Sunday, September 28, 2014

Seven Years in Bajothang

September 25, 2014 was officially my last day in Bajothang. This day was never in my plan. Infact I didn't have a plan beyond Bajothang. This just happened suddenly. I wouldn't have left this place for anything, but sometimes we have to make important choices, choices that are more than places and people, choices that are dream come true.
The Last Shot of the Beautiful Place I am leaving behind
I never thought I would spend seven years away from home, and gradually begin to call that strange place my new home but I think Bajothang was written in my destiny. Perhaps it was written for seven years. The seven defining years- the seven years that made me a happy teacher, husband, and father.

Seven years was a lot of time. So many things changed in these many years. First 3 batches of my students would already be in jobs and have started families. People came and went, I am among the few who came and stayed. Seven Years have passed thus. And now is the time.

Tomorrow I will pack my bags for Paro. That's another place away from home yet Paro has always been home. I began my school in Paro and finished my college from Paro and the seventeen years inbetween were spent in that beautiful valley. I am returning home. I am returning to my educational home to be student again, for two more years, to reshape the teacher that I am.

Counting the last days in Bajothang, settling things, meeting people, and attending farewell dinners, I realize I have earned the friendship of best of people in the town, yet because of my activist's activities I am told that there are some people whom I have disappointed, but I am hopeful that someday they will come to love me when they understand what I was trying to do to this place. It was never personal, and when they realize that they will hopefully begin to appreciate what I did. In seven years I dreamt to fix everything in Bajothang but as I pack my bag I can see that I couldn't turn a stone. So next time I must dream twice.

I hope I will find time to return to this place and finish two last projects I have begun here: The Museum in the School and Book Cafe in the town.
Rushing up to meet my personal deadline 
Finishing Touch to the center piece...

It's Almost Ready. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?


People are closing the chapter on the Suicide too soon, yet again, as expected. It's just a few of us who thought things will change forever, that the death of two young people hanging by one tree would awaken the country to the grave reality of suicide. Are you going to wait till someone hangs on the tree at your gate? Or will it take someone to hang on your bedroom fan to make it matter to you personally?

Suicide is a very fragile subject, which is differently understood by different people: Some think it's brave act to face one's death, while other say that someone who can't face life's problem is a coward. Some explain how it's an unchangeable fate, while others believe it's impetuous stunt to prove a point.

1957 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Albert Camus makes it sound so simple when he says, “Should I kill myself, or have a cup of coffee?” Suicides are generally driven by simple problems that could be solved easily over a cup of coffee, if only we could hold on for that long, because it seems that for the victims there is no bigger problem at that point in time. That's why we need to discuss it, and make professional help easily accessible to people in problem. 


March 10, 1997: It was the reporting date for class VIII students in Paro Gaupay. Class VII students were announced to report after Paro Tshechu. I didn't receive my result sheet, which was to be delivered by post in January. However, nobody really bothered about my missing result because they knew I was the best. I had the reputation of being 'the boy who never failed' both at home and in the village. So they packed my bags and sent me on March 10.

My uncle was an army officer and he sent me in an Army DCM truck with several children from army camp. Those kids had received their results and their seat in class VIII were confirmed while I was to visit the headmaster and get my result first.

The driver uncle accompanied me to the headmaster's office, he looked confident because he heard from my uncle about how good I was. The headmaster knew me well because of the several visits I paid to his office the last year, and he was so pleased to hand over the result without even punishing me for not having submitted postal address like other kids. I have failed in three subjects. Headmaster told driver uncle to take me back home and send me after tshechu holidays, because that's when class VII students should report.

I turned numb with shame and guilt. I was scared. The army driver who heard so much about me from my uncle was thoroughly confused. He reloaded my bags into the DCM and asked me to join him in the front of the truck. I refused his offer and climbed on the back of the truck, where I was alone now because all the other children had passed and were staying back.

Then as we began our journey back to Dechencholing my fear began to escalate. I couldn't imagine facing the crowd at home. I feared my uncle even in normal times. That's when I decided to jump of the moving truck. I thought to myself- what would they do if I died? Would they forgive me? What if I got seriously injured? Would they forgive me? Hundreds of thoughts asking each other questions and making answers.

I still get cold feet when I think of that moment, that delicate moment when I was ready to jump. Then I sat down and calculated what would happen in the worse case scenario? How much will they scold me or beat me? By tomorrow morning won't everything be over? That decision I took that day, with half my body hanging from a moving truck was the best I took. I thank that 13 year old me for saving me.

We reached home at dinner time. The army driver knocked on the door, and upon calling he went in and gave a loud salute to my uncle, who was having dinner with houseful of family members - we usually have no less than 15 people seated at a meal.

"So you are back from Paro?" Asked my uncle,
"Yes Dasho" Army driver replied. I could hear the beat of my heart in my mouth.

"Did you reach my boy to his school?"

"No Dasho, I brought him back."

"Why?"
"He has failed, and Headmaster told him to come after Paro Tshechu."
All 15 people in the house laughed long and loud, and amidst their laughter I made my entry with a timid smile. They laughed more. And I laughed too. Someone went to pick my plate and I joined them. Nobody even scolded me.

The fear, shame and guilt were my own construction for which I nearly jumped of the truck. Over the funny dinner I thought what would have happened to this wonderful dinner if I had jumped.


After that year I never looked back. I rebuilt my "the boy who never failed" reputation at home and in village. Became the first boy from my village to qualify from class X, and from XII. Got degree, became a happy teacher and lived to write this post.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Muscles, Before They Disappear

Four months ago I took a daring decision to join gym, despite being a financially challenged teacher, because I realized that I was pampering my body and letting it age too soon. People like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan were from my mother's generation and suddenly they started looking younger than me. I knew I could never have their kind of muscles but I didn't want the potbelly that was slowly appearing.

For the first few days I was into building stamina and burning calories, and by the time I knew I was into making muscles with the senior members. Nobody really comes there to make muscles but everybody lands up building it after a while, that defines men.

I enjoyed the discovery of so many muscles in our body and the ways to develop them. There are ten muscles I work on every week and their growth is inspiring. Perhaps, men should explore the beauty of tangible things like their body before they venture into exploring abstract things like their mind or their life. A good face is god's gift to you, you don't have a choice, but a good body is your gift to yourself, and you do have a choice. Once in a lifetime you must define the beauty of your body.

Four Month Old body, photographed so that I can remember.
The gym is not just a physical place but a very relaxing haven in the evening after a hard day's work, to sweat, scream, joke and chat with friends. Different kinds of people come there with different stories- and leave with different bodies. As an amature I took all the effort to learn the exercises and the literatures. It's here that I learned the difference between Mass and Fat, and it's here I understood that gym is not just for losing weight because I put on over 10 kg on my bones.

Of the many teachers who joined together only three survived so far, and people curiously ask why do teacher want muscles. I correct them that we are not teachers wanting muscles but men wanting muscles. We build so that we don't have to fight at all in life- muscles are signs of non violence- when people see your muscles they will resort to peace talk rather lol.

Thanks to Power Gym, Bajothang
And Trainer: Jambay

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Suicide on Social Media

The Bumthang double suicide incident was terribly unfortunate. It has been bothering me for days like it must be doing to many people across the country. While I don't know what to feel about the two misguided victims, my heart goes out to the parents who would be half dead in grief, and wondering where they went wrong in bringing up their children. They will often ask why their child disregarded them and left them for a stranger whom the child just knew for a year in the school. They will forever hang on to the shattered pieces of hope and seek silent answers. What was their fault?

In the midst of this painful event, the leakage of the depressing picture of the victims into the unforgiving social media must have devastated the family members. The pain of having to see it on social media, to know that everybody is watching the death of their child, will kill them piece by piece.

While I strongly condemn the sharing of the picture of the victims, and extend my appreciation to the many responsible and learned people who came forward to fight the spread of the picture that day, I think that the picture was a loud alarm clock to many strong policies that are sleeping in the pages of thick books.

There are three things that the unfortunate incident has fortunately brought to the national focus:

1. Suicide in Bhutan

Suicide among Bhutanese was long seeking attention from us but we weren't so passionate about dealing with it, at least I haven't seen anything significant happening to take care of it. Great many things must be happening in papers but this photo has finally told everybody that it's time take things beyond books and meetings.

2. Ugliness of Suicide

Suicide is murder of self, when your friend commits suicide, he kills your friend, he is a murderer, he should be hated and ridiculed but among us we share so much of compassion for the murderers, going to the extent of paying tribute, writing poems, singing songs... which I fear has glorified the idea of suicide. But the depressing picture has shown the true and ugly picture that suicide is.

3. Social Media Invasion 

The police did a good job by responded very promptly on the distribution of the picture on social media that very day, already today they have tracked down the person who has started it all. He was a health worker who was part of the investigation team. What are the charges against him? Does he even know that it was illegal?
Some of us will have the heart to know that it's wrong to do that but how many of us know that it's a punishable offence?
It's not very long since we dealt with case of sharing of homemade sex videos via mobile apps, some of which are already in the court of law. But I am still wondering how they will be charged and how that will help solve the future problems.
We are already under invasion from the social media and more than what happens in life will be reflected online. It's time we take social media seriously, define it and educate people on the netiquettes before the next big disaster happens.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Face of Buddha on the Rock (Update)

My last post Face of Buddha reached far beyond my regular audience. It has fascinated people all over. I was counting happiness on my blog, it's the moment we bloggers dream to see. The story has done magic to my blog, it was as if the story was long waiting to be told. But more than what the story did to my blog, this time I pride in what my blog has done to the story. I was seeking attention for what seemed like an ignored Face of Buddha but it turned out that the people have never heard about it, not even the oldest of people here. It was as if they waited for this moment, now people are all over the place.
Face of Buddha
Before it went viral I accompanied group of my colleagues to complete what was left half done, to go up close to the face of Buddha. The path leading to the site was worn, it was walked by thousands across the generations. How the gigantic natural art piece never caught generations of eyes remains a mystery. Standing right before the overwhelming rock, it's hard to make out the face distinctly. The eyes, the cheek, the nose, the lips and the chin that look perfect from across the river are just natural fault lines on the almost flat rock face. This confirms that there is no human manipulation at all. The compelling image of Buddha's face is a natural composition of fault lines, their shadows, and the color texture. The rock is almost two dimensional but from a distance it three dimensional. It's magical.  
Close Up
It was on Sunday I posted the story and by Monday I started receiving pictures from people who went there to see for themselves. By Wednesday the site was crowded with people, and that evening authorities decided to put fence around it. Today when I went there I could see long queue of people across the river, and many breaking through the fence already. On the other side of the river cars and people are causing traffic jam on the national highway. This is more than the attention one can ever ask for.

From the View Point
Long Queue of People 
Some people jokingly call me Terton PaSsu Lingpa and I funnily wish but like I shared in the last post, I wasn't the one to see it first. My friend Yam Rinzin show me a picture from his phone a few months ago. Today he told me that he was told by his lady colleague Tshering Yangzom, who seemed to have seen it through her window, which was facing the hill. That makes her the tertonma. 

I humbly accept the credit of making it public. It gives me great pleasure to see overwhelming number of people gathering around there and wondering how on earth it happened. Number of people will increase by the day, and in seeing the compelling image on the rock, good thought will be evoked in their minds and prayers on their lips. Perhaps this is my parting gift to the place where I lived for seven defining years of my life.   
Visitors (Even a Mobile Bakery has reached there!)

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...