Monday, December 27, 2010

Last week I took my very last three days ‘Casual Leave’ for the year (Wow! It was worth saving out of ten!). After two solid years I had gone to my village (Shershong) in Gelephu to perform one-day Lochhoe. Lochhoe is an annual festival conducted mostly by the western region in the country and is an integral part of our folklore. It is with the belief that the end of the year is the right time to start afresh with renewed hope for a prosperous new year in terms of health, wealth, crop yield, success, etc. It is the time to pay our reverence to God for his benevolence, everlasting care and divine company for the year that just passed by. It is also the only occasion wherein all family members, relatives, friends and neighbours gather together and rejoice unconditionally.

The day is preceded by morning Thub (porridge) which is my favorite part of the course meal for the day. We would set everything ready from the previous night only. People who practice this ritual in some part of the country have started to abstain from non-vegetarian food for this particular day which is a noble initiative taken by them. We are hoping that the rest of the cohort members will follow the suit as well in near future. The host would invite all the fellow villagers within and make them eat everything, literally a ceremonial meal! From morning Thup & breakfast to afternoon refreshment & Soew (lunch) to evening Shamdrey (fried rice) & tea to Tsho (dinner) with of course Beer & Ara (this thing they call it distilled water). Surprising my Aunt this time added a variety of wine like Santa Barbara, Wedding bells, Zinzy, Figueira in the shopping list (she said that her guest friends now preferred these brands of wine over beer).   

As the ritual comes to an end, the family members are asked to come inside the altar room where the Lama and other monks are reciting various mantras. This time, my mother, my niece and I went inside and sat listening to them praying for my family. As they continued praying, we were asked to keep a bowl each in front of the altar. We then threw the rice grains in the air, few grains happened to get inside the bowl filled with ara. They say that, more the number of grains inside the bowl, more happiness will be in stored for you for the New Year. As these are honest revelation, you can’t help but accept them. I’m happy that my bowl contained lots of rice grains than I expected. Moment of Bliss! It is one of those glorious experience that you get it once every year, people having faith in those citations of religious mantras, offerings to God, your fellow villagers and the God himself.

Now wandering away from it, as I headed off to sleep I spent some time to think about how beautiful the world must have looked in the west with lights all around as they celebrated the biggest holiday - Christmas (though people have started to celebrate this part of the world too. If I may, I would like to call it the influx of western cultures. Bhutanese today celebrate almost every international occasion for whatever reasons). “Christmas is just weird. What other time of the year do you sit in front of a dead tree in your house and eat candy out of your socks?” Wait, that wasn’t me at all. I just quoted from the Funny-One-Liners which I happened to come across on twitter.

The whole picture of Christmas dominated around a jolly red-white-suited and white-bearded Santa Claus flying on his red-nosed reindeer, slithering down the chimneys (every December) with a huge bag filled with attractively wrapped Christmas presents when I was young and innocent. Even Santa Claus had the right thought of visiting people once a year like our annual Lochhoe which brings together the whole family and the community. God knows who introduced this ‘ho-ho-ho-jolly-man’ version of God to me then. It always kept me wondering how he could make our wish come true. How on world did he handle the never ending wishes of ours? I was told that he would grant wishes if only you have been a good person throughout the year. Well now there is something to contemplate, is it bad for us to believe in it with an unbridled faith, if this turns us to a better being? If it scares us of indulging ourselves in wrong deeds? If it motivates us to do good work? I hope Santa was good to you. I hope Santa brought you everything that you ever wanted, that you so well deserve. Anyone get anything good? Well your answer explains if you have been naughty or nice throughout the year. So you better behave well next year on if your wish depends on Santa.

This has been a season for family and friends to come together and be jolly. Lochhoe in a way lets us return back to the society where we truly belong and rejoice in what we have been practicing for yonks. Christmas has been the time to give not only gifts but joy and happiness wholeheartedly. There is this beauty of Christmas in making us still hope for our wishes to come true this year, if not next year and in the coming years. It is the best part of the year with such festive spirit in the air and the whole family and community coming together beautifully to celebrate the occasions.  While everyone is busy making plans to welcome the new year, I’m heading to enjoy the last day of the season of giving, thanking God for the love, laughter, happiness and my holiday here. Indeed a lot of reasons to be happy. So continue extending happiness  and keep smiling. Until next year!

Festive JC

PS. Happy Lochhoe to those observing the ceremony in coming days! And Merry Christmas again to those celebrating! Have a fun and safe holiday!
Jingle all the way!! The Santa me (it was shot in 2008)


Monday, December 20, 2010


On 17.12.2010 with much splendor and solemnity, we observed the ‘103th National Day’ celebrations in Punakha. The solemnization started with the hoisting of our National flag and singing of our National Anthem filling us with pride and connecting us to our roots. Almost every Bhutanese, the old and young were beyond impatient to watch and listen to the live broadcast of His Majesty the King’s National Day address on BBS tv/radio. The day was celebrated with various cultural dances and sports event.

Hoisting of our National flag, Lekithang, Punakha (17.12.2010)

Calm and safely guarded till ‘Tashi Lebay’ movements started to end the celebrations, it left me with an abrupt moment to pause and reflect. It was then I tried to go back to the past and look into the future. 103 National Days of peace and stability, is a great number of years to reach. As a student I remember studying about this significant day in my history lessons during my high school days. I wasn’t good in remembering the historical timelines but I was pretty interested learning about the times of yore. I still love history. I have lots of historic figures that I admire and celebrate (more on that some other day). And today with a dogged persistence I recall few of those-boring-history-classes to instigate as I compose about the observance of this important event.

Our history dates back to Eighth century with the visit of Guru Rimpoche from India who brought Tantric Buddhism in Bhutan. Another important event in the timeline was the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel from Tibet in 1616. We still remember and credit him for the construction of most distinct Dzongs, unifying the country and leaving us the Bhutanese National Identity. It was Zhabdrung, supposedly the first ruler of Bhutan who established the dual system of government with a spiritual leader and an administrator leader which still exist to this day. Bhutan emerged as a country having its own share of occasional Tibetan invasions, numerous civil wars and ungracious encounters & Treaties with the British. But there is this singular distinction in the ‘History of Bhutan’, we were never colonized (yes, we were never colonized!) and its one thing that we Bhutanese are proud of and swank about.

The hereditary monarchy was instituted in Bhutan with Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk as the first king of Bhutan. It was Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck who gained control and ended many years of civil war, and marked the beginning of unprecedented peace, unity, progress and prosperity in the country. On December 17, 1907, sir Ugyen Wangchuk was unanimously enthroned as the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan inside Punakha Dzong (It’s a proud thing for me to be working in this historic place with one of the most memorable landmarks in Bhutanese history. Somehow I can’t stop getting obsessed of this magnificent monument). They really couldn’t have made a befitting decision. This day is celebrated as National Day of Bhutan.

Every nation celebrates National Day under many other symbolic titles for instance Independence Day or Republic Day expressing pride, identity, sovereignty, independence and freedom. It undoubtedly holds a special significance of commemorating the birth of an independent nation. As a Bhutanese we honor it every year with almost everyone partaking in this national event all across the nation. What comes to your heart when you think of December 17? What flashes inside your mind when you think of December 17? What does the National Day mean to you? What does National Day connote in your world? What’s the significance of National Day in your life? I’m supposed to get the answers before I even complete my questions (I hope you could provide me with when you read them).

Statue of His Majesty the fifth King brought in for the procession.

What separates and distinguishes this national event from others is the fact that almost everyone recognizes the significance of the day.  It provides us with a pleasant opportunity to remember the past that took a step into such a future (not to forget the implausible transfer of powers). It is indeed the day for us to pay our homage and tribute to our forefathers, Zhabdrung, the first king and the successive benevolent monarchs thereafter for guarding our sovereignty. It endows us the platform to apparently ‘renew ownership of the nation’. Essentially it is the day for every Bhutanese to celebrate and evoke the patriot within us and be responsible to protect and safeguard the peace, sovereignty and security of our country.

I’m blessed to have born in this blessed kingdom under the leadership of inspiring monarchs. I’m proud to have gotten the domination to write Bhutanese (every time) against the blank box of Nationality option in those obligatory forms. May the ‘sun of happiness’ as they label continue to shine for years to come. As we close this door of a fine Bhutanese history and open yet another door to a new era, let us re-affirm our commitment to serve the “Gyeb, Gyelkhab and Meser”, the Tsa-Wa-Sum on this day. Hope we can free ourselves from corruption as we contribute in shaping the nation, be the country Zhabdrung and the monarchs of Bhutan aspired for and pass a happier Bhutan to the Gen Next.

I read somewhere that “No matter how much you do for your country, it pales in comparison to what you take from her”. So wave your flag and never get tired of being a Bhutanese. Happy 103rd National Day Bhutan! May we enjoy another gazillion years of peace, shine, prosperity, growth and happiness!

Palden Drukpa Gyalo!

A Proud Bhutanese, JC

PS. We have come a long way, enjoy the freedom, stand up & take responsibility for the state of our country today and in years from now.


Monday, December 6, 2010


For all this while, I was wondering how I would pen down my thoughts in writing. I must say it took a while for me to write this one. I always wanted to tell the story of us, about how we met and how time flew by instantly. Flash rewind and the story starts. It was one beautiful summer where I had it all. You were right beside me and things couldn’t be perfect than that. We were taking on the world together for a day. Less did I know then that someday I would relish it like I do now, with so much of doting. It was like the best thing that’s ever been mine.

I had talked with him for less than one minute in library back in college. Perhaps we had passed by each other every time we visited library. We shared the passion of reading books. It was only after our graduation that we accidently met on an official meeting. We became friends since then but we hardly met. And one day on his supposedly birthday, he had sent a handwritten note asking me ‘will you be my date?’ I was like ‘did he lose his marbles?’, but then I thought ‘ok, I could suffice that for his birthday gift’. He wasn’t a bad idea after all.

After breakfast, he picked me from my place which was actually one hour drive from his place. The date actually began officially at 10:00AM. I had a beautiful card waiting on the passenger’s seat of his car. It had the name of my favorite place. He had played all my favorite songs throughout the entire ride. We talked about our life, family, friends, interests, future plans, everything like it was the first time we had met on Earth (maybe it was). We cut my favorite cake to start off with our eating binge. The food was too good (took me by surprise that he had taken into account that I was a vegetarian). For the first time in life, I could savor the real taste of wine.

After lunch, there was another card waiting me on my seat. It had the name of his favorite person that we were about to visit - his grandpa. I had never imagined he would want me to meet someone else on our date. After few hours of drive, we reached his village. It brought tears in my eyes to meet his 93 years old grandpa who blessed me with all promising good wishes (my marriage included). We cooked dinner together. As we were about to leave the place, I was taken aback to see his grandpa hand over a card to me. This time it was my favorite thing waiting for us. We went to karaoke and sang all the songs we possibly could. Later I was expecting another card after he walked me home. But to my disappointment there wasn’t any last card. Annoyed yet smiling!

I had never felt so happy being with a GUY-guy ever. Close enough to what I was hoping, when I got home, he had emailed me saying “I had the best day of my life with you, today”. Wishful thinking but ain’t I the ‘lucky one’ here?

I ask did you believe what you just read. Well, I say don’t believe everything you read. I guess the best way to describe it is…ummmm...it’s an untried piece that I attempted to write about the best first date I haven’t had yet. I’m neither dating anyone nor even in the beginning stages of dating anybody. I’m all by myself and I got this idea listening to Taylor Swift’s latest album “Speak Now”. I just figured out that I had to speak up too. I wrote it keeping in mind about a guy who I once had dreamt of. He was somebody I was just wonderstruck meeting. To this day, I have never met him. And he has no idea about our meeting either. It just all came together and I felt like I needed to write about. So here I’m trying to write as a, “Hey, this one’s actually for you to let you know that I’d like to obviously meet you soon”.  It's sort of the first open letter that I've written to anyone.

I have never been fascinated by what we call “date” but for a moment I wanted to be strangely awestruck by it. Most of the people fantasize about going on their ideal date. They either dream about a romantic walk along the river bank or a movie and a restaurant after; some even book a table in a flashy restaurant; rose and chocolates; best wine and favorite cuisine, making it exactly like what it takes in the movies. It’s not me saying that I would like to have my perfect date but I think sometimes its fun to write about it. For me, It was about a guy I never dated but I thought was decent and charming, and I never really got to talk to him much. Just being with him for a fleeting moment and watching him enchant me (still in my dreams) inspired me enough to put it in words.  I guess you don’t have to date with someone to have the best date ever. And sometimes it’s not about what you went through, it’s about what you wish you had.

Most of us are so diffident that we cannot even say the right thing at the right moment or for that matter the wrong thing at the wrong moment. Am I confusing you with these rights and wrongs? I mean there’s this moment of letting the moment pass without saying anything. There’s this enormous fear which holds us tightly. And later on we land up with a sense of regret looking back at the moments we didn’t speak up. Usually people like me write this kinda piece and then they usually don’t share it. I suppose by putting it on my blog I’m pushing the share button so that this dream guy would accidently get to read it one fine day.

Enchanted JC

PS. Speak now to whosoever you have something to say (might read it when you least expect them to).

Couldn't show the Enchanted face!