Gardening the Bhutanese Way

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.