Friday, 16 December 2016

Good Health: Supreme Blessing & Best Gift

Supreme Blessing & Best Gift

A life without a touch of illness would contradict the basic law of nature.  However, a life with minimal illness is what we all desire. To this effect, I believe a life without illness is the purest and supreme form of blessing. It is also, I think, the best gift a human being can ever get in his/her life. But do we really value our normal days:  when we don’t even have a mild headache, when our body feels ‘normal’, without any feeling of sickness?

A normal day without sickness is a miracle in its full display: a silent miracle, a precious miracle which all of us fail to notice. Imagine you wake up one cold morning in December, when the brownish mountains are covered with snow, when the air is freezing cold; you pull the window curtains apart and make a move to get up and brew a steamy cup of coffee for yourself. You suddenly realize you no longer can move your legs. How will you feel? What will be your first reactions before you adjust with your new fate? Perplexing rite? No words to describe a situation like this one.

But at this very moment, when our health is in its best form, when our hormones and cells and tissues are seamlessly at harmonious cooperation, performing its god-designed function; we drink whisky, we boast about smoking Cuban cigar, we merrily chew doma staining our teeth red and so on.  And one fine day, like the cold December morning we just visualized above, we discover to our utter horror that we have contacted cancer or ulcer etc. That is the moment we will value ‘our normal days’ when we had no sickness or disease in our body.

You may drink gallons of green tea and still get angry at the slightest provocation. It is okay but tea is godlier than whisky. Don’t you feel so?

To decorate my shanty writing, here is a quote from the 14th Dalai Lama:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Every day, every moment of our existence is a miracle. We must realize this and tell to our self this at least once a day, so that we may rejoice in simple yet beautiful things in life.

I got these thoughts while visiting a neck cancer patient in a hospital some months ago. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Reflections on the 109th National day

I just completed Dr.Karma Phuntsho’s History of Bhutan last Sunday.  It is an auspicious moment by my reckoning, for we are left with just five days before we celebrate the 109th National day of Bhutan. Reading the book provided me a broader perspective of our nation building. It gave me a deeper understanding of our origins, the hard works and sacrifices of our forefathers, the countless internal conflicts, the numerous negotiations and mediation by Je Khenpos between rival factions and so on.

Nation building is a tiring process, especially if you view it from a scholarly point of view, by reading a well researched book on our history. It has taken centuries before we arrived at a point where our journey started with perpetual peace and happiness. Thanks to our wise elders, they made Sir Ugyen Wangchuck the first hereditary monarch of Bhutan on 17th December 1907 in Punakha. This historic day would set the wheel of peace and harmony running in the Southern Land of Medicinal Herbs.

Before Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck ascended to the Golden Throne, our country was in sheer disorder. Our people were heavily taxed by local chieftains with vested personal interest. Our nation was divided into numerous tiny factions. Peace and happiness were rare to be enjoyed as each warring factions made the people to fight every now and then. People were exhausted to death because of this disharmony.

Thanks to Sir Ugyen Wangchuk’s diplomatic skills, when he returned from Lhasa in 1905 after successfully mediating between the British Mission headed by Colonel Young Husband and the Ganden Phodrang of Dalai Lama, he won all admirations and accolades from people both within and without the country. Thanks to Raja Ugyen Dorji, who worked as a link between Bhutanese and the British for proposing Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuk as the first King of Bhutan.  Less than a year after his proposal, Gongsa Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the first Dragon King.

It is the blessing of our forefathers and successive monarchs, who are compassion personified, that our country enjoys happiness and peace to this day. It is our responsibility to pass this gift of happiness and peace to the next generation.

On this national day, let us remember our roots. Let us look back to the sacrifices of our forefathers. Let us reminiscence about the thoughts of wise man like Sir Ugyen Wangchuk who shaped the destiny of our country. And let us too, not forget that we have a huge responsibility on our shoulder to serve as a critical link bridging the 21st century with future and sailing in the murky waters of 21st century globalized world.

Palden Druk Pa Gyalo!!!  

Monday, 16 May 2016

A prayer in late Spring

17 May 2016.   9.11am 

It is a gloomy morning in late Spring in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. As I walked to my office, it was raining gently. I had to avoid vehicles from splashing muddy water on my gho by walking very carefully. Life is back in full force. Beautiful flowers are turning into tiny, delicate fruits. The brownish hue of hills and mountains surrounding Thimphu valley is getting back to its glorious green. Lots of tourists from India and China can be seen taking pictures around the memorial Chorten.

As this month is a holy one for followers of Tibetan Buddhism, a lenthy Monlam is being organized at the memorial Chorten. The stupa built in late 90's is clad in colorful ceremonial scarfs. Surrounding it, elaborate offerings of flowers, scented water, sweet cakes and aromatic herbs are made. Melody of Buddhist musical instruments enhance the beauty of on a gloomy morning. 

Many people have come here, on their way to office, like me, to make a prayer before they start their day. Old men and women are pouring in from different parts of Thimphu to sit near the Chorten and pray the whole day. Young ladies and gentlemen are wearing beautifully designed traditional dress as they walk smiling round the Chorten. Some of them are in deep introspection. A few elderly women are seen prostrating to the Buddha.

A flock of grey birds sit on the entrance to the Chorten compound. An old man, his back slightly bent forward with age, is scattering rice on the ground for the birds to feed on. Young girls and boys with name tag on their dress offer the visitors tea and breakfast. 

As I mix myself among hundreds of people walking round the chorten, I tell myself 'this country is beautiful beyond words'. I rejoice in the merits of all fellow citizens who have come here to pray. I pray that their prayers be ever more powerful so that it can dispel the ignorance in all of us and lead us to ultimate freedom. I rejoice in the deeds of people who come here to make offering of tea and breakfast. I pray that by virtue of my prayers, may my defilement be cleansed and may I become enlightened soon so that I can help countless sentient being to enlightenment.

Life is simple in Thimphu. Everyday I get to walk 30 minutes to my office. I get to pray near the Chorten. I get to breath fresh air in the mornings. I get to rejoice in the good deed of others. I get to remind myself how lucky and fortunate I am to be born in Bhutan. 

As I write these lines, gentle rays of sun shines through thick cloud. A faint sound of monks chanting prayers could be heard. (my work place is near the Chorten). In the back of my mind, sweet memories linger of a beautiful morning in spring. A wonderful start to a beautiful day! Live on.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Rice Farmer & Happiness

Rice Farmer and Happiness

Beautiful songs in praise of Lord Krishna playing from the old speaker hanging high near the village temple pervade every corner of this little beautiful town. The evening air is filled with aroma of incense sticks being offered nearby in the village temple. People are returning from their paddy fields. A group of children are playing happily in under the coconut trees. The sun is setting. It appears as if it is sinking in the vast plains. The sky towards west is a mesmerizing mix of orange and yellow color. A bright yellowish reflection of the last rays of the sun decorates the nearby river.

As the soulful religious song changes to a more slow and heart-stirring one, the sky becomes darker. One by one, the brightest stars begin to appear. Happy families are cooking delicious meal. The gentle evening wind brings with it mouthwatering smell of vegetables being cooked in little huts made of bamboo. Sound of conch shell, chirping of evening insects, music from the village temple, dazzling stars, buffaloes mooing…the beauty of all these drenches my heart and soaks it with peace and joy. How simple life is in this small, sleepy village.

It is getting colder. It is dark black soot. We don’t have electric power in our village of Jamvudipa. The temple has stopped playing songs. Insects are no more rattling. There is silence everywhere surrounding me. I could almost hear my own heart beat. I am slowly walking back to my own little bamboo house. I am a rice farmer. I live alone in this village with my fellow farmers. Everyone is so happy here. We treat each one as if they are our own brothers and sisters. Since everyone is so full of love and co passion, I don’t feel the need of a family. Everyone here is my family.

I do fishing in the nearby river during the day. That is how I make a living. I catch enough fish to just fill my belly for one day. I think I am not greedy.

Tonight, I have boiled a bowl of wild potatoes. I also have fish soup that I cooked. My bamboo hut is lit by a dim light emerging from burning dried cow dung. I enjoy my simple dinner and proceed to sleep.

As I put my head on the pillow, I could see the bright full moon has appeared. It makes me smile. I have a special connection with the moon, since it is on a full moon day, I was born.

I close my eyes and think I am the luckiest and richest farmer in the world. I have nothing of my own but I take rejoice in everything I have. Due to this I am satisfied and happy. I pray for a beautiful morning and sleep.

In my dream, the melodious song in praise for lord Krishna continues to play.

When I wake up, it is a beautiful silenct morning in a remote corner of Indonesia.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Retrospectiva 2015

#Retrospectiva2015 is a twitter hash tag that is currently trending on the popular micro-blogging site. People all round the world are looking back at the year that is just coming to an end. In places like Goa, electronic dance music festivals are being organized to ring in the New Year. It is time to reflect on the failures and achievements, fun and sadness that took place in the year 2015.

This pampering afternoon-sunlight pouring in through the dusty window panes and the melodious chime of a Buddhist prayer being played in the room next door and a faint aroma of Bio-Bhutan Lemon grass air spray accompanied by the noise of trucks and cars speeding on the highway below … this is how the last day of 2015 is gradually dragging to an end in Thimphu, Bhutan.

Globally, 2015 was a nothing short of a roller coaster ride. From terrorist attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine to devastating earthquake in Nepal, from ISIS terror attack in the French Capital to migrant crisis in Europe, from human trafficking cases in Thailand to crowning the wrong Miss Universe and United Nations COP21 meeting etc… 2015 was a year that cannot be easily forgotten. Also we saw Hilary Clinton announce her candidacy to the 2016 US presidential election, Zayne Malik of the popular One Direction opting out of the Band, the demise of Ben E-King who popularized ‘Stand by Me’ and so on.

On a personal front, 2015 has been the most memorable year so far. From landing a dream job to learning to play some songs on the guitar, from learning to drive a car to making new friends…
The bygone year was a blessing. Post cards of New York City from New York, A beautiful book from Singapore and quality guitar strings from Hongkong.

As we say farewell to 2K15 and welcome 2K16 with open arms, I hope the coming year will have lots of surprises and fun. I hope to read some more books, learn to play some more songs and live a healthy life. I also look forward to learn from mistakes made this year. I hope I don’t have to say good bye to people. That is one thing I don’t fancy saying and doing. I hope, instead, the world becomes a better place and freedom prevails in all the nook and corners of this beautiful planet of ours. I also hope the New Year bring wisdom to all of us to make better decisions in life to live happier days.

To all the people around the world and to people who, by chance, read this blog I wish a very happy new year 2016.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Shambala Here and Now.

Shambala is a mythical Buddhist heaven known for peace and joy and long life.

Seemingly useless and small thoughts and actions that we are carrying out now is for ever recorded in our memories. We do not realize the beauty and value of things as it happens. But when we look back few years afterwards, the same memories bring tears of joy and sorrow to our heart. So what is the secret behind this phenomenon? Why things like this happen to humans? Well, i don't have an answer either.

 For instance, we do not bother to live each and every moment as it comes and happens. Sitting by the sea and watching a Fisherman take a nap in his small fishing boat, the boat gently made to dance by the gentle waves... it never was a sweet thing back then as it happened a few summers ago in the beautiful place of Goa, But now, as the day ends, as the sun begins to set and as a melancholic cry of birds squeeze by my office window, those old memories are far more sweeter than the present.

The smell of different fish at the fish market was so pathetic. Yet, even memory of a busy fish market in Goa can trigger a flood of other memories. Like that of local Goan Women carrying basket of fresh prawns at the market, the magnificence paintings of Mario Miranda on the walls of the vegetable market, the sound of sea water heating the shore as i walked in the garden, the memory of talking to a poor yet lovable boy from Uttar Pradesh who made his ends meet by selling pani-puri.

Some years down the line, I am sure, I will miss sitting by the side of open windows in my office and writing this blog piece with mind in peace, with heart soaked in the joy of thinking and reflecting on the causes and conditions and impermanence of things. I will miss the green little orange sapling on my table. I will miss the smell of fish being fried in the hut bellow the window. But for now, see, i have to try hard to live in these small yet beautiful moments. 

Note: Mario Miranda was a world famous Goan cartoonist.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Song Number 13 in Nirvana

A slice of Nirvana in September

One Friday evening in early November, I return from office as usual. Reaching home, after taking a warm bath, I open the fridge. There is no milk. I sip a glass of water and switch on the TV. Nothing of interest shows up even when I swipe channels one through seventy. I open the door and go on the veranda. Resting my elbows on the cold concrete structures, I gaze at the express-way below my apartment. Vehicles ply up and down. Everything seems to be going on normally usual. Nothing is extraordinary. The   evening air is cold. A pair of blue Jockey inner wear hangs on the clothesline.  The cold air is helping it dry. As time passes by, I feel it is a drag to be at home alone. I walk inside my room and call up my friend and ask if he is coming for a drink in the town. He agrees without hesitation.

I put on a pair of faded blue jeans, vertical-stripped-white Tommy Hilfiger shirt from college days and a black jacket. I cover my neck with a light green muffler and put on the spectacles. I open my drawer of the knock-down and pick the wallet and check if I need to take out any cash from the Automatic Teller Machine. I lock the door and put on my old but neat grey converse. I wait for five minutes by the road side, baking in cold air to catch a cab. After five more minutes I get out in front of Ama’s Restaurant in the main street. My friend is already there, waiting for me.

We walk inside. The restaurant is busy. There is an empty dining table with four chairs. We sit there and ask for the menu from the waitress. He studies the menu with zeal. Ten minutes exactly. He orders a boring dish. Mushroom datsi and fried rice. I land up ordering an even more boring dish. Corn soup and mixed vegetable fried rice and fish curry. We eat in silence. We empty the dishes without leaving a single morsel on the plate. I pay the bill at the counter. I see some poor fish struggling in the aquarium as we head to the Karoake in next room.

We enter the Karoake room. I smell a mix of vodka, beer, cheap red wine and Rajnighandha and doma. We take our place at a corner where the speakers are buzzing. Men and girls and boys and women are seated at random tables. The room is lit in blue and red. Two flat LCD screen displays the lyrics of  current song. A tall and frail guy with a curly hair wearing a Gandhi-style glasses is giving his best to sound like Atif Aslam. I am not impressed.  I order a can of not-chilled beer. Any brand will do I say. My friend orders a cheap red wine. We drink and crack silly jokes. I call for the song catalogue and select a Tibetan pop song. Song number 13. I drink my beer and wait for my turn to come.

I go on stage and check the sound system. The track plays and I sing my song. A drunken guy sitting in the front row whistles. But then I don’t give him a shit. Sober girls don’t me a damn. I come back to my sit and drink another can of beer. This time a chilled can of  Fosters.

At 11 pm, we walk back home in the cold night. We pass by dogs and men and cars. Everyone is in their own world. We reach my apartment. I open the door and switch on the TV. My friend watches a soccer game. I jump on my bed with a book: Norwegian Woods by Murakami.

I wake up the next day. And think I need to become a monk in the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism. This is crazy and weird, a part of me says. And another part of me says: Everyone is weird. So chill and live your life your own way. The real me is confused and falls back to a sweet morning slumber. And song number 13 plays in my dream over and over again. And I give my visitor's card to the Dalai Lama. In my dream of course.