15 December 2009

I can't be Home on Lomba: Guilt of Asha Haap

Nothing is sadder in a Hap’s life than being away from home on Lomba. It falls on the 29th day of the eleventh month in Bhutanese calendar every year. Yangthang is my home and somehow no place could ever replace it. Life in village was never easy but that didn’t matter. Ages from now nothing in Yangthang will belong to me except memories still I will call it my home. Tonight Haa valley will not sleep. Yangthang will be noisy with gangs of lads wandering houses singing with bags that need to be filled with hoentey.

Hoentey is a simple vegetarian momo-like food. The outer skin is made of buckwheat flour and the inside is either turnip or dried spinach (lom) or both fried in butter with world of species. Nothing in the world beats its taste; I can only imagine it this time though. The big local festival is considered the ushering of New Year locally, however we only have hoentey on the menu, and at times I feel it must be the cheapest festival.
Every Hap consider a year older from the night of Lomba. Strangely my baby will be two years old from tomorrow according to Haps, thought she is just 16 days old; she gets 1 year from the time she spent in the womb and another year for having celebrated a lomba. Thus we always had confusion about our age in school.

The thrill of forming groups and wandering the village in the dark making noises and breaking fences on Lomba nights are highlights in the life of a village lad. It has been over 12 years since I have out grown that age group but the memories come back afresh each year. I have never really grown since then.

I am guilty for leaving my village, my home and my mother for this job of mine, which in its nakedness is nothing but greed for money and status. But I console myself knowing that life must go on and knowing that this is what my mother wants of me. Lomba is but all together a different story, I should be home no matter what, I should be helping my mother in making hoentey and challenging my brothers in eating it… where have I come now? How far have I come from myself? When will I get to be where I want to be and do things I want to do and still be satisfied? Why are we running away from who we are in search of ourselves?


  1. "Hoentey" sounded new to me. Hm... sounds delicious :D Well, it seems like, the Chinese also has a traditional celebration that celebrates the 'winter', just a month before the Chinese Lunar New Year and we call it "Dongzhi" (冬至). Literally, it's arrival of the winter :D

    Well, well, the last paragraph in this post... I think, what matters is what you are doing, and more importantly, the intent. Hm... when coming to the teaching profession, I believe it's beyond monetary terms. The purpose to join the Teaching Profession is... (?)

    Well, in Singapore, there are certainly better paid jobs than Teaching... Similarly, in Bhutan :D Hm...


  2. Thank you ma'am for the time to comment. There is of course nothing tastier than Hoentey...Let's see what Singapore has that can cheer my taste bud...I like sea food so much.

    The Last paragraph may sound a little dark but ma'am I am not talking about Teaching in particular; I am talking about jobs in general which take us out of our village in search of money... Teaching is my love...

  3. Ha! Singapore is an island country... well, apart from seafood, you would probably want to try out the various kinds of dishes we have here, as we are multi-racial :D Basically, you could find Chinese, Malay, Indian, Western (a range), Japanese, Korean, ... food. Haha!

    Well, so you are more or less firmed up coming to Singapore next end Jan/early Feb? You'll probably be visiting my school ^.^
    Perhaps can get you to share some of the Bhutanese stories/culture with our 12-year-old kids... what do you think? Can bring along your Gho? Think the kids will be very excited to see that!


  4. Wao Lomba!! I too have lots of memories back from my childhood, everyone in my village will be celebrating crazy, just to recollect, we would have archery matches among the upper and lower valley, the ladies in their best outfit will be competing in dance and lozay. Kids will be busy playing with toys bought from the local stalls (shopkeeper from the nearby town). All in all, we get everything from drinks to cloths (JB cloths). By evening, guys will be little high, at times we would stop the match early and plan for Zachum (dinner party) at the village Lhakhang. There the we compete dance all night, younger ones vs older folks, students against villagers, office goers vs farmers and so on. This is just the beginning, the fun will continue for days.
    Like Passang, how I wish I were home this time, to feel the air full of excitement, to have my share of Hoentey, to take part in the competition… I wonder if folks back home celebrate the same way that we use to, I doubted if they still went to the Lhakhang for Zachum coz last night I called home out of excitement after seeing Passang’s post here, but I hardly hear anything about the dances and archery matches, rather they were so much into Alto and I10 cars, to my surprise there are 11 cars in my village, back then we only had one power trailers with my neighbor. No wonder, time has changed and so did my people. I can’t blame them, for I didn’t have my Lomba for the last 7 years, after all, I too chose to ran after $$ and here I am typing in my blackberry with a guilt of not being home. By the way my dad makes the most delicious Hoentey, we are from Haa, Talung settled in Paro. Happy Lomba to everyone.

  5. you might like this sir!


  6. Guess 'LOmbA' rejuvunates AHSA HAAPS!!!!!!!do invite me for a mini 'Lomba' at your home....
    rest shall follow.

  7. wow really marvellous, hats off for the article. i was flashed back to my childhood days which is now 11 years old back. i was really put in the scenario. Passu, i hope you won't mind to correct the typing mistake,the month, i mean the month in which our LOMBA is celebrated. it should be 10th month instead of the 11th month.

  8. Dear Do, I took a long time to acknowledge your wonderful sequel to my post... Talung has it's ancient charm preserved well. Their archery matches are very popular that folks from pling rush home for the 5 Day celebration after lomba. Things have changed though...amidst the first shot and the second they engross themselves in mobile conversations, and most of them disappear after the match in their prados, sentros and I10s...
    I am happy that this article made you call home, thank you so much.

  9. Chimi, Thank you so much for the comment. Hope to see you this winter during the Lomba. I hope I don't come one month late ha ha ha because for me lomba is in 11th month...thanks for the correction!

    So, all my readers- it is 29th day of the 10th month unlike I mentioned in the article.


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