Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A handbag for my lady

A gift from your loved one will always have a special value and a place in your heart. Even if you have ten similar handbags hanging on your wall or ten similar T-shirts you wear, there is something so subtle about that particular gift your loved one has presented to you.

Last month, I made up my mind to finally meet her after merely two weeks of talk over the phone. She has never seen me before. And interestingly I haven’t also met her personally but I did saw her from a distant that morning when she left Thimphu for Tsirang.

Despite that frigid morning I managed to reach the bus terminal five minutes before the departure time. The engine has already started to roar. I immediately dialed her number for two important reasons. Firstly I wanted to see her in person and secondly I wanted to wish her a safe journey. Though I could wish her a safe journey with all my heart but I could only see her in glimpses.

So the first face to face meeting with her has to be wonderful. What did I do?

On the previous day of my departure I hit the town with a light, happy heart and a tight wallet. My heart was light and happy because I was going to meet her the next day and I carried a tight wallet because I have decided to spend whatever amount on the single gift for her; a purple colored handbag!


Over the phone I had inquired her about her favorite color. Purple is her best. And her frequent revealing of her wish to live a simple life, her belonging to a decent middle class family and those glimpses of her on that faithful day in the bus terminal educated me about her thinking and her sense of style.

She is utterly a simple girl and to find a simple yet expensive handbag in the most fashionable town in Bhutan, I feared, will be an uphill task to me. But the recipient was so dear to me that I couldn’t effort to be reluctant even for a mini second.

So, there I was in every shop in Thimphu city looking for a simple yet expensive handbag for my lady. The search took me almost two hours in the frosty evening to finally make the purchase. It was either the color, un-necessary fringe around edges of the bags or the extensive use of shiny metals that made my search difficult. But it was fun to see young lady shopkeepers helping me to decide and the excitement I saw in their eyes were as if I am going to buy a handbag for them. This only tells me how much they (ladies) like to carry a handbag.

When I entered inside her house I had a medium sized apple cake on my left hand and the purple bag on my right hand. She looked at me, I looked at her and we both slowly sat down on the floor. Amidst enjoying the sweetness of the apple cake she wonders how I knew her choice. She was simply amazed! She had three bags before. But the NEW PURPLE is her favorite now.

I really wanted to present a gift that will convey her that I know her inside out; it should be like a story that narrates her deep feelings for me, a poem that describes her beauty and like a song that sings her simplicity. Thank God I found one.

[Note: its a work of imaginary love affair]

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dubai and Thimphu: What ELSE Expatriates can do?

Both the cities have earned a decent reputation among hundred plus countries in the world; both the cities are one of the fastest growing cities on earth. Thimphu is globally known for its GNH philosophy of development and Dubai for its mega engineering wonders like the palm islands. The smooth transition from an absolute monarchical government in Bhutan to a constitutional democratic monarchy and DEMOCRACY itself being presented to the common people as a gift from the Throne instead of demand from its own people amazed the world. On the other side of the world, Dubai being located in war zone still experiences peace and tranquility which in itself is commendable!

Like other cities/countries in the world, the aspiration of both the cities to become self-reliant and to become global tourism hub is enormous.  But sadly, like other fast growing cities, Dubai and Thimphu also heavily depend on foreign workers, the expatriates, commonly known as EXPATS. In our case, the expats come from India and for Dubai they are mostly from south Asia and the gulf countries.

These expats work, earn a lot of foreign currency and then after few years of working they leave for their respective countries. It’s a place where they make their fortune; as if, the EXPATS are here for an appointment with their GODS who will fulfill all their wishes. Which at least metaphorically is TRUE because the host pays them more than what they can earn back home.

Dubai is a city where the largest number of expatriate lives and works. Thimphu has its own share of Indian expatriates who are mostly involved in construction of residential buildings, biggest show rooms, shopping malls and luxurious resorts and largest Hotels in own small country. But these expatriates do more than what they do best. They help build houses but at times disturb our perception!

A documentary ‘DUBAI MIRACLE OR MIRAGE-CBC Doc Zone’ revealed that permanent residents of Dubai feel that they are strangers in their own land because of the huge number of expats working there. Back home, last Sunday I felt the same feeling, me as a stranger in my own land. The feeling was very hounding.

As I stroll down the Norzin Lam, I found myself engulfed in the tsunami of Indian Expats. They were literarily everywhere.  One of the hotels along the Norzin Lam had all expats sited and seen dining. A sip of hot steaming coffee couldn’t help me reiterate that I am a Bhutanese citizen having a cup of coffee in a hotel located in the heart of the capital city of my own country! I felt I was somewhere in INDIA.

Coming out of that almost mysterious hotel, I heard a Hindi song blaring from the Farin Trading, Mobile Clinic (mobile software, hardware servicing and downloading shop) where a swarm of our expatriates have gathered. A handful of them were busy repairing, few buying new mobile phones and many downloading Hindi songs. That fine day I heard a hit number from 90s hit list- “TUM THO THEHERA PARDESI, SHAATA KYE NEBAHO GAY…” what a line to murmur and pass by the expatriates had they been beautiful Indian ladies.

The expatriates were out for their weekly shopping which happens to fall on Sundays. I believe the expatriates here in our city, unlike in Dubai, are treated well by their employers because I saw all of them with smiles, enjoying their stay here and dining in some finest restaurants in Thimphu.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Butterfly Effect in Thimphu

I believe yesterday was an auspicious day.  My uncle and aunt got shifted to a new place in Lungtephu. The astrological time to enter inside their new house was 10:00 am. So they had done all the packing the previous night and I taking some time out of my busy schedule, though it was Sunday, reached their flat in Changzamtok at 8:30 am to help them load their stuffs.

The otherwise auspicious day turned into a thought provoking session for me. We were having a quick breakfast before we started to carry our stuffs from fourth floor down to the ground floor where a Pick Up awaited to get loaded. While we gobble down a knock on the door surprised me immensely.

A new tenant await outside the door with all his things packed loosely and in a hurried voice ask us to make a way for him to enter and put his own stuffs inside! To me ‘My Goodness’ was the only words readily available to express the awesomeness of the moment. I had a mouth full of Ama Dashi and rice half way to my mouth which I had to lower down to really comprehend what was happening in front of me.

In the midst of our breakfast we paved him a way to settle things down. Meanwhile we quickly ate and started to shoulder our own belongings to the ground floor.

The two tenants gradually began to know each other while climbing and stepping down the building. And in the heat of our conversation we agreed to help each other too. That’s the beauty of living in GNH country but ironically the neighbors in the same building didn’t even ask where we were shifting to nor helped the new visitor.

By now it was almost the auspicious time to enter the new house. We were in our new location in Lungtephu. My aunt asked a small girl (unmarried is considered to be pure and lucky) to lead before her inside their new house. A small bronze container was filled with water, a butter lamp lit and having some incense sticks lighted completes a simple Hindu ceremony of house warming.

Interestingly we also had to invade the current occupants to settle our own belongings.

You won’t believe me, in Thimphu if a family gets shifted several families in a row also gets shifted to a new place. There is a chain reaction like the formation of ripples in a pool when we throw a stone.
Funny? Odd? Interesting? You name it………. But it’s TRUE!

[In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear systemcan result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before] source: Wikipedia 

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