection ranged from fictions to biographies, self-helps to romances, and classics to Bhutanese books. Astounded - to put my reaction in a word.

Gyembo wanted to show me his hard labour, so he took me behind the house. First he showed me his garden, which was growing abundant with fresh vegetables - onions, spinach, beans, green peas, coriander, etc.
Then this talented farmer showed me his main farm asset. Avocado. His face gleamed in pride and satisfaction as he showed avocado plants. There were over 33 plants and most of them were already bearing fruits. It’s a high-priced fruit with medicinal values.
Avocado fruits
“I lost most of my orange plants to pests,” said Gyembo, pointing at his dying citruses and delightfully added, “But this avocado is good replacement.”  

Gyembo also maintained a nursery of hundreds of avocado saplings. And each sapling sells at Nu 1,000.
Avocado saplings
After the exciting short farm tour, we returned to the living room. Outside, the darkness gradually wrapped itself around us and a soft wind blew, rustling the curtains. We grabbed a book each from the shelves and reading already.

Meanwhile, we talked about the books we read. We talked about our own writings. We discussed about our stories published in different newspapers, magazines and online. We conversed deep digging our intellectual curiosity, our creative endeavor. 
I was quite amazed at Gyembo. Living in the village, he could maintain a library and read so voraciously. Working at farms, he could manage to write often. I was more amazed when I found he was already writing a book.

His living is nothing extraneous, but altogether a highly refined and tasteful life. That’s why several high officials and VIPs from Thimphu visited his place, particularly to meet him. 

As the night grew deeper, we went on talking. Of course he has trodden this vale of life longer than me, so he gave me much-needed perspective. Listening to him, everything seemed right there. Seeing his orderly life, everything seemed to me simpler and wonderful.
Exactly when, I realized how wrong my life had been. We really not need to chase the illusion of having a better life in different place or position. In fact, we must make this place, this position right here “livable” and happier. It’s all in our hand.

That’s exactly what Gyembo is doing. 

Note: Some of the pictures taken by Tashi Penjor. 


  1. This is wonderful real life story..... which have influence many people including me. Its good that you have visited his place.... this is what we call GNH in real life....... i visit him very often to get inspiration..... love reading it.

    1. Gyembo is not only a humble person, but he has inspired me lots. Good to hear the same thing from you. Thank you Tashi.