15th June 2009, I loaded my bags (of rags) and set off to eastern part of Bhutan. My first night halt was in Bumthang. Next day the car took us through the hills, rills, passes, jungles, forests. The wild blooming flowers cross Ura valley was beautiful. Birds, mammals, flora and trees were breathtaking. Lunch (ema datshi) at Yonkola was great. Ever since I visited (last year), Mongar has changed a lot. Two things that hasn’t changed were the silence in the streets and the attitude of the shopkeepers. The winding road across Yadhi took us through the fresh and lush green grasses. Night fall in Kanglung and the dusk was amazingly beautiful. Sherubtse College has changed. Some of the trees that I planted half a decade ago have grown much taller than I expected. Sherubtse has aged with few more concrete buildings. There were students playing football, I was taken back to my days of sweat in that very play field. Have I changed? The ground and the grasses haven’t.
15 years ago I was a year less than half my age now. And 15 years ago I was studying in Pemagatsel, a place I can’t forget. A school where I went on to hate the taste of radish ever since. I visited this very school (my old school) after 15 years and nothing much has changed. Solar lighting that I studied under is being replaced by electricity. The kitchen that I ate from has been converted in to something else. The hostel remains the same old hunted building. The windows that I peed through at night (for fear of ghost and the hunted ness of the place) still had that scar. The class room I graduated from got the same old crack. The (then) new Dinning hall has become too old to be called new any more. Broken windows and stony pathways still defines the grandeur of my good old days schooling. I was a total stranger with few students strangely peeping to see me checking through. It was nice to be walking past my own old footsteps. Have I grown older (changed)? My old school haven’t seen much change.
One and half hour of steep descend from Kheri Gonpa by car through the rough and rugged slippery farm road, we reached the dead end of the farm road—Khinadang.
It was almost 5 pm and there were neither porters nor trace of any horses. Norbu was drunk at a local shop. He would have waited for us with the horses but boredom seemed to have bought him the drinks. His companion was yet another woman, drunk to the brim. Confused horses were led through the unusual routes by drunken Norbu. But he pretended too hard not to have been consumed by the liquor. Woods smelled good. She smelled “Ara” (alcohol). Horses got their loads for their road. We made our move through the woods and the zig zag narrow path ways. Next hill was almost 80% steep climb, and the sun sank below the horizon. Darkness began to envelop us and was getting ready to post us in to the next day. Norbu’s horses began to sweat and so did I. Norbu was flying high and his darling woman was enjoying not less. Norbu wanted us to go and move ahead of them but I couldn’t trust a man drunk to the brim. I decided to wait and walk behind the horses. The evening birds and insects were saying their evening prayers. We moved on with the rhythm of the horse shoes. Norbu had no mercy. She dragged the horse while Norbu struggled to pull himself whipping the horses. An old horse was breathing extra and Norbu kept whipping. By the time we reached the 1st village Pangthang, the old horse collapsed and it was completely dark. Norbu kept shouting at his lady but she never replied. (Later I found that she couldn’t speak any ways). Off loading the horses and looking for some more help, we spent some more of our “dark time”. Finally, we caught up with our other colleagues waiting for us at the Gup’s office in Nanong. It was already 9 pm then.
(For the rest of my trip stories, wait till I get more time–I am off to rural communities again)