Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Morning Yoga

School and training days have taught me to clear my bowel, or “clearing the bathroom” as it used to be called, early in the morning.  They said it was healthy.  I cannot vouch whether it is so, but I can surely say that it has lot of advantages and conveniences.  Creature of habit that I am, I have become a slave to this habit.
Another habit that I can’t shed is my addiction to having something to read while I attend to this business.  For the life of me I cannot help it, even on emergencies.  The newspapers and books, forgotten and abandoned after I am through with my business, strewn all over the place, especially on the bathroom shelves, irritates my wife to no end.  But old habits die hard and I don’t seem to be improving; only my immunity towards her ramblings has improved so far.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Little Known “Ara Phunmey”

The tradition of  ”Lolay” in the Wang (Thimphu region) and the “Deepawali” (sorry if I have misspelt it) in the Southern part of the country are similar, in that people, the children in the former and all age groups in the later, go around the village visiting houses and singing the lolay and doushiri.  The house owners are supposed to offer these visitors money, food, rice and even flowers, in return for which they pray and bless the household.
                Equivalent to the above two, there is another one that is being practiced in the east, (at least in Pema Gatshel).  I am not sure if it is practiced in other eastern dzongkhags.  It is called “Ara Phunmey”, literally meaning, begging for drinks.  The men folk would go around the village, singing songs.  This is done during the Losar (New Year) and Thrui (Blessed Rainy Day).
                Though it is called “Ara Phunmey”, it is not only the drinks that they are offered.  On top of the drinks they are also provided food and meat.  The group would go around the village, visiting every household and singing songs, some of which I don’t hear any more. 
                Ara ma ga nain bu
                Singchang gala drik pey
                Tshering Tshomo lu la yang chey ru ru
Bjangchuk shing go patra
So yala tsemo lha shing shokpu ruru…
                A rough translation of the song goes something like this, “Even if you do not give me ara (locally brewed wine), it’s alright to offer me bangchang/singchang (equivalent to a beer)…”
                I am not very sure if this little tradition is still observed today, but I don’t hear the song being sung these days. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Little Knowledge is a … Funny Thing?

My father used to work as a caretaker of a little government guest house, which then used to be popularly known as IB (Inspectors’ Bungalow), in a little town that neither had electricity nor bus services.  But it was somehow connected to the outside world through a rough and narrow road that remained blocked most part of monsoon.  Since there were no hotels then, the guest house used to see a lot of guests, both the official types and the private visitors.  There used to be a lot of ‘philingpa’ guests (white people) too.  Through such interactions my father, it seemed, have learnt a bit of spoken English, which he was proud of.
I remember a Mr O’Brian, a Canadian volunteer teacher, who stayed at the guest house for about a month as there was no accommodation at the school.  Like all ‘philingpas’, Mr O’Brian was also very curious to try on many Bhutanese things and ways.  Seeing us eat a dish of chilli he wanted to try it and so he did.  I don’t remember what he exactly said but, I do remember him literally locking himself up in the toilet for the next two days.