Thursday, 18 September 2014
Conquering five passes in Dochula, Pelela, Yutogla, Thrumsengla and Korila and traversing through series of canyons and beautiful valleys, notably Rukubji and Ura takes one from Thimphu to Kanglung, the home of Sherubtse College. Early autumn scenery passing through the lush green forests coupled with crops nearing harvest nutmegs one’s all senses. Retracing one’s own footsteps took back to those youthful and compelling years in my pursuit of education. Taking the Thimphu-Mongar Highway took me back to February, 2009 when I first travelled to Thimphu all alone but with strangers. It was the command from the Office of the King’s Chamberlain for His Majesty the King would grant us the audience. In succeeding years, as necessitated by my educational aspirations, I travelled to the capital and other places where I found myself always in the company of unknown faces. However, the tales of historic fortresses of Zhonggar (in ruins today), Jakar, Trongsa and Wangdue Phodrang (under reconstruction), race of three brothers – Kurichhu, Chamkharchhu and Mangdechhhu and the mysterious Nyaladuem kept me engaged all through. The beauty of serene environment, the home for rare fauna and flora gave the life to live with. Plying the Mongar – Trashigang Highway four times a year for three years in pursuit of tertiary education gave me a vivid picture of a 12 year old boy compelled to leave his beloved parents. In quest of education, an immature boy so attached to his parents and home whose locality of 13 households was his world, have to leave for Drametse to attain his Lower Secondary Education. On the other side of the road at Kilikhar, he would find his helpless Ama with tears running over her face. In early March, 2002, on our way to Drametse, I told to Apa for us to return back home. The place happens to be Zalaphangma, loosely translated as Monkey - Shoulder between Yadi and Pahadrang. Leaving your home fueled by continuous vomiting for a person travelling by a vehicle for the first time saw no solution but want of escape. To worsen the scene, one would see your Apa in tears. However tough the departure was, the call from education was too important to decline. Today, as I travel, I not only travel in present but also in past with vision for the future. For my last trip to Sherubtse to observe the International Democracy Day, the scenario, however was different. We were eight in numbers and as interactive as it could be. On our journey to and fro, our Driver knew almost all drivers who passed by. It testifies how closely knit Bhutanese society is. Roadside peeing and shouting at vehicles passing by suggests there is ‘Outrageousness’ of Drukpa Kuenley in us but do we have that ‘Elegance’ of the Divine Madman? Chewing doma was frequent in the group, rather munching it nonchalantly, depicting the place of betel and areca in Bhutanese lives. Pubs and night clubs have gained their places among Bhutanese and it has reached far and wide. Going to bars, karaoke and clubs was relatively new to me, at least in Bhutan but it was worth trying. However, my pledge of lacto-vegetarian, non-smoker and teetotaller shall be upheld whatever may the circumstances be for I see myself as, if there is one such term called, a ‘social observer’. After observing the Day, we received blessings from Venerable Trashigang Lam Neten who was presiding the dByar gNes (sic. Buddhist practice where monks do not go out so as to refrain from committing unwholesome acts as walking would take the lives of fellow beings who are growing at this time of the year. They recite prayers and meditate in the temple for certain period of time for the benefit of all sentient beings) at Thubten Chokhorling Monastic College at Kanglung. On our way back, we offered butter lamps at Korila. Earlier today, we paid homage to Saint Guru Rinpochhe and Great Tertoen Pema Lingpa at Membar Tsho. On the other hand, a group of six males perceived inauspicious, imposed in us the fear of insecurity and uncertainty. Superstitious? However, we reached safely to Thimphu thus doing away with any suggestion that traveling in a group of ‘SIX BOYS’- males in our case is inauspicious. The blessings of Venerable Lama and our respective sKyelhas and Yuelhas brought us all safe. On the other hand, vehicles carrying corpse reminded me of the “Ultimate Moment” that we are bound for. In observing the International Democracy Day, I have heard the grievances of my young friends for lack of opportunities, have seconded the lecturers and academicians’ assertion for reforms and have listened to Leaders’ call for participation. The dilemma – how do I mediate? Upon reaching Bumthang, I discussed with Mr Kinley of ECB and Mr Jamba of RUB on my research proposal – civic education. That should help me in transiting back to students’ life and possibly train me towards becoming that Mediator.