21 December, 2014

KHEKPA - The Head Hunter




     I have learned to live within my income, so did my family.  We do not struggle hard for things that lies beyond our reach. So, we have more time than our rich neighbours. Perhaps ‘time’ may be the only obsession where we are richer than most of the people around us. I often spend my long and uninterrupted leisure cherishing my experiences and writing it down.
     Today, as I sit down to write another piece from my past, I feel happy and satisfied for having served in various remote places within my country. I have worked with people who, even at their 60s had never experienced car-ride, never saw a truck and many more. On several occasions, I enjoyed a privilege to occupy the central position offered by them. Sometimes, they gave me more than what I deserve and made me feel more popular than what I was. In reality, it was only like being the tallest among seven dwarfs but a genuine feeling of warmth was something more than special that I always enjoyed. There were occasions where I have to tell them "I am not Dasho'' and request them not to misuse such honorable title.
     I do not know how fair I had been to reciprocate their humble gestures. As far as I remember, I have never been hard to anyone. We always shared harmonious relationship and our partings had always been painful.
     However, my tenure for more than three years in Borangshing-Yowong in Nganglam under Samdrup Jongkhar district in eastern Bhutan was slightly a different one.
    In our villages, a rumour of Khekpa is feared very much. It is believed that Khekpa abduct humans, behead them and bury their heads under foundations of an important structures and hydro-power constructions.  Khekpa is is nothing but head-hunter. I also grew up fearing Khekpa back in my own village.  Therefore, whatever the cost, I would never become one but, by the time I knew I was already Khekpa in Nganglam. The entire village was convinced that I was operating Khekpa group. Among themselves, they addressed me by 'khekpa Lopon'. How disgusting! I do not blame every innocent but who could be the one to start with such awful rumour which was absolutely untrue? 
     It was an assumption-turned-rumour that found its way so easily and convincingly. I was working there as In-charge for the construction of 132kV Substation & Infrastructure developments. There were more than 200 people working in 25 Acres of land. No doubt, by village standard, it was a mega project and some people must have seen it as power project that requires human heads.
     Also, I came to know later that, villagers had several rounds of meetings, observed curfew and were prepared with poisoned arrows. Thank God, the nature of my job kept me engaged all the time and could not visit their village though I had interest to do so. Had I roamed through their village particularly during odd hours, I would have had their poisoned arrows. More fortunately, there was no case of missing person from that village during the entire project duration otherwise, I would have been the first to face their wrath and subsequent consequences.
     Today, I am not worried how convincing I am to clarify them but I am still feeling sorry thinking how much they must have feared my presence. Those days at Nganglam, we lived under constant fear of Indian militants who were camped inside our land. I still remember how I felt when one of the militants pushed me with the muzzle of his AK-47 rifle.  
     My dear fellow countrymen-the people of Dechheling village, if you have feared my presence that time, I am extremely sorry for that awful rumour. I was not Khekpa Lopon as you have taken me. I am not and will never be.

30 November, 2014

30th NOVEMBER

     I have heard, once upon a time in Tibet, when whole populace celebrated new year with great jubilation, Patrul Rinpoche (1808 – 1887) wept; when asked why, Rinpoche answered, “Another year had gone by, and so many people are one year closer to death, still unprepared.”
     I do not know why! but, these words of Patrul Rinpoche keep coming to my mind so regularly on every 30th November.  May be, I too am unprepared like those people.
    By dictionary-definition, 30th November is my ‘Birthday’ but I have never cut cake on any of my birthdays. However, I always enjoy receiving good wishes from many wonderful people. This often makes me to feel myself more popular than what I am. Little do I realize that I am one year closer to my end.
     Today is yet another 30th November. On this day, I become older by one more year. I remember how I spent my childhood wishing that I was older. Now, I am older and will get further old though I do not wish for it any longer.  It is fine because even mountains do grow old. Growing old is an inevitable  process but growing up is a joy. I am growing both old & up with many others. For me, it is a privilege to grow up together with many wonderful people whom I call them friends. It is sad that some of my mates could not have this privilege. Many people have become a mere memories now. Some people who were of my age and even younger are no more and so were older people whom I met during my early life. Our life on earth is getting shorter the every passing day. Sometime, somewhere, someone said "A rooster that crows in the morning says another day from your life is gone now."                    
    Now, the less that remains is the more valuable to me. I have become like an hunter who is left with just limited arrows. I will ensure not to waste any of it carelessly but use it wisely for the betterment of self and others.
      No matter how hard the past had been. Life is always beautiful.
      

20 November, 2014

Film Review - Choegyal Drimed Kuenden – The Prince in Exile



Choegyal Drimed Kuenden – The Prince in Exile is an incredibly moving movie. This inspirational story is about a compassionate prince who grew up by doing whatever it took him to give others. Later, his own niceness took him through turbulent times. Though almost shattered, the prince remained calm and continued giving whatever little was left. He never became poor or unhappy by giving.


What an ingrained difference! We make our living by what we get but this great prince made his life by what he gave. A genuine act of compassion that transcends attachment with deeper realization that everything on earth is impermanent was what touched my heart the most.
     This inspirational film inspired me to get my life on another track though only time can tell how much I can do. At the end, what made me feel so special was the feeling that I too live in the same world where a great soul once lived.
      Scripted from the hagiography Choegyal Drimed Kuenden; the film is well written and directed by Director Gyem Dorji. It is yet another great presentation by Norling Drayang. This movie has a perfect setting and is so aptly done.

18 November, 2014

CHOEGYAL DRIMED KUENDEN - The Prince in Exile

     Every art has its capacity to influence feelings, thoughts and behaviors in society. Cinema is one among many that has a lot more to offer besides entertainment.
     To me, whether it is in big screen or small screen, movies have always been open windows through which I see different lives and how each one of us live differently from the other. Though movies are only artistic creations, good movies always have striking philosophical similarities with our lives; this is what generate emotions in me and takes me through emotional roller coaster right from the start till the end.
     One of the common interests we have in our family is our love for good movies. We go out every time there is good movie in town, this happens normally once in a month or sometimes once in two months. My children joyfully call this outing as ‘movie of the month’. This time they wanted to watch ‘Choegyal Drimed Kuenden – The Prince in Exile’. Surprisingly, my wife(Ama) seemed to be resisting her own excitement when she reminded me about kids’ exam that would begin after a couple of days but kids were more convincing that they need a break and moreover it was already more than a month since we watched ‘Ap Bokto’ - our previous movie of the month.  So, we went ahead though we respected Ama’s concern very much.
     Choegyal Drimed Kuenden – The Prince in Exile was an incredibly moving movie. This inspirational story was about a compassionate prince who grew up by doing whatever it took him to give others. Later, his own niceness took him through turbulent times. Though almost shattered, the prince remained calm and continued giving whatever little was left. He never became poor or unhappy by giving.


What an ingrained difference! We make our living by what we get but this great prince made his life by what he gave. A genuine act of compassion that transcends attachment with deeper realization that everything on earth is impermanent was what touched my heart the most.
     Half way through, when I could not hold back my tears, I pretended to be having itchy eyes but was caught red handed by my 9 year old son who was also in same state of emotions. Not knowing what to say, we both smiled at each other, still in tears.
     This inspirational film inspired me to get my life on another track though only time can tell how much I can do. At the end, what made me feel so special was the feeling that I too live in the same world where a great soul once lived.
     Scripted from the hagiography Choegyal Drimed Kuenden; the film is well written and directed by Director Gyem Dorji. It is yet another great presentation by Norling Drayang. This movie has a perfect setting and is so aptly done.

10 November, 2014

DRINCHEN AMA – All for my Mother


I have no far-reaching wisdom on spirituality. As an ordinary human, I live within the web of attachments. I have no material property to keep me wanting more, all I have is just a few people whom I owe everything for what they are to me.  To them, I remain attached.

But, of all the 7 billion people in the world, why is it so that, my mother has to suffer a lot and why I am not able to do much to ease her pain? She is the most wonderful person to me. When I was sick, she felt the pain more than she could endure and worried to the extent that she even fell ill herself, yet she never even mentions what she had gone through. 

She started loving me from the time I was developing inside her despite drowsy and sluggish times she had been through.  She underwent all kinds of pain to give birth and then let me relied on her milk for my life and nourishment.  It is said that the milk is a transformation of mother’s blood and each child drinks 1200 gallons of its mother’s milk. Seven of us had 8400 gallons from her. Today, she looks worn and fatigued not just because of her age but also because of this drain. Parents’ love indeed is boundless and limitless that one can never repay them. My parents had gone out of their ways to give me a healthy life and taught valuable lessons in life. I am only thinking ‘Am I doing enough for them’.

Oh!  The god of longevity, please grant the epitome of longevity to my bedridden mother. I would not mind for not having more. Please ..., let me continue to posses what I have. I am just an ordinary being and it is not easy for me to let go my attachments in a very casual way though I know all good things must come to an end. Now is not the time for parting.

Sitting helplessly beside the bed where she lays confined, it is really a nerve breaking.




                                                                                              


28 October, 2014

LIVING ON THE EDGE

     We all live our lives in a different way. Some people live their lives in a way feeling satisfied to have lived. I met one such man while travelling along East-West National Highway some time ago. I tell this same story over and again not because I don’t have anything to talk about but it inspires me more every time I tell or write about it. Many travellers including myself stop for a while at Yotongla pass, which lies at about 3,400 meters above msl. It's clean air and impressive view is quite refreshing for the tired travelers but, if required to stay there for years, it would be a hostile experience and many of us would not dare to or would give up half way. At such altitude, there is no settlement around and the place remains covered with blankets of fog for most part of the year. It is deprived of activities, except for movement of vehicles. 
     Surprisingly, someone lived there for 13 years and continues living there with no complaint. A watchman in Bhutan Telecom, Bim Bahadur Rai, 52, a father of six, has beaten all those odds. His duty is to look after the repeater station at Yotongla pass and to operate diesel generator during power outages. What interested me to know more about him was the satisfaction in him. “I like my job and being here is not at all a problem,” he said with a warm gentle smile, adding he owes a lot to the company that employed him. He is committed to serve it to the best of his ability. A job satisfaction, loyalty and dedication! If every employee has this kind of satisfaction, work would be a real joy. Considering their children’s future, his family opted to stay away from him in Thimphu.“We remain separated so that my children get good education.” he said. A caring father and family man! To keep others connected through good telecommunication network, he remains separated from his family. We seldom think about people behind our comfort zone. He does not seem to complain about the shortfalls but continues to live behind our comfort, sacrificing his own. A selfless lifeHe does not want to take leave from his work to visit his family since it is more important for him to “encash” his leave at the end of the year. “At the moment, money is more important for me to support my family,” he said, adding his family also keeps their expectations low. He knows his priority well.  
     Before joining Bhutan Telecom, he served in armed forces for 23 years and seems to have grown both older and wiser. Above all, he looks contented both by his face and words. To me, anyone living behind someone else’s comfort zone by sacrificing their own, without complaint and at the same time fulfilling their duty towards their family are the real heroes. Mr. Bim Bahadur Rai is probably the only one, I know of.





















Mr. Bhim Bahadur Rai from Samdrup Jongkhar (At Yotongla Pass)

03 October, 2014

TREKKING FROM CHEMENA IN THIMPHU TO TASHI THONGMOM DZONG IN GASA

     We started from Chemena in Thimphu on Sunday - 6th April 2014. A trek from Chemena in Thimphu to Tashi Thongmon Dzong in Gasa via Choeten Nyingpo in Punakha had been a long journey, both exciting and tiring.


     As we traveled, we raised prayer flags over Sinchula pass which is situated at about 3450 m above msl.  I nearly fell into a river while crossing Gairongchhu, it was there in Gairongchhu where my trekking stick lost its shoe forever. Further worse, we lost the trail and at  07:38 pm to be precise, we halted for night in a deep, dense jungle that we have never been before. We were totally unprepared. There was no food and water, not even a lighter to make fire. The night was dark as darkroom in a laboratory. We were hungry and tired. The thought of who might visit us at night and whether we would be lucky enough to see one another alive in the morning kept me awake. I hid my own fears and disguised my emotion though it was not so easy. Trying to hide my nervousness, I assured my friends that nothing would happen. Personally, I did not like the idea of not being myself at that point, but I had no option as it was my moral responsibility being the eldest in the group. 
     Finally, the longest night in my life gave way to dawn. All of us welcomed it with the same excitement in our hearts. We laughed at each other like fools. Perhaps, it was the only way to celebrate our safe night in the jungle. The other thing we enjoyed checking out at dawn was the marks left by insects on our bodies. How interesting it was that they didn’t spare even a small exposed part of our bodies! That was a small cost that we paid for being in their territory. We did not mind. Our destination was too big for insect bites to matter.
     We moved on, and by around mid day, arrived at a place called Choeten Nyingpo. Situated towards the northern end in Punakha Dzongkhag, Choeten Nyingpo is a holy spot blessed by Lama Drukpa Kuenley - the Divine Madman. There is a monastery, which is the erstwhile winter residence of HH Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye (1638-1696).

Choeten Nyingpo premises - Photo April 2014
      To reach Choeten Nyingpo, one can trek along Sinchula trail from Chamena in Thimphu or go by road via Punakha. It would always be better to have a professional trek guide or at least a competent guide so that you don’t have to sleep in the jungle with all sorts of thoughts in your head. In case, you choose to go by road, it is about three hours journey from Thimphu to Punakha and it takes about 45 minutes from Punakha to Choeten Nyingpo. Uma, Aman resort, Phuntsho Pelri and other hotels / resorts are not far off. A meandering Mochhu river that flows right from Gasa and a magnificient view of Punakha Dzong are some of the best treats that await en route to Chorten Nyingpo.
Divine Madman's Stupa




















      The journey was tiring but being able to make it there and also to know about Choetean Nyingpo was all the more refreshing and felt blessed. We were overjoyed to know that the trail we trekked along is the same path trodden by great saints like Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye  and others about 318 years ago. With permission from Lopen, we camped ourselves near the very historic choeten. Unlike the previous night, there was nothing to worry about. There, I was myself and felt so happy to be that.  
     We woke up at dawn but unlike our first night in jungle, there was no excitement in our hearts because we went to bed with no worries. How interesting it is that, it takes ‘trouble’ to have ‘excitement’ and to feel excited.  It is true that, if not for the rock in its bed, the stream would have no song.
     En route to Gasa, we passed by Hokatsho – a beautiful lake above Choetean Nyingpo. This lake is believed to have migrated from Tibet and the Mermaid there is said to be the consort of the protecting deity of Choeten Nyingpo. At Hokatsho, it is easy to get mesmerized by its shimmering and virgin beauty.






      En route Gasa Dzong, we see these mountains with its peaks tilted towards one side. It signifies bowing down in respect towards Punakha Dzong where Shabdrung Rinpoche resided.

27 September, 2014

THIS SLICE OF LIFE

I am writing this to thank a young lady. The first time we met was in a bus and that was also the last time we crossed path. When I first saw her, she was occupying my seat in the bus. I moved towards her; she looked up at me and smiled. She had the most beatific smile and was very cute-looking too; but the journey was long and the bus was crowded, so I resisted her charms and showed her my ticket.

With much reluctance, she raised her delectable self off my seat and cast me a sour look. Trying to be as civil as I can, I apologized for the inconvenience. She replied, “I don’t see why you have to make such a fuss, after all, you’ll be in the same bus!” I did not reply. I just waited in silence for her to move on. She took her time and when she finally left, she angrily said, “The least you can do is thank me for warming your seat.”The other passengers laughed and I reddened. I felt humiliated.

It was during a cold winter morning at Lungtenzampa bus terminal in Thimphu and there was only five minutes left for departure, still I had to get out of that bus to clear my head, which I did.

Outside in the cold, I shivered and was thinking myself; a pretty-looking girl, what a nasty behavior! I fumed, hah! her tongue can sting. Just then, I felt a tap on my back. I turned and there stood my oldest friend in the world. His hilarious face with a very warm heart was enough for me to forget everything for a while. Though for a moment, we had a very pleasant time together. Sadly, I had to cut short our conversation as engine roared to give a sign of final call for departure. As I jumped into a bus, I left him with the word that I‘d see him on my return.

That was never to be. When I returned, he was no more. It is strange, a life is. When he was alive, I could hardly spare him a thought. Now that he‘s no more, he is never off my mind

       THIS IS FOR YOU, MY FRIEND
 May you lead all the departed souls from the realm of sufferings to the Pure Land of Bliss. 








Now, I remember that unspeakable girl in the bus and would like to thank her for inadvertently allowing me that last moment with my best friend. Though things happen for a reason or call it coincidence, had it not been for her, I would not have had that last moment with my friend. 

Thank you lass, May God bless you!

24 September, 2014

THRUE-BAAB - Blessed Rainy Day



September 23, 2014. Today, we are observing the day as Thrue-baab meaning 'The Blessed Rainy Day'. Beginning today, the water around us is no more ordinary. We believe, the water gets sanctified and will remain the same for a week. During this week-long period, we will be bathing (preferably outdoor). In doing so, our accumulated sin, bad karma, disease and defilement will get cleansed.

Back in villages, it is even more special as it marks the beginning of harvest season. It is a time for villagers to relax since it also marks the end of farming season

I remember how we used to observe Thrue-baab celebration during my childhood days. My parents would tell us how to pray and do a little visualization during the time of bathing. Right after the bath, we would be given Thrue Chhu (Holy water) from Bumpa (Ritual Vase) and Jinlab-Damzay (Holy pills). Then, the elders were served with Thrue Chang. Thrue Chang is a best quality home-brewed wine usually served after bath to an elite group in the society. No doubt, my elders used to enjoy Thrue Chang with much pleasure and pride. The festivity for rest of the day would then begin.

I also remember how my parents worked hard, often sacrificing their own comforts just to make this day a big day for us. Today, as a parent myself, I am only following my parents and giving the best I can to my children. I hope my children and the rest will follow suit during their times.

My sons during and after bath (23/109/2014)


 



_________________________________________________________________________


19 September, 2014

THE PALACE OF GOOD FORTUNE AND GOOD LUCK VASES








Life is not always predestined; there are secrets that amend the destiny for better. We wish for happiness almost as our birth-right but seldom cultivate the right cause of happiness.

This book in its totality is intended to por­tray how fate can be negotiated without compromising goodness. It reminds the role of individuals to amend their own destiny and prove that they can get better of their fate than leaving it to the dictates of so-called destiny.

In brief, it is all about how to coexist harmoniously and to live a happy and fulfilled life without compromising moral values and integrity.

Title : The Palace of Good Fortune and Good Luck 
           Vases.
ISBN 978-99936-827-1- 4
BICMA Reg.: 305000070

ASTROLOGICALLY AUSPICIOUS ASPECTS IN BUILDING CONSTRUCTION





Every patch of land has deities known as Saye Lhamo, Shinggi Lhamo, Dhogi Dhagpo, Sadag Lugyen and Nyaip who are in the possession of land, trees, stones, water and environment respectively. They are the true owners. If they are not appeased before and during the construction of house(s) or any other structure(s), it is like invading their territories and destroying their property. Inadvertently, we offend them only to face their wrath.

Some of the consequences generally met during and after the construction due to non-performing of the rituals and ceremonies are: child born in that family would be dumb or otherwise handicapped; occurrence of adversities like divorce, huge debts, permanent disability, accidents, quarrels and unrest in house. Such misfortunes can continue to befall for generations after generations.

Therefore, it is quite imperative to appease these deities prior to such action. It not only averts mishaps but also helps; they do help us. If the construction is done in astrologically auspicious way, the prosperity continues for generations after generations and the owner and occupants are blessed, by making their wishes spontaneously accomplished.


ISBN 978-99936-827-0-7
BICMA Reg.: GB/TPHU/BICMA/1026
Copyright and Related rights Regd.: 000000000001
_______________________________


 “The book is concentrated on age old wisdom and auspicious aspects during construction of houses. It would be very useful for constructions in the Bhutanese context since our society is deeply entrenched in religious and traditional values.”
- Dasho Bharat Tamang Yonzin
Managing Director, BPC,
June 20, 2011 : Thimphu.

                                                                                     
“Mr. Jambay Dorji has now brought out this book which explains what must be done and why. In today’s context it is necessary to understand why certain things have to be done. I congratulate Jambay Dorji for bringing out this book which will go a long way in educating our people about the auspicious signs and processes for building houses.”

                                              - Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba
The Minister for Ministry of Works and Human Settlement,
August 2011; Thimphu.

                                                                                                                                         
“This book contains both religious and traditional wisdom that are essentially required during the processes of construction. It is quite relevant to our community and would be of great use to all of us.
                                                                                       
           - Lyonpo Minjur Dorji,  The Minister for Ministry of Home & Cultural Affairs,                                                                    September, 23, 2011 : Thimphu.

“A book like this will no doubt benefit anyone who has faith in Buddha dharma or to the wisdom of Manjusri. From beginning to the end, the author has written quite well.”

-Lopen Ugyen Jurmey
April 27, 2011 : Thimphu.


“A book like this can help to reach astrological knowledge and other auspicious aspects to larger section in our society.”
                                                                                                                           -Lopen Sonam Rinchen
Institute of Astrology, Pangrizampa,
July 2011 : Thimphu.


 “A very informative book in Buddhist Astrology and Bhutanese belief; extremely relevant for modern times. It will be immensely useful to all types of people for different activities in their day to day lives.”

-Guru Kheyntse Ozer
        July 2011, Thimphu.

Jambay Dorji in his book Astrologically Auspicious Aspects in building Construction explains what must be done and for what purpose.”
-Bhutan Observer
August 2011, Thimphu.


“This book is already in the best seller list here. It can be an added event for launching it in the Festival.”
                                                                                                                                         -B. P. Bhattarai
Managing Director,
DSB Enterprises Pvt. Limited, 
May2012, Thimphu.





Astrologically Auspicious Aspects in Building Construction by Jambay Dorji is an excellent book, which guides us on the entire process of a building construction. The book renders symbolic meanings to our traditional art and architecture. Therefore, it is a record of our fast-fading traditional architectural designs and patterns. It makes a great reference to the people, who plan important life-changing decisions. The book can be used as an every-day guide for traditional Bhutanese way of living. I recommend every household have a copy of this truly auspicious book!

                                                                         -Nawang P. Phuntsho
A writer and blogger who works for NGO in Bhutan.




Interview by Bhutan Times on Astrologically Auspicious Aspects in Building Construction
 - August 21, 2011.









14 September, 2014

Film review - AP BOKTO




           Ap Bokto - the first ever homemade 3D animated film in the country is a brilliant work of art. It is a treat not only to the young eyes but also to the parents and elders. This film serves a great entertainment with numerous adventures and suspense throughout.
          Overall, this is a great movie with a mix of comedy, tradition & culture, religion, family bond, poverty, innocence,  human Intelligence and realizations… all rolled into one. Ap Bokto is definitely one to remember.
          A must-watch movie with your family! It is well worth your time and money.