Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Kindness still rules

I have been away from home for exactly two weeks today. The first night I set my foot in Samtse, I felt a little depressed and unhappy. I couldn’t help think that I will spend one month in this dzongkhag and five months in the field – scattered around four other dzongkhags.

But we were welcomed and people were all ready to help us. In Sipsu, I must say we didn’t quite feel welcomed, as much as we did in Namgaycholing (Laherini). I started writing this article when we reached there, where the Gewog ADM and the Community Centre staff were both very friendly and kind. The census was going on in Sipsu when we got there and though I called the Gup, he told me that he was busy with census work and he would ask the Bellbotay (Tashicholing) tshogpa to help me (after that I started seeking help from the ADMs). This Tshogpa was not a big help, I must say. We had to go to his house and all he gave was direction of the respondents we needed to meet. You see, I mention this because in other villages we had such marvelous, coherent coordination. The ADM asked the Tshoga or Mangap, and then they asked the Chupon and they took us to the villages, showing us each respondent’s house. If we don’t call that help, I don’t know what is!

We had been at Sipsu, Peljorling school for 10 days and we were finally moving our camp. I am grateful to my friend Padma and Nima Wangchuk for their help in arranging accommodation for us at Peljorling school. It has remained our best camp so far. We were unsure of what it would be like in this gewog but there was no need to be anxious at all. Though there was little bit of water and toilet problem (there was no water in the toilet and we had to take it in the bucket from outside), we were made to feel like a part of their gewog administration family. They had the census going on as well. So, the ADM arranged one of the two rooms in Community Centre for us girls and he sacrificed his office for boys. But our boys opted to rather sleep in the tents.

Despite being crowded with people coming for the census, they were so kind that they had all the logistic arranged. This is also one place where we didn’t have to go hungry. The Chupons arranged the preparation of lunch for 13 of us on all the three days we had to visit three chiwogs in their Gewog.

It is really not that they did something so extraordinary for us to feel so at home and welcomed. They were just so human, exuding kindness and genuine willingness to help us. They said it was their responsibility to help us when were in their gewog, but not everyone takes it that way. Must I say, I am an emotionally intelligent person (with a smile) and I always see people’s faces to know what is going on in their mind – to see if they really are doing what they are doing from their heart. I do not like to burden people at all. But when we are not received like another equal human being, that is when we I feel unhappy. So in this case, education really did not rob him off his basic human qualities. Not everyone gets affected the same way from outside forces, no matter what these forces are. I think what matters is to remain who we are and always treat others as we would like ourselves treated. Is that rule too difficult? Anyway, I do not mean to complain. My team and I are very grateful to Namgaycholing Gewog Administration, Dorokha Dungkhag office, Denchukha Gewog, Sipsu Dungkhag, Tashicholing RBA, Charghary Gewog, Tendu Gewog, Biru Gewog and Tading Gewog for their help and generosity. (We had to go hungry in Charghary and Bara). I also thank Gomtu PCAL staff and their families for their cooperation in helping us complete our survey in their colonies successfully. Until next time, Samtse!

I think all these difference come from one thing: the more affluent or more exposed you are to modernism (which in this context it is having access to modern facilities such as road, car, shops (towns) etc.), kindness, readiness to help strangers and generosity seem to disappear or become secondary. It is almost as if an attitude that says, ‘why should I help him? What is in it for me?’ stands right on the forehead. Other opposite variables such as pride, antagonism and individualism seem to override them. Of course I cannot generalize, but it is almost always true.

Note* this article was begun on 16th January 2015 and was left unfinished. It should have been published before the previous article about being in Gomtu.

From 'inside the sleeping bag'

I have been so lazy for so long. I have been traveling, walking to different villages in Samtse. Right now I am in Gomtu. With the help from here and there, I managed to get accommodation for 16 people at the MD's mansion turned guest house. We were welcomed by our host, an electrical engineer at PCAL who my husband knows; I think I met him twice as well. We were given four rooms, with mattress and blankets as well. But our joy was short lived because I was called to inform that we will have to move downstairs where we will have to sleep in our sleeping bags. We were asked not to take even one mattress from the rooms that were previously given to us. It seemed a little strange but anyway, who are we to question? We were here under their favor. The reason was that they were having some monks as their guests. The mysterious monk guests didn't arrive that day, neither yesterday. I feel like it was a lie. While they showed their generosity and kindness, it was half hearted, it seems. And no matter how grateful I am, I feel kind of cheated or not welcomed enough. I get a feeling that I must meet the ADM who ordered this change in person and must let him know our unhappiness. 

In fact I met him very briefly last afternoon. When my host introduced him, all I could do was greet him because he was on the phone and though I waited enough close by, he had disappeared before I knew.

This is just a little unhappy feeling anyway. The gewog offices and people in the villages are so kind and they make us feel so happy. While we journey interviewing people on GNH, we see that education has only given formal qualifications and stripped off all basic human qualities and values. In a way, years of schooling is such a waste. 

Reporting this from my phone, inside the sleeping bag. I will write about the better experience soon. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Love can’t leave you

I talk to a person I have never met before. Until this moment of necessity, I didn’t even know of his existence, leave alone knowing his name. Destiny has its way of giving you surprises when you least expect it – and it makes it all the more worthwhile.

I am tired. I expect people to be ungrateful and unwelcoming. I am in a new place and I am lost.  And yet, I greet a man who has waited for me all his life. It will sound strange when I say this, but believe me, I saw love in his eyes the first time I set my eyes on him and smiled as a way of greeting. Not only did I feel grateful for his enormous help, I was getting a tingly feeling inside me and this time, I didn’t even want to caution myself. I tell myself, that love is going to find me anywhere, and it didn’t matter who and where. And so, my heart has my will.

What caught me by surprise is the way we could open up so easily. I tell you, I am not the extrovert kind. I take time to open up to people and it is only after I know them well enough that I can talk. But with this man? There is no hesitation and during the moments of silence, there is no discomfort. Silence sometimes speaks the best. And if you don’t know if someone loves you, you must look him in the eye and you will see it there. It is also the way he looks at me that has me captured. It is like nothing in the world matters and nothing else could take away his attention from me.

Now, we, women do love attention, don’t we? I know this love will not take me anywhere because we have obligations that are more important than what we feel for each other, but I am glad that it found me.

Note* I have not written a love story in a long time, though I kind of made an announcement on my blog that love is going to find me and they should expect love stories from me. The music sets my mood on and travelling does well to me. I mean, when I am alone, away from my family, I delve deeper into thoughts and I find myself inspired enough to write. And so, here I am today, after a long time.
Maybe it is the age. I feel a little awkward to write about love now and I kind of left the story midway and I hope my readers will forgive me.

When I was on the Verge of Quitting

I am writing this post one year and one month after my last post. I buried writing as a past hobby, or a habit. I buried my urge to write as...