Gardening the Bhutanese Way

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Ants are the creatures that are pretty annoying when they march on and rummage into our personal space. Never had a creature irritated me as the ants did.  No matter how hard we try, they always find a way and a place to be in everything we have.

They follow scent or pheromone trails created by other ants from the colony to gather food efficiently. Hence they form a never ending queue in moving forth and back. Some would have their heads collided with the other, bringing them to a momentary halt.

They would have conquered the noodle packets that we have stored in the refrigerator before I could relish a bit of it. They won’t fail to occupy a cozy place in the folds of my blanket. Neither would they leave a bit of my flesh unattended as they stroll over it, giving me a midnight surprise.

At times, these creatures really do check our patience and resistance. They would attempt their tricky play with us at odd times and places where we can’t set our action as directed by our reflexes. They would let us fling a swift shift to the bathrooms but for an effortless search.

Despite the notorious action, a careful examination and observation has let me to a realization. They dwell in a complex yet a cooperative society. Gregarious creatures having the cutest world of their own are they. Never could one spot them strolling singly except for a few unfortunate ones who have lost their path somehow.

They are such a determined set of insects working in utmost harmony. Neither do they find time to quarrel nor to sleep. They would set a target, proceed with the fastest velocity until they reach their destiny.

“Hey buddy! Come along this way. Grasp his leg firmly and the rest of you climb over his body. Be careful that none of you slip away over his wings. Together we can do it and soon we will have the greatest feast ever. So hurry guys”, comes the quick instructions from the one of them. But the others’ action would have already preceded his instruction.

No sooner would they tread their way back home with the heaviest loads ever. Believe me, ants can carry loads 50 times their body weight and it is not surprising to see some of them carrying the legs, some antenna, some head and the various body parts of the giant mantis.

One of them would happily remark, “See guys, it doesn't matter how gigantic an organism is, for their gigantism is in par with foolishness. Had it not been for the coordinated and harmonious hard toil of every individual of us, and the summation of witty ideas of all of us, we would have been clamped to pieces by these very stout legs resting on our shoulders right now. Don’t you think so?”

“I bet. It’s excessively heavy though. I’m pretty sure that you guys have well noticed the beads of perspiration tickling down my forehead”, comes the response.

All would nod in due submission and contentment.

The complex and cooperative societies that the ants dwell in enables them to survive and thrive in conditions that would challenge the individual. It’s so to say that they can outwit, outlast, and outplay humans.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Women and Safety

In this present era, we live in a world where natural catastrophes aren't alone the cause to bring an end to someone’s existence. Neither does one have to have a dreadful enemy to have one torn into pieces. Indeed, the society is transforming into a mystery implacable one.

It is being woven into a subtle and complex web by the tool called violence with women as an object to be used and abused. When the cries and agonies of women were turned a deaf ear to, how are they ever going to feel secure? It was said by Gandhi, “India will get real freedom when a women can walk alone on a street.”

The Delhi gang rape of a 23 years old girl after having brutally beaten with iron rods along with her male companion in a passenger bus leaves many a women awestruck. The merciless act of plunging the iron rod inside her was nothing but an absolute act of thoughtless animals.

Yet there’s another heart throbbing incident of a 21 year old girl, who lost her mother at the age of 2, said to have and grown up with her relatives until she was forced into marriage at the age of 16. In an attempt to run away from her melancholic life, she was brutally stripped off her nose and ears by her husband and the in-laws.
No more blood please...
Not so long ago, a man had himself introduced to my villagers as Dzongkhag administrative officer. He married a girl and settled there. A few months did he stay only to be vanished out of sight. Away was he with the money the girl’s family entrusted him for their agricultural loan to be cleared. The villagers respected him for the post he had none.

 The tragic tale of a friend of mine, who was once my classmate, a roommate, still triggers my tear glands. I vividly recollect those lips that quivered in letting her agony drip out slowly.  I had a hard time in absorbing the brutal pervert facts.

She was sexually abused, to be appropriate, raped by her so called father at the age of 11. His attempts were incessant thereafter. God knows whether he is the real father or a beast that consumed her alive. His act could not be blamed for his ignorance or any mental disorder for he was a well educated, working man.

Neither her mother’s senses could detect the flesh being burnt nor was she in a position to extinguish it herself until the blazing flame engulfed her.

Once in a night journey in bus from Hyderabad to my college, a shrill chill ran through my spine when a man in front of me lowered his seat and brought his dirty, rugged fingers over my knees. I folded myself into so small a size and lowered my legs to avoid him. Within a lapse of few minutes, the terrific fingers crawled from in between the seats and made several attempts until dawn.

The society always talks about women being taught the right manners, the proper intellectual and moral values. In the same way, men should be taught as to how to treat women.

 They should be made to inculcate a slight sense of empathy. They aren't empowered with the right to toy with the innocence and fragility of women’s heart.

The rapists or the wrong doers or the criminals confess to the heinous crime and demand they be hanged or some are condemned to life imprisonment. With that, is everything going to be over?

If that’s the case, I don’t have even a tinge of skeptic feeling that our society will continue to dwell on its ineffective path.  It’s time for us to come out of our pupating cocoons, the time to stop the blame game.  It’s a wake up call for profound social and legislative reforms, the need for appropriate parental and school education.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Tale to tell...

Everything in existence,
Form a speck of dust in the stellar
To the gigantic mother earth,
Has a tale to tell,
If we care to observe.

So does the science of horticulture
The mother of all culture,
Encompassing a dust of soil
To the diverse species of plants,
Has a narration beyond imagination.

The science of entomology,
Dealing with insect physiology and morphology
From the team-work of queue of ants
To the hovering of exquisite butterflies,
Has a purpose to be met.

From the vigorously growing plants
To the sickly appearing ones,
Has a pledge to be made
And a favor to be granted,
If the phytopathologist care to listen.

From the ushering of the radiant rays
To its immediate seizure in the western horizon,
The priceless gifts of the medicinal and aromatic plants
Do bind our everyday existence with fragrances,
If we care to open our olfactory senses.

Everything that swirls or descends from the firmament,
From the thunderous growl with the cyclonic catastrophe
To the frosty calm morning that greets us,
Has a warning to be foretold,
If the meteorologist care to be vigilant.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Love Unrequited

The world that you ushered me in,
Is impeccably amazing,
Yet I could not show you.

The love that you shower upon me
Is literally dimensionless
Yet I could feel it.

The light that you illuminate on my mundane life,
Is visibly unflinching,
Yet I could not reflect it.

The lens with which you showed me the world,
Is feasibly clear,
Yet I could not magnify for you.

The legs that would swagger for miles,
Is physically feeble,
Yet I could not provide a settee for it.

The hands that worked for decades,
Is structurally emaciated,
Yet I could not provide a lap for it to rest upon.

The life that you endure with the pain inflicted,
Is morally unthinkable,
Yet I could not relieve you of it.

The merits of endurance that you have accumulated,
Is numerically countless,
Yet the rewards were of absolute contradiction.

The seldom uttered words of yours,
Is nothing but soothing,
Yet responses were snarls of rage.

Nevertheless, my beloved mother, you are audacious enough
To stroll on the path of thorns,
And patient enough to wait for my arrival,
Who would eradicate the agony of your unrequited love.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Invincible Love

When the first thing that knocks me into consciousness
And along with the morning’s rays greet me,
Is your sweet name
How can you be out of my mind?

When among millions twinkling in the firmament above
Have I spotted only one
Whose iridescent beams had my reflexes set,
How can I let your glimmer dwindle?

When the E-mail address that I daily use
And the signature that I scribble on innumerable pages
Has your name incorporated in it,
How can I ever forget you?

When your name has rented
A permanent shelter in my heart
With its imprint so vivid,
How can I let it fade?

When the very thought of you
Or the mere utter of your name
Showers me with unprecedented happiness,
How can I not endure it?

When the incessant chant of your name
Deep within my heart
Is the only lullaby to help me shut my eyes,
How can I avoid you?

When I have you held hostage
In the prison of my heart
And have sealed all means of escape,
How can I let you go?

When engrossed am I with your thoughts
From dawn till twilight and long into the night
And from cradle of the infant to the silence of the grave,
How can I not remember you?

When all that I long for
Is to have you tethered forever
Under the tree of my love,
How can I let you leave?

When lest you slither into the deep abyss
Should I provide the necessary ledge
To help you up the rocky fall,
How can I let you be in dungeon?

When I have you busted
For the malicious act of stealing my heart
And have you fixed in the dock,
How can I let you escape?

When all that I wish
Is let time doth not diminish your love
Nor stale your trust in me,
How can I ever live without you?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Destiny Unfathomable

“The most beautiful and considerate woman she is”, would remark everyone. Tall and blond with her exquisite eyes placed perfectly in place on her flawless face, wearing the intricately woven and immaculately sewn dress, would she look extraordinarily heart thrilling to every eye that caught a glimpse of her at the tshechu. Her movement as swift as a gentle breeze would bring every spectator to a halt. People couldn't resist but avert their heads towards her direction rather than the blessing mask dances, and so unflinching would their gaze be at her mesmerizing eyes.

The faintest of her voice would melt others heart.  The very first sight of her would set into motion a queer sensation in every man. Something in her instilled in them that she was the one that they wanted to be with for their lifetime. How notorious a man may be, he would behave himself in quest of her love. They would chase her like a hound in search of meat.  Yet none of their chase was worth it. She was audacious enough to utter, “I’m sorry, I am not destined to be one”.

The proposals were incessant, the pleadings were non-stop and the chases for fragrance were innumerable as the bud stretched its petals under the radiance of the sun. Yet she was as firm her roots held her. Neither did she swing in the direction of the wind nor did she fall for the glistening moonlight.

But what could have stopped her when the right hand picked her up from the garden to be preserved for the rest of her life. She couldn't help but let him hold her close to his heart, embrace and plant a gentle kiss on her showy petals. Her fragrance healed the slightest of his injuries and her beauty mesmerized him. At the same time, she couldn't resist but enjoyed the reverie of caressing and loving nature.

No sooner did they open the first page of their romance than a grim raided her. She was at her village to witness the consecration ceremony of her family house. It was one of those rare moments to be cherished with all the family members gathered under the same roof. To her utter astonishment, she felt her nerves weaken and her legs giving up. She would coil herself beneath her blanket in sheer pain that radiated all over her body.

The unusual and incessant blood loss couldn't be mistaken for the monthly menstrual cycle. Yet her family suspected of her having aborted her child and was less considerate. She wept and agonized in the seclusion of her own heart in her little isolated room. Some men still visited her though only at the cost of their embarrassment.

An old woman asked candidly, “People say that your sister was infected with HIV/AIDS after having slept with a minister. They say that the minister was however able to afford treatment but she became the victim. Is that so?” Such words could the savage people utter.

All the skeptics were overruled only when she was diagnosed with ‘Leukemia’, the dreadful blood cancer. She was rushed for treatment in Bangalore. The effect of chemotherapy has rendered her so feeble and emaciated and bald was she from the excessive hair loss.

The hand that picked the scented flower from its exquisite garden failed to foresee the unfathomable destiny awaiting them. A sudden gust of gale blew from nowhere and he lost hold of the precious possession in his hand. It disappeared amid the ghastly turbulence, never to be found again. All that remained was her epitaph.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food Safety & Security

 As the indiscriminate use of synthetic chemicals is at the rage of augmentation, the concern of food security and ecological balance has become a major issue. Besides sustainable production, it is equally important to maintain food hygiene and safety both at the time of consumption as well as production.

Pesticides are not only the solution to pest problems but often they are the causes of the problems themselves. The incessant use of chemicals would not only lead to chemical residue problems in soils and deteriorate soil health, but also lead to the development of resistant strains of pests.

Not only that, insect resurgence, the sudden or abnormal increase in pest population is a common phenomenon often following a pesticide application.  Secondary pest outbreak is also a notable ill-effect. More than anything, it kills the natural enemies and thereby disrupts the ecological balance.

In addition to that, certain chemicals being highly liposoluble can accumulate in the adipose tissues of animals. Human beings are not an exception as there are several incidences of casualties. The Minimata disease of Mercuric poisoning in Japan, the hydrogen cyanide poisoning in Bihar case, the Arsenical poisonings are so evidential. The biomaccumulation and biomagnification of toxic chemical residues would prove highly lethal to living organisms.

The book entitled, “Silent Spring”, by Rachel Carson depicts the extent of harm the use of pesticides have inflicted. The lethal effect of the large scale application of DDT pesticide in pest control has deprived the valley of its usual cacophony and the blissful tunes of the spring birds and has made it as silent as a dead valley.

Nevertheless, nature has in store its own set of natural enemies of every pest or pathogen. It is equipped with its self- regulatory or its own balance mechanism to maintain the natural ecosystem. The so called predators and parasitoids has been identified, mass multiplied, and released on inoculative or inundative basis. This is a recent development in the field of horticulture.

For example, the beautiful ladybird beetles that we often spot strolling up and down the leaves are nothing but in keen search of their prey. They are predaceous on almost all Lepidpteran insects, the most destructive order infesting a number of horticultural crops. Befriend them, carry them to the laboratory, mass multiply and release them into the infested field or gift them to farmers in need for they are none but farmer’s friends.

They would be more than happy to carry out the task entrusted to them. I can assure you that they will perform their task so efficiently and host specifically without demanding for wages in return. In fact, the expenses incurred on the purchase of pesticides and labor charges can also be curtailed.

Another set of organisms called parasitoids can also be employed for the same task. They depend on their hosts for completing only a certain stages of their life cycle. For instance, Trichogramma brasiliensis, an egg parasitoid, deposits its eggs on the host and its progeny emerge from the host egg. A larval parasitoid, Bracon hebator, deposits eggs on host larva and its later instars emerge from host larva.  Pupal parasitoid, Brachymeria nosotoi, is yet another such example.

In addition to that, entomopathogenic fungi, Trichoderma viride, can be formulated with talc powder and carboxy methyl. The formulation can be dried in the sun, grinded and the resultant powder is packed and supplied to farmers. This affords effective biological control against a number of fungal pathogens.

All these are a few classical examples of biological control amongst the existing innumerable list. The potentiality of these could be exploited by the horticulturists and agriculturists and subsequently employed in biocontrol. Indeed, they have a role to bridge the gap between research findings and the practical utility in the field for farmers. If this is done, our sole objective of ensuring a safer and healthier food, and the globe in which we dwell a happier and a better place to live in is achieved.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lover's Love

Lover’s love is the one,
That seals the door
 Of all other love in life.

The fulgurant  rage of all
Would it extinguish
With the blink of an eye.

She would carol away
With the sweetest melody,
To be in accord with her lover.

So omnipotent is his love,
That it can enlighten
Her world with unprecedented happiness.

From the first blush of dawn
Till the closing of the twilight,
There wasn’t a moment with him off her mind.

The very thought of her belongingness
Would let her sing at the pitch of her lungs,
And her spirit would fly high amid the fleecy clouds.

Yet nothing could shatter
The fervent hopes of her
Than the slightest whim in the course of his love.

The state of his ill-health or misfortune
Would have her plunged
Into the whirlpool of depression.

Even a tinge of his ill treatment
Would have her heart stung
By the poisonous of all snakes.

For love is as endless as the heavenly firmament,
As boundless as Buddha’s compassion,
As dimensionless as the mysterious island,
What can compensate a lover’s love?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Seldom known Value

Would you be the water
To meet my evaporation and transpiration demand?
For your existence is my life,
Would you flow towards me always?

Lest you fail to descend from the firmament above
Or crawl up from the earth beneath,
Or creep around my roots from elsewhere
I would still strive to survive.

I would exert myself into physiological resistance.
I would close my stomata partially,
But still wait with the radiance of hope
Of you coming to quench my thirst.

My leaves may droop
The sequel would be nothing
But the abrupt seizure of my growth.
Yet, I am determined to wait.

Hoping that you won’t let me
Go to the extent of my cells becoming flaccid,
I would await your arrival
Until my stomata couldn’t resist the permanent wilting point.

But would you still be flippant?
Would you let the petals of my love to shed?
Let the foliage of my feelings to wilt?
Let the pride of my petioles to droop?

Would you let the fruits of my desire to drop?
Let the unopened bud of my exuberance to wither?
Let the roots of my hope to dry?
Let the bark of my emotions to split?

Would you let the waves of my love
With the highest amplitude of all
And the magnitude immeasurable
To ebb in the distance?

A day when you wet my soil of existence
With all the brooks of the world,
Would be the very day
When I can absorb none.

Neither your words of commiseration
Or your rueful moan
Nor your agony of forlornly cries,
Would spring me back to life then.
All that would remain would be my epitaph.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Role of youth in International Peace and Harmony

It’s often said, “The youth of today are the future of tomorrow”. Indeed, the destiny of a nation or world as a whole is vested in the youth. Youth are the youngsters, if guided properly, can change the course of the world, lead it through the mysterious path and reach it to the enlightened world of Global Peace and Harmony.
They have the capability of extensive thinking, hard struggle, innovativeness and advancement. Moreover, they have an open mind, a mindset incredibly adaptable for changes- both good and bad.
In addition to that, they are the young energetic minds with great thirst for truth, knowledge, and ideas. Their grasping power is in par with the water absorbing capacity of cotton. They are enthusiastic, apprehensive, and curious and are always ready to learn or experience new things unlike the adults and the old ones.
To achieve the broad and complex concept of Global Peace and Harmony is not as easy and simple as swallowing a lump of food or a gulp of water. For peace, which may be described as complete absence of physical and structural violence and presence of human rights and justice, to prevail in the world, the first and foremost thing is to inculcate the sense of peace and harmony at individual level.  For instance, a building without proper foundation may be built only for it to be collapsed.
In fact, it is the mindset, the attitude, behavioral, moral and intellectual aspects of an individual that will have a direct impact on peace and harmony at society level. It is what we call as grass root level of organization required in bringing positive and the desired social changes that in turn will contribute to peace at national and ultimately at international level.
Also, the role of youth is now being recognized by the United Nations and other international agencies as critical in establishing long term stability, and producing effective results.
Nevertheless, the potentialities that the youth possess and the rights endowed upon them don’t acknowledge them to exercise their act of will or misuse their inner strength and freedom. For freedom comes with responsibility, so does the youth have a role to shoulder in international peace and harmony which may be enlisted as follows;
v  Building cultural respect and reconciliation.
v  Cultivation of inner peace within an individual.
v  Dismantling the culture of war and eradication of violence for it is nothing but an avoidable, malicious act of physical force which will inflict harm on others.
v  Living in harmony with our natural ecosystem.
v  Living in harmony with justice and compassion.
v  Promotion of human rights and responsibilities.
It is well understood that the youth have a diverse and a vital role. The mere statement of this is not well enough. The sole purpose and essence of it would be lost if we fail to allude as to how to implement the strategies to bring in positive social changes. It is equally important that we find means to inculcate the desired mindset, attitude and moral values in youth so as to set the goal directed behavior in them into the wheel of motion. The inclusion of following strategies may be suggested;

v  Developing an understanding and convention of oneness of humanity and expressing this belief through action.
v  Striving and working for a systematic eradication of all forms of prejudices and discrimination.
v  By commitment to education in totality or providing education for the wholesome development of an individual.
v  Emphasis and promotion of peace education programs as education can be regarded as a platform where peace can be built.
v  Conducting awareness campaigns on the essentiality of peace and the principles of great leaders like Gandhi.
v  Youth employment and empowerment without which the whole idea would be in vain.
v  Education through sports like the Olympic ideals and its dream of peace.
v  Emphasis on meditation and dialogues as they are must for inner peace and resolving problems non-violently.
v  Cultural exchange programs like the Asian Pacific Children’s Convention where I have taken part as Junior Ambassador along with Peace Ambassadors. It’s being held in Japan every year with its mission to strengthen global networks and a better understanding of different cultures.

The inclusion of youth in peace building brings vibrancy, values, skills and behaviors conducive for fostering global harmony and social justice. If given proper guidance, they are the juveniles with utmost potentiality to sow the seeds of hard work, good mannerism, attitude, mindset, values and skills to yield the fruit of success, social justice and global peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bound by Transiency

For death is unfathomable,
Let’s have no time to brood over the past,
Nor fret for future, but live the present.
For it’s certain to take its toll one day.

For it’s a mystery inevitable,
Let’s be prepared and welcome it.
Rather than lamenting,
“Alas! I haven’t lived a life yet."

For life is like a journey
To the exquisite garden of earth.
Let’s make this journey,
Though brief, a memorable one.

For we are bound by transiency,
Let’s not let our wrath
Take control of our senses,
For we have so brisk a moment for elation.

For we are bound by impermanence,
Let’s lead a life of a mediocre.
For however swanky and opulent we may be,
Nothing can accompany when the mystery befall us.

For nothing is eternal,
Let not the words of poison sting other’s heart.
For lest something bad fell from our lips,
The whole situation would be in peril.

For our act of atrocity is nothing but our foe,
Let’s keep avarice and vengeance at bay.
Let not our savage instincts break within us,
For we have so short a time for exuberance.

Monday, September 10, 2012


If your love is an ocean,
I won’t mind being drowned in it.

If your love is a blazing fire,
I won’t mind being turned into ashes.

If your love is a thorn,
I won’t mind being pricked and bruised.

If your love is a devil,
I won’t mind being casted an evil spell.

If your love is a trap,
I won’t mind being trapped in it.

If your love is a poison,
I won’t mind being intoxicated.

If your love is an epidemic,
I won’t mind plagued by it.

If your love is a thread,
I won’t mind being entangled in it.

If your love is a mystery,
I won’t mind living in it.

If your love is a war,
I won’t mind shedding blood.

And if loving you is a crime,
I won’t mind being imprisoned for a lifetime.
Because your love is worth everything.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Tale of Life (Part I)

Holidays are the most sought after days. Everyone’s heart would swirl and they would swing and whirl to the blissful tunes that their heart have initiated. But it wasn’t the same for a poor girl. When everyone would be happy at home with their lovely parents, she would be far from her home, the dwellers of whom she hardly knew. Others would be taking rest after hectic school days while she would be lending a helping hand to someone. She would be in the field harvesting potatoes or carrying farmyard manure to their field or help them cook and do other household chores. But why can’t she do the same back at her home?

Neither does she find charm in laughing at jokes created by her friends nor comment on it. She liked being alone and isolated more than being in a group. Only does she become the hungriest shark when it comes to learning. She does group study or discussion only if necessary. Otherwise, she would rather be out in the corridor, the terrace, the meeting hall or any other place where she could find solitude and peace of mind. She was accustomed to it and she liked it. She would rather plug in her earphone than to be plagued by envy and depression on hearing her friends talk about how much their parents love, care and sacrifice for them.

Nevertheless, she used to appreciate as well as envy those Indian girls for having a father who accompanies them everywhere like a bodyguard and the intimate bond they share. Her heart wept every time she witnessed such incidences. She said to herself, “How fortunate of them to have parents who insist them to eat, to study, to sleep, to wake them up in the morning, tell them the dos and don’ts, usher them good values of life and act as an inspirational force behind their child’s every step”. But she had none.

A laughter or smile could be hardly induced in her and even if she did, it wasn’t from her heart. She would hardly involve in a gossip or a conversation unless a necessary intervention was required. Her face would be marked by sternness or seriousness, the reason here to be foretold. The wall of endurance and patience that she built around herself for decades trembled down when she could no longer hold herself from penning down her emotional cries and let the world realize what a life she had been through. No one would have endured a life like hers and no one would understand her as much as she does herself.

The way the mother earth welcomed her to the world of being was in itself a harsh start. Instead of the cozy blanket and bed, she landed with her head down on a stepping stone near the door step while her mother tried to get hold of the wooden pillar erected there. Though in utmost pain, her mother reached her gentle hands but only to pick her motionless baby girl. Her helpless mother shed tears of agony for the loss she have had incurred. But the twist of faith came when the baby she was holding sprang back to life with a sudden jerk and gave her first and the heartiest cry. Her mother’s face glowed and glistened even through the tears.

Her mother's happiness was obscured by sadness on the other side of the coin. Her mother was abruptly flabbergasted when her father walked away from them. He walked out of the house, barefoot with a bamboo basket on his back and his only hand woven woolen blanket in it. They barely exchanged a glance and neither of them uttered a single word. But he left her when she was just three days old, when she could barely open her eyes.

Her mother who was giving bath to her could not control but let her tears drop incessantly into the wooden tub beneath. She almost lost the control of her senses only to be brought back by the shrill cry from beneath in response to the water that has become as cold as the surrounding air.
 There was no malice intended in what he was doing but he was left with no choice than to proceed when her grandparents drove him away for so silly a reason. They ruthlessly said that he is unfit as their daughter’s husband but did they ever give a second thought for the child in between? Never! And they would never.

An astrologer predicted something about her to her mother, “You won’t be able to raise her or she won’t live long but if she does, she will be someone with merit and luck that you will be the luckiest to have her. Let me have her called as ‘Namgangmo’, corresponding to the tenth day of the Bhutanese calendar of this December month on which she was born”. A mixed feeling of chillness and thrill raced through her spines upon hearing so.

Once, her mother had to leave to a far flung village after having her entrusted to her grandmother. Her mother returned back to witness blisters all over her daughter’s leg. The catastrophe took its toll when her grandmother left her wrapped in a blanket nearby an oven. She moved and somehow fell into the vicinity of the fire. Her grandmother arrived back to extinguish the blazing fire when her entire left leg was burnt. She was destined to live though.

The pages of the calendar were wiped away by time and the time came for her to stroll to school. She was sent to study her pre-primary at Thinleygang with her uncle who worked there as a Health Assistant.
The following year, she was brought back to her village to pursue her primary schooling. It was one of the torturing moments she have had. Captains would beat her for not giving them papers, given 
they would collect bundles from the innocent ones and stitch it into books for themselves; a teacher slapped her in the assembly for her absence in the morning study in place of medicine for the toothache that plagued her the entire morning; a captain would beat her every time during meals for not accepting his proposal; the then headmaster had her head hit with the same wooden hammer that she is supposed to ring the bell for her failure to do so on time. She was required to ring the bell in every less than an hour or so as bell captain and she once failed when her sleep overtook her senses.

The situation wasn’t any different back at home. It would hardly be 5 a.m. in the morning and her grandmother would scare the hell out of her. “Hey... lazy pig! Would you come out of bed yourself or should you welcome me there?” Knowing the taste of the thin leather strap very well, she would jump out of her bed. Without even a cup of water, she would hurry towards the cattle shed and untie the ropes tethering each one of them to poles, before the next dose of poison stung her fragile heart.

“Can’t you take them little further where pasture is plenty?” comes the next order from the self-appointed boss. “Still, there she is, strolling like a tortoise; you won’t bear it when I give you some activation energy on your feet. Are you waiting for that?” With fire in her eyes, she would chase the cattle with the thought,” I am not following your order, mind you, but I want you out of my sight”.

When it was time to milk the cows, she would be terrified to see some of them missing and her grandmother blazed into the flame of anguish, “Didn’t I tell you to keep an eye on each one of them? Are you turning a deaf ear to me or have you become blind? Better go and find them now or else you will be deprived of breakfast today”. With tears welled up in her eyes and lumps choking her throat, she would go. A thought occurred to her, “Why didn’t she let me be engulfed by the fire that caught me once if she hated me so much. I wish I was dead there than to be treated so”.

“Eat less and work more” and with this comes the bang on her back. “I bet this girl is having a stomach of horse and food pipe of a bird; taking hours to finish breakfast”.
When she brought her lunch box, her grandmother would exaggerate, “Our neighborhood girl always goes to herd the cattle without lunch. Not even a bottle of water would she be carrying. But this bastard won’t spare”. Her mind would be fogged by the pain her grandmother had inflicted but none would be there to assuage the pain.

She would come to an abrupt halt to hear the devil shout again, “Do I need to remind you every time to carry the bamboo basket? How dare you could go empty handed without spindle and wool with only a dozen cattle to lay your eyes upon? I will evaluate you in the evening on how much yarn you have spun”.

In the evening, she would arrive with the cattle, firewood laden bamboo basket on her back; lunch bag and spindle clutched in each one of her hands. Beads of perspiration clung to her dreary forehead. The moment she came into sight, she would start receiving orders. “Drop that load of yours and start washing the plates and the utensils there in the kitchen. And after that, quickly start kneading dough for the dinner tonight”...

(to be continued in Part II)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Visit to Ramoji Film City

The chilly morning was greeted by an exquisite peacock. All my classmates yelled out of excitement. It stood on a distant rock with its longer than usual tail but that did not pose any hindrance in taking its flight. Rather it added to its profound beauty.
When we reached the much awaited destination, the Ramoji  Film City, the largest film city in the world and one of the wonders of the world as we have been told, most of us were stunned by the entrance fee. Rupees 600 was not so easy to manage in a life of a student. Moreover that being the very first day of our week long educational tour, majority of the group denied. And our excitement came to an abrupt end when the visit was cancelled.
I expressed my disappointment to our professor but in a proper way. This led to a quick discussion with the other professor accompanied by a serious discussion with the rest of the group. A heart thrilling and  witty conclusion sprang out and no sooner were we strolling through the entrance gate.
We were led in a bus and as the exciting scenes came into view, everyone’s mouth opened in the words of “Wows and Kevu…Kekas”, the latter being in Telugu which means the same.
The site and the landscape designs were simply impeccable. We were given a ride in groups of four through a cave like structure where animals of different kinds greeted with their own cries. People in various costumes and styles waved their humble gesture of welcoming a stranger  which overwhelmed us. The illusionary waves of ocean on the walls along with the gentle movement of whales drew our complete attention.
Then we hustled to the games station like swarms of bees. Even our professor didn’t fail to give his attendance there. The most terrifying yet the most exciting one was our moment in the Ranger. It rotated between its two supports. With each swing, its angle of rotation increased until we were swung upside down. For a moment, I wished I shouldn’t have come or else wished for it to come to a halt. We were swung forward and backward simultaneously and held upside down or in standing position alternatively when we reached the peak of its height. My thoughts of pendulum swung between elation and fear for several minutes later.
A man in his mid-twenties escorted us around in a bus. It seemed practically impossible to cover all aspects of the film city accommodated in an area of 674 hectares; nevertheless, the man’s amplified voice filled the bus in a view to convey all that he could. I could see that the pace of the movement of his lips were in accordance with the velocity of the bus. Our heads rotated on its axis from right to left and left to right to catch a glimpse of what he was saying. Though the narrations were in Telugu, my two years of mingling with Telugu people have somehow equipped me to understand, though not fully.
In fact, everything in the film city is 75 percent artificial which means only 25 percent accounts for original. The artistically built buildings lay without any dwellings; the hospitals where the actors are the doctors and treatment at free of cost but without assurance of recovery; the banks where only deposits is entertained and no withdrawals; various metallic structures meant for blasting and fighting scenes; the central jail for the villains to be locked up momentarily; the marriage ground with an accommodation capacity of 2500 people; the IGI Airport for only departures and no arrivals and our two minutes journey to the western world was so exhilarating. Clumps of small villages along with ordinary shops and several buildings especially designed for indoor shooting were also a common feature.
The film city has also vast stretches of lands designed for aesthetic purpose as well as for various shooting scenes. The fake Delhi-Mumbai highway and the road with dense coverage of forests on both sides where horrifying and kidnapping scenes were to be shot; a garden filled with cacti and succulents for emotional scenes and the suicide point were also a feature of display.
On top of that, it has the replica of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal gardens of Delhi, the Brindavine gardens of Mysore, the Japanese garden, each depicting their own style and unique feature.
The Butterfly Garden housing several of them showcased the extent of their intimacy with nature. Butterflies with varying shapes, sizes, colors and the peculiarity of designs on their wings were the very mark of their identification. Some would blissfully and irresistibly suck the nectar while a few would hover in the air for sometime in deciding which flower should they visit next.
Another wonder feature was the Bonsai, a garden with miniature form of trees which is in utter contradiction to their size in nature. Giant trees like the Banyan tree, Ficus and various fruit trees were maintained at a height of less than 50cm or so. In addition, various styles like Cascading, Clasp-to-stone, Upright and Ikadibuki styles were depicted.
 The ‘Garden of Colors’, with a riot of warm and cool colors brought yet another unprecedented heart thrilling moment. The flawless beauty mesmerized me and I was speechless and as still as a statue amid them.
The course of the sun was wiped away by time and as its glistening rays waved goodbye to the enlightened glory it has created during the day, I was there with a half- hearted elation. Though contended by the fabulous experience, a day was not enough to explore the whole lot of the film city. This tinged a part of my heart with dissatisfaction.
Very often, I found myself bouncing between the ornamental plants and our professor in an attempt to find out its unique name and have it crammed simultaneously into my cell’s memory card along with the shot I have taken. The real touch with nature and the sheer aesthetic value that it showers on us is so intense that it can bring unprecedented thrill and joy to our heart. Nature is wonderful and we have a role to play in it so that it continues to flourish and provide us our needs for times immemorial.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Image of Bhutanese Girls studying in India

Disrespectful, impudent backtalk about Bhutanese girls studying in India is very common in Bhutan. Often people would ask, “Are you a student?”                                                                                                                       
And the answer would be obviously, “Yes.”
“Where?” They would throw the next question.
The instant they hear so, the look on their face would change to something not so pleasing. It would be accompanied by an array of furrows over their forehead indicating dismay and disapproval. Some would simply pretend that we haven’t met while few others would go on like…
“Oh! India? You might be enjoying down there. Or do you have a boyfriend? Is he down there with you?”  They would interrogate us as if we have come for a job interview.
Often I have overheard people having conversation:
“Girls studying in India are characterless, useless, etc.
India gha pecha lham khan zamin bha sho chas chuma unncha.
India luu pecha tamii bum tsu maep thel thelw tsang tsang ra wongm enn”.
 These words would pierce right through my ears, hit my central nervous system and trigger the release of adrenalin hormone in my bloodstream. But nothing could I do to convince them that weren’t always true.
Some people would play the role of a good counselor. They would give their friend a pat on the back as they say, “It is advisable not to choose a girl studying in India as your soul mate. But if you want to enjoy, they would be the perfect choice”
An online chat with a few males would progress as:
“So you are studying in India, right? Do you stay in hostel or a rented house?”
“In the hostel”, was what they would find blinking in their chat box screen.
“Aw-oo-o. That is so boring”.
“What is the matter?”
“Nothing. I mean I can visit you some days if you were in a rented house but…”
Some would just comment, “You have become slim. Have you been doing something mischievous down there?”
What do some people think of girls? Girls are also human beings. Every human should be given equal rights, self-respect and dignity. No one has the right to violate human rights and the one who does that is not a human.

Nevertheless, some of the narrations cited above may be based on some reasoning and may imply to some girls. But that doesn’t mean the whole set of girls have to get the blame as a common Bhutanese quote states, “Jaa purii mii chi. Mii nohrii michii”.
For instance, I know not much about other colleges, but when it comes to mine, the Horticultural College and Research Institute, Dr. Y.S.R. Horticultural University is a college of strict rules and discipline. It remains isolated amid vast stretches of orchards on all the four directions and the only heavenly firmament visible above.
I feel that even schools were better since we were allowed to loaf around within the school campus at least. But here, we (girls) remain locked up in the hostel till 8 am in the morning and immediately after class by 4 pm. It is only on Sundays that we get to visit our nearest town which is around 15 kilometers from my college. Our outing time would stretch from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. It appears more like a race from the college to town and back rather than an outing. Everything has to be done in haste. There were also a time when our college bus would reach us to the town and swing back to the college with in-charges accompanying us to monitor our movement.

On other days, if need arises, the security guard at the hostel gate had to bounce like a badminton shuttle between us(Bhutanese girls) and our only Bhutanese male companion to have our books or any other things exchanged. We were prohibited from meeting face to face.
At the same time, the professors did their best in depriving us of our leisure times by assigning us with never ending tasks. And experiential learning through field works added to our work burden.
This was, indeed, a blessing in disguise for we could inculcate the sense of hard work and grasp this opportunity to build a platform whereby we can be able to tackle the challenges of our lives. The only constraint being the climate where the scorching sun and the soaring temperatures (40-50 degree Celsius) were roasting us to a dark brown toast, it was an ideal place to study.
So we all went to India with an aim and a purpose behind. We were there to do something that could fulfill the never dying hopes and expectations of our beloved parents and to serve our government through the humble act of dedicated service for sponsoring us. On account of all the aforementioned  reasons, I would like to plead the general public that the perception and notion of Bhutanese girls studying in India be changed from what it is apparent now as our performance in the RCSC is indicative of the fact.


Friday, July 6, 2012

The Journey worth taken

Came the train,
That we were supposed to travel in.
The stoppage time was just five minutes.
So we rushed in,
Like swarms of bees.

Tears of sadness
Swirled in our eyes,
To dapart from our lovely parents
And to leave the land of paradise.

The air inside
Was so hot and suffocating.
Every inch of our body
Were drenched by our own perspiration,
And we stinked out of it.
The rumours about robberies
Were a nagging concern
For the four innocent people.

This left us with no choice
Than to keep our bags
Still on our back,
No matter whether we are sitting or sleeping.
It was pretty heavy though.
We never took our eyes
Off our luggage.

Then came the people,
To sell their goods
And food of all kinds.
They were shouting,
This sound would fade away
In the distant compartments.
Could vividly remember this,
Though have heard many.

It was night then.
Everyone around moved
 To their respective sleeper beds.
Lights were switched off,
But we were fully awake in the dark.

My eyes had quite a dispute
With the brain.
But how hard it tried in response,
It kept on falling down time and again.
Eventually, my eyes won
And flat was I on the sleeper bed.
But with the bag still on my back
And my handbag
Clutched tightly between my fingers.
Because I didn’t want to take a chance.

I could hear the tickling sound
Of the second hand of my watch.
But the time seemed
Never to be moving.
Startled was I and wondered
When dawn would arise.

Two of my friends,
Were sharing one sleeper bed.
Because we kept our luggage on one.
At around midnight,
I offered my bed
To one of my friend s.

From then on,
I never slept.
Chanting my silent prayers,
Preoccupied with the thought;
What if our luggage were lost..?
What if we were robbed..?
What if we were attacked..?
Because then,
All our necessary documents
Would be lost.

Just then, four men appeared
And were passing by
Our sleeper bed.
No sooner did they reach
Our compartment than
My friend who was
 Into deep sleep,
Woke all of a sudden
And shouted, “Oyeee!”

This annoyed them
And they shouted back,
“Hey, Tumhara dhimak kharab hoghaya!”
Fearing that this men were
Going to do something mischievious
Let my friend protest in her half conscious mind.
This woke all other fellows
In ours and nearby compartments,
Who managed to mumble a few angry words.
Blissful were we
To witness the day break.
We kept on inquiring
The people around about
The station of our current halt,
And the station
That we are supposed to get out.
Eventually, our endless journey
Was wiped away by time.
But we were done with
Just half of our journey,
When we got out at Howrah train station.
Many a labourers were after us
Offering us the service.
We hardly paid any heed.
But that was inevitable.
That’s when our necessity
Became their opportunity.

We were led to the waiting room
In a state that we were almost gasping,
In the hot suffocating atmosphere.
Helpless were we.
We splashed a handful of water
On our rough and dreary faces.
 But even the water
Was no better than
The geyser heated water.
Our despearteness for cool water
Back in our country,
Was at its peak at that instant.

Then went we,
To find something to fill
Our empty and grawling stomach.
Nothing matched the taste
That we were desiring for.
But circumstances left us with no choice
Than to force anything,
Down ur esophagus
To stop our head from spinning.

It was almost time
For us to get on the next train.
So we moved on
Carrying and dragging our belongings
With all our might.
The necessity of a  bath
Was compensated by our own sweat bath.

Uncertain were we
Of the steps we were taking,
With all the eyes
Gazing unflinchingly and focused
On the four innocent strangers.
Tried talking to a few
But all in vain.
We were like
Aliens landed on the earth.

A train was approaching
Found it to be the East Coast Express.
In haste, we were looking for coach number S/2.
Lucky were we to be in.
But what a blunder thing we did
Was we got into a.c. class,
Not sleeper class coach S/2.

A chill crept through my spines.
But managed to stammer,
“I…Is….Is there a way to the sleeper class…straight from here?”
The response was positive.
So I told my friends to follow me.
None did when I happened to look back,
After crossing an a.c. compartment.

Lost and dump-founded was I.
Rushed back to the place
Where they were before.
Could find no one.
Tears of misery,
Crawled down my cheek.
Soothing and pleasing was it to my ears
To have heard that the train will
Put its engine to live only after 15 minutes.
So I got out,
Ran with dashing speed
To the sleeper class.
I reached there
With a ripened plum cheek.

I found them there.
Each face marked by sternness
 Was lightened to a grin.
Again we started another,
Yet never ending journey.
I prayed so that
Everything turns out to be good.

I was awake a while before dawn.
Was keeping a track of
The train stations,
Referring to the list given by the travel agent.
I just ticked the ones
That we have passed
And waited for the ones
Yet to come
Until it was our turn
To get out
At the Tadepalligudem train station.

We were being told
That somebody would be waiting for us.
Expectantly and eagerly did we wait there.
Hoping someone would turn out.
But only for our hopes of fire
To be extinguished abruptly.

A man appeared suddenly,
Holding a paper
Embedded with bold letters
Of our university name.
All of us rushed
Towards the man
With unprecedented happiness.
Safely were we
Reached to our hostel.
The three of us were allotted a room.
It looked so gloomy.
With nothing around
Than the main academic block,
The administrative block,
Two hostels for girls and one for boys,
And a few staff quarters,
The college campus is dominated
By orchards and forest around.
Some of our seniors said,
“ The town is 15 kilometers away from here
And you will have to go there for everything you need.”
That added to our melancholy.

We went to the town,
Did all the necessary shopping.
The atmosphere and the noise out there
Had a hypnotic effects.
We did all we could
To make our room
A better place to live in.

It was the first night
At our hostel.
I noticed a few drops of secretions
Treading its way down 
Their innocent cheeks.
I too felt the turmoil
Churning within myself.
Felt like crying my heart out.
But thinking that
This would add to our agony,
I let the urge to subside before it emerged.
I pretended to be
Consoling my helpless friends.

I told them not to be depressed,
Because our human mind
 Is incredibly adaptable,
And soon we would find
Ourselves liking the place as never before.

Everything we got in the mess
Tasted so different and gross.
Our taste buds were not in a state
Ready to accept the change.
Every food would be spicy.
Not mistaken that India got its name,
‘The Home of Spices.’
I deeply sympathize with one of my friend
Who had to sacrifice curry every time
Since she was an ulcer patient.

All this have led to a self- realization
That whatever hardships
We encounter in life,
Are somehow meant to make us brighter and braver.
Because the bitter in our lives
Are meant to make us better.
And the need to sow
The seed of hard work,
So that we reap
The fruit of success.

And, here we unite,
In our thoughts
To be optimistic
And put our utmost efforts
With the undying aim.