Articles by: spygun
There have been talks of Thimphu going to be the country's first bicycle city, which obviously means that the office goers of Thimphu are going to resort to riding bicycles to office rather than their SUVs and hatchbacks.
Well, dream on, because for a country like Bhutan where we still are so much concerned about the preservation of our culture and traditions, it would encounter a major obstacle. Has anyone imagined riding a bicycle wearing the gho (or kira for the matter) and that also in the freezing temperatures of winter or in the monsoon downpour? OK, some are grumbling that they have seen some do so but were they going to office? If we can't, then what are the alternatives?
Cycling for pleasure is a different matter, it can be done. People will be willing to make allowances to that matter provided they are protected by the RSTA rules. There must be some protections for the cyclers from the dreaded SUVs of Thimphu. And there should be bicycle lanes demarcated along the roads, else the cycles donated by the Japanese would be in vain.
There is another alternative, which I am afraid to mention because the readers would deem me unpatriotic. The Japanese people don't wear their Kimonos to work. It is reserved only for special occasions. For work, they have their business suits (two piece) as I think it would be very comfortable to cycle to work in them. But Bhutan is too young to even think of such alternatives.
Then what can we do? There are smaller energy efficient alternatives like electric three wheelers within the city limits. There are some electric cars in town but we, being very image conscious, would certainly love to have cars (electric or non) that not only perform energy-efficiently but are beautiful to look at too. The few electric cars in town fail in the latter category.
I am straying away from my intended topic. The time has not come for the Bhutanese men to ride the bicycle to work. So instead of going after a wild goose chase why don't we think of better things to do like developing better public transportations? I am not talking about the city buses in Thimphu. I mean the cleanliness of those buses. I am not talking about the number of taxis in Thimphu. I mean the uniformity of the taxi fares. I also mean the availability of taxis in the off hours.
Bhutan did away with the traffic lights because Bhutanese were not ready for them. Are we ready for bicycles on the road?
Lisa, how can I forget her name? And the face, how can I ever forget it?
The first time I see her is at the reception. There is one for us, the overseas participants. As I go around introducing myself and our GNH concept, I see her across the room. She is looking immaculate in her uniform. Immediately I want to talk to her, ask her name.
As I edge around people I catch her eyes. I smile at her. She returns it. There are still a lot of bodies and introductions en route. But like King Arthur of the Arthurian legends I overcome all obstacles. My price is the beauty who beckons me like a beacon. My sword is my wineglass which I brandish around. My path is cleared and I soon have a straight path carved towards her.
But then, my new friend from Mongolia, Setii comes in the form of Lancelot to disturb my Lady Guinevere. As I reach her, Seki is already en route from the opposite direction.
I 'hi' her and introduce myself ' from Bhutan'. 'I'm Lisa from Tokyo, Lisa' is her intro. Her English is flawless with a strong western accent, unlike many Japanese that I had met. I compliment her on her English. She says that she is currently studying in Canada, so that accounts for it.
Then Lancelot reaches there. Soon she is deep in conversation with him. I am sidestepped. From their conversation it seems that she has been to Mongolia previously and they met there. I just look around. I have nothing to say.
She notices my silence and ignores Lancelot to give more attention to me. Is it just courteousness? The Japanese are well known for that. I don't care, all I know is that we are talking and Setii is ignored. The stuff I do for love. Love? It can't be. I barely know her, yet I am smitten by her. Is it love at first sight? I am confused. Is it love that I am feeling? I am reminded of Bob Marley's words.
Then it is dinner time and she goes away to help around the table. She is one of the organizers so she is busy. The entire evening I spend around imagining lots of things about Lisa.
Setii is visibly grinning at me. What? I mouth him. He eyes Lisa. Then I get it that he too likes her. So it is going to be a battle! The evening passes with no further developments. But I do get her card. She wants me to add her on facebook.
On the ride back to hotel we are in the same bus, but her mother is with her. I give her hidden glances.
From the next day I don't see her. When I ask around it seems that she is doing her duties in another part of the site. I want to meet her, talk to her, do lots of things that boys in love do, but I can't. She isn't near me.
Then it is time for us to depart. Lancelot is going away a day before me, something to do with his flight timings. Boy, am I happy? I plan something for the evening with Lisa. But she is escorting Lancelot's group up to the airport. I bid her bye and add that I will see her tonight.
Yeah, she replies. I am really excited. But as fate would have it, there is another engagement for her in the evening. She doesn't turn up, nor is she escorting us to the airport the next day.
I give up. Then I return to Bhutan.
Three days ago I find out that she has accepted my friend request on facebook. So I send her a message saying how I was looking forward to meeting her that evening. I didn't even get to give you a proper goodbye, I write. Her reply is pure courtesy. But I can still feel her fingertips gliding over the keypads as I read each word.
So I didn't get to build a relationship, but I was wistful. I could have built a better Camelot for us. I was ready.
Maybe for her I was just that Bhutanese guy. But for that instant, she was my world.
There are certain things that are to be expected in any relationship, even after they have ended. But I had never expected to feel the same. Would she have been the same had she married me? Would she still have the same happiness that I see in her? Or is that a tinge of regret I see in her eyes? The twinkle in her eyes is genuine when she talks about her daughters. I can feel her nervousness when we talk. No wonder she doesn't face me as we talk about what went wrong in our relationship. Or is it me imagining? Is it me regretting? After all I was the one who didn't want to continue our relationship.
I feel at ease now that she has forgiven me. But has she? Those eyes still have their power over me. I have to use all my willpower to look away. After all she is happily married. Or is she? Then why would she come to meet me? Why would she forgive me now?
Seven years ago I had asked for her forgiveness and it had all been in vain. Why now? Does it mean that she now has the capacity to understand the situation? Or is it that she is matured enough to forget the past? For me my days with her have made me into who I am. I know more about relationships, and their ups and downs.
I don't want to dwell on the past because 'the past is a foreign land, they do things differently there' or is it?
The early morning whistle
Heralds not the sun
But the dreaded PT.
Of such a thing?
Eyes puffed and sleepy
We run, lest we are late
And invite the coach's scorn –
The football ground is wet.
The dew wets our bums, as
We attempt at sit ups.
Jogging is another
Thing I hate.
I am in the front,
Being short, doing the rounds
Of PWD colony.
Out of breath, we reach
the TDSA hall.
The dogs give us
Company… snaps at me.
'Grrr..…' what did I do
Back to the ground, and a few
Then we are free.
But are we really?
Recently I have been to Thimphu for some work of the personal nature and I have had the pleasure of coming across the taxi drivers that ply the Indian highways. They are the dreaded Bolero drivers that ply between Phuntsholing, Gelephu, and Samdrup Jongkhar. I even had the frightening experience of traveling in one.
Of course the road is wide and straight, and the speedometer can climb up to 120 smoothly, but there are also other vehicles plying on the road… container trucks, 16 wheeled, 10 wheeled trucks, jumbo trucks loaded with loads and loads of loads, and other vehicles… and in the roadside settlements, the famous three-wheeled cycle rickshaws, cycles and of course…the animal population. But the Bolero driver is oblivious to all… he just toots the horn and floors the gas.
Another kind is the Coaster drivers that ply between Thimphu, Phuntsholing and Paro.
Yes… Toyota Coasters offer lesser jerks, more comfort and smoother rides but that doesn't mean the drivers should fly along the highway. My heart missed many beats along the route… many a times I secretly prayed to god that the mechanics of the bus wouldn't fail. However perfect the driver is, the vehicle is after all a machine, prone to fail.
Then there are the dreaded Gypsum drivers… those who ply the Samdrup Jongkhar – Pemagatshel highway (especially between Deothang and Tshelingkhor, thus termed the gypsum road, appropriately named since this stretch is dominated by the gypsum truckers.) If you ever ply this road you'll know how fast they are, speeding down the narrow curves fully loaded with 16-18 tonnes of gypsum. They are young and full of 'josh'. The drivers become younger by the year while the trucks become more powerful. From Tata 1210 to 1613 to Terra 16 … from trucks with wooden bodies to steel bodied-tippers … from normal engines to powerful ones – the gypsum road has seen all the changes.
The most recent change is the road. Before, it was just a narrow strip of tarmaic. Now it is a wide, pot-holed, muddy track… thanks to the road-widening process. And this has added to the plight of the two-wheelers like me.
The gypsum drivers don't even slow down whether they are racing up towards Pemagatshel for their gypsum load or speeding down fully loaded with gypsum. And they always travel in packs. Show your displeasure to one and you will be targeted by the others. If he is alone he will boast of having friends. If they are in a pack all will stop. Seems they have a code they live by… or drive by.
Woe be to any driver that has crossed swords with them. In my case if I am alone I always respect these huge trucks when they suddenly loom in front me from around the corner. I smile at them and they appreciate my ride. Knowingly, we smile at each other. I am promoting GNH.
Thus many now know me. They may not know me personally but they know my ride. So I always carry a smile in my pocket for them.
I don't want my cell to end up 'not reachable' or 'not responding' by some cliff or in the bushes.
Authors note: I wrote it on 18.05.2010, but found it today only.
Once there was a competition amongst the detective agencies of the world. There was the need to prove their capability and competence in the field. There were representatives from almost all parts of the world.
The test was simple.
A tiger was to be let out in the wild. The participants just had to track and bring it back.
First the FBI went. Five minutes later they had bagged the tiger.
Next was the CIA. They took ten minutes.
Five minutes into the jungle they came across a strange sight.
A bear was tied spread-eagled onto a rock. The Delhi Police were beating it on the soles of its feet while shouting… ” bolo tu sher hey…….tell you are tiger “
It is on a Saturday evening during rounds of arra that we decide to visit Chorten Kora. I have been there many times but my friends haven't. So we make plans for the next day.
The next morning as I wake up at 8, I can smell delicious aroma from the kitchen. Serious must have already prepared tea as he is almost dressed up.
“Wai… get up. Aren't you going to Chorten Kora?” He always makes tea and puts the rice in the mornings. And I hear someone in the kitchen. It must be DB sir. He usually prepares curry in the morning. It is because of them that we, the other lazybones, get breakfast so we don't have to run to the class on an empty stomach.
I grab my tooth brush and paste, and go out of the room. I see DB sir outside, brushing. I peek inside the kitchen. It is UT. He is frying something… he is great in the kitchen; his cooking are an art itself… mmm… delicious even to think. Pema is already groomed, warming in front of the heater in their room. I seem to miss someone.
“Don't you know? He went home yesterday evening”.
So it's five of us then. Five friends. Five gents, away from home, sharing a flat. We are in Kanglung. Some of us miss our wives. Especially Pema as he is newly married. Some, children. Some miss their girlfriends. I miss my parents, and brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. And friends back home. But not others. Because I have none.
“Wai… wash your face” he says to me. I go to the bathroom and do my thing. As I come out, someone says “Breakfast is ready”.
We have breakfast. UT kids that since we don't have time to prepare breakfast and lunch he has only made one curry, which should suffice both for breakfast and lunch. “So be economical in breakfast” he adds. We laugh. But it is true.
Still the rice is sufficient. One rice cooker for breakfast, the other for lunch. After breakfast there is a rush as everybody begins the final grooming.
But still we are late. It is almost 10 as we lock the door. We take DB sir's car as it the only clean one. Along the way Pema calls
And he is. He makes us drink arra… lamchang… as he puts it. It is strong, his arra is always strong. He is the main supplier as his home is near.
After that we continue. When we reach Chazam it is already 11 am. Crossing it, we turn right… on our way to Chorten Kora.
Freedom cannot be explained. It cannot be expressed. It must be experienced. And I am in love with freedom.
I always find ways to experience it, and my latest craze is riding motorcycles. Keeping that in mind I have recently invested in a state-of-the-art motorcycle. I use it for short forays across the dusty back-roads of rural Samdrup Jongkhar.
These days I am in Kanglung on study and away from home for a few weeks. Then I have a sudden craze to be free. So I go to Deothang to get my bike.
And there I am at 8:00 am at Lemsharang block. I am the center of gaze of everybody, me and my bike. I must have made an impressive sight.
All along the way I feel free, speeding along the cliffs of Melong Brak (mirror-cliff), feeling the chilly wind finding its way through any gaps towards my skin. I stop once along the way, resting and talking in the breath-taking view of the distant hamlets, the white rivers that seem so near yet so far. And the silence. Except for the wind blowing up the valley, cold and sharp, everything is still.
I am reminded of my life – the utter silence, and loneliness in it. I am also reminded of my chat with my eldest brother. When I said that I wanted to pursue my higher studies before settling down for married life he was very supportive. Yet when I lamented that almost all of my mates had children, he cautioned that it might be too late for me later.
Remembering that conversation, I laughed. My laughter echoed dryly around me and I could feel it mocking at me.
I resumed my journey and reached Wamrong. As I take in suja and sikam rice, I can hear Hanna Montana's Butterfly Fly Away, and again I am lost. I can see Miley (the central character in Hanna Montana – The Movie) and her dad drumming on the guitar and humming the tune. It really hurts at this moment that I am alone. I pay and ride again. The sun is trying very hard to warm the workers (army personals) who are busy at the reconstruction of the burnt-down houses.
As I rise above the town, I can see the change in the Thrimshing Dungkhag landscape. There is a long scar zigzagging across the entire face of a mountain… the road. The farm road… to be precise. Sometime before I had heard of eco-friendly road construction, but this was certainly not eco-friendly.
My mind doesn't rest long on that because suddenly… WHAM… I am skidding across the road.
(to be continued…)
My mind doesn't rest long on that because suddenly… WHAM… I am skidding across the road. The visor of my helmet goes by my sight. To lessen the impact, I turn on my back… skidding further on the tarmac. I stop. I get on my knees… my right shoulder hurts. I look around. Nobody is in sight. No vehicles in sight. Am I looking around for help or am I looking around to avoid embarrassment? I cannot think. My left index and middle fingers seem to be bent at an odd angle. Gritting my teeth I push them back, one by one. I can feel a searing pain at the back of my right hand. There is a long tear on the glove… and I can see red flesh. Using my teeth I pull off the glove. The skin is torn at three places and my knuckles are bruised. I am still sitting in the middle of the road. I am in a trance.
My bike is inside the drain… on its side. I limp across and try to right it. I cannot right it, let alone take it out of the drain. Dilemma… what to do? Summing up energy that I didn't know I push it. Slowly seconds turn to minutes I am able to right it. Then I press the starter button expecting the engine to come to life… but it just coughs twice and goes silent. I curse to myself. Now what? I dust my jacket and jeans. Ok… last try. This time the engine roars to life and I prod the machine back on the tarmac. Mud flying and smoke bellowing… we are on the road. I park beside the road and assess the damage. The mirrors are twisted the wrong way… can be twisted back. The right knee-guard is bent at an odd angle as it was scraped along the tarmac… cannot be twisted back. No major damage… and the engine are still running. Now what? Should I try to continue my journey?
I make doma and chew it. I have to cool my nerves. The sun which had been warm to this moment doesn't seem as warm now. I collect the visor and fix it back to the helmet… it is just unhinged.
I get on the bike and put in into gear. My left hand hurts more. As I try to take off the glove, it seems tighter. I pull it with my teeth. Both the guilty fingers are swollen and I cannot pull the clutch. NOW WHAT?? I check my mobile phone. No network.
What the heck!! I grip the clutch with the entire fingers and it works… though the pain is almost unbearable. Now I forget about the scenery. I tell myself… concentrate on the road. Forget the pain. Forget the pain. Slowly I ride further on… and this time I look at the speedometer frequently… I keep the speed at 40. Soon I reach Khaling… and as I reach I can see the people staring at me. Are they appreciating my ride or are they staring at the skid marks on the bike? Suddenly I am conscious of my appearance. I am thinking of having tea there but I let it pass. I move on…
As I reach Yonphula I can hear my mobile phone ring. I park and check. It is Serious… I call back and tell him that I am coming. Soon I reach Kanglung. As soon as I enter the rented flat I inform my five room-mates that I have good news and bad news. I tell them of my nasty fall.
Then as we are talking about my experience I realize the graveness of it. What if I had gone off the cliff? What if… ?
Lesson learned… Why do we fall? So that we stand up taller with the experience it gives us…
Once I was at a road block above Deothang where road-widening is taking place. I was late by 45 minutes so I had to wait for the next opening. Many vehicles were already lined up, including some Gypsum trucks. Some truckers were talking to while away the long wait. I went and joined their circle… listening to their conversations… and needless to say it centered on woman.
“I would f__k any kind of woman… even if it is a grandmother” one was saying as I joined the circle.
“I know… you look the grandmother f__king kind” another replied, “but me… I like them young.”
“For me… I will f__k only those more beautiful than wife” a third commented. The others sniggered.
“Come on… why not? We marry our wives because they are the most beautiful person in our eyes. So if I would really want to go after another woman, it would have to be someone more beautiful than my wife… so that I wouldn't have to regret if I have to pay compensation to my wife. At least I will have someone more beautiful than her” he justified.
We laughed. But I wondered… could it be true? I may not know for now but when I tie the knot… maybe I these words will show their wisdom to me.
Writes Paulo Coelho in The Winner Stands Alone:
A seagull was flying over a beach, when it saw a mouse. It flew down and asked the mouse:
'Where are your wings?'
Each animal speaks its own language, and so the mouse didn't understand the question, but stared at the two strange, large things attached to the other creature's body.
'It must have some illness,' thought the mouse.
The seagull noticed the mouse staring at its wings and thought:
'Poor thing. It must have been attacked by monster that left it deaf and took away its wings.'
Feeling sorry for the mouse, the seagull picked it up in its beak and took it for a ride in the skies. 'It's probably homesick,' the seagull thought while they were flying. Then, very carefully, it deposited the mouse once more on the ground.
For some months afterwards, the mouse was sunk in gloom; it had known the heights and seen a vast and beautiful world. However, in time, it grew accustomed to being just a mouse again and came to believe that the miracle that had occurred in its life was nothing but a dream.
There are times when some incidences that happen to us, seem like a dream.
I was in love once, and she was someone I knew back in college. We spent the best of our times together… dating… loving… doing things that I am embarrassed to mention to my fellow nopkins. And we were in love. But it didn't work out.
Come to think about it, we were like the seagull and the mouse. We didn't understand each other. But she took me to heights unimaginable. She gave me life. We needed each other for the moment and as it passed we moved on our own way. But I was left like the mouse… with just the dream of the miracle, the magic that had happened in my life.
That magic moment is not there anymore. I have learned to live my life without any expectation of that kind of magic anymore. The magician is no longer there in my life, nor is the magic. It was a dream well dreamt.
There comes a time… when we heed a certain call
I used to remember these lyrics and sing it. My Value Education teacher used to make us sing to it in the class. He'd drum away on his guitar and we would bang the desks, shouting at the top of our voice. Of course we were in class VI. And he was our Principal.
But that was years ago, and we didn't know the meaning of the lyrics, just that it was a wonderful english song.
Then the earthquake happened. Bhutanese lost lives, lost properties, people became homeless. The newspapers couldn't do justice to the tragedy. There were just pictures and stories.
But for people who were in its midst, it was more than that… more than pictures… more than words. It was reality, stark naked.
They were our people, our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, our mothers, our sons, our daughters… our friends, our husbands, our wives. It was us, Bhutanese.
But the work is not done… there are still many healings to be done… spiritual healings. The physical wound can be healed quickly, but the spirits once hurt takes years to heal. We might not look each other eye to eye. But we are still human. When the situation demands we will come as one, as we have done so.
Today I remember the lyrics again, and think that it was an admonition….
P.S. I wrote it on 12.10.09 but found it today only.
“When we think about reincarnation, we always come across a very difficult question: if, in the beginning, there were so few people on the face of the Earth, and now there are so many, where did all those new souls come from?”
Thus writes Paulo Coelho, about Soulmates and Love in his Brida.
“The answer is simple. In certain reincarnations, we divide into two. Our souls divide as do crystals and stars, cells and plants. Our soul divides into two, and those new souls are in turn transformed into two and so, within a few generations, we are scattered over a large part of Earth.
“We form part of the Soul of the World. But the truth is if the Soul of the World was merely to keep dividing, it would keep growing, but it would also become gradually weaker. That is why, as well as dividing into two, we also find ourselves. And that process of finding ourselves is called Love. Because when a soul divides, it always divides into a male part and a female part. Human beings are all interlinked. In each life, we feel a mysterious obligation to find at least one of those Soulmates.
“But how will I know who my Soulmate is? By taking risks. By risking failures, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in the search for Love. As long as one keeps looking, one will always triumph in the end.
“Is it possible to meet more than one Soulmates in each life? Yes, It is. And when that happens, the heart is divided, and the result is pain and suffering. Yes, we can meet three or four Soulmates, because we are many and we are scattered.
“The essence of creation is one and one alone. And that essence is Love. Love is the force that brings us back together, in order to condense the experience dispersed in many lives and many parts of the world.
“We are responsible for the whole Earth because we do not know where they might be, those Soulmates we were from the beginning of time. If they are well then we, too, will be happy. If they are not well, we will suffer, however unconsciously, a portion of their pain. Above all, though, we are responsible for re-encountering, at least once in every incarnation, the Soulmate who is sure to cross our path. Even if it is only for a matter of moments, because those moments bring with them a Love so intense that it justifies the rest of our days.
“We can also allow our Soulmates to pass us by, without accepting him or her, or even noticing. Then we will need another incarnation in order to find that Soulmate. And because of our selfishness, we will be condemned to the worst torture humankind ever invented for itself: loneliness.”
Spygun’s note: I have found truth in his words… and I share this with you likeminded ones….
The year is 2002. We are in college. She is a senior while I am just a fresher. We meet during the dance practices. We are in the same House. At first there are just hellos and hi’s. But then we are partners in three dance items… so we practice together. We meet outside practice too, but we no longer talk about the show. We talk about other things. I find her interesting. She is quite a woman, while I am just a kid. I have many vices which she tolerates. I introduce her to all my group friends, and she likes them instantly. We have lunch together. We walk together around the campus.
Once she doesn’t come to college, and I am a bit disturbed. My friends notice it and leave me alone for the whole day. The next day she comes. I don’t say anything. I just… I am just happy that she is there. But my friends have noticed that I tend to be grumpy when she’s not by my side.
That evening I take her to my favorite place, a small hillock overlooking the countryside. She wants to know why we are here. I just tell her to wait… I tell her to watch. Then the magic happens. The setting sun throws its orange rays across the plain, over the hillock and baths us all in its light. Everything is lovely. This is my favorite time of the day, I say. I love sunsets. Suddenly she is leaning on me, and I can feel her eyes brimming with tears.
The sun is just an orange ball in the darkling sky… like a yolk which you could scoop with a spoon.
There, gazing at the setting sun I realize I am in love. But should I tell her? I cannot decide. All I know is I love her. I want to confide in my friends but I daren’t. They will certainly make fun of me. Ok, I will wait and ask. Maybe ask about her life.
So I do. She says that she has a boyfriend in
The news about us reaches
By the end of the term she is gone. And I am alone… wiser and alone.
It takes me a long time to forget her. I try to get into other relationships but her face always pops up… I compare the other girls to her, and they all fail.
This summer I was in
Then the clouds waged war against the sun and it started to drizzle. Cursing the rain I ducked into the nearest shop which turned out to be a cloth shop (the general kind). Feigning interest in some jeans I was waiting for the rain to stop, when I thought I heard someone call out “Dawa”. Now normally only my parents, my kith & kins, and a few special friends call me Dawa. The others just call me by my real name. (As you might have guessed… yes, my real name is NOT Dawa). So I just ignored it, for there must be other Dawas there in that shop. But the next instant someone nudged me at the shoulder. “Dawa?” a voice said softly from behind.
I froze. I knew that voice. Why wouldn’t I? I had loved that voice. I had loved the face behind that voice. I had loved the heart behind that voice. Yes…loved.
I willed myself to turn around. Yes… it was she… same as always. Seven years of separation hadn’t affected her. Instead she had grown more beautiful. She had always been beautiful, but the person I saw today… was more.
“Hi…” I stammered… I didn’t look her in the eyes. Instead my eyes were drawn to the young girl she was holding the hand of. She was the prettiest girl I had laid my eyes on for a long time. “Is she…?” I asked.
“Yes… she’s my Chèchè Dawa Dem…she’s in class two…”
“You named her Dawa?… Dawa is a good name for a girl” I commented.
We were silent for some time. Somebody was haggling over the price of a shirt. Then the drizzling stopped, and we went outside on the busy sidewalk.
“Are you working here too? I heard you were in Samdrup Jongkhar” she asked.
“Yes I’m in SJ. I’m just here for a workshop … How are you doing?”
“I’m good. You?” she countered.
“I’m good too… just shopping for some things to take back home”.
“How’s your family?”
“They’re fine” I lied. I didn’t tell her that I was still single. How could I tell her that I had given up the idea of marriage? Why should I ask for her sympathy? Or should I?
“So… how is Dorji?” He was guy she had left me for.
“Mummy… who’s he?” her Chèchè pulled her.
“Chèchè, he’s you uncle Dawa… your daddy’s best friend”.
Yes, I chuckled inside. Your daddy and me… we were the best of friends. Why are you lying to your child? Don’t lie. Tell her the truth, I wanted to say. But I didn’t.
That was the night when we had our first informal gathering in my home. There were Bejs, Kinchuks, SB, RWangdi and Wandi. Then there were also Pokchi and Dolly, two female bachelorettes who had joined in our office recently. Bejs and I were bachelors so we had no qualms about having such gathering in our homes, and today’s ad hoc session was in mine.
We had been to a dinner session somewhere and we were returning home, and since the dinner had been dry we were all thirsty. So I suggested we have a drinking session at my place. I had brought some stocks for such occasion. They readily agreed so we went to my place. At around 8:30pm we reached my place. We started with the drinks as soon as we reached there. The two females and Wandi were having SPY while SB was into 11000. The rest of us opened a bottle of Highland. We joked, drank, talked, laughed… in a sense it was a pretty good gathering. Then the drinks started getting in our systems. The SPYs were fast disappearing from our stock, so were the 11000s. But we still had two unopened bottled of tie-wala.
Soon the jokes started turning vulgar with Kinchuks contributing a major share. The two ladies were not the ones to give up as they too had their share of dirty-jokes. There were jokes, like that of hum-jaiga running after a DCM full of his maal, or of J-guto not being written properly.
Then I put on the music, starting with Himesh’s Tandoori Night. We pushed the tables and chairs to the side and started our dancing session. Music followed by music, fueled with drinks… with Bejs shouting his lungs off. Wandi left. Pokchi and Dolly were invited to dance again and again, and there were laughter and fun. Mobile cameras came into work, with some making videos. We were enjoying our ass off, unconcerned of what our neighbors might think.
Suddenly there was an urgent knock on the door. It was DS, my neighbor who had come to check on what was happening. He said the time was 1am, and it was. We were of the thought that it might be around 10. We decided to stop, because most of us couldn’t even open our eyes properly.
SB promptly went home and so did RWangdi. Bejs was in the toilet, his pants around his ankles. He had puked all over the floor and he was bowed down over the seat. I pulled the door from the outside and let him be.
Kinchuks and I opened the last bottle of tie-wala of the night and helped ourselves. We smoked while the two females busied themselves in front of the computer, surfing through my music collection. Then Kinchuks wife called on his cell because RWangdi had reached home and he was not with him. They are neighbors. He left.
Now, there was me and Bejs, and the two of them. Bejs was out in the toilet while I myself was nearly out. I offered to reach the two ladies home (they were staying at Bejs’ place temporarily), but they declined. They were afraid, so they said they would sleep here, if I didn’t mind. Why would I mind? I gave them mecha, they wanted to sleep in the sitting-room. Then I went to check on Bejs. He mumbled something about Pokchi and Dolly… I said they were fine. I went back to my drinking and I was just lighting a smoke when Pokchi asked for one. I was shocked. I thought they were only into light drinks… but Pokchi smoked too. “Don’t tell my brother… he’ll kill me”. Her brother and I had been mates in Jigsher.
I was too out to care. I passed out on the sofa.
I felt uncomfortable and woke up sometime in the night. I had a blanket thrown over me. On the floor were Pokchi and Dolly. I remembered and went to check on Bejs… he was occupying my bed. I came back and slept on the sofa.
I had a splitting headache in the morning. The time was 10am, and I was thirsty like hell. Bejs was still asleep, while the two ladies were not there. They had already left.
Luckily it was Sunday, so I had a drink of water and went back to sleep. I woke up later at 2pm.
A Ngalop father was teaching his son, the English alphabet. He started with the capital letters first and then continued with the small letters;
A B C D E F … upto Z, and
a b c d e f … upto z.
The next day the father asked his son to write down the alphabets. The intelligent son wrote down the capital letters first and then continued with the small letters.
A B C D E F… the son wrote upto Z, and
a b c d e f… he had reached ‘m’ when his father hit him on the head with his bare knuckles. When the son looked questioningly at the father, the father demanded “Choegi j-guto kaley?”
“Wha…t???” the son was dumbstruck. “What is my father talking about?” he thought.
“Choegi j-gi guto kale, sey?” the father was pointing to his small letter ‘j’.
In his haste the son had forgotten to put the dot over the alphabet ‘j’.
The evening was cold. The promise of snow was looming in the air and the heavy smoke from the countless bukharis gave Bumthang an eerie atmosphere.
The Dawa Transport screamed to a halt in front of Sonam Hotel in the cold dusk. The passengers, all buried under thick clothes, looked tired and hungry. Who wouldn’t be? They had been cramped inside the cold bus for the whole day, and on crossing Thrimshingla, had even caught a snowfall.
Slowly, reluctant to leave their warm seats, the passengers disembarked off the bus and hurried to the safety of the hotels; some to Sonam Hotel, other to others. Aum Sonam, the owner was waiting with flasks full of steaming suja. And, she had also prepared a large pot of bathu, just in case.
“Brrr…it is COLD!” remarked Karma to nobody in particular as he entered through the door. He straightaway moved towards the bukhari, where some women were warming themselves. He edged himself near a young woman with a baby in her lap, whom he had seen on the bus some six rows ahead of him. He noticed that she looked young, maybe 17 or 18… but her face bore the marks of motherhood. He offered her a smile which she returned in kind. Karma’s heart fluttered and he blushed, as sudden lust took hold of him. But he managed to keep a straight face.
“Aunty… can I have a bowl of bathu?” Karma asked of aum Sonam, who went into the kitchen to comply.
Opposite to Karma, a gyelong sat, sipping something from a cup, which he assumed to be suja. Suddenly the baby started to cry, and the young woman nursed the baby. Karma could see the lust in the gyeong’s eyes as he espied her pale breasts. The baby suckled for sometime, while Karma’s bathu arrived.
As he put a spoonful to his lips, it was scalding hot. “Dha…” he cursed, unmindful of the others in the room. His cursing awoke the child, who started crying again.
“Yalaa… sorry” he apologized to the mother.
She smiled at him but said nothing. Then the driver of the bus joined them. He was an elderly man, pot-bellied with a hint of yesterday’s stubble on his chin. He was followed by his helper, the khalasi.
“Your child must be cold, that’s why she is crying”, the driver remarked. The mother smiled and looked at the child fondly. The khalas also saw the gyelong gazing at the woman and nudged the driver.
“Wai, lopen gyelong! Your eyes might fall out of their sockets” commented the driver, to which the gyelong scowled. Meanwhile Karma had finished his bathu and joined in his conversations.
“How many of you want rooms?” aum Sonam shouted across the room towards the bukhari. The driver and his helper asked for one, so did Karma. But the woman did not. The gyelong was silent.
After some time, Karma left the comfort of the bukhari and collecting his room key went to his room which was located upstairs. He refreshed himself, and exited the room only to bump in the woman in the corridor. She was full of tears.
“What happened?” he inquired.
“That gyelong and the driver were teasing me, so I left” she replied. As it was chilly in the corridor he invited her inside his room and asked whether she had booked a room in this hotel or not.
“No, I haven’t”.
“Then where are you staying?”
She didn’t reply. Her neck bowed, she was silently weeping.
“Tell me… Is there any problem?” he asked her softly.
“My husband… I ran… I ran away from my husband… he used to beat me a lot. He works in
Karma didn’t know what to say. He also didn’t have money to spare because he was working just as a temporary staff in THPA. He was returning home to visit his ailing mother.
“You can stay in this room” he offered. When she looked quizzed at him, he added, “You can take the bed. I will sleep on the floor”.
She cried further but silently because her baby was sleeping.
He offered to go downstairs to bring something to eat. As he entered the bar he saw the gyelong deep in conversation with a woman. He was offering her beer, while he drank from a cup. The driver was nowhere to be seen but his helper was still beside the bukhari. He was teasing an elderly lady, passing crude jokes and lewd remarks which she seemed to be enjoying.
Karma ordered dinner and said he would take it later in his room. He didn’t say anything about the woman in his room. Next he went outside and bought some chugo. He even went to a medical shop and got some condoms.
When he returned back to the hotel, the gyelong was leaving, accompanied by the woman he was drinking with. On an impulse he went to the table where the gyelong had sat lately and sniffed his cup. It reeked of ara.
“Gyelong tramaship!” he muttered under his breath.
He carried his dinner himself with the pretext to eat in his room, but as he reached the landing, he saw that his door was ajar. The woman and the baby were nowhere to be seen. Nor were his bags there.
He returned back to the counter to complain to aum Sonam but she was deep in a lively laugh with the driver.
“Wai… Jinda Aum. My bags have been stolen from the room by the woman with the baby.”
“Which one? The one who sat with you beside the bukhari?” the driver asked.
“I thought she was with you, because she asked for your room number, and she implied that she was your wife” aum Sonam said.
“How did she get inside your room?” the driver asked to which Karma replied impatiently, “Never mind how she got in. She has disappeared with my bags…” The driver and aum Sonam passed a knowing look between them.
“What can I do? All my money is in that bag” Karma lamented.
“She must have used the back door to flee” aum Sonam suggested, not the least concerned.
Then they resumed their teasing, while Karma looked around angrily. And helplessly.
Why do I always shy away from marriage? Why am I afraid of it? My first 'engagement' didn't work out because I literally 'ran away' from it… because I was afraid of marriage. Yesterday my present girlfriend mentioned wanting to come to my place and stay with me… in the sense that we should get married. And I was reminded of the previous incident where I had run off. I wanted to run off. It is not that I don't love her… I do… but marriage? I am afraid of it. I believe everything has its own place and time and enforcing something if the time isn't right will produce disastrous results. But when is the right time? Now isn't, for sure because I can feel it. How should I explain it to her? She thinks I am trying to go away from her because I don't love her.
A beauty stands beside the road,
As Ugyel and I are coming.
Eyes of angel, hair jet black
Caressing those fair cheeks,
Swished gently in the breeze.
“Stop!” I say to Ugyel, “Stop,
Let me admire this beautiful girl.”
We being in speed, the car screams past,
He applies the brakes, it holds fast,
And we stop some distance by.
A look in the mirror, “ I know her,”
Says Ugyel, “She’s my neighbor.”
“A neighbor so beautiful” I remark.
“Spring’s blossoms,” he says,
“Never eternal are they – never perennial.”
Two beautiful girls sat beside the road, watching us pass by.
We stop, and stare at their beauty.
Spring’s blossoms… never eternal is their beauty.