As part of the GNH dissemination workshop series, I was nominated along with three other colleagues to travel to Malaysia and South Korea in March this year. I was in a dilemma about whether to join them or stay back – because my second child had just turned one year. But having watched so many Korean dramas from being a girl to now, I was tempted to visit South Korea so much that I wanted to join them. And so I did! My husband, my mother and my niece had to take extra responsibility of caring for him; putting babies to bed and soothing them back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night is quite a tiresome job for non-mothers. But my boy being a very amiable baby gave them little trouble.
Our counterpart in Malaysia had arranged so many meetings – from meetings over breakfast to lunch to dinner besides presentations to different offices and gatherings, we were left tired to our bones on our last day there, which was 23rd March 2017. Our flight to Seoul from Kuala Lumpur was on 24th March, very early morning – which gave us only two hours of sleep. Having had a late supper with our friends in Malaysia, we hardly caught that two hours of sleep before we left for the airport. [The RGOB’s rule of having to buy air tickets through quotation victimizes us into having to take inconvenient flight timings – and budget flights]. On the flight, I had to even ask for medicine from the flight attendant for my headache.
At the end of six hours flight, we finally landed in Seoul. And a staff of our coordinator there took us in a taxi at a frightening lightning speed because we had to make to the meeting that was already in full swing. And between bright flashes of light, we were escorted on stage at the 2017 International Buddhism Expo in Seoul in our dream like state! But it was worth all of these small troubles.
What struck us in particular was their trust and integrity. We were told that if you forgot or left something somewhere, it would still be there, untouched, if you visited after a few days. And they are so polite to each other. Or maybe, it is just that the accent and tone of their language is like that.
One night, we had to catch the last train back to our hotel from dinner with our counterparts there. We rushed and just to make sure that we did not mistake between the outbound and inbound trains, we asked two young boys at the station about whether we were going to the right route – and they were so polite to us. They spoke passable English and were interested when we told them that we were from Bhutan. I still remember how they told us to listen, to concentrate on the announcement of our station because they had to leave two stations before ours. And in the entire duration of our stay there for four days, we did not see the owner of our guesthouse. The reception remained empty all the time. Such is the trust!
And one night, as we returned to our guesthouse after dinner, there were two men outside fretting and restless. Our coordinator had blocked their car. They had waited for one hour! They did not see the phone number left on the dashboard. We were surprised to see that there were no screams of anger and blame. They parted bowing to each other and in smiles.
But Bhutan has much to offer too. They may have symmetrical lines of skyscrapers with shopping malls and hundreds of cosmetic shops but I doubt they ever saw a clear blue sky! Or breathe clean air free of pollution.
|Our friends/coordinators in Malaysia. They truly made our trip meaningful|
|At the Dharma House Society in Malaysia|
|Probably the only Bhutanese to be at the Seoul Tower in kira|