Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lets go to Doklam!

“Tshering...why don’t you understand. It’s the most important journey we had agreed to embark may na? We just cannot afford to give up now. After rigorous planning, purchasing all these expensive mountaineering equipment and this huge hand-sewn National flag that cost us almost a fortune...because for past one month we had to sent the flag across the country to let all Bhutanese citizens place their signature on it…you don't say NO now....” Looking at Dondup, a travel agent and a college friend of mine, "... please talk with him", I directed Dondup, to convince Tshering about the expedition.

Dondup in his attempt to break the difficult conversation between Tshering and me, he announces his preparedness for the expedition. He informs me, "Pelden... I could manage these tents, prayer flags, Lungtas....please tell me what else I should be arranging...we are super duper excited! Wow!...right Tshering?...Can't wait anymore now!" He added frequently glancing at Tshering in his attempt to convince him.

Tshering still didn't look convinced after Dondup's modest attempt but I had to do what I wanted to do. "Silly emotions, at the moment, needed to put aside for we are prepared for the mission of our life", I assured myself and therefore I maintained my cool and continued to bring Doklam back to our prospective.

Thus, I debrief my two friends, if Tshering is willing or not,   regarding this journey of our life time. The dates on which places we would reach to, the emergency kit, Plan B if Plan A fails and how exactly we would maneuver our planned action the moment we reach there.

Its such an urgent and significant journey we were to embark on. At least I presume it to be so. Because the magnitude of the situation urges us. The gravity of the issue demands us. No matter what...we are all set and prepared for the expedition to Doklam! "If not anyone, I shall go all by myself" I declared.

The following day, Tshering stands aside the taxi on my drive way which would take us to the end of motor-able road in extreme western part of Haa Dzongkhag  which will take us  towards Chumbi Valley. From there we were to descend, hike and finally reach Doklam. 

Deep down we knew Tshering would come along with us anyway. He is a true son of this Dragon kingdom. Only his interview for an enriching working experience at silicon valley in California, USA gave him some hiccups. We learnt on our way to Haa that after our confrontation he had made a trans-continental telephone call to US. Luckily his American counterpart agreed to his plea to extend the interview for they better understand the gravity of the situation at Doklam  and its impact on the future of the entire South East Asia.

We finally reached at the base camp near Doklam plateau in the evening of 6th August. "Congratulations friends,” I said, "we are on schedule..... Tomorrow is the day we all have sacrificed, prepared and have been waiting for".

On 7th we climbed the plateau of Doklam again and hoist the prayer flags, hung the Lungtas and collectively we then painted ‘om mane pamay hu’ mantra on the huge rock nearby.

That day and the day before, we only had preserved food meant for mountain climbers. The real home-made sumptuous Bhutanese cuisine shall be prepared and self-served on Doklam Plateau itself. It was also enlisted in the bucket list of sort that we ought to do there apart from the hoisting of prayer flags and our National Flag.

My software engineer friend who  aspires to work in silicon valley  requested me to explain why 8th of August is so auspicious on the eve of the d-day of our mission. Surrounded with flames of a large bonfire, I explained immediately that it was on 8th of August, 1949 when Indo-Bhutan Treaty was signed Bhutan had officially made use of its National Flag to exhibit our status as a sovereign and independent country!

Its a bright sunny day on 8th of August. Clear blue sky without a single fringe of cloud. I told myself, "what a lovely day! Today will be again marked in the history of Bhutan; 8th of August, 2017...ofcourse this time for a different reason". 

In the early morning of 8th of August, Dondup prepared the pre-agreed cuisine namely emadatshi, red rice, ezay, Lang Sha, Thukpa, home made noodles, suja and home brewed alcohol which Dondup surprised us with. He had brought more than what was agreed. But we didn't mind. While Dondup was busy, Tshering and I forged ourselves in digging a deep hole stable enough to hold our huge hand sewn National Flag.

Together with utmost respect we hoist our National Flag on Doklam Plateau, sang our national anthem with our hands held high and then we served ourselves the sumptuous Bhutanese cousine amidst the air of conflict blowing from the power corridors of Asian giants; China and India.

As we climb down, Dondup was leading us. And as usual, Tshering positioned himself between us. I was at the end. With great satisfaction I kept glancing at the prayer flags and our National Flag flying high on Doklam symbolically nullifying the hollow claims and confusion created by our neighbouring giants.


The well painted mantras on the huge rock and the Lungtas dancing in the air gave me a sense of assurance that happiness and peace shall prevail. The mantras on the prayer flags will spread far and wide. Owing to its power, the evil thoughts will be subdued and it shall  help to give rise to only positive ones. Of brotherhood and lasting  peace. 

China in the north and India in the south would then mind their own business and let Bhutan be alone. Let the mantras on the prayer flags and mantra encurved on the rock sweeps away the dark political clouds hovering  above the sky of New Delhi and Beijing.

The moment we spent and The Weapons of Mass Happiness and Peace we had left behind and engraved on the Plateau gives me immense pleasure. "We did it..we did it!" Sincerely I pat on my back.

"I think someday our Tourism Industry have to open "Doklam Trekking and Camping" for our esteemed  politically minded tourists, will fetch a lot of dollars", announced my friend Dondup. And Tshering shared his wildest dream of having a multi-national multi-billion research center stationed on Doklam Plateau all for the betterment of the entire region.

As we descend further down, I suddenly hear a firm call by a lady from far distance." I am familiar with this lady’s voice...", I muttered to myself. "...but how would someone know my name in this isolated, tri-junction and so deserted  place?" I wondered myself. Another loud call forced me to open my eyes. Alas! It’s my wife pulling my hand and waking me up for school. I was literally in deep sleep after a month long summer vacation.

Oh man! It was a mere dream. A thought provoking one. But worthy of recollecting and rejoicing the moment at Doklam; The hot and happening place right now!

                                           # Picture courtesy:  Concern photographers/

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Happy Birthday to my own goddess of Compassion.

Dear Tara,

Today you will be celebrating your 27th Birthday. Its your 5th birthday we would be celebrating together. And yes the first birthday of yours after becoming a mother. Yes, this birthday will down in history as the very special birthday you have celebrated.

Tara, you have come a long way. Experiencing the so called life way beyond your age. From a young girl to a fine lady, you have shown so much courage to speak your mind and to stand on your own feet, bravery to maintain self-esteem and the zeal for the life to live. And now you are a proud mother of a healthy boy. You deserve every possible happiness and peace of mind.

I know along the way time has taken a toll on your body.  Those pregnancy scars and pain you have courageously endured during labour will heal with time but the joy of becoming a mother and whatever that comes along with its territory will continue.

No matter what sort of party i throw tonight or gift i present to you today wont make this birthday more memorable because the best thing in the world is there nestling in your lap. The special gift you have gifted yourself after you have endured those scars and labour pain. I am so proud of you my lady! 

Yashayr our little champ was born on 6th of July and you on 30th of July. I know you are super excited because you are sharing your birthday month with our little one. Yashayr is 25 days old today.
Thus, on your this special birthday I reaffirm my promise to give you and our little one a ton of love, to become superhuman(All fathers aspire to be) to look after your needs and those of our son's. One more; Iighting a butter lamp this morning  i prayed to God to bless you always with good health, more strength, happiness, peace of mind and courage of a perfect mother to help you help our son grow and nurture to become a fine man!. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Naming Ceremony of our son.

Dear son Yashayr  Daiwik Bhandari,

Yes thats your name. Yashayr Daiwik Bhandari. Yashayr means ‘wealth’ (in sanskrit , And in dzogkha: Ya means high and shayr means shine)and Daiwik means 'grace of God'; Yes you are our irreplaceable wealth and indeed a grace of God; A blessing from heaven.

Priest Modan Pokhrel undertaking the ceremony
On 16th July, the whole family again got engrossed in your naming ceremony at our place in Changzamtog. The naming ceremony is known as Naamkaran in Hindi and Nauran in our Nepali culture. The ceremony was administered by Pandit Mohan Pokhrel.
Uncle Yamuna helping me during the ceremony

The event is usually held on 11th day after birth. The naming ceremony is one of the lavish events. 

Your daddy had to be with the priest performing the various rituals related to the elaborated religious ceremony. The culture has been passed down from generation to generation. It has lived for more than 5000 years now! There must be something so subtle and powerful we cannot easily deny or neglect the rituals. Thus, your daddy accepted to conduct the ceremony wholeheartedly.  Two long hours of offering, prayers and mantra recitations were religiously undertaken for your overall wellbeing.
Your daddy didnt know much about the procedures involved. Uncle Yamuna made himself available during the ceremony to assist me. You have to know that as I am very grateful to him so is the whole family because your uncle has been always there in all major family events/crisis making sense of the situations. By the way, the uncle priest was also considered enough to repeat instructions in simple Nepali so I could complete the ceremony without leaving anything incomplete.
After prayers being offered; offerings made and Yagna (ceremonial rites to god) done, the family members were summoned for the much awaited moment. To hear the auspicious letter sound pronounced by the priest of which the name of the New born shall start with. The auspicious letter sound are Ya or yaa. The name could start with either sound. With great happiness we named you Yasayr!

After the announcement, you were taken outside by your grandma to veranda, as instructed by the priest, to help you stand on your feet touching a lump of cow dung and also make you do surya darshan (showing to the sun for blessings). This is done to get liberated from all impurities. Thus, from that day, relatives and friends could visit you as and when they wish to.

    Stepping on cow dung; an act to purify.
Grandma helping you see the mighty sun.
I knew that you would be the center of attention during the ceremony so your daddy bought some gifts for your brother Herish and sister Neha and Deepanjali. Why? Because I read somewhere that during such events siblings feel isolated because the center of attention would be the New born. They would feel neglected. Hope your daddy made them happy by presenting a jumper to Herish, a colouring book for Deepanjali and a Short story book for Neha didi. We could only do the presentation of gifts at the end of the naming ceremony.
Sister Deepanjali with her gift
Neha with her gift.

Herish with his gift.
However, according to the age old culture, your mom will have to wait till 22nd day before she would be allowed to enter inside our alter room. She wont be also allowed to prepare meals for others during this period. 

Grandma Juma Subedi and uncle Matrika with you
Aunt Homa presenting you a gift

Aunt Binda presenting you a gift.
Many relatives and family friends came to pay you a visit. To congratulate us and to wish you good health, success and happiness. Along with them many gifts also came home to celebrate your arrival. To host large number of visitors is a daunting task. Both your grandmas, aunts (Binda and Homa) and other relatives were very busy in preparing meals and serving the visitors. You got to thank them one fine day.
This will bring a smile on your face. In the following day grandpa was seen folding your loincloths neatly. Grandma was seen resting with you after the hectic day. 

Grandpa busy with your loincloths.
Grandma's special moment with you.
And amidst these, we were to hear another news. We receive a photo sent by an uncle from our village sharing a good news on WhatsApp. Our young cow has given birth to a healthy calf. Icing on the cakeI thought. The family had another beautiful reason to be glad and to remember this auspicious month. The month of your birth (6th July), the sixth day celebration (11th July and your naming ceremony (16th July). 

Our cow with her New born calf.
Love you
Mom and Dad.
Date: 20th July, 2017.

#Yagna Picture courtesy@uncle Matrika.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

His Destiny is being written!

Dear son,

The day before Yesterday, on 11th of July, we celebrated “Chowtung” (The sixth day). It was to mark 6th day of your arrival to this earth as our son. Because in Hindu culture there exist a religious practice and believe that on the 6th day after the birth of a child, Vidhaata (the Goddess of destiny) would quietly enter the house around midnight to pen down the destiny of the newborn. 
Though this ritualistic celebration is not so commonly practiced but your grandmother informed me about it so we together decided to organize it. That was three days back. In the morning of 11th July, I went out do some shopping for we have also decided that we would be serving meals to our relatives who we have invited to visit us. There also exist a belief that on 6th day, relatives and friends would eat and drink without any restrictions as it is considered very auspicious day. Else relatives and friends wont eat from the birth day till the naming ceremony which falls on 11th day. Close relatives and the family members of the new born kinda become untouchables during this period.  
However, the most excited team member was your grandmother. Right from the morning as we rise for the day, she was preparing diya (special lamp) to have it lit throughout the auspicious day, drawing swastikas on papers so she could paste it where ever appropriate to give it the divine ambience and lay out flowers and rice grains elegantly on a bowl where the lamp which symbolize Vidhaata is lit.
Beside the special lamp she had also placed a red pen and a new diary for Vidhaata; the Goddess of Destiny to write the future of the newborn. Traditionally people use banana leaves for some reasons.

Not to forget, your grandfather was also equally engrossed right from the morning penning down lines of praises to the almighty. Later in the evening we came to know that he was to sing those lines while relatives had gathered for Bhajan to invoke Vidhaata to embark for a special journey to our home.


It was an auspicious day so we also wanted you to wear new clothes. There was incessant rain outside but it didnt raise a single hair of my arms. I went and daddy bought a new cloth for you. The first set of shirt and pant for you to wear on the most significant day of your life.

On the previous night, your grandmother and I had cleaned our rooms and rearranged the set of furniture in our house so to make our living room more spacious.  For many relatives, far and near, were invited for the event. 


Early afternoon, your aunt Binda(along with her husband), grandmother and I got ourselves busy preparing feast for the visitors. 
Uncle Matrika led the Bhajan (hymns singing) program. Singing and simultaneously playing keyboard to orchestratorchestrate  a soothing melody with great divinity and your grandfather was literally full on. Singing his heart out. Quite often off synch but that wont deter his enthusiasm and energy.

He kept going. Till the end. Rest of the family members and relatives became the choir members mostly being led by uncle Matrika and your grandfather. The clueless choir members and the lead singers decided to call it a day when the bajaj wall clock read 9:30 Pm.

Meanwhile as we prepare, sing and eat dinner, this whole time, you were nestled under your mothers torso and she was breast feeding you with utmost sense of satisfaction and pride for she gave birth to you after anxiously waiting for you for nine long months.
Your uncle Amrit, aunt Ganga and maternal grandmother were also present during the event. 

By 10:30pm, dinner was served and the small yet highly significant program came to an end. As we see off our relatives we again invited them for your yet another important day; naming ceremony which is scheduled for July 16, 2017. This coming Sunday.

Before I end, let me inform you that meanwhile as we wait for 16th of July, we are thoroughly involved in listing possible names for you. We did have a healthy debate so far over various names for we care how you would be best referred to. 

With love 
Your mom and dad.
Dated: 13th July 2017.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Mother: The undisputed Superhero.

I am posting this so someday my son, nieces and nephews can read and learn about their grandmother. Acknowledge her sacrifices and appreciate a life she had lived as a daughter and have been living as a caring mother and an incredible grandmother!

My maternal grandparents 

Born In 1963 at kandung, Tendu, Samtse to a farming couple Mr. Jainarayan Dhal and Mrs. Krishna Maya Sharma my mother Mrs. Bhanki Maya is second youngest among ten siblings. Six of whom were sisters and four other were brothers.

As she remembers, she was in the company of her mother, father and her youngest brother for a considerable period of time during her young age as her elder sisters and brothers had already moved out on their own. She would often accompany her father herding goats and cow on lonely hills of Kandung while her brother was enrolled in a makeshift hut which functioned as a classroom for his share of education.

My maternal uncle had to be escorted to the hut on a nearby hill where he along with five other children from the valley gathered to learn reading and writing. Mr. Bishnu Bhakta Dhal who had returned from Vindraban, India after completing his studies had volunteered to help children learn Nepali language.
My mother had to escort him to his school early in the morning because he was scared that the tutor would scold if he reports late. The other reason for my mother to escort him was that they often would encounter bear, deer and other wild animals on their way to school.

The family use to live in a two storied wooden house with thatch roofing. During summer season rain and strong wind would often damage the roof forcing them to be under makeshift huts for days. My mother was six years old then when her father decided to migrate his family to Hangay, the present village.

On coming to a new place things didnt change a lot. Till she was eight she continued herding cow, buffalos and goats.

At the age of nine she took up all the household responsibilities and succeeded in convincing her brother to continue his studies. He was very adamant, as my mother remembers, insisting that he would also stay at home. But mother could make his mind to leave for his betterment. He was to leave for Trongsa for his formal education at the age of five.

While other siblings had already settled on their own in places far and wide and at a tender age of nine my mother bravely took care of her parents and also looked after all household chores. Leave alone the herd of cattle to be looked after.

After completing all house chores she would run out with same robustness to look after their cattle along with her father.

By fourteen she started working in fields during paddy cultivation. She would be everywhere extending her helping hand to her fellow villagers. Among many fields and houses, she would be summoned to help my paternal grandparents. Apart from helping in cultivation work in my paternal grandparents field she would also help in their daily chores.  It was during this frequent visit of my mother, then a village girl, to my fathers place that they became acquainted with each other and had expressed their desire to stay together forever.

They got married in May 18th 1978.
My paternal grandmother and my parents  (elder sister and me on ggmothers lab)

For next five months she stayed at her maternal home because Dad had to return to Thimphu to complete his Training at Serbithang Veterinary Training Center.

Along with dad in 1979 she came to Thimphu but stayed less than a year and had to again leave for village.

While at village mother gave birth to our elder sister. Dad visited her and stayed for 13 days after which he had to leave for Thimphu to attend the call of the Nation.

At the age of nineteen, for the final time, she decided to come to Thimphu because it was difficult for her to look after her child and work too. So she left for Thimphu along with kewal uncle who was on his summer vacation.

Maternal grandfather had to sell millets to cover her travel expenses. She was given Nu: 80. The otherwise travel companion who was supposed to be of help vomited profusely, she narrates with a smile on her face.  They reached Thimphu by 10 pm.

At Chubachu mom started growing potatoes, chillies, cabbages and cauliflower. She remembers selling potatoes for Nu: 0.15 per kg, chillies were sold for Nu: 3 per kg and cauliflower for Nu: 0.50 per kg.
In 1981, at Dechencholing (Dharina), the second place of posting of my dad, she engaged herself in cultivation. She specialized in potatoes cultivation.
Father being a vet officer of the Royal Palace, they stayed at Dharina along with other Royal household maids.
My mother was fascinated with the maid who were assigned with specific task. Koma, jeweleries, cow herders. Zoo keeper (deer, reindeer, peacock, fheant takin) , weavers; male and female.

While at dharina. Dad use to often accompany Major Rinzin when ever he played archery.

Clerk Sangay, responsible to the Royal housemaids, use to run a cloth store and use to  be very generous by gifting my dad clothes, pair of shoes, socks and also invited for meals too wherever dad helped him treat his herd of cattle stationed in the wilderness of kabesa.
After one and half years , dad had to go back to vet hospital at chubabchu.
While at Chubachu he was called for duty to treat Gonglan Lham Dorji cow and pet dogs. He was very generous. He would often give him Nu: 5 or nu: 10 with which my mom and dad use to watch Nepali and Bollywood movies screened at the Lugar Theater.

Thus after many movies watched, on a faithful day of 5th May 1983 I was born at the JDWNRH.

Dad came back from Australia after 3 months and mom gave birth to our younger sister in 1986.

In Dec 1986 father got transferred to Paro thus for next 30 years we started our voyage travelling across the Country where ever dad was transferred. Staying at one place for few years and moving on to another.

Along the journey of her life, she never pampered herself. For she was guided by her own mission. A mission to mend us, forge good manners in us and one day enable us all to stand on our own feet.

She took up many odd jobs to not necessarily to meet the expenses of her own family but in her pursuit to give the best in life for her children. She implemented her farming skill in growing vegetables for self-consumption wherever a patch of land was seen around dads office or the office quarters we lived in. Working at a construction site, running a small pan shop on a single wooden table during the weekly mart in Samdrup Jongkhar and of late at our home town too.

She is back in Thimphu again. This time to assist my wife and me while my wife give birth to our first child.
My mother along with my mother in law congratulating each other on arrival of the newest member in the family.

And during the frequent walks ; Whenever we happen to pass the Food Cooperation of Bhutan go-down at Changzamtog, she would narrate one particular incident. Our younger sister was not born yet. She narrates how she carried a load of 50 kg sack of rice on her back, made me sit on the sack and help my elder sister walk holding her hand from changzamtog to Chubachu.

Thats a mother's  life.  A super woman's life. A short biography of a superhuman.

Seeing her work for the  betterment of her family all these years my heart ache to have not being able to thank her. I know i won't be able to thank her enough for she contributed so much, sacrificed so much and her deeds are indeed irreplaceable. Thank you and love you mom.

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