Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Home. Show all posts

03 May 2022

Do You Help Your Neighbour?

If a loaded truck pulls into the parking lot near your building, you know that a new neighbour is shifting in. You know it from the load in the truck. No matter how you pretend, you know there has been an empty flat in the building since the last occupant left. You even know why they left and where they moved to. So you have been expecting a new neighbour.

But in Thimphu, you somehow don't come out to welcome your new neighbour. You peek through the window but don't even open your door to say hi. You don't think it's your business. 

Having come from a village --where we come together as a community to help each other build houses, harvest crops, celebrate birth, grieve deaths and so on-- when I see a new neighbour, I go out to greet them and help them unload the truck and carry their stuff up the stairs into their new home. On the other hand, my wife will either prepare tea or arrange cold drinks for the newcomers. We extend the same courtesy to outgoing neighbours too. 

If a friend or a relative is shifting their house and I'm aware of it, I go to help them even if it's not anywhere near the neighbourhood. If necessary, I will take my pickup truck along. And my wife will prepare tea or a meal depending on the necessity of the situation.

When I went to help a friend shift his house today, my expectations were low from his neighbours. Sure enough, no one came out of their homes to help us. Neither in his old neighbourhood from where we were moving nor in the new community. Forget about helping us; there were two incidents where we were asked to move our truck so that they could drive into their parking. They could kindly park somewhere else for a while.

My wife offered to make tea for us, but I had to drive all the way back home to pick it up, so I scrapped the idea. But I thought there would be other friends and relatives with all sorts of refreshments and lunch. Guess what, we had to order home delivery food. I lamented how Thimphu has quickly outgrown our beautiful Bhutanese way of life, community ties, and traditional values.

When I pointed that out to my friend and his wife, they said it's still way better than in Australia, where they can't bother their friends, so they hire professional logistics whom they pay by hours. They are grateful that quite a few of us came to help. Someday even this might become a story to tell. 

19 March 2022

Wooden Bathtub (Wa)#DIY

Wa (ཝ) is a wooden tub that's generally used for hot-stone baths. It's an outdoor thing, but I have always wanted one that I could keep in my bathroom. I have asked my brother Samtey to make me one in his furniture house in Punakha. It took a while, but he finally delivered it early this year between the two lockdowns. 

I loved it, but his version was not the traditional shape that I wanted. The base area was equal to that of the mouth, which took a lot of water to fill. My 50-litre geyser was useless. So I planned to remodel it to suit my taste. 

My Remodeling Plan

It was a scary experience. I was tearing apart a well-made tub without even knowing if I would be able to put it back into the shape and size I wanted. I was ambitious. I liked the Wa to have some modern features to make it easy to use. 

I cut off almost half of the original tub and achieved my desired shape. It looked great. But because of the angles I have added to the structure, I had to play around with slopes on all the sides, including the bottom part that comes into contact with the base. I added a waste coupling to make draining easy.

When testing with water, there were multiple leaks. It seemed like a failure. Thanks to my indigenous knowledge, I know the leaks are normal. There are two ways to contain them;
1. stuff the gaps with cloth pieces using a sharp object
2. keep the tub filled with water. The leaks will disappear gradually.

I tried a new trick. I applied silicone sealant. More than half the leaks were gone. The tub was still leaking. Then the good old method of keeping it filled with water solved the rest. Now my bathroom smells of a sweet pine tree. 

Inside of the Wa

The Wa in my bathroom

This interesting project gave me the confidence and desire to do more. I have worked on over six small projects. The Wa project is the second biggest and my second favourite. The number one on my list is an unusual bed concept I worked on:- Floating Bed. 

20 June 2015

My Mother is Back in Village

I was very happy when my mother went to Thimphu to live with my sister. I always wanted her to lead easy life once we grew up, because she had suffered enough of rural hardship in brining me and my four siblings up. The time had come for her to hang her spades. She could live with me but she chose to live with my sister because she found herself more useful there because my office going sister needed a helping hand in babysitting her two children.

My mother, proud as she should be, gave away our cows and hens, left the fields fellow, locked our home and came to Thimphu to live with her daughter, along with our baby sister. In Thimphu, the sunburn on her face soon faded, her rough fingers softened and she gained weight. It was the beginning of a happy chapter in her life. She was the queen of the family with a loving brother inlaw.

She would visit me briefly from time to time, and we would talk of our village and people there. Soon we had very less subjects to talk about, because she didn't have anything more to talk about our village. I could sense a subtle longing in her during the long hours we spent near the TV in silence. She would sleep in the afternoon like a baby and mostly grumble about petty thing. My once confident mother who was a leader of kind in our village sounded so subdued over time.

How can her life be so wonderful in Thimphu when she personally had nothing significant to aspire to in life, given the kind of person she has always been. She would wake up in the morning and help prepare my little sister and niece for school, then after my brother inlaw and sister left she would take my nephew out to play. When the little boy would get tired of play she would put him to sleep and fall asleep alongside. She had managed a few friends in the neighbourhood with whom she would spend her long lonely afternoons.

In the evening when everybody returned home she would make them tea and spend the next hours running after the kids. Over dinner they would watch TV and there she would have no common topic with school going and office going people. If some guest showed up she would help with tea and snacks but if the guest was not a family member she knew, then she would take the kids into another room and wait till they left. This was her daily routine. It could have been so beautiful if it was just for a week or month but it went on for years. It was like she was waiting for the end purposelessly.

With My Ashim and our children on the way home

My mother had put on a visible amount of weight, lost her frontal teeth, complained about illnesses and had become so emotional. Every time I met her I felt little more guilty and when she nagged about petty thing I would even give her advices but deep inside I asked myself -what have we done? We were loving her in a wrong way. We took her away from home, leave her in urban isolation, make her so vulnerable to lifestyle diseases and proudly thought we were giving her our best.

Even when I thought of my village, I would first see the lock on our door, then I would see the faces of all the people who dies in last few years and even in my dreams I see my villages in gloomy weather. My villages without my mother wasn't quite the place I would want to think of. All the beautiful memories of village seemed somehow dimmed.

Toward the end of last year my mother expressed he wishes to return home because my little nephew has come of age to go to nursery school. Along with her our little sister would return too because the two of them were inseparable. Though we were worried about our little sister's education for long time we respected her decision this time.

My little Sister and Mother in the Village
Now my mother is back to the village and my sister goes to Chundu Middle Secondary School, which is just over ten minutes walk from our village. Our fields are green again, house is dusted and our chimney is smoking again. Sunburn has darkened my mother's face again but I can see a broad smile on her dark face. There are endless things in village that keeps her busy and during auspicious days she goes to village temple where elders would gather to sing Mani and chat about life.
My Happy mother with her children and Grandchildren

When I visited home last month she looked very happy and busy. I don't have to worry about lifestyle diseases anymore because she is physically engaged in some many village activities. And during the lazy afternoons she spends time with neighbours and chat endlessly over tea. She has gotten rid of her nap habits too. Her confidence is back and she is everybody's Aum Gaki in the village. I hope she will soon get back her posts as Village Health Worker, Manager of Milk Booth, Member of Women Association of Haa...

And Remember, last time during the Royal Visit she was chosen to offer Tshogchhang and that's when she was blessed with the photograph of her life with His Majesty, Her Majesty and the prime minister.
The Photograph of Her life, and ours!

Now when I think of my village I first see my happy mother's face and then our green fields. I have good dreams of my village and I once again feel like a hostel student longing to go home. Home is where mother is happy. 

Disclaimer: My village has road, electricity, etc. and is only 4 km from the town. It has three high school high schools and a junior school within five km radius. Therefore the village I am talking about cannot be related to many difficult ones across the country. I am only talking about life in my village. There are many other villages in which I won't imagine people leaving their parents for whatever reasons. 

30 May 2015

Rainbow Over Yangthang

I am happy to announce that the Yangthang READ Centre was formally launched on May 27, 2015. This day shall be remembered as the beginning of a new era in my village and as the beginning of many good changes to come. Village elders came to me and placed their thumbs on my nose in appreciation.

They knew that the centre was funded and built by READ Bhutan and I had nothing significant to do with it but they were simply happy with me because they think I was one among very few who kept in touch with the roots back in the village and done something beyond mere annual visits.

With completion of Yangthang READ Centre, READ Bhutan has completed seven centres across Bhutan in their effort to improve quality of rural lives. On behalf of my village I have expressed our gratitude to READ Bhutan team, and I have asked Mr. Stevens, the READ Global’s Asia Regional Director, to convey the same to our sponsors, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore.

The centre in my village, like all other enters, has a Library, a Computer Lab, an Audiovisual Room, a Conference Room, a Women Section, a Child Section and an outdoor park. These seven services are like the colours of the rainbow that has finally fallen in my otherwise backward village.
The Rainbow

As believers of signs and symbolism, we were overjoyed when during the opening ceremony my village was haloed by a real rainbow. I personally took this as a very good omen.

Once Upon a Time

Then ....
and Finally now: The READ Centre
The Children in my village and villages nearby can visit the centre any time to use the service or just use the space for completing their assignments. Preschool children can come and play at the centre with educational manipulative while the parents are busy working in the field and forest. The elderly people can sit on the soft cushions in the AV room and watch TV all day (Most households don't have TV). And there will be regular training for women empowerment through skill training such as knitting, weaving and tailoring that will improve the quality of their lives. Health education for general public and creative sessions for children will happen from time to time. All good things are coming. 

The Library. Seen in pic are Mr. Stevens, Ms.Karma Lhazom and Mr. Nawang P.


The Thee Builders telling their tales
Our Funders, the students of Singapore American School (SAS), Singapore. Pic: Ganesh, READ Bhutan

During their visit in Spring. Pic Ganesh, READ Bhutan
I was given to speak at the end of the opening program during which I spoke a bit about the kind of childhood I had in the village. Though we were connected with road even before I was born our lifestyle was very primitive, and the kind of childhood games we played could shock anybody today. When I left my village to study in Paro, I was already in grade two but I still struggled with alphabets. It took me many years to catch up with the rest of the children of my age.

Another worrying factor in my village was the number of school dropouts. It's every family's good dream to see their children do well and live a meaningful life but somehow most of our children find it hard to cope with the rest of the students in their schools and finally give up and return to the village. 

Now I am hopeful that the centre will provide all the opportunities and exposure the lucky children get to my village children and make the next generation of Yangtobs ready the any kind of future that awaits them beyond our village.

My Special gratitude to my dear friend Nawang Phuntsho, through whom I knew about READ Bhutan and its activities, and for helping me and my village right from the beginning; Mr. Ganesh Chhetri for being their on the ground and working with the villagers during the entire period, and for all the positive energy he has shared with my folks; Ms. Karma Lhazom, the country director for being very supportive of the projects from day one. In fact her first official visit after her appointment was to my village. May the blessings of my villages elders and the local deities be with you throughout your lives. 

11 February 2014

Dayscholars in Yangthang

My winter vacation ended with a brief visit to my village for the lochoey. It pains me to realize how growing up took me away from this place I once thought I can never part from. I never had a dream bigger than living in Yangthang. Perhaps this is always going to be my dream now that it is becoming harder by the year to pay my annual visits.
Vacation ends in Yangthang
Every year Yangthang seems like another place to me, everything about it is changing. There are good changes that I am proud of. But there is a price to pay for changing. Sometime I wonder if everything is worth the change.

Once upon my time in village, family was the most important relationship among my folks. Divorce was just a myth we just heard of. Only death could do a couple apart, literally. But now that's a fairy tale. This time when I was home I was introduced to a new term in the village: "Dayscholar". You know the actual meaning of the word but in my village it's a term referring to a person who has returned to their parental home because of marital issues with their spouse. Coming out as a dayscholar sometimes ends in divorce, like in the cases of many couples there. I met some men back in the village who were married into other villages when I was a little boy. They are dayscholars now.

Beautiful Yangthang from the Highway
This is a sad development in a village where marriage was considered sacred. They believe that this is the price they are paying for using cell phones besides the endless recharges.

06 July 2013

Politics in the Kitchen

Politics is the last topic I want to discuss during the election time, not because I-am-supposed-to-be apolitical but because I can never do justice to the subject. Whatever I write can offend as many as I can please, and I so far didn't see something called political middle path. Truth, like gold, maintains its property but can be molded into different shapes under the political hammer.
Food taste good on such oven
Spending endless hours reading everything political figures, supporters, critics, and parties write on social media I realized Bhutan is full of Political Pundits. It's hard to digest that we are citizens of the youngest democracy in the world.
This time, Critics have pushed politics right into the kitchen. I don't know if there is anything political about the Cooking gas subsidy withdrawal but the timing was shockingly suspicious. Just a week ahead of poll what else can be more damaging. Kitchen is the heart of a home, mood of a family is cooked in the kitchen and when politics comes into the kitchen every member of the family will have to taste the salty political food.
Big lesson to learn: next time you want to hurt a nation, remember to hit the kitchen ;)
I, personally have two months at my disposal before I begin to think about what next to do because I have two filled cylinders in my kitchen, which is why I sound so cool. By then I am hoping subsidy will be back in place, but if it's not I seriously can't afford another refill. I am not going to pay so much for stinking gas. I would rather sell my two empty cylinders and buy a nice electrical stove. For once I want to make myself believe that we are rich in electricity. Now, don't joke about increasing power tariff- that would be a national insult.
I am now starting to wonder how much a plate of momo will cost by next month because I remember cab drivers increasing the fare by Nu.50 when petrol price inflates by Nu.1. I think we should order for momo cooked on electric stove.
If subsidy withdrawal sustains then scrap dealers will make good money out of metal cylinders because Nu.1200 is still big in rural Bhutan. They will surely go back to forest and collect firewood, after all food taste good on mud oven.

12 December 2012

What Lomba Means to the People of Western Bhutan

Smelling 2012 Hoentey
Lomba is the single most important annual celebration in the two western Dzongkhags of Haa and Paro and this year interestingly it fell on 12/12/12, the date many people are looking at with great emotions. I grew in village and I have been part of Lomba celebration throughout my childhood. Every year on this day I become child again, and without feasting on Hoentey I can't get my hands on anything, that's why I am blogging so late today. I drove to Punakha and had my 2012 lomba hoentey from my aunti's hand.
Haaps, as I know, are very dumb working people who would spend best portion of their lives working and they don't celebrate many occasion rest of the Bhutanese do, but Lomba is an exception and perhaps the sum total of all celebrations. Our forefather must have found it wiser to celebrate many occasions in one so that we could save time for work for the rest of the days in the year.

  1. Lomba is our New Year: We sing Lolay Lolay rhyme, thank god for the good year we had and make wishes for the new year. We greet each other Lolay, meaning good new year. We perform a small ceremony at home to drive of the evil and bring in the health, happiness and prosperity for new year. Tonight my young brother is performing this ceremony at home. I miss it so bad.
  2. Lomba is our Thruelbub (Blessed Rainy Day): We clean every corner of our house, wash every piece of cloth, and every member of the family take their turn for menchu (hot stone bath). The importance of this annual cleansing is considered as much as rest of Bhutan considers Thrulbub. It's no more a new thing to do that, it's part of daily chore for most families nowadays, but there were time when Lomba cleansing used to be our annual event. River would turn dark with our dirt. Everybody seemed to have removed a thick layer of skin from their faces. O' those days!
  3. Lomba is our Common Birthday: Every Haap considers themselves one year older after lomba. It's was only after the new Citizenship ID card was issued that people realized the importance of their own birthdays, before then lomba was our common birthday. A baby born days before lomba would be consider two years old after lomba because we count nine months in womb as a year as well. Our folks seem to enjoy the idea of growing old fast so much. Happy birthday to all my folks.
  4. Lomba is our Food Festival: The signature food of Haa, and also the central piece of Lomba is our Hoentey. It's our pride and the it's perhaps the only dish from our region known across the country. Lomba is the day we consider so auspicious to prepare out best food and feast on it. Some families make thousands of hoentey to be presented as gift to friends and families across the country. 
  5. Lomba is our Annual Family Gathering: On lomba parents expect all their children to leave aside everything and join the rest of the member of the annual gathering. Well this part makes me emotional and damn guilty. I always want to leave aside everything and run home on this day but this is my third damn year that I haven't been able to make it. This is the only time I hate my job, because my job has kept me away. I know how my mother is feeling about it, I only wish she sees me through and understand how much I wish to be home tonight.
Lolay, lolay, to all my readers, friends and family, near and far. If you are nearby please join me in two days to taste my mother's hoentey, she is sending me hoentey day after tomorrow. Lolay, Lolay!

27 October 2012

The Gap Between the School and Home

No child is so bad in school. There is hardly any record of gang fights on campus, one among hundreds would dare be bold enough to smoke behind the toilet, and same bold ones would come to school on drugs and at times on alcohol. But they pay the price of daring. Rest are in their best form when they are within the school fence.
No child is so bad at home. Some might not listen to every thing their parents' demand but they won't find trouble in the bedroom. They may not study hours on stretch but nothing can go so wrong at home, even if they are watching movies or sleeping.
In the Gap. Photo Source: Flickr
It's between the school and home that every wrong thing happens. The gap that has no time limit and no supervision. From 8 AM to 3:30 PM schools will responsible. If a child is absent we call their parents. If a child wants to visit hospital we give them time frame and ask for prescriptions. But at what time do parents expect their children to reach home? Where do they go after changing? Were they really involved in school games, when they come late? Are they really going for discussing home work? Is there any birthday party at all? Which Lhakhang are they going to and with whom?
But sadly not many homes have anybody who would play that important part. Father is in archery ground and mother with her friends, father is playing cards late into night and mother's gone looking for him,... Worse, many children live with their young siblings who themselves are yet to grow up. Home like this are deeper gaps.
No child wants to go wrong, it just happens. They need help before everything goes wrong. They need help in getting them out of the gap. They have dreams, and dreams can't be achieved in those gaps. Schools are doing their role. What are homes doing?

Note: It's just a quick thought. Detailed piece will be written soon.

10 October 2011

Diseased Turnip: Call for Help!

Turnip may not be one among the best vegetables- some people in town may not have seen one yet, but people of Haa have woven their lives with it. Infertile soil deprived of favorable weather conditions forced Haaps to make their living by herding yaks and turnip is one among a handful of crops grown in Haa. Turnips goes in making the region's famous recipe- Haapy Hoenty. The leaves of turnip are dried to make Lhoom, which then becomes very good combination with phaksha seekham and shakam.
However, the harvest looks bad this year. During my recent home going, I found all the turnips in our garden yellowed and dying. My mother wasn't surprised, she told me that a disease had been spreading in the region for last two years. Once infected the turnip buds turns into chain of three balls(see the picture), something similar to radish and then dies out gradually. I inquired if they have reported to the agricultural officer of the region, to which they gave a casual no. Perhaps they didn't know that they needed help. How come people don't know that there is an office who could help? How come the three year old disease didn't receive remedy so far?
Boy posing with Healthy turnip bud (right hand) and two diseased turnips (left hand)
(the symbolism of healthy boy and injured boy in the backdrop is accidental)

28 September 2011

My Mother is giving up

My mother was in Thimphu during the earthquake. She told me, "Since you all are away there is nothing to worry about in the village". She went home after six days to check on our house. Though the house was still standing there were several large cracks running down the entire mud wall. Rooms were filled with debris from the broken walls. But she returned to Thimphu that same day, without even cleaning the rooms.
She later told me, "If this house falls to ground as well, I am not going to build another house." I could see tears welling in her eyes.
Our village Yangthang rose from ashes after 2002 Fire. It took years before we had a roof over our heads. We  not just lost our homes in that fire, but our history and memories. What we lost after the fire changed the whole course of our lives. During construction we were living in huts, where we lost all our ancestral inheritance. We learnt to live without it, just then we lost our father. By the time we entered our new home we had nothing.
My mother is giving up, she doesn't want lose so much again. I wish our house will stand strong and not let my mother relive the trauma of building a new home again.

26 October 2010

Biggest Fire Disaster in Bhutan- Chamkhar Fire

Bhutanese architecture is known for its lavish woodwork. Until recently even nails were shaped from wood. It is the wood that gives beauty to country’s various infrastructures. The rich forest provides easy supply of cheap timber for construction. However this very material that we pride in is the greatest weakness of our architecture.

Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. Destroyed by fire in 1950s
Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and Singye Dzong in Mongar are chilling reminder of how vulnerable our structures are against fire. Thimphu Tashichodzong and Paro Rimpung Dzong had to be reconstructed after major fire disasters.

Every year several families are made homeless across country. In 2002 February my village lost twenty five houses to fire. I was then in Monger working in construction of Kurizampa. When I returned home, it was gone. Hundreds of years of family memories are smoked into the frozen sky. Those were the hard times in our life; sleeping in tents with icy ground underneath. My baby sister was only two days old and had to spend her tender days in the open winter air.

When I heard of the biggest fire disaster in Bumthang Chamkhar this morning it broke my heart, because I truly know the pain of being homeless at the face of approaching winter. It is sad to share that disaster has just begun for them, what follows after today will devastate many families. In building my village back we saw lots of deaths, which were the aftermath of the fire. It became impossible to get manpower and cost of material and labor shot record high. It took us over five years to get back into the warmth of our homes despite the generous help from the throne. And just when we had our home back my tired stepfather gave up on his life. Eight years on, we still have a few families hoping to get their house roofed.
Photo by Kesang Tshering, Kuensel.

With already high demand for construction labor across the country I can’t imagine how long it would take for the many victims to have their homes back. For now it is very inspiring to see how quickly government reacted in dealing with the disaster. In few years time they will have new homes but what they lost today would go on to change the course of their lives. I only wish them hope and courage to go on.

11 July 2010

Home Going

Yangthang in snow, Dec 2009

Hurray… I am going home. There is no greater feeling. One thing I hate about having a job is not getting to stay where you belong. But thank god I am a teacher that I get regular vacations. The studently excitement of mid term break and winter vacation die hard and thankfully the right to them is intact in my case.

Over the years everything changed; I have no friends in the village, kids there don’t know me, old people hardly recognize me, even the village itself is unwelcoming after its rebirth from the ashes of February 2002, and at times I get a feeling that I no more belong there. But someone there remained unchanged ever since I could remember, my mother, for whom my heart is fully inclined. She always awaits my arrival at this time of the year, perhaps for the last eighteen years. Today mobile phone keeps us almost together though but home going is something so special that I can never misplace it in the chaos of time and change.

I love to see my mother beam with joy and pride when I am at home. We have stories to share still. This is our best gift for each other. And I wish my sister could realize it sooner. 

17 May 2010

27 Years in Teaching and Divided From Family- My Aunt's Story

One Saturday, during my regular weekend visit to my aunty at Punakha she showed me a certificate from 1990. It was awarded to her for successful completion of NAPE course then. What is surprising is that the certificate was wrongly addressed and she just got it from her contemporary after 20 years. The paper was neatly kept and looks as fresh as it was delivered this morning, though in these many years my aunty has become grandmother to two granddaughters. Perhaps now you can guess how many years she served as teacher.

She is new in Punakha and houses in Kuruthang are not at all welcoming. She has lost some weight over the week climbing to the tiny room beneath the roof. We scanned the whole town with all the relatives we have around in search of a decent house, and this is what we had to agree with; a three unit attic with lights coming in only through the transparent roof. The new place and the tiny house have stolen away my aunt’s soul. She looked defeated and depressed, and that’s why I always find time to give her company with my family.

Twenty five years ago, or ten years ago if she was posted to Punakha it would have been very usual and she would have taken it with joy. At this age when joints start paining it is hard for her to believe that she has to move out of Thimphu on compulsory transfer. It is a policy well thought over by the ministry when it comes to making it fair for the system but what about the humane side?

Many of her mates are directors and secretaries, a few are even ministers now, sad but true some have passed away but she is still living and teaching. Recently she tells me that even her students are there among directors and secretaries, sadly they won't remember her because she taught them in PP. Young teachers have new system in place whereby there is a strong career ladder. If it was there during her time by now she would be reigning somewhere on the top. But since 1985 she has only grown horizontally. She has no complains. She knew her service is delivered and therefore would be acknowledged. Not in her wildest dream did she see herself being punished for 25 years of service.

Her children suggested her to resign and take rest because she has already shown sign of wearing of her lung and vocal cord from quarter century of shouting with little children. Money has never been their problem and will not be, now that uncle earns triple his old salary with the new job and their daughter is in job. It is about dedication to work. With her degree of perseverance and experience I would be expecting a medal of honor from the ministry and not punishment.

Why am I calling it a punishment? My aunty and uncle are all by themselves far from the crowd of Thimphu. They planned the cottage on their own to spend their old age. Uncle is in late fifties and worse he is a bad cook. Tears welled in my eyes when he started learning how to cook last winter after aunt’s transfer was confirmed. Their three children are away on job and studies. Uncle may be used to staying alone from his lifelong experience in arm force but not hungry. If he falls sick there is nobody around to offer him a cup of water.

On the other side of Dochula my aunty, who has always lived in crowd of children, has to sleep with TV still on, she is a good cook but with her husband surviving on Maggie she can hardly enjoy a meal. She is overweight and very much vulnerable to sudden illness. But if she wishes to lose weight now, her wish is granted already. I have never been old so far, therefore I don’t know how true it is when old people say they feel lonely. If it is true I feel sorry for them that the system has made it worse.

Writer’s Note: With this article I don’t mean to question the policy because I know any policy is bound to hurt some people. It must look at the majority, for even God himself couldn’t create something that could please everybody. I only wrote it in sympathy and love for my aunty.

29 May 2009

Fire, Water and My Village Yangthang

Yangthang, like phoenix rose from the ashes. Royal Kidu gave us strength and hope to rebuild our homes after the 2002 fire, which burnt down twenty five houses. We lost more than houses in the fire; history and memories. We dread fire, eight years of moving forward we still dread fire.
When my house was burnt down to ashes I was in Gyelposhing, crying over an imaginary picture of my-village-on-fire. Now I am in Wangdue, still having to imagine a picture of my-village-in-flood.
Punatshangchhu grew wild on 26th May, hundreds of logs thundering downstream, touching the heights it never did, and threatening the bold Wangdue Bridge. When the river encroached into our school campus I remembered my village. It lies on bank of the Ha chhu. I called my mother; she was giving me chilling details of the flood. She was planning to take our cow and move to the hills. The rivers, she said, had split into two, forming new course through our fields, washing away Tshering’s sawmill and Lam Dorji’s house.
“The village of Yangthang (52 households) had been cut off from the rest of Haa as, during the flash floods, the river had breached its banks and created a new course between the village and the highway.” Tobgay, T. from(
I saw the first picture in our Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay’s blog, who has visited my village after the disaster. It made me sad, and then made me happy. What if the river has gone the other side? The village still stands and against all geographical justifications we are grateful to Ap Chundu for saving our village.
“Yangthang’s New Bridge” in OL Tshering Tobgay’s blog touched my heart in different corners; People standing in unity against adversity, Dzongkhag’s helping hands, and most significantly Building a Bridge together, which made all the difference. It shall remain in our village history.
“Civil servants. When the dzongkhag staff heard about the efforts of the farmers, they, led by the new Dasho Dzongdag, quickly made their way to Yangthang, and took up their position on the bank opposite the stranded villagers. With farmers working on one side of the river and civil servants on the other, it didn’t take long for the river to be bridged.” Tobgay, T from (
Photo Courtesy: Tshering Tobgay