08 February, 2015

House of Memories

A village house in Simply Bhutan. 
Photo courtesy: www.simplybhutan.bt
I grew up in a small village. Today, my children are growing up in a city that has modern amenities. As father, I am happy to see them in comfort zone but what often bothers me is ‘are they growing up happily?’ One of the reasons why I planned a family trip to my village was to show them where & how I grew up but when we arrived Nakling Gonpa in Mongar (the place I belong), there was no village. It was lost in town. So much has changed within a short period of time, some are good and some are not. The basic requirement to balance developmental activities with preservation of what is good/unique was badly overlooked. I am commenting here not because it is easier to comment than doing but my little experience of about two decades in a similar field as Engineer compelled me to get across what is improper. No matter how much I tried to balance the two arms of seesaw with positive vibes, the guilt of not being able to present the beautiful side of my village to my children remains. My village has turned to a place where most of the good things are on decline, this is mainly because of the change in people’s mindset and lack of professionalism. Your village or my village, it is our country and we all have an obligation to make it better for our future generations. Time was short and we returned without seeing the village that I wanted to show it to my children.
     Back in Thimphu, I met my old friend Yen Jams who was in the capital for a brief visit. As a part of our customary roaming, we decided to visit newly inaugurated museum called Simply Bhutan. Simply Bhutan is a living museum in Thimphu that houses demonstration stalls, souvenir shops and array of studios. Above all, it has a traditional village house that portrays a living style in our villages. This village house has a good collection of ancient household items. It was precisely built and properly maintained. Being there was like going back in time. It reminded me of my village, at least the house.
     As seen there, houses in my village also had a shinglep roofing but now replaced by CGI sheets. The Thabtsang Studio   (traditional kitchen) is beautifully ancient and reminded me of my mother who amidst thick smoke and burning heat, often with her burnt fingers still cooked delicious meals for us. We believe that Thab Lha – the god of oven resides in Thab (traditional oven) but now, Thabs are replaced by imported stoves. Choesham (Altar) at Simply Bhutan has a serene and blessed atmosphere. It is as good as the one we once had, it reminded me of my father, who is no more today. Most of the time, he used to be in Choesham and devoted his time in prayers. He was a man, who balanced love with discipline. Today, in absence of all those wonderful things, it is a surreal feeling even to think of my village. 
     Now, Simply Bhutan is my house of memories and the place to visit whenever I miss my early days. I will bring my children too and dine inside the Thabtsang in the most traditional way. I can talk to them about many things in the house.
     Coming out of Choesham, we saw a group of young people taking pictures near a traditional ladder, I looked at Yen Jams but he already got the message “It is really going back in time” he said and I nodded, because during our time young people loved to take photographs more in the city amidst huge concrete structures. 
     By then we were already at wish pond that lies below the overlooking statue of Lord Buddha. “You can say your prayers and make your wish here” said a soft spoken young man from Simply Bhutan, who accompanied and guided us throughout. I didn’t know what Yen Jams wished for but the only wish I had that moment was, let good things on earth prevail and eliminate greed so that people can actualize enlightenment and become good to each other as it was there in the past. After having prayed, we turned the prayer wheels and exited that enchanting place called Simply Bhutan. It was a magical experience with immense take-home message.