Showing posts with label Last Shangri-la. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Last Shangri-la. Show all posts

05 May 2012

Shanghai to Paro Taktshang

Three friends from Shanghai were on holiday in Bhutan last week. A man and two ladies were walking their way to Paro Taktshang when we met last Sunday. There were people from across the world that day, but these three came into focus because of what happened to them then. My family and these three friends made it to the place, where the uphill climb ends, almost at the same time, of course we rode horses. We took a long rest there, the spot where Je Gaden Rinchen was born.
The three Chinese seemed to be in hurry, with their guide panting after them. Just then the man slipped and fell, almost falling down the hill. He lay flat on the muletrack crying in pain- his left ankle was twisted. His two lady friends were shocked and screaming. Their guide was loaded with their cameras to do anything. Another ten minutes walk would have taken them to Paro Taktshang.
They immediately attracted lots of attention but they needed help more than mere attention. That's when I ran to them with my sister in-law, who was once a doctor in China and therefore carries whole set of first aid in her handbag. She assessed the injury and massaged it with balm. The huge man was still crying in pain but my sister in-law had pain killer with her. She even gave him a few more tablets for the evening. The man was shivering and his faced looked scary. We wrapped him in our kabney and I used my teacherly skill to calm him, " It's a very lucky sign that you fell right here where a great saint was born- Je Gaden Rinchen. We consider it very lucky." The magic worked on the two ladies. They were nodding and even smiling. My brothers carried the man to a comfortable spot and ask him to rest while we sort out what to do next. It was confirmed that the man cannot walk anymore, and his journey from Shanghai to Paro Taktshang ends here.
I asked the guide to call his office for backup, but I was only talking to the office himself. Like many tour operators his was one man army- he is the guide, the agent, the office and the final backup. He was funnily blaming the man for not walking carefully, instead of worrying. I didn't want our guest to feel helpless, so I told him to wait for my family to return so that we could carry him down.
The two ladies were biting their nails, seemingly not wanting to go back without completing their journey but their guide was even more perplexed. Then I decided to guide the two ladies with my family so that the guide could stay back with the injured. They happily agreed, even the injured.
It was my fourth visit to Taktshang and I can comfortably be a good guide but I had with me seven members of my family who were there for the first time. It took me over an hour to explain everything to the nine of them with special attention to my sister in-law and the two ladies, knowing that they can never make it back for second time. Because I agreed to be their guide I couldn't help see them struggle with their heavy cameras- so I carried them as well. As if nine of them weren't enough a group from Bangkok asked me to explain to them a lot of things.
I then met two senior guides to who I explained about the injured man and the indecisive guide, and requested them for help. By the time we walked out of the monastery I got a call from the guide saying he got assistance from the senior guides and that they were carrying him down. I told him not to worry about his guests who were with me.
In one of the Goenkhangs I was explaining about the prophecies of Guru Rinpochee, and knowing my two guests were Chinese I asked if they were a big fan of Chairman Mao Zedong. They excitedly replied yes. I sorrily told them that "about 1300 years ago Guru Rinpochee prophecised that a man call Mao will come one day and become the greatest threat to Buddhism". Two ladies looked at me in disbelief, "1300 years ago?" "Did all his prophecies come true?" By the time they walked out, they told me I have changed their mind.
I had to carry my daughter and walk slowly with my wife and sister in-law, so I let my brothers deliver the two ladies to the base where the guide and the injured where waiting in the car. By the time we reached the base they were gone. The guide didn't call me after that. But I am happy that the Chinese will remember fondly about Bhutan and Bhutanese despite the unfortunate journey.

My Team-Eight of them including my daughter

21 October 2011

To Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, What did you expect?

(This is in reply to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore on his comments made on our country )

Dear Mr. Khaw,

I was not surprised when you said Bhutan is not the last Shangri-la on Earth, because I had a friend from your country who found Bhutan only "full of mountains and valleys". When you visited Bhutan, what did you expect? Those flying mountains you saw in Avatar? or Every Bhutanese merrily dancing in designer clothes? Well, you must have at least expected fancier cars and taller buildings but we only have taller mountains (not flying ones) and thicker forest (truly natural).

I am not surprised even when you said "Most of the time, I saw unhappy people, toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." because I heard a proverb in school that goes, "Two men looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and other saw the horizon". I am only surprised that you have spend "Most of your time" in Bhutan looking in the fields. I am amazed at your ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them- O' you even knew they were "worried about the next harvest". No wonder you country export human resources.
The Man who didn't find happiness in Bhutan. Source:channelnewsasia 
I visited your wonderful country sometime ago, and it felt like a city from the future. The transportation system held me spell bound, Cleanliness of the street is so much that I didn't find a fragment of dust on my shoes after walking for the hours, Every building and car looks new, and there is no question about the civic sense among the people. Four days after I landed in Bhutan I woke up and started sharing the stories of your wonderful country- yes it took me four days of sleeping to shake of the hangover of many sleepless nights in your 24X7 country. I read the amazing history of your country and thought to myself, if Bhutan's to develop, Singapore can be our vision.

But since you questioned the presence of happiness in Bhutan, let me answer by telling you few things that you overlooked when you visited my country. Those people you saw in the fields weren't unhappy, if you have gone closer you would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives, perhaps you won't understand that. If you have spent a little longer time watching them, you would have seen and a woman with basket on her back and holding arms with several children coming with steaming food- we don't have McDonald or KFC. Then everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing and joking, feeding babies, for over an hour- you wouldn't have had so much time to sit and watch I know, times means money in your country. But we have luxury of time. People don't worry "about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." In fact, we don't do much commercial farming, we do most of them to keep with the tradition. And when the sun sets, doesn't really matter what time, people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting. Large family because we don't chase away our children when they become 18 or children cast away their parents when they age.

We don't need Health Insurance to survive, nor have to go for Education Loan for educating our children. We don't hang the drug users, we counsel them to hang on to their lives, we don't have to have a job to survive, and when we fall sick even the furthest cousin comes to attend without having to update Facebook status.

If you reread our history you will find that our wise kings have hidden us from the outside world so that we could remain the way we are today. If we start mining our mountains and lumbering our forests, we can become Singapore but no matter what you do you can never become Bhutan. It is far too difficult. We shall be the last breath of oxygen on earth.

Bhutan may not be the Last Shangri-la but we are happy.