Monday, December 26, 2011

Celebrate winter the Bhutanese way!

You must have heard of those Bhutanese, who travel abroad and almost die from extreme craving for food back home. I am one of that species.

I love our food. It is often accused of being too spicy, too oily and even too salty at times. But it works well with my taste buds.

With the winter months on, my love affair with food gets even more serious. The season is about eating more, but it is also about moving around less, which means putting on extra calories. Which is not what I am really worried about.

Perhaps the best part about winter is the dried red chili. I know the cold season is just round the corner when I drive past houses and see windows and verandahs decorated with strings of red chili. I can see the winter sun working on them diligently.

Like any normal Bhutanese, I love chili for reasons I hardly care to find out. And the dried ones are even better. It effortlessly blends with every other item. Shakam with red chili, vegetables with red chili, or red chili with cheese!

Just the thought of these combinations makes my mouth water. But well, what comes after eating it is a different story of course. After all these years, our very own inured Bhutanese stomachs let us down quite often. You are forced to remain confined within the four walls of the bathroom, at times spending painful hours.

That’s the only moment a thought to reduce or even stop intake of chili crosses your mind. But that thought lasts only till another red-hot dish is laid in front of you.

As long as there is dried chili, my days will always be special. And I personally don’t mind reliving the ordeal in the toilet.

Remembering our heroes

It is said “wars may be fought with weapons but are won by men” and men here mean the soldiers. The 2nd Arm Force Raising Day was celebrated with a grand show at the Tencholing Military Training Centre in Wangduephodrang. It was a day to thank our martyr soldiers who sacrificed their good today for our better tomorrow. The day was graced by His Majesty the King, the Supreme Commander of the arm forces and Her Majesty the Queen thus marking the significance of the day.

December 15th 2003 shall never be forgotten by any Bhutanese and the tale of victory shall be told for generations to come. The flushing out of the insurgents from the country by our brave soldiers was led personally by His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo. It was a day that Bhutanese never ever had anticipated even in the wildest of their dreams to happen, a day which covered the whole nation under a blanket of fear and terror. Yet with the guidance of our wonderful leaders, the blessings of our deities and of course the unwavering bravery of our soldiers, we triumphed.

I personally cannot forget the day and the phone conversation I had with my crying mom. My brother is a proud army and nothing prides me to proclaim that I am a proud sister of an army. After reaching home, I can still visualize the scene at home. It was not at all a-happy-get-home for vacation sight.

Carrying my brother’s photograph, my mom came to me and tearfully said “your brother is in the battle field”. All I could do was help mom in crying. Dad looked cool but he was hiding the pain after all he was a retired soldier. I bet he knew what it meant.

For days we couldn’t contact our brother; we were not even sure if he was still alive. We spent sleepless nights in the altar room praying, and every phone ring, all of us would rush to receive it hoping it would be our brother. And when the phone finally rang from our brother, we shed tears of joy. I still remember my brother’s words “mom, we won!” And a week later when our brother came home in that green jeep, we broke down completely with the immeasurable happiness for the reunion!

That was an account of one family and I know many others have had experienced such moments too. Not to forget those who had lost their beloved. I cannot still envisage their plight, the pain and the void created in their family.

Neither words nor any act is sufficient enough to show our gratitude for the sacrifice you made and make every day of your lives. We know you don’t lead the best comfortable lives yet you subsist with dignity and pride. So to that we salute you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The night we drank and I cried!

Friday is a working day but I skipped office, I wasn’t really feeling well, been throwing up ever since the evening I returned from Tencholing. In the evening two of my friends Dechen and Namsey turned up to see me( by then I was almost back to my normal self but it was really sweet on their part) and that’s how we decided to have a drinking session. I was still a little pukish but that didn't held me back from the fun, I did not wanted to! Four guys joined us Jamtsho, Tempa, karma Palden and Kelly my brother so that was eight of us gathered for the night. We wanted to make sure that we don’t drink on empty stomach so a quick dinner we had. Dechen filled the glasses for everyone and we made a toast to such moments and to everyone’s success. It was plum wine we had; the guys went for the harder one.
I don’t remember when we started getting the kicks and when I actually started crying. I knew we were drinking to celebrate our good times, our unity but I kept on asking why I was crying. It was definitely not happiness tears I was shedding and absolutely not crocodile tears as well. Seven of them surrounded me and I tell you it was one of the most embarrassing moments but I couldn’t help it and I cried like a baby infront of them. Karma insisted that we dance so that would lighten up the atmosphere and that I should break the floor. As I stood up to dance I noticed that it wasn’t just me who had been crying, Namsey, my sister, my brother and even Jamtsho had their eyes wet. The reasons known only to themselves. As I moved my body to the rhythm of the music, all of them joined me on the floor, my living room. I didn’t realize I had been crying again until my brother hugged me and whispered in to my ears “au chuki if you are shedding your tears for someone, remember that someone doesn’t value you and the one who doesn’t value you doesn’t deserve your tears!” I broke down completely yet again and I just asked “why?” The reasons unknown!
As the hours ticked by, one by one of us started giving way, the guys were much stronger than the girls though. So that was an account of an out of the ordinary night we had which shall be edged in our heart for all times to come. As I woke up the next morning, Dechen was sleeping soundly beside me and as I looked around I couldn’t help smiling. All the eight of us had slept in the same room. I carefully got out not to disturb my sleeping friends, picked up my laptop and that’s how this piece came up.
PS: This is definitely the outcome of Desuung. Hail Desuups!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Go Desuups Go – the guardian of peace!

“We don’t want educated animals here, only human beings,” roared the adjutant as we were made to fall in in front of our hostel which in military term is called “barrack”. 111 of us were lined up on the morning of October 22, 2011 after having been picked from Thimphu for a month-long training in Tenchholing Military Training Centre.

The first few days were a journey through unknown commands, high pitched tones or rather roars and of course uncertain fall ins. As we got accustomed to the military language, our civilian bodies started giving way to the tiring physical exertions. The number of sick reports increased as the instructors started getting tougher. Even a five-minute break would be heaven for us. Thus started the second batch of Desuung integrated training!

The batch consisted of people from various agencies and diverse backgrounds, maximum being fresh graduates. We had amongst us lawyers, program officers, medical officers, audit officers etc., but regardless of what we are in our working world, we were all known and addressed as one “Desuup”.

As days passed by swiftly and as our passing out parade day neared, a feeling of gloominess engulfed the Desuung atmosphere. Desuups started to wish if only the time could move a little slower, an absolute opposite of what was felt the first few days of our arrival.

The orange suit which unsettled our eyes at first let alone wearing it, now became our favorite attire, the mufti which seemed like some guard’s uniform then, now became our pride and those heavy boots our signature. It was a time we wanted to shout “we are proud to be Desuups!”

We have seen the spirit of true fighters in our instructors and leaders in true sense were our officers at MTC. If anyone needs to learn about team bonding and true brotherhood it is the army they must join. Love, sacrifice, commitment – every emotion you name it – you will proudly find it in the military. A big family is the military. A place, I say, everyone must try out once in their lifetime.

The month long training as a Desuup changed my very perception of the four lettered word ARMY. “Anytime anywhere” is their tagline and in need it is to them we seek refuge. No one knows the life they lead but we have been lucky enough to get a taste of their living. And it is with no shame that I proudly stamp my feet and salute them with all my heart. The Desuups salute you!

The passing out parade was yet another heart wrenching episode. We were proud to be passing out yet we were in pain having to leave the place which taught us so much in such short span of time. The goodbye the next day was one of its kind, tears rolled down everyone’s eyes as the band played the goodbye music. And as we boarded the bus, we knew Tenchholing will always hold a special place in our hearts. And every time we pass by this wonderful place, we shall salute you with pride!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My perfect man!

There was a time in our life or should I say in every woman’s life (I have no say over the men if they also had such moments). A time when the pinnacle of our discussion would be about our Mr. Perfect, how would we like our Mr. Perfect to be, the criterion we set in our minds. Some would want their man to be older than them, for some age doesn’t matter as long as he loves her and there are some nothing else matters but a huge bank balance. Even I had made my own set of rules for a man to walk down the aisle with me. For me the first criterion for my man would always be love (I am a valentine girl if you have forgotten), my man should love me unconditionally. I would say in the presence of love, nothing else matters and that every other thing would fall in place.
As I revert back to those days of our innocent discussion, I cannot help letting out a small laugh for I now find it amusing and funny. The illusion of setting criterion for your Mr. Perfect fades as you cross the threshold of the factual world. You come to realize that setting criterion doesn’t actually helps you find a man befitting all your criterion. You come to realize that there is nothing called perfect man, there are only imperfect men to be perfected! Yet we still set criterion, don’t we?
In my quest to find my Mr. Perfect, I have had to go through a number of battles. Battles of love, hatred, anger, pain. Sometimes I lost, often times I was taken as a prisoner of war and I am still yet to win one battle at least.
My young cousins never fail to remind me of those days whenever I see them chit chattering happily about their future Mr. perfect. And when they ask me about it all I say is “it’s never wrong to set criterion but the real world has something different in store for you, you better be ready” I know this wouldn’t make any sense to them now but someday they are going to tell me “you were right!”.
Well I am yet to know if I have found my Mr. Perfect, I shall wait for time and him to prove it. And LOVE still tops the criterion list for me!