Friday, February 20, 2015

Still feels like the first time

I was in the field supervising a group of enumerators for the Second nation wide GNH Survey, if you remember. I was in Samtse last month and now I am in Samdrup Jkngkhar. I got here yesterday. My team has been here for 19 days already but I had to take leave -- remember, I made a short update from Singapore? It was for that purpose that I had to take leave.

Once I got back home from that visit, I was unsure when to join my team because the New Year was just a few days away and if I didn't stay back to celebrate it with my family, I was going to travel on the New Year. No matter how hard it was, I had to decide on the latter. I travelled on Losar and got to the field to  eat dinner with my team. In a way, that was a huge relief. But leaving my family was difficult. One friend said, 'I can't believe you are leaving on Losar. As a mother, it is very important for you to be there on Losar'. I know that, but when I have to make choices like this, I also know that my husband can take up a role much better than me. He can be a super mother in my absence and I love him extra for that.

The parting was hard though. First, it was my daughter I had to say goodbye to. She didn't cry this time. Neither did she beg me too much not to leave. She came right next to the car, talked to me sweetly and said that I should come back soon. She stood by the parking and waved goodbye till we were out of sight and I couldn't help cry. Tears streaming down my cheek, I feared how the duration of two months or more will pass. We will be getting back to Thimphu only when we have completed the eastern dzongkhags and it means having to be away from family for two months or more. 

Next was saying goodbye to my husband. We rushed to get my bus ticket -- which we had booked through a friend. We rushed because we worried that if we didn't make there a bit earlier from the departure time, the counter girl might sell it to others. She had kept it for us as agreed.  After getting the ticket,  we had half an hour more before departing. So, we wandered around the stalls and it gave us time to feel settled and less rushed. But when I got in the bus and said goodbye, I cried again. And shamelessly, I must admit that though I am a mother and no longer a teenager after parting from her boyfriend, I felt the pang so hard. Should I consider it wrong for me to feel love because I am old now? In fact, I felt love rushing in my heart, and I felt like it was the first time I was saying goodbye to him after having fallen helplessly in love. 

I listened to Don Williams, wiped my tears and kept looking out the window, so the person sitting next to me won't know I was crying. This time, I felt a bit of dislike for our culture of having to be discreet with our affection. I wanted to kiss him goodbye and I couldn't. All we did was hold hands and look each other in the eye. Anyway, when you feel the heart nudging with love, that is enough as well and I quickly felt content and the tiny dislike for our culture disappeared. 

Maybe, in the rush of our everyday work and hustle bustle, we had forgotten to show that we love each other. And it  was a reminder that after 14 years, we are still going strong and everyday is a first day of love with him. And yes, there are many days that I feel like it is the first time and my friends from High School were wrong when they said I was reading too many novels and fantasising on true love that does not exist in real life. I have found it and I am lucky. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Meeting Rima, the Bhutanese Lover

Let me introduce her first. She is known has Rima and she is known to many Bhutanese because of her active blogging. I came across her blog for quite sometime. Until we started talking on Facebook, (which was quite recently), I had been wondering about her. I wondered whether she was Bhutanese and where she lived. So for the ones who are wondering like me: she is originally Indonesian Chinese. She is married to a Singaporean and lives in Singapore. She first visited Bhutan with her parents through the travel agent as tourist and she fell in love with Bhutan ever since. So, the second time, she visited Bhutan through the invitation of one of her Bhutanese friends.

Since then, she has been in touch with Bhutanese through the Bhutanese bloggers and those visiting Singapore. This time, I happened to be the lucky one and thus meet her, in person. She is a lady with an easy smile and warm heart. And she doesn’t mind taking the trouble to meet you, even if it means stretching beyond her normal schedule of the day.

We first planned to meet at Swissotel Merchant Court, but later after I told her that we (my friend Sonam and I) would like to go to Viva City, we changed the plan. She said, ‘wait in front of FoodRepublic on level 3’. I was bit worried wondering at the possibility of missing the opportunity but when I reached there, I was glad that it is a very specific place, right in front of the escalator from the level below and you could easily spot it. She walked up to us after a few minutes of our waiting and there it was – smiles and hugs already, feeling like meeting a long lost friend.

She took us to Sentosa island (skipping the detailed descriptions), Mustafa Shopping Mall, and then on the second meeting, to China Town. On our second meeting, she brought along two of her best friends and we had a celebration of the Chinese New Year (which falls on the same date as Bhutanese New Year). We were already talking easily and laughing together in celebration. Please read about the description of the celebration and the meaning of the food we ate on her blog.


For, pictures speak a thousand words, here are some as a treat for your eyes:
Siloso Beach in Sentosa Island. Quite an impressive place. Peaceful and calm.

With Rima at the beach, making connection

With Rima and Uden. Sometimes even when you are from the same place, you connect more because of someone far away.

It is called the Merlion and it sits gigantically overpowering you, showing its ferocious teeth

After Sentosa, food it was. We ate at the Indian Market, giving me priority because I am veg.

This is our dinner on 12th Feb 2014. Various Chinese food to celebrate our meeting, yet again. 

This, Rima explained is called 'prosperity toss dish' that is eaten only during the New Year Celebration. We were privileged. 

And here we go, tossing for the new year, wishing prosperity, happiness, good health and more of goodness of everything.

Before parting, smiling together and hoping to meet again. 

Her present: a red scarf which served me beautifully right the next morning.

And her present again: a red wrist watch. She probably observed me asking time to my friend and not wearing one. (Thank you Rima for your thoughtful observation and the beautiful presents. Until we meet again.)


So, though it was a short visit of four days and we had classes from 9-5 and assessment to do, she made it very memorable. We thank her from our heart and we hope to see her again with that beautiful smile. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A bit of what I saw today in Singapore

The pictures here are from the Garden by the bay--a wonderful human creation. It is described by some as the Avatar in real life. I will be writing a separate account of my visit here in more detail in a few days.