Tuesday, 10 February 2015


picture: google
Tshering and Namgyal were mere acquaintance during their training days.Tshering is from Haa in Western Bhutan and Namgyal is from Bumthang in Central Bhutan. Both had their separate friends in the training institute and despite being cordial to each other, their association cannot be termed as that of friendship.

But what happens next is a complete surprise. After the training, both were sent to a remote village in Pemagatshel in Eastern Bhutan to serve. And neither spoke a word of the local dialect Tshangla. So after spending some weeks at the dzongkhag headquarters, they finally embark on their journey to their place of posting in Dungmin village. It is the remotest gewog in the dzongkhag devoid of roads, electricity or any communication facility.

Both become dejected when they leave the last motorable road at the gypsum mines and start walking. Dungmin is officially two days away from the nearest road head. Tshering did spend some months studying in the engineering college in Deothang before quitting it. But Namgyal had never been to east in his life. Both came from rural settings but, what they are embarking on is something they have not even imagined in their life.

At the bottom of the valley, they have to cross a stream several times back and forth. After that, the climb begins. Both the young men sweated profusely and from time to time they had to take rest underneath shades of trees. After hours of walking they reach Tsebar village. They were extremely thirsty following the loss of water from their body through sweats that have drenched their shirt when they reached the first village.

So relieved were they to find a water tap in the middle of the village. Both the men were not accustomed to the tricks of walking long distances. So thirsty were they that they drank and drank until they felt satisfied. They thought this will energize them to make the remainder of the journey. How wrong were they, they could hardly walk few steps. So lethargic they have become by then that they could barely take few steps at a time before slumping to the ground. This was the first hard lessons they learnt on walking that, no matter how thirsty you are, you must refrain from excessive drinking.

From Tsebar village, they could see the majestic chorten on the ridge above. The chorten looked tantalizingly close and within reach but,  in reality, the young men felt as if the chorten was moving away from them. At last, the reach the small pass where the chorten stands. They circumbulate the chorten three times and then resume their journey.

These novice walkers thought that, walking downhill would be an easy task. They found out how wrong they were. For few hundred metres, the men walked light footed but then after an hour of walking downhill, they felt weakness and pains on their knees. The walk slows down but the sun will not wait even for the first timers and since it is winter darkness creeps in fast. So the young men must pick themselves up and push on. The two men learn their second reality that, walking even downhill on steep terrain is no easier than walking up hill as was widely thought.

They reach Dungmin by the sun down and soon the darkness was all around. The silence of the night was eerie as the village nearby sleeps early. They put up in a small office for the night and although they were hungry, they skip dinner. Soon, sleep overtakes their senses and they drift to dreams. Both the men sleep fitfully on the same bed, there was just one.

Both the young men were so tired but, the experiences of the day have impact on the mental state of the young men that they dream uncomfortably. And in the crucible of his dream, Namgyal  saw people of various sizes and shapes shouting at his face in unison as if conveying some kind of message in alien language. He woke up and opened his eyes to see what was happening. And yes, people were indeed shouting. He opened the window little and saw people carrying huge bamboo candlelight and walking away from the village. There were sounds of clanking of small bells tied around the necks of horses. Is he dreaming? He pinched himself to understand if he was awake. Yes, he was. He wakes his friend and they discuss why the village folks are running away in the middle of the night. They became panicky but, stayed put wishing for the dawn to break.

The following day, they learn that people from remote villages had to walk in the middle of the night to the nearest road point at Denchi to do shopping for even the most basic essentials and return back the same day. This was the ways of the village. By sun-down, the village sleeps and wakes up in the middle of the night to begin the day. There are so much to learn for these two men in the days and months ahead. Will they learn, only time will tell.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 10, 2015 11:58 PM


  1. You have good memory....... Now Dungmin has road n electricity.... Now it is no more remote. This story has happened long time back....

    1. yeah it a story that could have happened long time back. we cannot make it happen any more. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I don't have idea of how the terrains are in those localities. But I heard names of these village and I guess now it is connected with road and electricity facilities. Life is worth experiencing new adventures..

    1. Yes, all these villages are now have roads, electricity, mobile connectivity and water supplies. Thanks for reading.