Thursday, 28 August 2014


Arr…Alaa la………,the pain in my back do not seem to go away and the arthritic knee had to be warmed and stretched slowly before I decide to slip out of my bed. Embers from last night’s fire were still glowing red but it had given me enough warmth for the night. It was the third call of the rooster and time for me to begin my day even though the darkness still looms all over. From the crack of the mud wall, I can see the sky in the eastern horizon turn lighter than the rest, an ominous sign of the dawn.

My old body made up of the four elements may return back to those elements soon and the nagging pains are the signs of all those aggregates preparing to return back to Mother Nature. These elements together is what made up a form called body which I am so possessive about and protective even when it does not belong to me in true sense. This body did not belong to me like any other wealth before I came, nor will it ever belong to me after I am gone. This body was just a rented body for my soul to take shelter.

Today, I want to tell my life story in short. This is my reality and the reality that all of us face. It is a cause of concern and worry for the society that something of Tsunamic proportion is taking place in a slow motion. I am worried not for me because I will be long gone when its impact is felt, but for those generations that will follow me and of course yours too.

Half raised from the blanket and feeling little fuzzy, a train of thoughts engulfed me. Today, I have a trip to make to the dzongkhag headquarters. The distance is long. There is an old pickup truck in my village but, the road that was built three years back was washed away. Sadly gewog has no budget and whatever little dzongkhag had was already used. So we are going to walk again including the vehicle owner.

Today, he will not be able to take away our hard earned money and he will sweat profusely trying to keep pace with the rest of us. His massive girth was an indication of where all our money had gone in him. Today, we all walk equal like we always did some years back before the road came. The road has made him richer, while the rest of us only became poorer. He runs the only shop in our village and owns a pick-up truck too. So, all our money goes to him.

When the road first came there was excitement. We all sang songs and danced. The old and the aging and the rest walked the new road. Few children, half naked ran, their unkempt hair flying in rhythm with their gait. But, the initial excitement was short lived. It only drained whatever little resource we had. In the past we had to walk for hours to the nearest shop. We all did. Poor man like me and the rich man in the neighbourhood all walked together. Today, he bought a taxi and we ride in it paying him all the money we can muster. Most of us had gone poorer while the rich man is growing fatter with our money.

Life has become difficult for me to be living in the village at this age. Just yesterday, I went to work in a community forest to clear unwanted bushes that are hampering the growth of good trees. This is the fifth day in the last two months that we have been working. One member from every household is required for the work, failing it will result in the payment of Nu 300 as penalty. You know the whole village now looks after a huge forest converted as community forest. There aren’t many trees in that forest but, with all villages having their own forest areas, we had to take even that or risk not having any, the local leaders warned.

And when I say it is difficult. I mean it. More than half of my time is spent fulfilling various obligations in the village; the lists are endless for me to narrate. Then there are important meetings by dzongkhag officials, followed by gewog and tshokpas which also take up substantial work days. 

Those of us left behind in the village have to attend to all these things. We are getting old but there are not many young people in the village. We have sent our children in school, hoping they will find a good government job and help us. I am told there are not many jobs while there are thousands looking for employment. But, they will not come back home. They are educated.

Even those in the village are migrating to towns. They say life is good there with tall buildings, shining cars and wide roads teeming with cars and people. But, my heart will never find peace in an alien place. I love my village but, my beautiful village is growing old and thin. When I say old, my village is inhabited mostly by old people and in dwindling numbers.  Some empty houses have become haunted place. Just the other night, someone told of encountering a gigantic shadowy figure by an empty house when the night fell.

Back in the villages, farms are shrinking including mine. I cannot till all the land that belongs to me. I have been able to farm only half of my land. Rests are covered in Artemisia plants along with those who left never to return back. Another neighbour is planning to move out to where his son lives.

Bushes in the neighbourhood are a hiding place for wild boar during the day. And monkeys live on the fringes closely watching my maize field grow. Looks like I am share cropping for them and others like deer and even nocturnal porcupine take their share.  The government is in a indefinite experimental mode, so I better forget about any wishful thinking solutions.

Well, we have sent our representative to talk and correct things in the society and find solutions to the problems facing the villages like ours. They also promised so much in talks laced with honey when they came campaigning. I am sad now; they saw our vote and mandate as an opportunity to fatten their pocket. I feel like I will not vote from now onward but, if I don’t vote, it is as good as my vote going to the undeserving person. If I vote, and good candidate lose, my vote becomes futile. This is intriguing about election to us. In between many things can also possibly happen I am told.

And now I pick up aging cane hat (call it zaapi or bello) and head out fetch firewood. Even though, it is developing loose ends at the fringes, it is much more useful than that politician who promised me a handsome cowboy hat, stetson (Jazham) which he forgot after the election is over. The loose strands on the edges are coming out but, it keeps my bald head dry in the rain and also insulates it when it shines. Honestly, I fancied wearing a handsome Jazham once but have made peace with my old bello hat, because this is the reality.

Well, I told you my story but I did not tell you who I am. I am the real face of Bhutan, the 70 percent of the population to be precise. I am Sonam Zhingpa, a farmer who lives in a remote village where life has hardly changed for better, a real farmer in fact. Are you listening???

Take care until we meet again.
Gyembo Namgyal
August 29, 2014

Monday, 25 August 2014


Prior to 2006, Bhutan had one print media Kuensel, and one state owned BBS radio and television broadcast media. Then came democracy and with it came two other private print media and few radio stations. And in the next few years we had around a dozen print media, five radio stations and some magazine publications.

Going by the sheer number of media especially print media, a first look at the figure gives the impression of healthy number for a small country. It also gives the impression of our society being voracious readers. But the reality is entirely different. The sheer number of print media is neither healthy nor are Bhutanese great reader by any standard.

There was a big expectation from the public when the first two private print media came on the stage in 2006. Both the two private newspapers, Bhutan Times and Bhutan Observer provided an alternative news stories to what was normally reported in Kuensel. While both the private newspapers had their distinct appeal, Kuensel also began changing its outlook to deal with the changing situation. Both the first two private media also invested heavily in human resource development and in putting infrastructures in place.

The first democratically elected government was ushered in 2008 and thereafter more private print media came in the scenario and the competition also intensified in all areas. It will be unfair to say that the first government did nothing to strengthen media in the country. I think all the private media enjoyed tax holidays and also equitable distribution of government advertisements for some years. Although, it may have been difficult for some information to come readily under the new democratic culture, no deliberate attempts on the part of the government to withhold information had been reported in the past.  In addition, the monthly press meet with the government enabled media to ask even hard questions that were unthinkable in the past.

Media also seemingly exercised its full rights guaranteed by the constitution and was often critical of almost all the policies of the government. At times, there was a feeling that even ordinary stories became scam to media. Yet, not a single media house or a journalist has ever been taken to task showing its tolerance to fledgling media.

There was an interesting development that took place in the media industry in Bhutan. No private media was self sustaining and depended heavily on government advertisement for their sustenance on the one hand and on the other hand, it was the same media that was attacking the government on every front. So, call what may, the so called austerity and cost cutting measures by the government are obviously a way to hit back at the media. This was a sad development for the fledgling media but such a measure was expected. The government took the brazen boldness of media as trying to bite and swallow the same finger that was meant for suckling.

This situation had its impact in the entire system. Prior to the implementation of cost cutting measures, newspapers were subscribed by all the government offices and every classroom in almost all the schools had at least one copy of all the newspapers. This enabled children to read more and also be informed of what was happening in the country. This was what was needed to instill reading habit in our children.

Sadly though, one of the first sacrificial lambs of the government’s cost cutting measure was restriction on advertisement followed by doing away of office subscriptions of newspapers and slashing of newspaper numbers in schools. Slowly, it was no longer available in the classrooms and only offices of importance had the privilege of having newspapers in their offices. This was a ridiculous cost cutting measure. One weekly private newspaper cost a mere Nu 10. What would be its impact on the exchequer? One day DSA of a mid level official will be enough to cover one year subscription of a private weekly and only god knows how many fictitious DSAs are being claimed in a year that would have made a larger impact.

This led newspapers to take cost cutting measures too. Professionals who joined media with the intent of spending their lifetime in media had to seek alternative positions and began leaving their profession. Bureaus in the dzongkhags had to be closed and media houses became Thimphu centric depriving the rural majority their voices. Today, if print media are surviving, they are there just barely hoping for a miracle. Already, one of the first private print media Bhutan Observer is in its indefinite state without its print edition. From a strong manpower of over 70 people, there is just a handful left now.

So much was promised by the present government and there was lot of expectations from media houses. So far, nothing good seems to be happening for media. The much hyped Right to Information Act (RTI) that was meant to provide more media freedom through an act threatens to curtail those rights provided by the constitution and the act remains in its primordial form. But, where is the vociferousness of the media now. The tiger that roared five years back looks to have become domesticated cat now purring by the hearth.

This state of the media, especially print media is a worrying situation for our democracy that is just over six years old. The recent report in an international journal Business Standard, quoting findings of Journalists Association of Bhutan (JAB), is a cause of concern not just for media but for our six year old fledgling democracy. There is an urgent need for a wise media policy in the country because it is the freedom and vibrancy of the media that will be the basis for the international community to judge the state of our democracy.

But, the vibrancy of a free media must not always be indicated by scams and negative reporting in order to grab headlines. The fourth estate must be responsible too.  Media must adapt itself to the needs of the country; media must report what is the truth without hyperbolic rhetoric and also serve the larger cause of bringing our society closer to each other towards attainment of national objectives. Media in Bhutan cannot ape what media elsewhere in the world do because priorities and situations differ as said by the renowned BBC journalist Sir Mark Tully.

Whether print media survives or not, people today have a wide range of media where everyone is a journalist in his own right. Facebook, twitter, text messages, e-mail, wechat and of course blogging allows us to share our thoughts and views on wide variety of issues confronting us. Until we meet again, take care and happy reading!!!
Gyembo Namgyal

August 25, 2014.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Although Bhutan is a small country, its virtual inaccessibility not just to the outside world but even within during the ancient days was all too obvious from diverse language, culture and tradition we see today. Virtually, every region and valleys that are separated from each other have something different culturally which continues to thrive even to this day.

Among these diversity is the language we have inherited now. Despite our small size, there are at least a dozen dialects and there are even variations among the same language spoken in different valleys. Like Dzongkha’s variations among Dzongkha speaking people of the different western Bhutan, there are variations in Tshangla among the Tshangla speaking people of the east and so is the case with those speaking Bumthangkha and Khengkhas in the central region.

But, as long as languages serve its purpose of communication, the basic objective of language is achieved.  But sometimes we find ourselves lost in translation when we try to speak a language that is not our mother tongue. At times it can find the speaker in a precarious situation leading to sudden blurting out of inappropriate words, phrases and sentences.

Here are some examples of how, while trying to communicate with languages people don’t have command over, some people landed themselves in awkward situations and hilarious of course. It was not long ago when the government made it mandatory for official discussions at all levels including those at the grass roots to be made in the national language Dzongkha. This has been in one way a good opportunity for the non-Dzongkha speaking people to develop command and proficiency of the national language. But, for a non-Dzongkha speaking local leaders, making points through also becomes difficult and often end up blurting out a cocktail of Dzongkhag and the local dialect that virtually bring about laughter and light heartedness even in some serious forums.

In one of the local dzongkhag level decision making body, a Gup (head of a gewog or block) was reprimanded for not making desirable progress in a bridge construction work. The leader stood up to explain his position, and this is how he ended up saying, “Zaam chap da lu lakha du. Dang pa rang ‘paer’ gobay, deley do gobay, deley ‘baetza’ gobay,”  evoking open laughter among those in attendance and the leader was left red-faced.

What he meant to say was, to explain how difficult it is to make progress in building the bridge and that, first materials like iron, stone and sand had to be stock-piled. What he did not realize was the fact that he ended up using Tshangla version for iron and sand (paer and baetza instead of cha and bjem) that the house found it hilarious. This statement makes round even now and it never ceases to evoke laughter even today.

In another incident, a man from western Bhutan came to do orange business in the east. The man understood little tshangla language but was adventurous and likes to take assumptions. One day, that assumption just became little costly for him. He went into an orchard and after inspecting the fruit asked the owner the cost. The man took a translator with him. After much mulling, the owner said that he is expecting about thirteen thousand Ngultrums. In Tshangla thirteen is spoken as ‘Song Sam’. Without waiting for translation, the business man jumped in and told the owner, “Song sam malap wai, Sumchu jeeng gay.” He virtually ended up saying, “thirteen thousand is too high; I will give you thirty thousand.” The perplexed orchard owner couldn’t believe his luck. He pretended to accept the offer with some reluctance only. Both the parties were pleased but, left the translator mute and perplexed.

It was in 2008, Bhutan was gearing up for its first parliamentary elections. There was tremendous effort on the part of the election commission to educate voters all over the country through the newly appointed electoral officers. In one such meeting, an official from central Bhutan, though not a native Tshangla speaker happens to know the language to some extent and had the confidence on his ability to convey the message. Towards the end, he told repeatedly, “It doesn’t matter who comes to you with verbal promises, use your ‘Joktang’ and vote accordingly.” What he meant to say was; tell people to use their brain which is called ‘Nyoktang’ in Tshangla but ended up telling people to use ‘Joktang’ which actually means potato. He said he felt embarrassed even while shouting to use their joktang repeatedly when people giggled. He only realized later, why.

Here is an incident where a Bhutanese businessman went to attend an auction in the bordering town. The auction was mostly attended by Indian businessmen and so the auction had to be conducted in Hindi. Once the auction began, the bidders quoted their bid offer in Hindi at the top of their voice. After few rounds of quotation, the Bhutanese man reached a point where he did not know any further count in Hindi. So he intermittently shouted, “Sabse Upaar, Saabse Upaar.” As soon as one man quoted the highest bid, the auctioneer began counting Ek…, Do…., the man kept shouting, ‘Sabse Upaar, Sabse Upaar’. He was trying to bid above the last highest bidder, so he shouted ‘Sabse Upaar’, much to the bewilderment of all in attendance. At the end of the day, he ended up with nothing except that people took him as being mentally unsound and, those who knew him began calling him ‘Sabse Upaar’.

Even author Linda Leaming in her book, ‘Married to Bhutan’ wrote how one day while shopping for a khaddar in a shop bumped into a senior Bhutanese officer and tried using her newly acquired proficiency in Dzongkha by attempting to converse in Dzongkha. She tried to say, “I hope you are also coming to a minister’s reception but, ended up saying “Gho phue bey ma nye” literally telling the officer to remove his clothes and lie down. Embarrassed, the officer made a hasty retreat from the shop. She realized her mistake only after the officer left much to the bewilderment of the shopkeeper.

There is even a recent post in the social media which said that the Korean Prime Minister who was preparing to meet US president having been briefed to greet the president in English. The aide told the prime minister that he should greet the president with, “How are you?” and when the question was asked back by the president, he should reply with, ‘‘Me too.”
When they met this happened: Prime Minister began by asking, “Who are you?”
The president who was taken aback little surprised said, “I am of course husband of Michele Obama.”
The Korean Prime Minister ended up saying, “Me too.”

Like these, there are many other incidences of how such goofs occur when we say unfamiliar words and sentences of languages we don’t have command over at wrong time and place. They are at times not just inappropriate but costly sometimes and often hilarious. Well, despite the awkward situation faced at the time of its occurrence, they make us smile and laugh in posterity when we re-live those situations.

 In passing, I would like to state here that these incidences while true are not meant to offend anyone. Forgive me if they do. Meanwhile wish you a happy reading and keep well until we meet next time here.

Gyembo Namgyal
August 21, 2014.

Sunday, 17 August 2014



A friend of mine suggested that I write about love letter for this week’s blog. I was lost because I hardly remember if I had ever written a love letter for myself in my life. I even don’t remember exactly how I wrote love letters for my friends and seniors in schools even though I confessed earlier that I was a love letter writer. Those were long forgotten part of my life. I hardly remember on whose insistence I wrote love letters or who the letters have been directed to.

Ah, then something struck my mind. Few years back, a group of students passed by my house. They came to my place along with my son and I offered them tea.  In the process of my inquiries about the progress of their studies, I checked the boys’ notebooks to see how well they are writing. And from the middle of one of the notebook, a loose page neatly folded at the middle fell to the floor.

One boy’s face blushed and others gave impish smiles looking at their friend’s countenance. The loose page contained a long love letter written in multi coloured ink. But even the boy who blushed denied the letter belonged to him. So I asked if I can keep it. They boys agreed amidst giggles and passing glances shot at the culprit.

The letter was interesting one and many people smiled reading at the way it was written to whoever I showed. I could not recollect if I have saved that letter which I thought I did but, did not realize where I placed it. After a good thought of where the possible repository was, I decided to have a look inside my fun-box. It is a small box where I kept interesting and funny objects.

While I remained doubtful all along of finding it, a part of me believed that even if the letter is not inside the fun-box, it must be somewhere. So I began searching and yeah at the bottom of the box was the letter I was looking for.  

Today, we complain of the lack of creativity and writing skills among our children but, I think this is not true.  This boy had written two full pages pulled out of a standard register. For me, this letter proved to be as much creative as anyone can imagine. I wonder, whether I have been even half as creative during my school days.

While there is no point in writing down the entire letter, I must quote some interesting lines and paragraphs the letter contained. This is what the letter contained in parts; “Dear love of my luv life, you are the jewel of my wonderful life, you are a fine golden bowl to receive my love, you are a beautiful flower in a garden that helpless bee like me are naturally attracted to.”

He then asked the girl never to change her mind, come what may and he wrote, “Don’t forget the moon even if the super sun come shining.” And he described how his love is going to remain with same intensity from hour to hour and said that even if he sees the girl’s smile fading like a wilting primrose, he can only love more.

Then he compared himself to snow lion and that of the girl as snow of the high mountains. He wrote how unbearable it would be the snow lion if all the snow melted on the high mountains. And he compared his love to that of legendary Singye-Galem. The boy wrote, “Singye died for Galem one time, but I can die for you many times. I love you so mercilessly.”

On the right side of the double lined ruled paper, the boy made a special insert which says, “I don’t believe that  in a hundred lifetimes, I would find someone like you and that makes me believe that miracles do happen and dreams can really come true…..I am so deeply and so endlessly…. In love with you.”

And in the similar position of the second page the boy asked the girl not to be annoyed for his inability to talk with her despite his effort which he considers as sign of his true love for the girl. And in the middle of the second page there, written diagonally and inside a box are some more lines under title Message. This is what the message really was and I quote exactly what the message was all about:

“Hi, Shumar gi bum Jamchoe, I am Nangkor ki bu Dordzen.
Nge Metshe Nyelam Na, if you don’t love me, my Sampai Rewa will be in vain and I will be Lengo which will take me to Dzoelwai Lam.
If you have many Hingtam to share with me, let’s share at Sweet Home.
I will be your dasho and hope to have many Jaros.
At last we will confess to our Phama for Ngyenda Dra and
Let’s have a son Jigdrel and when we become old we will go to Chorten Kora to pray for
Metshey Throthue like Gasa Lamai Singye mo………………” and signed off the letter with, “Yours till eternity….Regyel.

Now, isn’t this truly a work of a creative mind and that too of a school boy? I just wonder where the destiny took them. Was that a real love destined for a happy ending or a mere puppy love we all go through at one stage of our life, depends on various cause and conditions Ley Jumdre but I can certainly salute this boy for his effort and creativity.

Well, I just want to remind this friend who suggested the topic to come out one day with your love story as well. The volumes of your love note as you said you wrote brought tears in the eyes of that person you wrote to, let’s hear your story…….Hingtam.

Happy Reading.

Gyembo Namgyal
August 18, 2014.

Note: Structures in some of the quotes have been edited slightly to make it readable except the paragraph that contains words in italics. The words in italics are names of Bhutanese films which the boy used to convey his message.

Thursday, 14 August 2014



One issue that always troubles my limited understanding of life and spirituality is how we Bhutanese live our everyday life. Having been born in the sacred Baeyul blessed by Guru Rimpoche, I find Bhutanese pious and religious minded and generously charitable. But, the question that troubles me is; are we living ethical and honourable life on day to day basis which to me looks more important that being charitable and spiritually inclined only during certain occasions?

I must confess from the onset that, I lack even basic understanding of such a large issue but, my perceptions are solely from a lay man’s point of view. And this is in no way meant to offend anyone.

Let me come straight to the point. From the time we lose our innocence we develop possessiveness. It is a part of growing up and there is nothing wrong in it. And then comes a time we all develop and nurture long term goals and wish lists. All of us want to succeed in life, but unfortunately we measure success in terms of material wealth, bank balances and positions. We aspire to achieve these things for our ultimate and universal goal, and that goal is HAPPINESS.

With happiness as the ultimate goal and successful life perceived as means to achieving that goal and our perception of success often associated with materialism; the manner and extent we go on to achieve material success is often where we all lose sight of our ultimate goal. To me this is often the case with most of us.  In a bid to achieve the ultimate goal, we defeat all the aggregates essential for achieving that goal.

We all have the tendency to keep on aspiring more than we always have at our disposal. This is because our priorities shifts from want to greed and greed has no limit. We just keep thinking that if we achieve some more, we would be happier not realizing that there still are so much more we still want. We are drawn in the vicious cycle of wanting more and more all the time. We may one day have a chain of palace like buildings, fleets of gas guzzling luxury SUVs, acres and acres of land in prime locations and so on and so forth. But, you will always feel poorer by something and that feeling deprives us the peace of mind essential for happiness. And then we realize we are nowhere near the ultimate goal.

There is nothing wrong if we achieved whatever we have through legitimate and ethical means. However, people driven by ambitious goals achieve them often through means that are dubious, dishonest and unethical not realizing the graveness of implications it can have later on our conscience.

So what happens after this is, seeking salvation to cleanse those wrong doings. That is when some of us become generous, sponsoring religious activities and donating to charitable causes realizing the futility of our past actions. We all realize there is no escape from the law of cause and effect (Jumdre).

To most of us these realizations come bit too late and by then the damage would have already been done trapping us to live the rest of our lives with some stigmas. By then, no amount of redemption would be good enough to expunge the stigmas we carry in us. It goes with us haunting us even in death and it does not end there, we have to repay for our actions in the lives after death for whatever wrong we did in this life.  

So what is important but don’t realize is the essence of living an honourable and ethical life at all times. At the end we may have nothing, but at least we may have nothing to regret about and no stigmas attached.

Go anywhere in the country, and we are never short of generous people especially if it is for the cause of religion and dharma activities. We also embark on pilgrimage, attend religious discourses with closed eyes and receive innumerable blessings and empowerment in life. These pursuits are special but we need to ask ourselves on why we fail to live honourably on daily basis. We also go to extreme extent to derive personal benefits bending laws, forsaking ethical means and deliberately abandoning dignity, honour and moral standards. I find this tragic.

I also appreciate charitable activities of Bhutanese people, I consider such generosity as purely motivational and without any strings attached to it. It would be unfortunate if such charitable activities are funded by robbing the country and its people through systemic loopholes and other unethical and unfair means. This would be futile and tragic then because; the money in the first place would have never belonged to those who robbed the state. And no amount of such donations and generosity should suffice enough to absolve those people of their wrong doings.

If we really want a peace of mind at the end of the day, it would be important for us to ask ourselves if what we achieved are earned fairly and ethically. And we must also be constantly reminded of our responsibilities bestowed upon us and to discharge them accordingly. Being ethical and morally upright may not necessarily bring us success but whatever it brings will be valueless. Above all, this will guarantee us the ultimate peace of mind and what more can we ask for. Nothing can buy us peace of mind, clear conscience and innate happiness except by being true to ourselves and our ethics. That must be our ultimate goal. Isn't it?

I may be wrong, but I wanted to share this personal perception with my readers. This is not an attempt to dissuade people from pursuing their dreams of materialism. There is nothing wrong in that but, there are pitfalls of bringing unhappiness and pains if we don’t ask ourselves the question of whether our pursuits are in tandem with our ultimate aspirations of achieving peace and happiness personally and to those around us.

Wishing all happy reading.

Gyembo Namgyal

August 14, 2014

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


                                                 THE BEAUTY OF A VILLAGE LIFE
Life in a village to many people is all hard work and no joy. Village is where we consider the uneducated and rustic people live covered in grime and filth with little or nothing in life. Yes, uneducated they may be and they might not have all the junks of modernity in their lives if we are to measure village life by these irrelevant yardsticks. Look deeper and there lies the real beauty and vibrancy of a village life that are far too overwhelming than the so called educational qualifications and material possessions that most people in certain bracket are so obsessed with.

Change is inevitable and it is slowly taking place even in the villages but, something can never change that soon and that is the shared communal responsibilities and belongingness, be it in times of joy or despair, in fun and frolic or in tears and heartbreaks.

Conditions and situations change in the village from time to time but, what remains is the solidarity among the village folks that still remain as strong as ever.

At this time of the year, villages are in the thick of farming works. It is around this time that farmers, especially women are busy weeding maize. Young women and girls can be seen in groups working in maize fields taking turns to work in each other’s field every day. The sun may be harsh one day. The next day rain could be relentless and the days may be long but, fields in the villages can always be seen filled with women with kiras held high above their knees. While they work, their backs bent they can always be found discussing issues ranging from politics and current affairs to even raunchy jokes that evoke a barrage of high pitched laughter and giggles intermittently oblivious to beads of perspiration oozing relentlessly from every pores of their bodies.

This time round, their talk ranged from the recent salary raise and how it favoured people at the top when the talk all along was to make the most for those who earn the least. They even share their concerns of who would be looking after their well beings when the people who have all the say are too concerned with their well beings alone. They then talk of what led to the recent suicide of a young policewoman from the village and they have all sorts of hypothesis as to what could have driven the girl to take her own life.

When the women are in group, they hardly care whether anyone is around who can overhear their conversation. It is often talk about men that they find it fun sharing. It can be about a young man following a young woman or a personal and private affair of a young couple that has leaked and may be going around like a bush fire among the women folk that they find fun talking about. Often, after a frenzied chattering someone from the group can be heard bursting out aloud, “Ha Hao...” And the other follow with a flurry of laughter, waves after waves.

Few minutes later there would be another bout of-“Ha Haoo…” and another blitz of laughter reverberates around the lush green maize fields. And at other times, they would be singing together in unison burying the clanking of spades and stones with laughter and songs.

No matter, how hard the day’s work may be, they enjoy working together and burying their difficulties and hardships underneath these joys. At the end of the day’s hard work, they sit around for a drink of local beer and salad before dinner. And another round of strong local brew, coloured red with sandalwood and heated in butter and eggs is normally served at the end to wash the food.

It is not surprising for these young women to sometimes dance for few more hours before they head home, mentally on a high note, although, their bodies go limp for the day. For them, the few hours of sleep is what they get to revitalize their body for another day of work that awaits them the next day.

I can only admire them and salute them for making life so beautiful. I think this is bliss!!!

Gyembo Namgyal
August 12, 2014

Thursday, 7 August 2014


                                               MY MAIDEN FORAY INTO BLOGGING

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
                                                                                                                       -Conrad Hall.

This is the very reason why I have decided to begin writing a blog. First, I always considered myself as a student of a lifetime; eager to learn from anything and everything at all times believing that the process of learning only ceases when we die.

And secondly, I wanted to keep writing in another form from where I left and keep moving forward in life. For me there is nothing half as beautiful as reading and writing and this is where I intend to learn more interacting with likeminded people, sharing and enjoying diverse views and writing styles.

I have always been a keen reader throughout my life and writing has been something I will always have my hands full learning in this life. Nevertheless, I have never allowed this shortcomings get the better of me and despite the odds, my resolve to write on have only grown stronger with time. May be I am already in love with reading and writing, if not; I may be falling in love then. That’s because I believe it is never too late to be falling in love with reading and writing.

Oh, I said that I was a keen reader right from the beginning. Let me explain how. Those days, there was hardly any newspaper or alternative reading material available even in schools and believe me what is available in school’s scant libraries do not necessarily interest students who face difficulties comprehending what those voluminous books contained and what good is a reading if you don’t understand anything.

 But, that never deterred me and I kept reading whatever alternative reading material I could lay my hands on. Sometimes, they were the Indian newspapers used as wrappings in the shops and other times old magazines. No matter what it took, I always felt the urge to read what were written in them. It somehow entertained me, true to the media’s role as a source of entertainment that I learnt later. This is how I first developed my reading habit. Even today, while I am not a voracious reader, I read regularly. The good thing now is that, reading materials are available widely today.

And as reading and writing go hand in hand like the two sides of the same coin, it had to hold true for me. I began writing by taking baby steps away from classroom writing. You know, the best way to begin creative writing in the school for me was by writing love letters.

When I say, I wrote love letters in school, don’t get me wrong. It was not that girls flocked and swooned over me that prompted me to begin writing love letters. I was bit too young to understand all that and far too short in looks for girls to be attracted to me. Yet, I was always trusted enough to be able to write love letters for my seniors and friends and also keep the secret inside me. Honestly, I ended up keeping too many cupid secrets of friends. I was everyone’s confidant. I was a virtual clerk in the class. Sometimes, I ended up writing for my friends and replying them from the girl’s side as well. But believe me, it enabled me to learn within the limited horizon, but that was a good beginning. Had it been today, my clerical services would not have mattered as love notes would have exchanged through, text messages, chats and phone calls.

Today, when I look back, it gives enough reasons and potentials to evoke stomach churning laughter but, that has been beneficial for me. I learnt to take small baby steps in writing and I am still trying to learn every day.

Well, let me write some of those memories over the time because I don’t want my readers to get bored right from my maiden post.

Meanwhile, keep reading and writing. Cheers and be happy.

Tashi Delek

Gyembo Namgyal

August 07, 2014