Articles by: cheche
Bus journeys are sometimes pleasant sometimes annoying. It is annoying when there is someone sitting right in front or next to you who vomits non-stop through the window. The strong passing wind outside the window brings back droplets of that vomit back inside the bus from the other window and lands on your face. It is also annoying when somebody smokes Biri and would not listen to other passengers request to stop. There is a sign inside the bus that says “NO Smoking” but nobody pays heed. The Driver doesn’t say anything and he does not want to get involved in a ugly scene with the aggressive passenger. “It is not your money” he says. I am using my own money to buy my Biri. Nobody has the right to tell me anything”. Tsk Tsk….I could only grimace with lack of civic sense and concern for fellow travellers.
However, it is also interesting when there are humorous people and your journey ends before you notice it. One time there was an elderly woman who was wearing an Anim dress (Red Bego). She was narrating incidents about how easily she delivered her babies. An Anim delivering babies? I was surprised but then maybe she turned to nunhood later on. Her chirpy chatter throughout the journey fascinated the men in the bus. There were some women who could only smile at her narrations and I was one of them. Some others including men laughed loudly.
According to her story, she delivered eight babies without anybody’s help. “Women nowadays are full of complaints,” she says. During her time, there were no Doctors, Nurses and she delivered all her babies at home while the others in her house were at work. The woman said that as her due date came closer, she would stock a couple of bottles filled with the strongest Ara. As soon as her labour pain started, she gulped down a couple of cups of Ara and that eased her pain a little. As the pain grew worse, she hung a rope near her bed, threw down some more cups of Ara, which numbed the pain and pulled on the rope for support. By the time other family members came back from work, she had delivered the baby, cut the umbilical cord, washed the baby and washed herself, melted a cup of butter for strength and would be ready to feed the baby. What a woman she was. She looked in her late 60s and yet still looked strong. I wish delivering babies was that simple and easy.
Once there was an Astrologer (Tsip), who could predict the causes of any illness simply by playing with a small amount of sawdust. This sawdust was placed over a small rectangular wooden block that was carved inside and protected the sawdust from spilling over the sides. This process was and is known as (Sari Jurni) and I do not know if there is an English word for it. To come to the point, the Astrologer’s speciality was predicting the day a person was most likely to die. Because of his accuracy, people flocked to him and everyone wanted to know when they were going to die. Some wanted to know because they had dreams to fulfil, some to distribute their wealth, some because they had unfinished business to settle and so on. So he played with his sawdust day after day and predicted the last days of his clients. For some he predicted few days, for some few months, for some many years and this way he made a comfortable living out of his profession.
This went on for many years until one day he thought to himself ‘All these years I have spent my time predicting when others were going to die but I never thought of myself. Today I must sit down and check when my last day is going to be’. So he pulled his wooden block, opened it and picked up the metal pin used to move the sawdust around and looked into his own future. To his astonishment, he found out that the day after tomorrow was the last day of his life on earth. Deeply worried, anxious and with blood pounding in his head he played around further to find out what will lead to his end. The result from the wooden block stared back at him; he will simply die by a Tsoencha (anything made of metal). Shocked and depressed, he decided to avoid dying by making his own plans. He did not inform anyone of his family members but two days passed so quickly and the day of doom dawned on him so fast. He told his family that he was going to spend a quiet time inside his room and asked not to be disturbed by anyone. He removed any piece of metal items he found in his room, locked his room from inside, sat near the window on a cushion and then started playing with his wooden block once again.
The more he played around the faster the result repeated itself. The sawdust showed that he was going to die any moment and kept repeating ‘now! now! now!’. However, he thought to himself ‘I have removed every metal piece from the room, how is it going to be possible’. As the thought passed from his mind, one of his ears began to itch intolerably. Unknowingly, he slowly raised his hand with the pin to his ear to scratch it. As the pleasure of erasing the itch died down, a strong wind started blowing suddenly. With sheer force, the wind blew in the window where the astrologer was sitting. The window broke off from its base and hit the Astrologer right on his elbow where his fingers were fiddling with his ear. The broken window as it hit his arm, and then embedded the pin deep into his ear and the Astrologer died instantly. Sadly, the Astrologer had forgotten that the very piece of pin he used to move around the sawdust was made of metal.
A government official once along with a few members of his staff embarked on a tour to a village. The village head was informed before hand and he knew the officials were paying a visit to his Gewog. Some men were sent to receive them and guide the way to the village. The group was duly received and some of the hosts offered to carry their bags and started walking towards the village.
As they climbed up following a mule track (this was a better road than the short cut the villagers usually followed), a small boy came running down towards the group walking up. The boy had no shoes, was dressed in a torn Gho and had snort running down his nose some of which had been brushed all over his face with his sleeves. The boy was such a sight to behold that prompted the official to remark ‘ Khaiiiii Alu Dhongya Pchagi Dhong Zumbe, Gagi Alu Inna Mo’ (translated as ‘Yuks, this monkey faced child, I wonder whose child is he’). The villager who was carrying the official’s bag beside him quietly said ‘Ngigi Alu inn la’ (He is my child, sir).
The officer was so embarrassed but quickly picked up his wits and said ‘Wai tayi tayi ra dhi lebey sa’ (the more you look at him, the better looking he appears to be).
A hunter once went on a hunting trip to the deeper part of a forest away from his usual hunting ground. Hunting was a way of bringing home his bacon for the family. On that day, he prepared his equipments. He brought out his bamboo quiver, took out a dozen arrows, checked if they were all right and dipped the tips in solution of poisonous herbs. He packed a larger lunch than usual as his planned trip was further away than his normal routine. He wrapped his lunch in a dirty square piece of cloth and confined it at the back of his Gho. He then picked up his bamboo bow, slung it over his shoulder, hung the quiver with arrows across his upper body, rolled up the dirty sleeves of his Gho, wore his worn out cow-hide shoes and embarked on his day’s journey. His equipments and lunch were not the only things that he had to carry. He had developed a huge goitre that hung from his throat, which slowed down his movements.
The day turned out to be a bad one for the hunter. He could not find any animal that was worth taking home. As he ventured deeper and deeper into the forest, he lost track of time. He eventually realised that dusk had fallen and there was no way he would find his way back into the forest in the darkness. He decided to seek refuge in the forest for the night. He looked around in the dim light of the falling darkness and found a huge towering tree. He sat under it, took out all his equipments, lay down under the tree, prostrated three times and prayed to the tree. He said to the tree ‘Please let met take refuge under you tonight. And please protect me from all harms that might befall me at night’. He then said his prayers, ate a little bit of the lunch left over, used the quiver as his pillow and went to sleep.
It must have been around the middle of the night or a little after that, a time people believed ghosts glided around and the evil spirits roamed around for tortured souls. The hunter woke up with a fright, awakened by a far away voice, spoken from the other side of the valley, followed by a long shrill whistle. The voice was clearly addressing someone on the hunter’s side where he was sleeping. All the senses and instinct in the hunter told him that something frightening was going to take place. He shut his eyes tightly and listened. ‘Oooouuuuu’ said the voice from the other side. ‘Why are you late today, it is our hunting time and we have to go and hunt for meat tonight’ continued the voice. A few seconds later, another voice spoke from the top of the tree the hunter was seeking refuge in. ‘Oooouuuuuu’ answered someone from the treetop. ‘I cannot go out tonight. I have a guest and he had requested me to look after him. However, I see that he has some extra flesh hanging from his throat. I can pluck that off and contribute it as my share of meat for our group’. The conversation by unknown voices made the hunter shiver with panic and sweat and his hair stood on its end. He thought that the night was his end of his life and cursed himself for wandering away and choosing a wrong place to stay. However, after a few moments of pin drop silence, he felt light headed and found that he could move his neck without effort.
The hunter got up early in the morning and found that his goitre was gone. He thanked the tree for looking after him and went home happily without any prey but minus his goitre. He narrated his story to his family and the soon the story went around the village. Another neighbour who had too had a goitre as big as the hunter’s old goitre decided to take the hunter’s path to get rid of his goitre too. He sat down under the same tree, prayed exactly like the hunter and went to sleep. True enough, sometime in the night he heard the same conversation as narrated by the hunter. Though terribly frightened out of his wits, he reassured himself that nothing bad will happen to him and kept his calm. The voice at the top of the tree expressed his inability to go out as he had to protect someone sleeping under the tree but said he could contribute his share of meat as this guest also had a similar extra flesh like that of the previous one. However, the voice from the other side rang out ‘we do not want your meat tonight because it is not tasty. The last one was very sour and we could not eat it, so we are giving that back to you’. There was an eerie silence and after a few moments, the neighbour felt something even heavier pulling at his neck. He realised that instead of his usual goitre, he found another one attached to it and now had two goitres hanging from his throat. The unhappy neighbour dragged his feet back to the village never to imitate someone else again.
Agay Gembo was a farmer cum Gomchen who made his living from his small farm, occasionally supplemented his income by reading religious scriptures around the village. He lived with his sixty-year-old wife and was younger to him by five years.
One of his sons left home to be married into a neighbouring household and the other son found employment somewhere in the city. The son in the neighbourhood sometimes dropped in to see if the parents needed anything and sometimes to check on their health. The city son occasionally sent them some money.
Agay Gembo’s life was at a peaceful stage where he had nothing to worry about but work on his field and read scriptures whenever he had spare time. It was nothing surprising that Agay Gembo some times came home drunk. A day of scripture reading ended with home brewed egg fried Ara. Agay Gembo could not help himself but fall in to the temptation of the thick yellow blanket of butter floating over a hot pot of Ara. But whatever his state of mind, he never forgot his Angay back at home and always brought home something from his day out. Sometimes, it was left over food and special meat curry packed in his Bangchung. It did not matter if it was left over because it saved his Angay from the boring daily ritual of cooking her dinner.
One day, Agay Gembo was once again called to read scriptures by a friend. His Angay as usual waited for Agay to come back at the end of the day without cooking her dinner. Darkness fell and there was no sign of Agay. Tired of waiting, Angay went to sleep without eating anything. Agay Gembo had consumed too much Ara and for once, he forgot to pack anything for his Angay. He reached home and found his Angay fast asleep. He staggered around and felt a sudden urge to vomit. The state he was in did not allow him to think properly. So he grabbed the nearest container that he could find and vomited in it and went to sleep without undressing.
Early morning, Angay got up and was not surprised when she found a pot of porridge lying near the home built oven. Agay always brought her something and this time for a change, she thought he brought her some Thup. She put the pot on the oven, heated it and had just finished it when Agay woke up. ‘That was a delicious’ Angay told him. ‘What was delicious’ Agay asked. The ‘Thup you brought for me yesterday’ Angay replied. ‘I do not remember bringing anything yesterday’ Agay said. Apparently it turned out that the pot had been left by Angay to heat up anything Agay brought and Agay happened to vomit in the same pot.
Many of us are in awe of people who can create magic very successfully in entertainment arenas. But what is magic? Is it the speed of the performer who can perform tricks at lightning speed? Or is it real hypnotism? Whatever it is, it is an art. An art like any other art that needs patience and dedication to learn. For those who are literate and have seen the world, they can relate to magic as tricks and not hypnotism. What do the illiterates who are confined to the four corners of their village besides their occasional trips to Sunday market think of magic? The answer can be found in this popular story of magic that is told in the village by elders to their eager story hungry children.
Popular trade in olden days was going on a trip to Phari (probably known as Pasakha now). Villagers took eggs, Yuera (made from stinging nettle) materials and whatever exchangeable items they could find and walked all the way to Phari halting number of nights on the way. I heard of elders sending dozens of eggs (known as Zungchoe) to get their supply of Dhoma stock. There was no money so all the villagers could do was engage into barter system. How do they carry eggs for long distances? Our elders had their own ingenious way of transporting eggs. They simply stuffed eggs in between containers filled with rice husk.
Anyway to get to the point, four men got together to go on a trip to Phari. On one of their night halts, they picked a comfortable area that lay close by a small village. They camped for the night, took out their ration and started preparing dinner. As they were preparing Ezzey (pickle), one of them remarked how delicious the Ezzey would be if they could get some fresh spring onions and coriander leaves. Another replied it would be an easy task to get some. ‘Where are you going to get it from’ another asked. ‘Don’t ask where I will get it from but I can’, he replied. Finally, all four of them got into an intense argument with three of them on one side and one of them on the other side. Three of them arguing there was no way to get spring onions and coriander leaves from whereas the lone man argued he could get some. ‘Let us bet on it’ said the lone man. ‘OK’ agreed the other three. ‘If you can get some for our Ezzey tonight, then you will be relieved of all cooking work until we get back home, if not, then you will have to do the cooking for the entire trip’. ‘Done’ agreed the lone man. They could not bet on their supplies or Betrangs (copper coins) as these things were too precious to be betted on. Three of them sat around the fire and the lone man climbed started climbing a tall tree in front of them. In about five minutes, the man returned with a fresh bunch of onions and coriander in his hands. Three of them lost the bet, enjoyed the Ezzey and called it a Migthruel (hypnotism).
Meanwhile, a passerby who was watching the scene saw one of the men get up quietly, run into a garden in the small village, and rush back with some greens in his hand. He had actually trespassed into some private kitchen garden and stolen some herbs. The explanation offered for this trick by the elders is that the lone man actually knew some magic and that feat was performed using hypnotism. Hypnotism worked only within a certain range and circle. In this case, the three men were obviously within the range of the lone man’s hypnotism effect and the passerby was out of the range.
(This is a story I wrote for kuzuzangpo two years ago. Those of you who have not read it can read it here)
College life was fun compared to the eight period daily classes of schooling period. We had limited subjects and could get away with one or two courses in a day. Even that was too much for some lazy lethargic souls. If the lecturer was late for class, we would gather around our desks for juicy gossips and talk about interesting happenings around the college campus. It was during one of the classes where the Lecturer had been late again for classes that some boys and girls gathered around to talk about the boys’ rendezvous the night before. With all respect to my friends, I will be discreet with their names but this is too funny to be missed and I am narrating the incident as had been told to me.
It was the night before that two of our friends have gone for night hunting towards Yongphula in one of the village houses. They had spotted a light burning inside through the window and had waited outside for the light to be put off. They had confirmed the presence of a girl in the house some days before and had managed to extract some information about her sleeping place which was near the window. The two waited for two or more hours and they could see the candle still burning. It was past midnight and the light kept on burning. No longer able to contain their patience, one of them leaned against the wall and supported his other friend on his shoulders to peep through the window to see what was going inside. With a frightful look on his face, the friend jumped from his shoulder and began running downhill in the cold moonlit night as fast as his legs could carry without saying a word. The other guy raced behind him, panting and asking what had happened. His friend kept on running and could not give him any answer until they both ran out of breath and had reached the main road from the shortcut. There they sat on the road and the friend was finally able to say what he saw. The light that had been burning the whole night had been a butter lamp lit near a dead body that was placed by the window. If the light had not been there, one of the boys sure would have got inside the white sheet of the cold body.
The incident made them keep their heads firmly on their shoulders for some months and gave us a hearty laugh. What a cold hairy experience that was.
(This could be a story heard by many but I am reproducing here for the sake of our younger readers and also for fun)
Ap Wangdrugyel once went to Trashi cho-dzong to watch Tshechu. In the evening he had to walk back all the way to Wangsisina through a forest. It was not the building filled, treeless Thimphu we see today. Besides his humorous and malicious intellect, he was scared to be walking alone through the wild animal, ghost infested way. He struck upon a plan to get some company.
Ap Wangdrugyel had a new Bura Kabney. He fixed one edge to his shoulder with a pin and let the rest fall all around him in a haphazard way throwiing the impression that he was drunk and the kabney would fall to the ground any moment. Then he passed by a couple of young men in a drunken walk. Seeing his condtion, the young fellas followed him with the intention of making off with the bura kapney the minute it falls to the ground.
Ap Wangdrugyel continued his unstable walk through the forest resting in between and glancing slyly back to see if his companies were still with him. As soon as he reached the vicinity of his house, he stood upright , flicked his kabney around and went off saying
'Che Dhoubutsu Dre inn ru, Nga Wangdrugyel Lengo men'
An asian goes to USA for pleasure. At the exchange counter, he changes some of his local currency into dollars and gets a good exchange rate. Next day he runs out of money and goes back to the same counter to change some more money. This time he gets a little less than what he got the day before. So he complains to the man behind the counter and says 'I got more money yesterday, why less today?'.
The American replies' It is because of 'Fluctuation'
The asian shot back: F**k you Americans too.
Ap Dorji is a simple man who take pleasures in simple things in life. A small gift would make him very happy. For him happiness lay not in Prados and Buildings but being able to accomplish fulfilling his minor desires. Besides being simple, Ap Dorji sometimes felt the urge to show off his happiness. This day is such a day in his life. The desire to show off a new flowery underwear he bought. He decided a wider audience who would appreciate his undy would make him happier. Being a humorous man, he felt no shame in tying a doti around his waist and going off to watch a football match.
Out in the field, he cheered for both the teams. Any goal that was delivered, Ap Dorji immedialety took off his Doti and started waving from the crowd to show his support. After the match, satisfied that everybody looked at him when he waved his Doti, he returned home a happy man. He managed to show off his flowery Underwear to the crowds.
As he lay down on his bed, a silly grin on his face he looked up the bed post. And there hung his flowery underwear. No wonder everybody gaped and whistled at him whenever he took off his Doti.
He was all alone in the middle of the forest and he looked around him to see that there was any danger from wild animals. He raised his patang high up and started cutting down a bamboo tree. As soon as he struck at the bamboo, he heard a sharp whistle from nearby. With pounding heart, he looked around and saw no one. He calmed himself and then raised his hand to strike two consecutive blows to the bamboo when he suddenly heard two sharp consecutive whistles nearby.
He turned around wildly, raised his patang high above. hair raised on its end and ran back to his house as fast as his legs could carry him. Reaching the door step, he looked back to see if anyone was following him. He saw no one. Then he sat down on his door step and took a deep long breath when he heard a long soft whistle nearby again.
It was only then that he realised his nose was blocked and the whistle had come from his nose.
This is the true incident of a Lhakhang Desecrator who was caught, did his time and was released but later talked about it because the circumstances that he was in then, brought about a positive change in him afterwards.
Ap Phuentsho (name changed) had been hard up for money for the past couple of years. He had been planning to upgrade his hut to a mud-pounded house but he had been lacking in capital. He remembered a Lhakhang that was 30 minutes walk from his house and that was hardly guarded at night. The caretaker slept behind the Lhakhang and no one would think of any burglars lurking by because the Lhakang had never been broken into since anyone can remember. There were only the dogs to take care of who fed on the left over from the offerings. For this, he had a simple method. He took pieces of meat to calm them down and they would not bark on him so much as he had already mingled with them off and on while he made casual trips to study possible discreet entrance into the Lhakhang. Another reason for his visits was to check the location of valuables inside.
He had particularly noticed a statue of a Goddess with a string of Dzis and corals around her neck. He would only have to lift the glass window a bit and then pull the string. The corals and Dzis would come rolling down in front. All he had to do was pick them up, put in his bag and mysteriously disappear.
He decided upon a moonless night. It was cold but his mission made him nervous and he was sweating. He could hear the far away barking noise of the dogs as he walked nearer and nearer his goal. True enough, the dogs met him at the outer gate of the Lhakhang. He fed them pieces of meat he brought with him, whispered to them softly and all was quiet again. He climbed in through the marked door. He had to use his dagger to play with the bolts for a while and then he was safely inside. He tip toed fast and softly, lifted the glass window, and pulled at the string of precious stones. Strangely enough, the string would not break at all. He left his mission for a while, prostrated in front of the statue three times and begged her to give him at least one of the stones. "You have many" he prayed, "Can I have at least one". Then he tried pulling the string once again. To his surprise, the string broke but by some miracle, all the Dzis and corals broke loose from the string and went sliding down behind the statue. However, one three eyed Dzi which had a small mark on it came rolling down in front of Ap Phuentsho. Time was running out, he had no option but to pick up what he got and made a swift exit after thanking the statue.
Ap Phuentso would have got away had it not been for the big mouth friend of his who had been sworn to secrecy. By the time Ap Phuentsho found a middle man who tried to find a buyer for the Dzi, the story had reached the ears of the authorities through his friend. As Ap Phuentsho was arrested, he felt a hardening animosity for his friend who had promised to keep his mouth shut. There was only one way to pay him back. Ap Phuentsho implicated his friend as a partner in crime and both of them were arrested. The friend had to serve a certain term of prison sentence as Ap Phuentsho refused to clear his name. He must have desperately regretted the breach of secrecy especially in the confession room at the police station. God knows what happens there.