Monday, November 14, 2011

The unceremonious journey

I grew weary of my monotonous life. All I do is come to office, work all day and go home and sleep away the weekends and the tedious job of coming to work follows suit on Monday. Sometimes I feel that my cup of life is poisoned! I realized that I am cocooning myself in a world of my own where fun and excitement has become an absolute No No.

Tired of this, I wanted to lay my hand at something adventurous and I prayed graciously to God, “Almighty God, there is nothing impossible in you. My life has rather become monotonous, deliver me out of this. Grant me something exciting!” Sure enough God answered my prayer amusingly.

As usual, I was at work and it was mid day and I was already exhausted and starved. Food was the only thought dripping on my mind. Suddenly I get this phone call from my dysfunctional brother who was in town a few days earlier. “De (sister) please drop me till Bumthang today, I have to reach Monggar tomorrow by any means.” 
“What? Reach you till Bumthang? At this hour? You kidding me?” I asked him. 
“No de, m serious. Some important work came up at the hospital” he answered. Hundred and one questions started racing through my head. This is totally impossible, I told him. Calming down, I explained him that Bumthang is not an hour or two drive from the capital, and even if you want to go you have to start early and not sometime late in the afternoon like this. I advised him to go early the next day but as adamant as he ever is, he would not listen to me. 
Sensing the urgency in his plea, I consented without a second thought. 

Wait!I have an important meeting at work the next day and I have to be there at any cost. Oh God what am I supposed to do? Disgruntled for not saying “No” to brother, I postponed the meeting fortunately and necessary arrangements were made.

It was already 2 pm in the afternoon. I had never gone on an unceremonious journey before because I had always been a planned traveller. I plan my journey well in advance to evade unnecessary situations on the way and I have been like that ever since I started journeying on my own. And I dislike people who are unplanned and disorganized when it comes to travelling. This time I hated myself so much. The feeling itself was a huge lump on my throat. With a queasy feeling, I rushed home and quickly changed into a pair of jeans, sneakers and sweater and off we started for Bumthang at 2:30 pm. 

The journey was pretty hectic. I felt that we were on a road trip except that it was an unplanned one. As expected, in two hours time we crossed Wangdue. Darkness fell soon yet we continued on. Hunger was long forgotten. Roasted maize sold on the highway was enough to keep noisy mice away from our tummies. 

The bumpy ride through the rough terrain took its toll on me.  The sitting on the back at stretch started giving me enough back ache. Pot holes now and then were all that was needed to give a bumpy ride. Dust was another compliment to the already rough terrain. 

Few kilometers away from Trongsa we encountered a larger than life bear on the road. Gosh! At this hour what was a bear doing on the highway? Its large arms were enough to arouse goose bumps in me. At first I just could not figure out the animal until my brother was “look, A BEAR!”  It was a decent bear though, silently gave way to us and up it disappeared into the thick dark forest. We must have disturbed it on its hunt to maraud some farmer’s crops. 
On and on we climbed uphill into the cold dark road through the forest towards Bumthang. Six years of my stay in Bumthang and I knew the road like the back of my hand. Yet this journey seemed pretty long and hectic to me, the obvious reason being an unplanned one. A little harder push of the accelerator seemed that the car is over speeding and a bump into a pothole made the ride bumpier in the night. Not a single settlement in sight, the road seemed longer and never ending. 

Eight hours later we reached Chumey, 20 km towards Bumthang. The cold in Bumthang is unbearable at this time of the year. Thick mist clouded the air and there was frost on every object outside. The small settlement of Chumey seemed dead, without a single being in sight. The cold weather must have compelled everyone to cuddle in bed and embrace beauty sleep. 

We snaked in through the long deserted road to the greetings of warm bhukari in a friend’s place, it was manna to us. Otherwise, freezing to death was too apparent in that weather. 

The thought of having spent 6 early years of my life in a boarding school in cold Bumthang surprise me today. The weather remains cold in Bumthang almost throughout the year with chilly wind and snowfall in winter. The ritual of early morning prayers and morning studies in the school, having to do our own laundry in the freezing water and those cold evening studies out in the MP (Multi-purpose) hall every day, some yards away from the warmth of our hostel rooms surprised me further. 
How could one possibly survive in this cold without any heat appliances? We must have been adapted then, I presume. A sense of overwhelming appreciation overcomes me when I think about it and I am proud at myself for having been through that.

This is the first time I have been to Bumthang after the Chamkhar fire incident in 2010 and I have watched only on Television how the cozy Chamkhar town had collapsed in the fire. I could not help but mourn the fall and called in to check twhether my friends were alright. Today, having being there myself and stand amidst the remnants of the fire is heartrending. A mushrooming town then, I had expected Chamkhar to become a central business hub to the people of the east. Alas! 

The fall of the town took away my memories. Memories of which shaped the person in me today, memories that were of wonder years spent with friends, family and beloved ones, memories of stolen moments which brought immense joys. I was attending the funeral of my memories with Bumthang, which I considered my “second home” with undefined reasons.

The next day, I started early back to the capital as a rejuvenated soul. It was a comfortable one unlike the previous night and reached early. Sometimes going out of one’s territories of protocols is fun and adventurous just as I embarked on this unceremonious journey.  


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