Monday, February 20, 2012

BHUTANESE


 In Bhutan there are various types of people. But most of us share similar characteristics…as if to separate us from the rest of the world and by that I mean most of us have compassion in common. I don’t know, maybe because we are Buddhist and this is a part of how we were raised as a kid. I mean I still remember how my parent taught me so sympathize with the one in pain, show respect to elders (I was never allowed to call my elder brother by name, I was taught to call him ACHO), share your stuffs, and all those small things in life that makes us a Buddhist.

But with this statement I don’t want people to think that I think less of their religion or their characteristics. I don’t know about them so this is purely a description of common Bhutanese, the way I see them. Considering all the moments of my life and my experiences with the fellow Bhutanese I can say that most of us have compassion. 9 out 10 Bhutanese will volunteer to help you if you are genuinely in need of help. Of course I can’t promise that they will help you in every single thing, but if they can they will definitely make that effort.

And there are people who will go forward upon seeing an old elderly person carrying a heavy stuffs and offer to carry their stuffs, not necessarily to the destination but at least few stops. And most of us while on road, will take time to pay our respect to holy places which stands through the route. And most of us love the country and the king dearly; it clearly shows on our faces that we are in pain when the country and king undergoes crisis. So in Bhutan our king is that invisible, magical string that binds us all together.

Me personally, it brings smile on my face when I see an elderly person or a tiny baby give a hearty laugh. And it brings tear to my eyes when I see someone cry with great pain. And maybe that’s because I am way too sensitive but on the other hand I am pretty sure most of the Bhutanese share this very characteristics. And I think this is a beautiful way that Bhutanese use to keep humanity alive.


Friday, February 17, 2012

TRAVELLING THROUGH BHUTAN-THIMPHU


I would love to say that I have travelled all over Bhutan but sadly that’s a big no. I am 23 years old and yet I haven’t been to most parts of Bhutan, but I have this burning desire of going to all the 20 Dzongkhags (states) of the country. And some day I will post about all parts of my country in this blog but for now I ll take you to the places I have been…but one at a time. So today the place I am going to talk about is THIMPHU.
Like I mentioned in the earlier post, Thimphu is the capital of Bhutan. As of now it’s the most developed city in Bhutan. This city is so crowed with both people and vehicles, never the less it’s still really beautiful. If I start with what I have seen in Thimphu, then I should say verities of places. But I will start of with the religious places. Thimphu, like any part of Bhutan has a lot of religious places of which my favourite is DECHENPHUG LHAKHANG. And the reason is very personal.
In Bhutan, parents usually name their children either from a great lama or from renounced religious places and mine happens to be at DECHENPHUG LHAKHANG, that’s why my name is Dechen Dema. But it’s not necessary that every one who goes there gets named Dechen, there are other names but again Dechen is quite the trade mark. It’s a really beautiful place, quite far from the town and the crowd, peaceful and a really strong historical background.
pictorial representation of AUP GENGAY
AUP GENGAY, The guardian deity was believed to be giants during the early times. He married a mermaid, also a guardian deity and then together, they started protecting the place. I always go there to pay my respect. It’s usually done annually but when ever there is any special day or occasion in my life, I go there for the blessing…it’s believed that HE will protect me through the journey of life since he is my God father.
There are so many places like that and every Bhutanese visits these places on special occasions and pay our respects. It’s not necessary that we visit on selected places…we pay equal respect to all the holy places, that’s just being Bhutanese. We offer butter lamps and incense sticks with offerings like fruits or snacks which they use while the regular prayer offerings.
view from sangay gang
Then other places I love in Thimphu are BUDDHA POINT, SANGAY GANG and YHSS. BUDDHA POINT is the latest visiting place. Like the name suggest, there is a huge statue of Buddha being erected some way far from the main settlement. Its height is 168 feet and is the largest statue in the country. It looks really amazing, feels like he is watching over us, protecting us.
SANGAY GANG is another such beautiful place. This place is well known because it’s beautiful and also because BBS (only TV channel in Bhutan) tower is situated there. People go there all the time to take small breaks from the busy lives. They stay there for few minutes enjoying the view of the Thimphu city and letting go of what ever is stressing them…it feels like a mini retreat.
And finally YHSS (Yangchenphug Higher Secondary School), this is the name of the high school. this is one of the well known schools in the country. I love this place dearly because it gave me so many friends, happiness and memories. Those two years of +2 educations was full of fun. Every inch of that place makes me feel at home. Even now when I go back to that place…I get a warm feeling inside and make me genuinely happy.
These are only few places I have mentioned, but these are the places I visit and I love. There are lots of similar places, all equally beautiful like the Thimphu Tashichho Dzong. This is the magnificent traditional building bearing the office of our King and also other important offices. Every one is allowed to enter this Dzong, but we have to be in our full national dress that includes kira, wanju, tego and rachu (for ladies) and gho, lagay, formal shoes and kabney (for gents). There is an attached arena (named Tendril thang) near the Dzong for all the traditional celebrations.

There is one more place I want to mention and that is the play ground/centenary park. It’s the place where all the kids love to be all day long. I go there with my nieces and nephews and its fun to see all the children having the time of their life. The place is filled with the safe play ground equipments. This place is always flooded with kids, especially during the weekends.
If I mention all the places in Thimphu, pages won’t be enough so these are the few places I, as an individual love. But like I said earlier, each place in Thimphu is equally beautiful and I am sure different people love different places in Thimphu. These are some of the places I would like to tell you all about.

NOTE;
Lhakhang = temple
Lama = higher ranking monk 
Dzong = monastery 

OLDEN DAYS


Today I am going to write about how my Bhutan was in the olden day. It will be more like a tour towards the gone days of the country. Since I was born in 1988, I won’t go too far…I ll stay in my era. When I was a kid, even some part of the capital of the country (Thimphu) didn’t have electricity. My family has a traditional house in Olakha, its few kilometres away from the main town. And as a kid I still remember staring through the window at night towards the glowing Thimphu town.
It used to look like a fire work at a distant. I used to be in awe and thought that whoever created electricity was a total genius. There were of course vehicle roads by then but not in my locality…we had to walk through the paddy fields for about half an hour to get to the main road…mind you, not to the town but to the road that could take us to the town. There used to me a line of tiny shops and it used to be so much fun to shop there. If we had Nu. 5, we used to feel so rich.
Back then the value of money was really high and we had very less access to entertainment. And yet we used to be so content and were busy having fun. I think we derived happiness out of the regular life, going for walks, making soil cakes and celebrating fake birthdays with it at the back of our house, working in the kitchen garden with the family, climbing the trees and going bananas. We didn’t need high tech toys to be happy…we were just happy the way we were.

With time Bhutan developed, electricity, roads, changes in the life style and so many other changes came our way with the changing time. It was so much fun with the home filled with the electrical appliances, we used to rent videos all the time and watch it over and over again…and surprising it was never a bore to watch a movie repeatedly. I guess we were just so excited to see tiny people inside a tiny metallic box.
But I should admit, Bhutan moved really fast toward development. As I grew older, roads turned into highways, things moved from rented videos to cables, lonely roads to heavy traffics, single line of shop to clusters of shopping malls, climbing tress to play grounds, soil cakes to pizzas, rolling stones to remote toy cars…can’t even finish naming all the developments that has taken place in my country.
Even though its fun that our country is developed so much and we have a very comfortable life now, life back then wasn’t bad as well…it was quite fun. I wish more of us had seen those days because for some reason I feel more innocent in those olden days, we knew how to derive fun and happiness out of nothing and that’s pretty amazing, at least to me.





Thursday, February 16, 2012

BHUTANESE CUISINE-EMA DATSHI


Bhutanese cuisine is one of a kind. I love Bhutanese cuisine because it’s really spicy. And today I will discuss the most famous dish of my country and its called EMA DATSHI. To all the non Bhutanese this name might sound really funny but trust me this is the most spicy and delicious dish of my country and its direct translation in English is CHILLI CHEESE. It is usually served with rice.
There can be two types of ema datshi one with green chillies and one with the dried red chillies. Both are equally spicy and delicious. The cooking process is also more or less the same. And the recipe I am going to write here is the simplest one, we can also call it the “first time ema datshi cooking” recipe, jokes aside this is honestly going to be the simplest way of cooking ema datshi.


THE INGREDIENTS;
Green chillies/dried red chillies, Cheese, tomato, onion, garlic (optional), cooking oil and salt.
As you have noticed I haven’t mentioned the quantity of the ingredients because you can put depending on your likings…depending on how you would want to eat it or how u would want it to look like. So if was the chef I would say “no pressure on the quantity” but we should be a smart cook and at least know when we are putting too much or too less of anything.

THE RECIPE;
Cut the chillies (however you want to eat it), put all the ingredients except for cheese in one cooking utensil and pour some water (just to the level of all the mixed ingredients) and then cook for about 10-15 minutes depending upon the quantity of your ema datshi. Check the dish and if the chillies are cooked enough add the cheese (add a lot cheese for the dish to be tastier) on top and without stirring it close the lid and cook for few more minutes. Once the cheese has melted and spread properly, stir the dish properly and mix thoroughly.
It is then ready to be served, enjoy the spicy EMA DATSHI!!

PS; this is honestly the way I do it since I am lazy  ^ _^

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS

Gross National Happiness is the term that every Bhutanese is familiar with. Most of the outsiders wonder what the real meaning of this term is…they think this only means that all the Bhutanese are always happy. But this is actually a very confusing concept, even for us Bhutanese. The concept of GNH is very vast since it has different meaning at different level of life.
It can be as simple as a child smiling over a candy and as complicated as the nation coming up with a new strategies to make the citizens happy.  But as an individual Bhutanese this is how I interpret GNH…GNH doesn’t necessarily mean every one is happy because even though Bhutan is a really beautiful country, it is not necessarily the perfect country. Even my beautiful country has corruption, bad guys troubling the good guys, sad life stories, and hard times for the people and all those other regular life that any other person in any other country might have.
But like I pointed out earlier…happiness has lots of meanings. It can be any thing that gives us joy. And in Bhutan whenever we mention happiness we only mean happiness…that comes from the daily lives and not the ones that money buys us. In fact with money we believe that the happiness degrades since money only gives us materialist happiness and with time we have to struggle to keep up with the growing greed and this leads people to do things that they should not be doing.
So no matter how confusing GNH might sound…its really simple when u think deeper about it because it purely means being genuinely happy with our lives…also it is wrong to assume that every single body in Bhutan is smiling all the time because that is just not possible. But Bhutan still tries so hard to work to achieve this impossible target and that’s why Bhutan is the only country that provides every thing for free…the basic education, the health care and all the guidance required to have a secure future for the youth.
All in all, it is possible for any nation to follow GNH. We just have to lower our expectations out of this concept and just put our happiness before anything, be it materialist possessions, greed and any other thing that gives us temporary happiness. Rather we have to embrace the simple happiness which we get from simple things in life, being educated, being healthy, being happy at work and being able to define yourself in this country. That’s how I see GNH as an individual Bhutanese.

Monday, February 13, 2012

MY KING MY HERO


Bhutan is a really tiny country, almost like a tiny speck on this huge globe. But still our country stands so strong and it’s clearly because of the Wangchuck dynasty. For those who are not aware of this dynasty, it’s the linage of our kings. Five kings providing five remarkable phases for our country. The country has been and is still moving towards the development.

I think I speak for all when I say my king is my hero because even though he is not around us every single day, he cares for us all like his own family. He loves unconditionally and expects nothing in return. He makes sure he secures our future just like a responsible father. He has no greed for power or arrogance of his position.


This is no advertisement about my king…this is just a true feeling that I have about my king. There can be many things wrong in the world…my country might not be the best, my country might not have the best citizens but I am dead sure of two things…my country definitely has the world’s best king and my king is my hero.

I am pretty sure you are wondering that I say our country has five kings but mention only one king in this writing…this is because I am trying to express my feelings for all my kings. I am sure there was someone just like me who felt like me about her king in each era. So I am trying to represent all those four girls and trying to sum it up as one. But honestly…I can bet my life when I say I am not the only one who thinks my king is my hero…he is every Bhutanese’s hero.