Saturday, April 17, 2010

Return of the Native

I am in Rangjung standing facing my native village, Tongling (Radhi Gewog) where on the fifth day of the first month of the fire sheep year (February of 1967), my mother put me into this world. The small hut I was born used to be near Dungyi Gonpa, the ridge above the village of Tongling. Visits to places - especially your native village and where you grew up, bring back memories and nostalgia – especially of people associated with those places.

It may sound strange but I spent the first five years of my life preparing to be a monk. One of my maternal lineages dictates that one male member become a lama and I was the Chosen One by my grandfather lama. I didn’t have any uncles - my late mother was the only child. My earliest memory is of me accompanying my grandfather as he visited the adjoining villages of Chaling, Radhi, Phongmey and Shongphu to perform religious rites.

I also remember going with my mother who had to do the gongla-woola on the Tashigang - Buna road that had just reached Riju. Except for the untimely death of my grandfather when I was five, I have only happy memories of my native place. After my grandpa died, my father, who was working in Thimphu, had other plans for me - to pursue modern education.

Don't know why, but even 38 years since I have left for my father's village in Tashigang Pam and then further on, this place is still very close to my heart and I hope to return someday for an extended period. I guess it is because it is a place I have seen with the innocence and idealism of a child without any prejudice or being judgmental.

I am also of the view that one should never forget one’s roots or origins. Because if you lose your past, you also lose your future. In other words, if your future is disconnected from your past it will be unrecognizable and something that will not identify with you. That's why we put some much importance on history. The history of a nation is a sum total of the histories of its people and its communities. You lose your history, your lose your identity and you lose your sense of direction and we all lose as a nation.

Rangjung has become totally unrecognizable. Except for the beautiful monastery, everything that has come in place of the green paddy fields and the legendary mango tree is a complete disaster. The big beautiful tree is dwarfed by ugly concrete structures that try to ape traditional houses. Another so-called "town planning" is going on over here - not enough of having failed miserably in Khuruthang, Bajothang and elsewhere in the country.

Still, a stanza from a song by the Beatles rhymes well with my mood and thoughts as I scan the whole valley. It is a brief but a wonderful moment to reflect on your past and move on to your future with a nostalgic smile.

There are places I remember

All my life, though some have changed

Some forever not for better

Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments

With lovers and friends I still can recall

Some are dead and some are living

In my life, I've loved them all


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  2. How very random - when I visited Bhutan in November, that very Beatles song was stuck in my mind the whole time. Maybe it was because I foresaw myself dwelling on the memories in the future, or maybe because I know life is changing quite fast in certain places there.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the rich description of your childhood.


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    I'd like your permission to feature this post on our site. Kindly contact me so that I could provide you with more details.

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