Being Bhutanese.

As i sat there, no no i was waiting for the girl in the counter to call my name because i realised that their  machine was not working. Before i lean my head against the wall, i checked the wall to see how clean it was but the paint(white) has turned into grey, grimy grey which probably involves dust and what ever that made it look like that. Anyways i lean against it twice or thrice trying to fall off to sleep but that doesn’t happen and now all i am aware of is how unhappy my face looks and this reminds me of my brother. My uncle and aunt and grand mum are always asking my brother,’Why the unhappy face,? You have no reason to make that face, everyone here loves you equally.’

The crowd there is nothing special- just mainstream and even though at that moment i am supposed to be the girl waiting for her number to be called, checking her phone every 20 mins to see if anybody’s called from home; mum in particular and to be there at that moment, i have disobeyed all laws of,”Living in the moment,’ for that very 45 minutes. I go back in time  to that misty morning in the Dzong where i have been most of the time to make my ID card. Unlike other days in the dzong, that morning was something peculiar. I keep my head low while walking and pretend to keep myself preoccupied with examining every flower that’s been planted along the road to the dzong in order to avoid awkwardness .

I have felt the urge to write about that significant incident in Taktsang too which took place in between these two events. An indian man comes and sits next to me and i feel like a foreigner holding a book,almost stuck to my nose and not reacting to that man’s presence- i don’t stare at him or check him out and don’t make weird faces to offend him. There ,i am again a girl waiting for her number to be called but i let my thoughts pour in and go back in time again. As we entered the dzong, i always take my time to appreciate the magnificent structure which was probably made 100 or 200 years ago and yet stands strong against all odds.There is irony in it: A structure made by man who himself won’t last much longer and who is so vulnerable to anything, who puts himself above 5 or 6 storey building knowing that if he falls, he won’t return back. Man who is capable of dying the next moment because he has a stroke or hurt his head.

Nearing the dzong, the picture of a lad leaning against one of the main structures in the dzong seems to be so capturing and even with the sun almost hurting my eyes, i afford to look at him. There are always questions like why? but the second it hit me a police man shouts and he’s coming 90 degree towards that victim- a fool who stood there while waiting or either basking himself in the morning sun. The scariest thing that happened next is the police man uses the term,’La,’ meaning respecting the other person but there is mockery in it because the word he just used and the tone he speaks mismatches. The police man speaks so scornfully but then again referring to that man with,’La.’Close enough to provoke me and he doesn’t seem to give up on his harsh tone like a bully at junior high, like a nasty delinquent who will stab you just for a nu 50 treat. The only reason why i thought that man shouldn’t have used that tone is because authority itself is enough to make someone already scared or to do something; once ordered to.

Taktsang is one of the hottest tourist spots in the country and the local community benefits from selling handicraft product at the base camp and the horses that carry hikers to certain point. That day  me and my cousin who is about the same age as i am but a little shorter than me hiked to and while returning back two horses were making huge efforts of climbing, and unfortunately the ones who were busy riding the horses were both bhutanese!- one was a man who looked in his 4o’s with smoke at one side of his mouth and bettle nut at the other side and i believe it was his niece riding the horse like she owned it. When we crossed each other the man who probably owned the horse was trying to smile and give us bigger space to cross the path and as we intersected that path, i noticed that the horses were crying. Firstly the only reason why Taktsang has horses is because they are actually meant for the tourist but i must say shame on them lads because while returning we also came across a foreigner who was handicapped on one side of her leg but still managing to walk with her guide holding her sweater. For a brief moment that strange white person from another part of the world seemed to have more respect for the holy temple and i for a second time felt like a tourist in my own country.. Walking down as i neared the base camp, i thought to myself,’This is the power of determination.’ The horses are meant to be used either by old people or by babies or those who are handicapped. Otherwise dear bhutanese people just think, we have places like Donkola which takes about 5 hrs to walk before the road was made and they didn’t have any horses or as a matter of fact any other monasteries in Bhutan don’t provide such services.

 

Actually as i sat there for the last time i realised that the ,’Man with his smoke,’ caught me the most..

 

 

 

 

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