Monday, May 24, 2010

Some things never go away

22nd April, 2010:

I must have walked this road at least 20 times. I must have crossed the stream in Godi 20 times as well. And for all those times, I'm sure I must have dreamed a hundred dreams. I don't quite remember what I dreamed to be when I grew up. I remember, when I was first placed in Tashigang, my father reached me to school on foot. My father carried a wooden box and I walked beside him -- I'm sure I carried a load too but I don't remember what load or what kind of bag I carried. Nothing fanciful I'm sure but I really want to remember every small detail. But I only remember walking beside my father on a sunny day.

It is dark already. And I'm traveling by car today. But in my mind, I only see me walking beside my father or traveling by a truck, so car sick at the end of the journey. I want to remember each conversation my father and I must have had but I cannot remember them. And I hate myself for that. I wish I could just browse somewhere in my head and get every word back. It is important to me. I want to remember what my father told me when I first went away from home to a town to study.

Then I remember the day my father and I went to Tashigang to get my result in class 7. Maybe it is my humility. Or maybe, I just had no self confidence. I had the nature of telling people that I did not do well in my exam. This time too, I did not want to give hope to my parents and then let it doom like putting off a fire. So I told my father that I did not do my exam well. But I know, I made him proud when I got my result.

Then I think of me standing beside him in Lungtenzampa when I was in 2nd year. I was going back to my college. My father and I walked from home to Lungtenzampa, but on the way, it rained so heavily and we were drenched head to toe and because we were on foot, our dresses were muddied. We stood in front of a shop in Lungtenzampa, praying that someone would give us a lift. I think we did get a lift after that.

Drenched and muddied, quite a pitiful sight to onlookers, we waited near the Mani Dungkhor in Tashigang town. I called up, then Tashigang's Dasho Dzongrap, my friend Tenzy's father. He picked us up and we took the night's shelter at his house. We were welcomed with humility so unlike Dasho and Dasho Aum's. But of course, I have known them like my parents, say, for quite sometime.

This is not what I want to remember just now. We must have been dirty. We must have looked even so poor that we could have been mistaken for beggars. But what is etched in my mind at this moment is that, my father taught me the human's big value of humility and hard work, consistency and honesty. I would go starve. I would not win what I want by straight means. But still, I must stick to it or go to hell.

As I pass the Lungtenzampa bridge, which is no longer there now (it is washed away by the flood and government for some reason hasn't given it back), a strong flash of memory rushes in my mind. I take a long breath and fight my tears. I feel knot in my throat. I find myself fighting the urge to look at that shortcut that extends steep upwards at the other side of the river. There used to be a town here in this place and now, this place at this time of the night looks so haunted and abandoned. This takes me to the truth of impermanence and many alike. I know, it all comes to teach me something. But for now, I only think of my father and the strong urge to disagree with the truth. I know I would be happier if my father were here now than having to accept the truth that it is only natural to die.

I cross Lungtenzampa towards Buna and I think of how many times my father walked that road too, taking Ara for sale. I consumed the hard earned money in a go.(As I talk of Ara, I don't know if it is still not allowed to sell. Looking rationally at this, I don't quite agree with the law. Why must farmers not be allowed to sell ara when liquor shops can sell very expensive imported wines? I feel it only asks our farmers not to be independent, not to make any income. How does our government want our farmers to make cash income?)

I drive further up towards Rangjung. Even when I am about to knock on my friend Tenzy's door, I think of my father and my life in Menchari. How I want to go back to that age and place. How I ache to see my father, just this once. I would like to believe that I made him proud. But for all the hard work he put for my education, I don't know if I did him justice.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Glimpse of True Heaven

I stayed for two years in Kanglung but when my friends made a trip to Rangshikhar, I could not. I lived with regret for nine years. But today, I was to erase my regret forever. I woke up early. I said prayers and this morning, I could visualize my lama so well, so well that I even started to fear if it was a bad omen. I prayed that the Rangshikhar Rinpoche be there at the gonpa but he wasn’t. We were informed that he was returning from his neykor only today. Maybe this was the bad omen. But I have no regret. I had his audience many years back in Tashigang Pam, where I attended a tshechu.

The rough road from Tashigang Pam seems to stretch for more than 11 kilometers. You don’t see any single house until you really plunge into the village. Then, as you go up again, there isn’t any sign of what you will see as you reach the hill top. Really, what greets you as you reach there is nothing like you would imagine. I felt as though thousands of sins were washed off – as if an old skin of sins peeled off and I was reborn as I stood in front of a true heaven.

In the centre is a big statue of Lord Buddha in meditation posture. He is said to have put on a little weight after he was offered milk by a woman named Sujata(in six years of meditation). Around this huge statue are different statues of Buddha depicting the stories of his life.


Sangye lhum su zhug pa: The Lord Buddha’s mother, Yum Juma Lhazey had a vision of a six tusked elephant descending from heaven and entering her womb. She was conceived that night.

 As soon as he was born, he took seven steps, and for each step he took, a lotus WAS bloomed. 

For six years, Lord Buddha meditated without eating anything but a grain of rice in a day. 


A devil wanted to disturb Buddha in his path to enlightenment. So he turned into a very beautiful girl and went to Buddha. But Buddha, with his unwavering mind, focused on the path, turned the beautiful girl into an ugly 108 year old woman. The devil did not give up yet. He told the Buddha that, there must be a witness to see that he won. On this, the deity (lhamo) of the Earth appeared in front of the Buddha, saying, ‘Here, I’m the witness.”


Then, in shame and regret, the devil begged for forgiveness. 

I really wondered at the hard work the rinpoche has undergone in creating such a heaven like place on earth. I have heard so much about him and despite my inability to see him or get blessing from him in person, I have always revered him. I thought, this is a place that everyone should visit. If it will not give you anything, it will really take you to heaven for that moment you are there. And I think, it is worth it, for, how many such moments do we have in the fleeting life lost in materialistic world?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

True Faces

 It is a privilege like no other. I am in the east these days, touring villages, undertaking the GNH Survey. I admit, it is so tiring to interview people, move from one gewog to another in two days. It is not like, I am alone and move from one place to another without hassle. We are 25 in a group. Imagine the accommodation and food we have to arrange. At this time of the year, it rains; weather is unpredictable even when it is sunny. So we cannot trust to sleep in the tent. But forget all these problems. Forget even the little downs and disagreements that is part and parcel of teaming different people. It is exciting to see different villages every two days. I feel, I’m going to know every corner of my country. 

I was at Galing in Shongphu Gewog yesterday. And today, I’m in Radi. Isn’t that great? It is like I’m trying to grasp every new experience in a memory chip. When I get an opportunity to see different villages and experience true Bhutan, I really wish my brain were like a hard drive. I could store things there and browse it any time I want. 

At Galing Gonpa yesterday, I met a group of students. There were three girls and two boys. They are all in class PP – which means they started going to school only this year. And it also means they are six years or older. They all seem to be of same age. The two boys kept getting into a fight. They kept getting into a fight. One was a very quiet boy. He did not talk much. Others had forthcoming attitude. For no reason at all they teased this quiet boy. Even the girls punched and pinched him. He wore is gho as if it was going to fall off any time. I asked him to wear it properly but it got no better. I realized that he did not have a proper belt. He had tied the gho around his waist with only a thin strip of cloth. And only he was barefoot. 

Once, he was peeing. He did not have an undergarment. Then girls teased him, shouting, ‘shame, shame.’ When he tried to wear his gho, girls teased him by forcing open his gho. He kept getting into fight with all the other four children. Two girls cried. Some of my colleagues started to mediate and they thought it was this quiet boy’s fault. But I knew it wasn’t his fault. The other children provoked anger. He didn’t even seem to get angry. With the same calm look, he defeated anyone who tried to ridicule him. When other children ridiculed him, he had no choice but to defend himself by being little aggressive. 

His mother died leaving behind four children. The father married a woman who has six children from her ex-husband and he lives with her in another village. The eldest, who is a daughter studies in Udzorong. So the three sons, the eldest studying in class four taking care of his brothers stay alone at home. My heart went out to him. Yeah maybe, really like Stiglitz says, we must try to give quality education to everyone to have a fair and just society. 

I asked him to be a good student and study well. He told me that he will, that he understood what I was telling him. For now, my hope is that, he will one day grow up to be a very respectable man. I can really see him an educated, responsible leader. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The extreme

5th April, 2010; 6:52 a.m. :

I never felt this alone. I wanted to log in and make an entry here simply because I have no one I can talk to when I'm feeling so extremely alone. I'm driven in the wilderness, in the remote villages and the closest people I can talk to are not here. God knows how many tears I shed since yesterday.

I really cannot say why I have this deep sadness but I never felt so alone; I never felt so tortured. I never felt so homeless. I never felt so hopeless. It is as if all the forces of the world are determined to work against me. But for now, I think I will have to let them win.

I know I will cry many tears. I will bleed inside. I will walk this path alone.  But despite all this pain, I'm sure it will come to pass and I will see the sun shine. Why should God or anyone decide that something is best for us when we know it isn't? I wonder if God is the best decision maker, when we have a brain that can plan things just as well. For now, all I can do is hope that, with this entry, I will be able to see today's sunshine without tears blocking my sight.

I sign out with more resignation than hope. I want to kill every small hope I have. I want to give everything up and say, I'm all for you now; make me what you want; even if you want to carve my body and design a God there, you are welcome. I feel like I'm kneeling before an altar, all ready to sacrifice. But no, I will see another day.

This is Bhutan

I moved to Adelaide, South Australia 10 months ago. This decision was driven by my belief that family has to be together and pursuing your c...