Showing posts with label Punatshangchhu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Punatshangchhu. Show all posts

31 August 2014

Face of Buddha

It's my seventh year in Wangdue and I have lived it well. I have considered it my home. I have explored so many corners of this place and wrote so many stories. There are places I should have been to but I have no regrets because I haven't spared the ones around me.

However, after all these years, and all these stories I wasn't ready to accept that I had missed on a very special landmark. It was right there for anybody to see, large and distinct and unbelievably very close. It's an image of Lord Buddha's face formed out of natural rock, not even carved. I don't understand how this has not become a sacred place, when people are ready to accept a hole on the rock as Khandrum's buga or Guru's footprint.

The Buddha Face rock is located on the elephant shaped hill on which the Wangdue Dzong is built. The face is distinctly visible from across the river, anywhere between the Wangdue Bridge and the Damchen Fuel Pump.
The location of Buddha Face (Not exact but somewhere very close) 
 The special rock could be an amazing geographical accident, but accidentally it could have looked like anything else but Buddha's Face. There are lots of rock we worship that are naturally intriguing and there are other man made places that are equally overwhelming. I have been very selective in appreciating those places but when I saw this rock I could not believe it. It's so authentic. It can't for for nothing.
You don't even have to believe to see it!
I don't know how it looks close up because I haven't been right there though it's accessible by foot, the foot paths are running all around it. But from across the river it's nothing less than the calm face of Buddha. I don't understand how this place is not recognized as one of the holy Buddhist sites, though some people already knew about it. I went to verify after I saw a picture in my friend Yam Rinzi's mobile. Only after seeing it for myself, and getting convinced beyond all doubt I dared to blog about it.

Disclaimer: I am NOT the first person to see it.

27 April 2014

The Last Wangdue Bridge

The historic wooden Wangdue bridge gave way to a motorable bridge in 1970s. The new bridge was perhaps a green iron bridge which stood there till 2002, when it was replace by the current concrete bridge.
How did I know the last bridge was green and made of iron? The answer is half submerged in the river (see picture). It is not only an eyesore near a very important site but also not a friendly foreign object in the river biodiversity. 
I am wondering why the rubble was left there. Who was supposed to clear it? Why was it left there? Was it ok to be left there in the river just like that? 

Rubble of the Last Iron Bridge
I can guess that the iron is of very good quality and given the opportunity some people might want to scrap it to pieces and use it for some purpose or simply sell it of. In Bajo town even septic tank covers are lost and a recent news reported that a home lost all its window grills, which suggest that iron is in high demand in scrap market. Then, why isn't that ugly bridge scrap lying there forever? There are at least few good tonnes of solid iron, and instead of letting it rust in the river and remain as an eyesore for ages why don't we let some people take it away for free?

27 April 2012

Telling Girls the Truth- Our Principal Speaks

Bajothang finally received a man who could nurse its injuries and help her not only walk but run marathon race. Mr. Shangkar Lal joined us as our new principal last February from Gyalposhing and he has already shown us how he could lead us to a great change. For the first time I going to work under a man who would allow me to be creative, who himself is an artist hungry for creativity.
There are already so many reforms this man has brought to talk about in just three months but for now I would like to pick on the speech he gave to our girls some mornings ago.
He is a powerful speaker and uses his own choice of words, and here I will use my own words to express the same thing he conveyed that morning:
"I come from Gyalposhing, a small town that grew because of the Kurichhu Project and I have seen firsthand the impact of huge population fed by project on to our young school girls. And here am I again, in a place where two big projects are exploding the local population, where you all could fall victims of change. You could be sweettalked by any man with hundred promises but you must remember that you are the greater promise. You should know that you are capable of being more than just a mere woman dependent a man. Look at your vice principal here, tomorrow if madam Deki's husband treats her bad, tortures her and kicks her, she could kick him back and choose her on road in life. Because she has created her own life where she has hundred choices. You have the same right to create your life where you have hundred choices, you must resist any influence from men at this age. I am not saying relationship with men is bad, I am saying the time is bad. There is charm in doing right thing in the right time. If you fail yourself today, you are failing yourself for the life time: the when your husbands kick you, you may have to hold their feet and beg for mercy because you have nowhere to go. Don't let that happen. Give yourselves time to grow, give yourselves time to make good judgement, remain a student when you are one."
 This speech was well timed and well framed to protect our young girls from thousands of men pouring in because of the Puntatshangchu Project. We keep hearing rumors of our girls getting influenced into relationships and I hope this goes on to help them know that they themselves are the greater promises of their lives, the happiness that no man can give them.


10 April 2012

Boating in the Punatshangchhu

This afternoon I heard the unusual sound from the river again and like the last two times I only sighted the thick white line left behind. From my experience I knew that it would return, so I ran with my camera and waited for it. I was joined by a few colleagues from different direction who saw it go down too.
It was a speed boat and there were four people in it. It's very rare to see boats in the rivers in Bhutan for whatever reason it may be, and when we do see we run and watch like we have never seen it before. I have always wondered why a deep wide river like Punatshangchhu is not used as motor ways, perhaps it was never necessary.
Speeding Upstream on April 9

I heard from my old uncle who used to be among the foremost soldiers trained in Tencholing that there were boats in Punatshangchhu once upon a time. Then, he recalled, the Wangdue bridge collapsed and there wasn't a way left for commuters. Just then a man (I forgot the name now) ran down to south and brought some boats, which he used to transport people and good across the river like taxi. He's said to have made fortunes before the bridge was reconstructed.
Bajo Town in the backdrop
Now the communication is not a problem, there are at least two bridges over the punatshangchhu and if boats are to be put into this water then it can be for entertainment like that of Ooty, an amusement park where Bhutanese families could spend their weekends and vacation, which otherwise is a very expensive affair having to travel abroad- therefore limiting to only the lucky few. We only focus on tourist when we think about amusement as if Bhutanese don't deserve fun. If we create for our own people, tourist will find it more entertaining- sharing space with the natives. For now the boating, rafting, and kayaking we see sometimes are just for tourist and Bhutanese are spectators.
If I weren't a teacher I would invest in such crazy ideas, no matter what it takes.

03 March 2012

How Does the Flood Siren Sound?

I live close to the bank of the Punatshangchhu river, and the area was declared red-zone by the experts who were also kind enough to let us know that eight glacier lakes were waiting to burst downstream on to us anytime soon. I am surprised to find myself having a good night's sleep everyday even after knowing that my bedroom may become the riverbed someday soon.
Astrology has pointed at many natural disasters this year, especially flood, and I think I should stop my Bhutanese complacency and strive to know a few things in preparation for the year. I have heard of GLOF mitigation project, where hundreds of people were engaged in lowering the water level of the potential lakes.  I don't know what finished first- work or the money! I also heard of installation of lots of early warning systems, where by people could be alerted before the flood reaches them. Awareness programs were conducted among people living in red zone, to let them know that they are at risk. However the most important piece in the whole puzzle is yet to come in and I wish to know when is it coming.
Three days ago, it was cold and raining and I was working late into the night as usual. When I was about to go to bed I heard a siren. What was it? Any ordinary Bhutanese would ignore it but I live in the red zone and I know there is an early warning system in place, which immediately made me panic. I went out to confirm the source of the siren. It seems to come from the police station or may be the hospital. I waited for a long time before I finally convinced myself that even if it was the flood it may not reach me.
So the missing piece in the puzzle is how does the flood siren sound? How different is it from the sound of a fire engine or an ambulance? If we can't make out the sound of the flood siren, what it the use of investing so much money in having them? When is the right time to tell us the secret of the flood siren?
A mock drill in the red zone should be possible when mock election was possible across the country, and the right time to do it may be now because  natural disaster may not wait for us to prepare.
And as I was sleeping that night I also wondered where to run if at all the flood comes. Yes, where to go? Have we identified the safe place to run to? And who will come to give us instructions- Police, Dzongda or the Gup? Or are we going to repeat the mistake we made during the last earthquake of listening to rumors and spreading them in the absence of proper information dissemination system?
Well, experts were kind enough to let us know the bad news that we are trespassing the way of raging water but I wish they also told us the good news of how we could keep ourselves safe.