Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Reminiscing the good old days!!!

                                        Remembering life at the Peak of Learning

It was 1:30 AM in the morning and I suddenly woke up to the noise of the howling dogs outside my rented cottage. I tried to snuggle up tight and tug in deeper inside my quilt but to no avail. I lost my sleep for the night. Then I called up a close friend of mine who’s studying at the Royal Thimphu College and we started discussing about college life then and now.
I was literally carried back to my old college days when I was narrating the story of my glorious days at Sherubtse. It was such a transcendental moment when I actually reflect back on those days. I was telling her how we as a fresher in the college used to be ragged and bullied by our seniors. Ragging was a terror in all the colleges and institutions around the globe and so it was in Kanglung. Senior colleagues would come knocking at your door in the middle of the night and take away your pocket money saying it would go to charity or something when it actually contributed to their loot for buying some additional bottles of arra or Rock Bee.
The moment we arrived at the college entrance, a grand giant gate welcoming the likes of us, we would be welcomed by the Councilors of our respective dormitories. As we get out of buses or the cabs, some notorious boys would come and warn us if we are wearing something other than our national dress. Believe me, some of my friends were asked to take out their gho’s from their luggage and made to wear it in the middle of the town.
For about two to three months, any fresher can be easily identifiable wherever you go. We are not allowed to loaf around wearing stylish denim jeans and T-shirts like our senior brothers and sisters. And yes, no matter how old you are, a senior is a senior. You must address anyone you bump across in the campus as ‘acho’ or ‘ashim’. All the fresher friends can be found walking with their heads hung low all over the place, the black-topped way and the paved footpaths are never our prerogative because it’s their way, I wondered why there wasn’t any signs or symbols like, ‘Seniors Only’ or something equivalent written there. All the first year students would be found walking so uneasily beside the roads.
I was also so eager to share with her, our experiences with the so-called Introductory Night and the Blind Date experience. As I was saying, that Introductory Night was a terror, it gave us thrills, it made us develop goose-bumps all over our body. I must tell you, as a fresher yourself, it would scare the hell out of you but once you get the chance to be the audience watching the show, it is fun. The auditorium would be packed with the second year and third year students sitting on the comfy chairs fixed there, we the freshers would be sitting on our knees, all lined up according to our course, in between the roaring crowds. One by one, we would be called upon the stage by the FINA President and the Councilors. We will then be made to introduce ourselves to the maddening crowd who would simply jeer at us and not listen to us. Beautiful girls and rowdy guys shall bear the consequences of the crowd. The moment, a good looking girl appears on stage, the audience would maintain a pin-drop silence trying to listen to her name and her field of study, her hobbies and everything. She would then be asked for a date by the few rowdy guys at the other end of the hall. A guy with an scruffy long hair and gho let loose below his knee appears and the crowd would pass filthy comments while he proudly introduces himself. Without his knowledge, he would have received so many warnings from the crowd. The senior girls also would join their counter parts in jeering at the new members. And yes, senior girls would be watching out for hot guys, the ideal ‘tall, dark and handsome’ kind of guy.
The other terror is the Blind Date experience like I’ve already mentioned. All the third year guys will go on a blind date with the first year girls and the interested third year girls also will go on a blind date with the first year guys. The program will be set near the girls dormitory on a fine day. Guys would come with an umbrella, an act of decency I guess. The Councilors will call each one of us and fix us with our partners from the doorstep of the ladies dormitory. Trust me, some girls would melt there, some would cry and blush like apples.
The parade of other students lined up and teasing the couple is nothing out of the ordinary there in Sherubtse. Some of them will tuck in packets of condoms inside our gho and yell, “use it properly mey, don’t blow them away”. Once we cross the long line of teasers and jeerers, we finally get the confidence and courage to talk to each other. We then introduce ourselves, talk about our likes and dislikes, our family and anything that is worth talking about. Some walk down towards Trashigang until Rongthung, some uphill towards Yonphula until Khangma and then there’s this trend of offering a grand dinner to the girl if she is willing to but she can also simply deny the offer. So, this is how many fall in love and bloom into a beautiful family later on, some they literally ‘fall’ in love and can never wake up.
Life in the college was wonderful, you finish your high school and reach the so-called Peak of Learning, and one would feel like you are on the top of the world. We had no tight schedules like we use to have in the school days; we don’t have to attend the morning assembly every day, we don’t have classes from 9:00 am in the morning till 4 or 5:00 pm in the evening. We carry a note pad or a diary to jot down the useful stuffs that the lecturers throw at us during the course of his/her lecture.
And yes I was a day-scholar for the 1st one and half year. I never went out to the town after my classes are over for the fear of meeting the drunkards on my way back who would then unnecessarily pick up scuffles with anyone who they meet on their way from the cheap bars at Khangma. Sometimes when I go out to purchase some stuffs from the market, I would meet these same group of people but before they get so close to me, I hide myself in the bushes and let those idiots pass by. Happily I would go home and narrate the funny incident to my mates.
Another interesting thing about Kanglung is the names of the houses located at several different locations. In the upper market, a house is named Pregnant House simply because it was not impregnated by any of Sherubtse’s wild planters but because it had a bulging projection on the front part and it looked like a pregnant women. Further down, we have the Potato House located in the middle of the huge potato fields. Another such house is the Trongsa Dzong, a house similarly built on a landscape like the actual Trongsa Dzong. Haunted House lies on the outskirts of the college and if what people say is true, it’s actually haunted. Rocket House resembles a rocket about to whizz off into the space. Up in the jungle is the Hidden Tower, a house emerging like a tower amongst the trees. I lived in the ‘Small House’ located just behind the college for the rest of my days until I graduated from there in 2007. There are also few interesting names for different places, for instance, there’s this place called View Point on the way to Trashigang, from there we can have a pleasant view of the magnificent hamlets of Rongthung and Pam villages. Just below the View Point is the Suicide Point where a couple is believed to have committed suicide long ago. Further down the road, where the road takes a sharp turn is the Kissing Point, a place where many couples are believed to been seen kissing each other taking advantage of the sharp bend where nobody can hardly see them indulging in this wonderful act of caressing one another all out of love.
There are so many things to remember from my three years stay out there and the most memorable of all are those that I’ve mentioned. Classes are always fun. We are literature students and we always read and wrote, we’ve studied numerous novels, short stories, poems, ballads, etc. We were hard-core critics as our subjects demanded. We would try to find faults in every single possible ways and it would sometimes end up pissing off our tutors.
One event that gave us thrills was the endless football tournaments. The seniors would always have the advantage over the freshers, all it takes is a little bit of warning and scary looks from them and the ball is all theirs. 1st year students would never dare to take away the ball from them and if the 1st year guys are taking the ball, they would just kick you from behind and not say anything. Whereas if we hit a senior guys accidentally, we’ve to rush and apologize before they come in group and charge us. My classmates are pretty good footballers, my Class Representative Mr. Sonam Rinzin is an ardent football fan, my buddy Sonam Dhendup and Yeshey Dorji (Bumlay) are also swift wingers. Over the years, we won so many tournaments and the donations we received from the shopkeepers and the lecturers went to the bar owners again. All my classmates would come together and hire two or three vehicles, buy plenty of alcohol and other stuffs and we would then head towards Yonphula. Once we’re there, we would prepare the famous ‘punch’ drinks, and start dancing to the rhythm of the music until the wee hours.
Life was fun then. We never had to worry about anything in life. The only worry we had was of flunking in our exams. That was some eight years ago and now life has changed an awful lot. I am not sure if the students of Sherubtse enjoy the same thrill even today but I’ve had my share what Sherubtse had to offer.
Thus, the long story cut short with my friend over the phone came to an end at around 3:00 am in the morning when she said she wanted to sleep because she has classes to attend tomorrow.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Letter To My Beloved Brother!

My Dear Brother,
With deep regret and sorrow in my heart, I write this epistle to you. This is the first time I am suffering from such a shock, I don’t really know how I shall describe all these tension and trouble that I’ve gone through. And you must also understand that I am not the only one who’s bearing this tragedy, our poor parents, especially our mother had gone through such a big trouble trying to overcome the big mess that you’ve intentionally or unintentionally created.
Well, let me make it very clear to you. I know we come from a family that ‘just survives’ on our own, meaning our parents are living a life of ‘hand to mouth’ like many other people back in the village. I am the eldest and I very well know the pain that our parents are enduring and have already endured to make the three of us a better person in our lives. they are uneducated, that you know very well, and yet they’ve known how important is it for us to be educated and learned, that’s why they’ve brought us where we are today. You also know that we are not so fortunate like many other children who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. And we must accept that it was our fate, it has been pre-destined and there’s nothing much we can do about it.
I have gone through many such hurdles, many trials and tribulations that you also must have gone through and that you are facing at the moment. From my high school days in Chukha through my college days at Kanglung, I’ve suffered the same fate like you. Money was always a problem every time it’s time for us to go to school or college, but you know what? Mom never left us in a situation where we had to drop school or college, she was always there to help and make us presentable to the harsh world outside. She went around day after day, trying to find a solution to the temporary problems, she was always positive and sure about our success one day. She believed that one day the three of us will be able to make them proud, that our success will bring them endless happiness until they die. And you have to remember that as I write these words, tears roll down my eyes.
My Dear Brother, I’ve always had big expectations from you. I know that you are brilliant and that you are going to prove to the world that you are worth it. To be very open, I had hopes and expectations from you until you went to Chukha HSS. But since then, I don’t know what went wrong, I think  by then, you’ve chosen to take a different path, I’ve heard that you were into drugs since then and I wasn’t wrong. Since then, you’ve started to forget the person that you are and the family back at home. You’ve started losing interest in the daily chores that we use to do back at home during our short winter and summer holidays. You weren’t like that before, you were the one to initiate any work and people use to appreciate and like what you do at home, and I learnt a lot from you then.
Once you went to Kanglung, you assured me that you’ve stopped doing all these unwanted stuffs and that you’ve really started getting serious with your studies. That made me feel proud and I was confident and sure about what you’ve promised me. I never expected you to fail in your exams but you surprised me when you failed in you 1st or 2nd semester, I didn’t really know the reason behind this, may be you are too much engaged in the temporary pleasures of getting into relationships with girls or you were still lost in the world of drugs. As you read this, please reflect back and see where you went wrong.
I know you are not so small or innocent to understand this. You were born just a year after me and we are almost equals. You must also think and feel the same like me for our family. You know, it’s a collective responsibility. To make them proud and happy in their latter lives is our responsibility. It’s time for us to pay back for what they’ve done for us.
Think twice; reflect on what you have done recently. Your acts have cost us a lot, a lot my dear. I don’t know if you really understand that pain that we’ve gone through. It’s such a disgrace to the family, but I am thinking that, may be this was done through sheer unawareness, or at times I think that this happened because of our misfortune. But again, it’s really hard to bear when misfortunes strike all at once; it’s such a heavy blow to the family.
Now, whatever has happened has come and gone. What’s important now is, to reflect on the things that have gone wrong and amend the scars. It’s never too late for anything, you can begin a fresh life. First complete your studies and find a suitable job. All of us love you so much and we expect you to bring happiness in the family.
Yours always Brother (Chencho Thinley)
That was written earlier when you got into the trouble for the first time. Now, this is what I wrote when you got into the same problem again.
You see brother, there are so many tempting things that life has got to offer to us while we live. There are good things that can brighten and heighten our lives and there are also unwanted stuffs that can ruin and mar our lives. It’s all left for us to choose between the two.
I have had so many friends, who were into drugs while I was in Chukha, but they were all very good human beings, they were kind-hearted, helpful, and supportive and they never use to drag me into their business. I use to join them everywhere while they hang-out; I even tried what they did then. I puffed cigarettes with them, I sniffed dendrite and correction fluids, I drank alcohol, even tried marijuana and cough syrups with them, almost all, but you know what brother, I never tried to make that a routine, I never made it a habit because I knew it would be difficult to stay away from these evils once I get addicted to it.
People say that it’s your friends who spoil you or make you a better person but it’s actually you. Nobody knows you better than yourself, you are the master. I had so many good friends who are into drugs but I chose to stay one step away from them. Even during my college days I enjoyed with them at times, all just for fun, we use to go and drink arra at Khangma but always stayed out of trouble. We sometimes sniffed dendrite in the paddy fields and laugh out loud, these are things we did just for fun and we use to love the moment. But again, I never tried to develop this habit of using such unwanted stuffs regularly.
I presume you never knew anything about drugs until you reached class IX or X, that time you were at home. I am sorry if you love them so much but I must point out this, one driving factor that brought you where you are today is your friend Neten and that bloody IT instructor from whom you learnt nothing but these stuffs. And I always pray these people never succeed in life, they must pay for spoiling you. I hate them so much, so much. For all the people who are responsible for the nemesis, I hate you all like hell!
We actually have a large family, but during times of trouble, nobody even bothers to ask about your whereabouts. They are not trying to ignore you but they are tired of telling you. May be they’ve lost their hopes but I still have great expectation from you, I know one day you shall rise and stand straight, one day my brother shall declare himself free from all the evils that surrounds you. We are just three of us, we have to do something before it’s too late. Brother, don’t you think about our parents sometimes? Look at them, poor Appa and Aie, our dad is such an innocent human being, he’s happy all the time and he has no worries. He was born this way and there’s no way we can change him. You also know very well. Do you remember how he used to love you then? I was mom’s cheche and you were dad’s cheche.
Mom was strict then, that’s how we reached where we are right now. She whipped us to go to school, I remember she once tied a rope around me and took me to school thinking that I would escape on the way. I have so much to thank her for educating me; don’t you also owe the same gratitude to her? I think you too owe her a lot, indeed all three of us. Today, I tell my friends, had our mother not been so strict and attentive, we would be farming in the village.
What’s done cannot be undone, now you should change yourself. Leave aside what you have already done; think about your future and think of lending a helping hand to our poor parents. Their expectation is very minimal, I know that very well. They don’t expect us to give everything we get to them; they just wanted us to be presentable in front of other people, they just expect us to succeed in our lives and be a better human being, that’s it. So, my dear brother, I hope you understood what I am trying to tell you.

These are words of kindness from your only brother.

Cheers to our family!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A glance at a day's work at the Air Port.

Just when everyone's dreaming the best of their dreams, just when the stars are still shining bright in the sky, Sonam (name changed) is already off to work. It's just 4:30 am in the morning and by he time he reaches office, it's exactly 5 O'clock. Sonam works for the Immigration Department at the only Air Port in the country.

The notion that his department is all-to-do with visas, work permits, route-permits, etc lingered in his mind ever since he joined this department. And it was not a wrong concept, it really was true! It was all related to the expatriates, people from abroad and their identity.

His work at the Air Port is not so different from the one he handled at the head office in Thimphu, except for the timing, almost everything is just he same. The timing is "weird", really off-track unlike any other work. Going to the office some 4 or 5 hours ahead of any other office goers and leaving early as early as 12 or 1 pm in the afternoon is really unique of this job.

The first few days were really difficult for him, but as time went by, he learned to adapt to the new schedule of getting up by 4:00 am in the morning and getting ready for the daily routine. Once in the office, his day began by putting on his PC and logging in to the official web. Along with his co-mates, the daily routine of punching the details of the people leaving and arriving in the country at the 'Departure port' and 'Arrival Port' kept him engaged.

The experience was nice. He liked what he did. Working at the Air Port has it's own side of pros and cons. The opportunity of meeting so many new faces, people from all walks of life, both countrymen and foreigners was a sort of boon for him for he got this chance to interact with them and inquire about anything that clung to his mind. Sometimes, to start a conversation, he would ask something obvious to the foreigners. For instance, with the passport of a Canadian in his hand, he would still inquire, "Are you from Canada?" which is actually obvious. This went on for almost all day. Sometimes, the high officials and dignataries would greet him, and this boosted his energy, it gave him the zeal to work more.

Important religious figures kept flying in and out of the country. And this is another added advantage of working at the Air Port, you get to receive their blessings any time they are there without actually having to queue up and wait for hours and hours like other people. Just roll- up your sleeves abd bow down, and then you are blessed blissfully.

This is probably how Sonam's day at the Air Port would come to an end. Happy and content, he would go home and prepare lunch for himself. He would then take a short cat-nap after lunch. Wake up towards the evening and stroll down the road towards the market. It's 4:00 am, another new day and the same routine again!!!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Lingering Thoughts

When the thought is let loose
It transcends over the vales and hills
Not even considering the consequesces
And thus the thought by goes astray.

On and on, up and down, side by side,
The 'let-loose' emotions wander for naught.
For only He knows the purpose of it,
Yet the thoughts linger and linger.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Me and the Monarch: An Encounter.

Not so many people anywhere around the world get this rare opportunity to come so close and have a conversation with their leaders, be it their Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, President, etc. I was one among the hundreds who got this rare opportunity to mingle freely with my smart and dauntless king, the People’s King Himself.
The final day of the half dozen and three days National Graduate Orientation Program came to a halt and everyone one of us, a total of some twelve hundred and sixty-eight heads who have successfully completed our journey through fifteen years or more of our education, were elated and excited.
As soon as we knew that His Majesty was going to give an audience to us, I felt the gush of blood following into my nerves through the veins, I started to experience something different. It was quite a surprise and an opportunity too. As for me I was really dying to see and meet my King. I am a little too selfish to mention this, because everyone might be as excited as I am.
From the moment I knew I was going to see the Guardian Himself, my heart leapt with immense joy and merriment. So many fantasies crowed and buzzed around my head. Countless queries hummed around my ears. We are to meet with The People’s King, and I definitely have the right to be excited. Don’t I? I was also a little nervous.
At the back of my head, I was really confused as to what questions I shall ask? What topics shall we discuss on the next day? But the most important question was, will I get an opportunity for a short discourse?
The final day arrived. I woke up early in the morning to the command of my high-pitched alarm. I got myself a hot cup of coffee. And I was all ready with my new gho on, lagay well folded, my shoe well polished, hair well gelled, to be precise, I was well dressed, making myself presentable and smart for the D-Day.
All of us gathered in front of the King’s Grand Palace just below Tashichhozong. Slowly, we were ushered in by the police and the many security guards standing smartly in their uniform. I couldn’t hide my excitement just when I was about to enter the main gate. There was a tight and thorough security check-up. And that was when I realized that, it’s not so easy to go and see the King. We were all seated inside the tent so long and spacious enough to fit every one of us comfortably.
We were all given a warm welcome by the many Bhutanese artists, including my all-time-favorite comedian Phurba Thinley. Everyone laughed their stomachs out at the sight of this very funny joke cracker.
The actual session began as soon as the King graced the occasion with his smart presence. I heard the girls nearby me murmuring, “Wow! So smart.” They couldn’t help themselves from uttering those words of appreciation and admiration at the very first sight. And yes! Believe me; even Angels from above could not have resisted that temptation. He looked very smart and handsome as ever before. He was the prince charming before, and now He is the King charming, if I may say –so.
Question answers were exchanged to and fro between the King and his subjects. The subjects of the talk varied from Democracy to the how abouts of the Fourth King through GNH, and more of that sort. In the process, some of the graduates asked about the Queen in question, to which His Majesty said he’s working this out.
One very interesting that I noticed about my King was that, He never spoke to us like a King from above. He was so humble and down-to-earth. He mingled freely with the graduates as if He knew each one of us personally. When asked about what he does think about, while at the coffee table, He said, he thinks about a lot of things. But spend most of my time “introspecting” and “contemplating” on the things that he did and the things that he’ll do in the future.
“I worry about the future of my country all the time, from the moment I open my eyes in the morning till I close my eyes, even in my dreams.” These were the exact words that came out of the very concerned King of our small nation and I was deeply touched. A sort of patriotic feeling aroused in me. But I was left wordless.
The session went on hour after hour and we were served tea and snacks innumerable in number. A very special lunch ensued the valuable talks. And thus the wonderful and meaningful day came to an end. Before we broke off, our King had something for us; we were presented a T-shirt with a logo of our smart King, a batch and a pedant each.
I had such a wonderful day. Hope everybody did. I thus value this special day. One moment that shall always remain in my heart would be this very rare moment that I got to share with my King. May your reign bring unprecedented peace, prosperity, and happiness in this little happiness-loving nation of ours. We all love you- Our Dear King, you truly are the People’s King.
Language: The many faces of it.

Webster was not wrong when he boldly stated that “Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God.” But no one in the world, except for the likes of Shakespeare himself can master their competency in language, that’s at least what I feel. Because you and I, every one of us knows that language is so very easy yet so difficult at times. We are taught the nitty-gritty of language beginning with the alphabets ABC, through words and sentences, and slowly we move on to the rest.
Language, whatever or whichever it is, is the medium of communication, it’s a means whereby we get to every ends. Human beings are blessed and gifted to have the power of speech. It’s wonderful and yet very amazing that among a million species and organisms on earth, only the homo-sapiens have the ability and agility to understand and use language for various purposes.
Twittering birds, roaring lions, grunting pigs, chattering monkeys have their distinct language, but it’s sad to note that they have for no avail. However they bellow, roar, grunt or chirp, the message may not be conveyed up to their expectation. With a distinct language for each region, each cast and creed, fellow humans are bound to take on their wishes and desires, their wants and needs- just by communicating and communication does it all.
Now, to further discuss about how and why I find language so baffling at times, I think a lot many of my readers in your own life might have come across the twists and turns in language. To take a simple example, in English language, words usually become the opposite of what they actually mean when prefixes like un, in, anti, etc are added, but I was surprised to learn that ‘valuable’ and ‘invaluable’ meant the same. Don’t words become their antonyms when the prefix ‘in’ is added? Invaluable actually should mean something of no value, or something worthless, but it means something of high value.
We can take the example of a ‘hot dog’ which is neither ‘hot’ nor a ‘dog’, a guinea pig, which is neither a pig nor from Guinea. There are numerous such other examples. Some words are spelled the same, yet they have different meanings, some have same pronunciation, but they are not spelled the same way. Some have plurals; others have past tenses while others have neither of the two.
Language is difficult to understand and it’s too tough at times to justify why something is right or why it is wrong. We just can say that something is right because it is ‘right’ or something is so because it is ‘so’. Although some rules apply to language, some defy these rules and move away from the trend. We are left astounded with the word “exception”. Because anything that seems mysterious or anything that looks extraordinary is an “exception” they say.
Thus, it’s all messed up, it’s so confusing. Language is a maze, it’s a mess, and all of us have to find our own way out of this mess. But like it or not, language is here to stay, it’s so beautiful and it shall continue to serve its purpose, it shall serve humanity, no matter what. Three cheers to the great minds, three cheers to the Bard.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Success: Luck or Hard work

It has been rightly said that "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Success cannot be directly attributed to luck or something of that sort. People succeed because of several reasons and they also fail because of several other reasons. People have this general feeling that if someone succeeds, the so-called "luck" intervenes. But the fact is, luck can in no way be associated with success.
Success has a price tag attached to it. Success and luck are two contradictory terms which different individuals may interpret in their own ways. There will be a group of people who believe that continuous success in life comes from rigorous hard work and nothing else, on the contrary, there will also be another group who believe in "luck" alone, not willing to accept the ground reality. Luck plays no significant role in achieving success. The most successful men on earth are those who "earned their bread by the sweat of their brow." People must always remember that there is no short-cut to success.
George S.Clason, in his book. "The Richest Man in Babylon", described luck as, "an impatient and fickle-minded goddess who does not waste her time on anybody who is not prepared." His theory actually brings an end to this controversy. People may talk about the lottery winners or the wealthy inheritors, but if we really look inside them, they must have toiled hard. We never know how much effort they have put in to achieve what they desired.
The so-called "luck" is enhanced or made more attractive when people are not scared to take risks in their lives, also when they are well equipped. luck can actually trace who are prepared and who all are not. The bottom-line is, we must always remember that "fortune favors the bold" and not the weak and faint-hear-ted individuals. For people to succeed in any field, we must out-run, oust and supersede the other competitors. Most people hesitate to act, they are either reluctant, or they procrastinate or sometimes fail to take prompt and correct decisions, and that is exactly where people feel "unlucky". Thus, it can be concluded that success must always be accredited to hard work alone and not luck or whatsoever.