Thursday, January 25, 2018

Whose Cow Was That?

The outdoor marketplace in Olakha was buzzing no lesser than the weekend vegetable market. I was one of those whose vegetables [probably] ran out before the weekend that on my way home, I thought why not buy from the stretch of makeshift stalls in Olakha.

I parked my car in a safe spot. Within minutes, I filled the basket with vegetables and fruits to last until the weekend. That was a calculative purchase I did. From the second last stop, I bought a tray of eggs...and just as I was crossing over...D.A.S.H...

The next thing I knew, I was stumbled to the ground with half the tray of eggs splashed over me, the vegetable basket few meters away, my handbag another few meters away in the opposite direction. Yes, I was hit by a cow. A cow in the marketplace? Without argument, this episode wins a place in "This Happens Only in Bhutan" memes.

I walked to the car with unsure feelings - and of course, with just half the tray of eggs. Really? In core town area, we have nameless cows hovering around and knocking people? From what I heard the vendors speaking in unison, "This animal is fierce and often attacks people," it was certain I wasn't the only [unfortunate] target.

If I am not wrong, I remember hearing a notification stating any roaming animals in the town area would be caught and kept in custody until the owner comes forward to claim, upon paying a penalty. Well, now I am not sure if this is still valid.

A popular [poor] joke I entertained my last visitor with - In Bhutan, the traffic jams are caused by cows, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats, and pigeons on the roads. She laughed hard - only to believe as we drove around the places. In few places, we even stopped the car for her to take pictures as memorable subjects of light-hearted entertainment. 

If you [the reader] are tempted to suggest I should have filed a complaint and sought after the owner for claims, this is the story I had running through my mind:

I go and look for the owner. 
I show him/her my condition (duly evidenced by the broken tray of eggs...oh, my poor eggs) to claim I was hit by his/her animal.
Next reaction: 
What? Who told you to stand in her way? 
Rest the case. Rest the case. Rest the case.

Oh well, I am certainly a weakling to straighten up such situations...or I could be wrong. Either way, the episode still amuses me, to be even more thankful that I am a vegetarian. Maybe compassion spared and helped forego the assumed (?) aftermath experience.

Whatever...this makes a good story to blog about. For your reading pleasure :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

On Life, Death, and Happiness with a five-year old.

I was probably the same age when I first contemplated on death. A visitor took shelter at our house and after dinner, I overheard them talk about death. It was something about my mother's mewa. The visitor suggested my parents conduct some rituals and buy a Tshe-pa-me statue, which would help prolong my mother's lifespan. 

The next morning, I sat below the window and imagined what it would be like if my mother was to die soon. I was barely five, not even in school, but even at that age, I knew how to fear death. I ended up crying alone, all the while hoping my parents would adhere to the advice at the earliest possible. (And I was so happy when they bought the statue.)

Three decades later, I am confronted with a similar situation, only this time that it's with my five-year-old daughter.

Last Friday, my paternal Aunt passed away. As much as we have tried to keep the news from Lolo, she heard us talk about it - obvious to the happenings of the days following it. On our way back from picking up my nephew from Dechencholing, Lolo wanted to know why we age and die. In the simplest convincing way, I said it's the natural process that all living beings have to go through - humans, animals, and plants alike. Yet, she kept asking, "But why?"

I took the opportunity to narrate why Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha - because, he dared to ask "why". She listened with all her ears and heart. Again, she asked, "But tell me why do we (or I) have to age and die?"

"Well, Lolo, we can't escape this. But we do have a choice - to be happy or not. I also think about life and death and I choose to be happy all the time. You can also make the same choice." I really didn't know how much of the conversation (or monologue) got into her small innocent brain, but our next conversation said a lot about how much she understood:

"Then, how can I keep away from aging and dying?" her little big question.
"Prayers, darling, prayers. We need to keep our prayers strong and be a good human altogether, which you already are."

From the back seat, I heard her swallowing saliva and trying to keep her eyes from welling (at one point, she cried asking why and why). "So, prayers are our saviours?" she wanted final word before I brought the car to the halt.

I said, "Yes," and she walked in ever determined to keep her prayers strong.

[Note: I am re-reading the book What makes you NOT a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse. The incident with my daughter came close to testing my beliefs and in a way, I am glad we were able to accept the impermanence, yet decide to live happily while we can. ]

Sunday, January 29, 2017

What makes me a ^Boring^ traveler

The sky is gray. Will it rain? Or snow? I am not sure. All I am aware is- I am playing the same song Choe Nge Soo En for the 100th time. A perfect fit for the gloomy Minnesotan winter weather. My flat-mate is all dressed to go for the pot-luck dinner at a Professor's place which I graciously decided not to go to, all because I am not that crowd-girl [anymore].

"Why have you become such a boring (quiet) girl?" Ngawang had exclaimed way back then in 2009. She was right. She is right even to this day. Said another way, I told my husband's friend how meeting KP tamed my wildness (bigger imagination is left for the reader to imagine the [ex]-wild in me). Jim raised his brows in disbelief, "I won't ever believe you were wild."

Well, maybe I wasn't wild as I claim to be - except for the permed yellow hairdo, the fancy pair of glasses, and colorful clothes some pitch fluorescent, not to miss the faux leather jacket I wore to my first date with KP. How is that for an imagination? For sure, I have aged in my choices. So is the excitement level.

This defines what makes me not a traveler or said in a rusty way, a boring traveler.

For one, I realize I no more enjoy bigger crowds. Too much of hi-hello tire me out. City buzzes bring out the insanity in my head. When I confided a friend, her rebuttal was, "I prefer city life. I like seeing lots of people buzzing around." This made me feel even more different than I thought, in a weird way. 

Food has never been a calling agent on the list of must-haves. Should someone ask me what would be the nicest meal I had for the week, I go mum. That's another of my traveling weaknesses. I am not tempted to enjoy a good meal in a good restaurant (whatever that means). All I look for is some food to fill me up - can be a bowl of soup, a plate of salad or two slices of bread. 

Places. I am OK to go to a historic and cultural place. I like Arts and museums. I don't mind gardens either. Yet again, not so fascinated to explore something for it. This portrays the retired side of my traveler trait.

Except if I have people to meet in the place I go. Oh! I love catching up with old families and friends. Better still if I get to know newer faces. I enjoy listening to their stories, without having to go out on a cruise or dine in a restaurant. This is my whole idea of traveling - to meet and connect with people.

Does this mean that the western concept of post-retirement traveling won't work on me? Ha! Not that I worry. The retirees here travel around the world and come back with fascinating stories from all over. Like the two 83-year ladies who my niece Lilly and I met during our break. These ladies are preparing the Taktshang hike this February. 

Having said so, this hasn't helped me jerk off the crowd-tiredness that's mounting in me, increasingly and deeply. Anyway, I take that this is the call to the mountains, solitude, and aloneness (which by definition is not loneliness). At large, I admit I am quite not an interesting traveler.