Friday, 28 August 2020

Cooking and Remembering

Today is the 18th day of the nation wide lockdown  of Bhutan. Nothing special but today I decided to be the chef at home to prepare the native meal of my village, the native meal of sharchops, the Bokpi (flour) curry along with curd and butter as we have back in my village. It wasn't the best, but it was worth trying. It brought back all the memories from my life in the village with family and friends as a small kid. It brought back memories with my parents and memories about them. How I wish we could be together specially at this hours of time. The lunch that I prepared made me homesick and emotional actually. I gave a long thought about them. Life is always simple yet beautiful back at home!

Back at home as a small kid, this Bokpi from maize was never my thing, I never liked it though it is the main meal. I only craved for and liked kharang (rice was the top priority though, but wasn't easily available as we don't cultivate rice). I would just frown at my mom for always feeding us with this Bokpi. Most of the time I would just skip meals if it was Bokpi. But now, urban life has changed me completely. I like to have Bokpi more often than usual rice. How strange this life is, right? 

Back in village, everything seems to be normal. People are having their usual life. They are hale and hearty in their own way. They may not have much in terms of wealth, but they are contented and they have big heart. They are not well off like others but they have enough to sustain. They may not have all the luxuries yet they are always happy and they have this peculiar smile in their face which says it all. Thinking about all these, I miss my parents more, I miss their care and love, I miss their meals even if it was but a simple Bokpi and radish curry; I miss their genuine effort and care.

Anyways going back to those days when I was a little school going kid. I don't belong to a family with well-off parents nor do I have that able relatives. We are a middle class family. We had just enough to sustain, enough to go about with this so-called life. I had little financial problems during my school days, not because I had plenty, but because my parents worked so hard to arrange it for me and on my part, I was extra cautious to spend. The money that my parents gave in the beginning of year could be enough for the whole year.  Sometimes I just wonder how did I manage? They worked day and night, in sun and in rain to give me all that was necessary. In summer they used to work hard in the farm to collect crops for the family's sustenance and during winter when there was no farm work (when crops were all harvested), they used to do all kinds of temporary jobs mostly 'woolah' in return for some cash so they could send their eldest child to schooling which was me. I can't imagine my parents carrying heavy loads to earn some cash just so I could have that pocket money.  Where I come from is a remote place with no or little source of income, the only way to get some cash was to do physical work like carry load for the shopkeepers, ration for the boarding school and so on. I still remember me and my dad collecting and counting stones from nearby river,  a decent and good shape, which would fetch us one ngultrum per stone for a contractor who was constructing the Gup's office of the Geog that time. In a day we would earn about 1500/-. Fortunately, lots of construction came up those days (sign of development?) And it was a good opportunity to earn something out of it. 

That's why it wasn't surprising when I used to get good results at the end of each year, because I knew just well how much my parents were struggling to gather a decent money so they could send me school to get education which made me to work even harder. I put in extra effort to make them smile at the least at the end of year; to prove that their hard work hasn't gone to waste. If you look at the heads of my parents, you will still see the hair fall on the area exposed most to carry load and its most visible on my mother's head. 

Today I miss my parent a lot. Although I call them and talk with them every day, I feel sad thinking about all these. They seem to be happy knowing that their son has been able to stand up on his own; that their son has now a job and a family of his own; that their son is in so-called town enjoying the urban life. They don't expect much from you, because they know that life is much harder in town. They know it's all about money in town. I wish I can do more and be  better sometime. I wish I could tell its not just that.  I wish they stay and live with me some day (for now they just don't like the life in town). Even if they visit me, after a month, they are like 'i wanna go back to village'. I hope it changes soon. 

Here are some pictures of my cooking, and how a Bokpi looks like...:)

Friday, 21 August 2020

The Soothing Jaling Sound

Hearing that beautiful but sad and soothing sound of Jalings from neighborhood suddenly brought a pang of sadness running down my nerves. I felt and felt it hard. It's been whole day since that emotional music (should I say) caught my ear and thinking. Perhaps the neighbor is performing a grand ritual or rimdo. That continuous sound made me both sad and emotional. Life is good, only when all things run smoothly and bad (worse) when things doesn't go so well. Life is but a fallacy which we all cling to and which we treat just like everything is under our control, as if we are here forever; as if the wealth we collect will keep us alive, when in reality we can't take even a small pin. 

I wonder why is it so hard to leave that Fantasyland that we live in and realize the ultimate truth? Why is it so hard to bring the mind home even for the blink of a second? How sad that despite all these realities, despite all the truths in front of us, we still deny it and we still continue living the fantasy life of ours. Why is it that we can go on to watching hours of sitcoms and series while it's just so hard to concentrate on the things like doing even a minute of short prayer? 

The beautiful and sad sound of the Jalings made me realize all these. I could ponder upon this life even if it was for that brief moment. I realized that I have Nothing to show to the lord of death. What if I have to leave this world the very next moment? Fear engulfed me then and for a moment I felt like leaving everything. Was it a dream? Perhaps! But I am certain I felt it so vividly, even though it was but a dream. I realized that the only thing that will help us beyond this life is how we prepare ourselves doing so-called choe (ཆོས) . And knowing that it's never late than never, the best day to start is right now- this very moment, and I  was like why am I still waiting for the best day?

However we all wait right? Like the great Patrul Rimpoche said, we prepare and prepare whole life only to leave this world unprepared. We all know the facts and we still keep it at bay. We hardly put what we know into practice or follow it. We work our ass off and sometimes stoop so low that you don't even realize that will help you at the end or not.

But then it's life and that's it. It's from experiencing such brief moments where you are being reminded that you don't have all it takes, that life is ephemeral and so are those connected to it that keeps us on track, that gives us some rays of hope to correct if you are on the wrong lane or to start afresh. Life is not about the destination but milestones one covers at a time.  


Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Lockdown in Bhutan

 It's been  one week since Bhutan underwent nation wide lockdown as one of the returnee from middle East testef positive for COVID-19 yet again after finishing the quarantine period for one month. The government lead by the prime minister who is a doctor and surgeon himself with His majesty the king's guidance traced and tested around 200+ of her first contact and and 300+ secondary contacts which all came out negative. That was a huge relief, but only the beginning of another sad wave of news which was to unfold as the number of lockdown days increased.

On the third day of Lockdown, Phuntsholing RCCO mini dry pot became the hotspot of detection and the presence of COVID-19 outside the mandatory quarantine for the first time in the country. Immediately the government tagged and alerted  Phuntsholing as the red zone and presence of community transmission in the area. The government was able to trace, track and test not only the primary and secondary contacts but also the whole region of Phuntsholing in which out of about 4000+ samples, 4 came positive.  The government also announced nationwide urging people to come forward who have visited Phuntsholing on and after the first August to get tested which proved timely and affective as another two positive cases are being detected, only this time at different place - Paro. So looking at the unfolding of all these, I feel lockdown was very timely and that we as a citizen can only comply with the government's directives. The best we can do is to stay home strictly and to monitor ourselves of the symptoms if any. Let's not betray the trust entrusted in us by the godly King and the government. Together we can!

Apart from the COVID-19, let's also talk about the movies, the Bhutanese movies. Here again it's the concern of his majesty on his subjects who have commanded to show the movies in TV so that people don't get bored during lockdown. Not just this and the Bhutanese people, his majesty is also concerned about the stray dogs who might go wild without food and create problems in the community during lockdown. The royal Bhutan Army has initiated to feed the stray dogs across the country. What better can we expect during such tough times? May the dieties and Lha choechong sungma keep his majesty safe  and sound at such and all times. May we get through this pandemic soon.

Coming back to movies, till 12th standard, we used to watch movies being screened at the school's multi purpose hall. Those days, the producers of the movies would travel across the country to show their movies in schools and it would cost Nu 20 per movie. But I since left for college, English movies and the series took their turn to pass my leisure time because of easy availability on the campus. It's almost fifteen long years since I watched Bhutanese movies which I feel is not fair. We gotta support our own productions and our own people right? After getting employed, it only worsens to be frank. Hardly is there time for leisure such as this to make time for movies. 

A good friend of mine who never fails to watch Bhutanese produced movies once recommended me to watch this movie called 'Pot of Gold' ( གསེར་རྫམ་གང་།) which he said bagged many national awards. I was determined to watch it and make time with family for locally produced movies as well but could never make it. Thanks to BBS and the Bank of Bhutan, it was aired on television and in fact it was worth watching it. (By the way I have not watched any other movies aired by BBS since lockdown). The movie has strong message with artful dialogues that keeps you aughing throughout. It's aptly reviewed it at here: 

Apart from all these, I personally feel Lockdown is a good time for your own self, to go inward and find your true self. You can pray, you can meditate, exercise, read and reflect upon your self. It's best time to engage with your family and gave quality family time. Since when do we get such time in one's life? Although on the other hand, it's like putting brake on the economy, business and the very engine of growth for a country as a whole. I spend most of my time in trying to bring my mind home with some prayers. We can never have such a time, sorhubk positively, the good sides of this lockdown and  make best use of it folks. It's such a milestone in our generation where we can serve the Tsa-wa sum by just staying at home! 

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Choices and Emotions

Lately it has been busy and tough days for my family . Continuosly for a week or more, we had to rush  to the Hospital, wait for the whole day walking here and there sometimes in the premises of hospital and sometimes on the streets searching for a good room to stay for next few months. It's been a tough days indeed.

You only know the importance of a particular thing when you really need it or experience it yourself.
You know the importance of doctors and nurses and the technicians only when you are sick or when somebody close to you is sick and you can't do anything. The perfect lyrics are in the song Let her go by Micheal David Rosenberg (Passenger).  You only need the light when it's burning low, only miss the sun when it snows and goes on. That's the very basic fact and  nature as a human being.

As a small kid, seeing my sister getting sick time and again with no improvement, I wanted to become doctor and save lifes, do something good; but as the time progressed and by the time I was in plus two, 
That dream just couldn't materialize as I had to opt pure science and not bio science. Ofcourse I had my reasons some of which were influential and which I now feel isn't justifiable. Who doesn't get influenced as a small kid who just came out of the jungle right? What does a kid from jungle know about the career prospects, it's impacts and the importance of having a passion and dream that could make such a huge difference in life?  Finally after the trail exams in plus two, I heavy-heartedly left biology subject to concentrate more on pure science subjects and life unfolded its own part since then. 

I have hardly looked back to one particular day where my biology teacher came to me and said: "Tshewang you left me, not Biology" and the Assistant principal summoning me to his office and scolding me like: " Tshewang how could you decide yourself? You could have consulted the school management about choosing the subjects at the least"

But now when you have to drive and walk almost every day to the hospital; when it's the matter of life and death; when you have to consult different doctors, brothers and sisters seeking clarification and opinions; when you have to follow that busy and sluggish bureaucratic system of the hospital, when you or someone close to you ends up in the emergency rooms, you are like if only I made a different choice that day.  You are like why did you not choose to be the one who could be of help in this very time? Only now do I say to myself: "Had I taken bio- science, would I be doctor right now? Would I be saving lifes? Could I be making difference?"  Could I be wearing that snow white gown? Who knows I could have! 

But then again, life's but a result of cause and effect and I am not very sure if my life would have been different had I taken one step back and opted otherwise? Who knows?  People say Life is what we make out of it, but I feel it's ultimately the very  culmination of one's pre-dispositions of our actions which we continue to cultivate. After all these emotional breakdowns I am actually okie  with whatever happened, happens or will happen. As a human being perhaps it's our nature to envy and to be carried away by so-called emotions.

However, if ever a time can be rewinded back to that very day, I would take a step back and with a smile on my face, choose a subject that would train me to help others when it's a matter of life and death. I would strive hard to deserve that white gown! That's only IF though 😆😆😆

Jela- Dho Chorten-Bemri Trek (25/6/2022)

 It was along time dream to experience this famous trek from Jela- dzong to Bemri via Dho-chorten. It is a beautiful trek indeed. We booked...