Friday, August 28, 2015

Hike to the tiger’s nest

Last month, Rima and I hiked up to the tiger’s nest, Taktshang in Paro. Now I don’t think I need to introduce Rima to this Bhutanese blogosphere. Because. Because who doesn’t know her? Anyone out there?

I met her for the first time when she visited Bhutan the month before that. When I told my family that she’s my internet friend visiting Bhutan, they rolled their eyes at me. Thanks to the internet, the world has become small.

I love that she’s filled with infectious positivity towards life that she tries to share that with people around her. How to live one’s life, one at a time, I think I should take lesson from her. I’m sure you all agree with me on this.

The hike up to the tiger’s nest was the second time for both of us. For me, particularly, it was after 11 years. 

I hiked to Taktshang as a teenager then, on a school field trip. 

So much has changed in over a decade now. The hiking trail has improved. The railing at Taktshang was not there, now it is there. A nice cafĂ© is there for the visitors to rest and enjoy a good cup of coffee/drinks. And the number of visitors has increased subsequently.  
That morning, we were blessed with the perfect weather. The sun was behind the clouds, making the day very cool for the hike uphill. 

On the way up just before reaching Taktshang, we lied down on the bench for a rest. The sun was up on the face and there was the sound of blowing trumpets somewhere up on the hill. Listening to the distant trumpet with the eyes closed brings such bliss to one’s heart. In that moment, it occurred to me ‘yes, if there’s one place I want to be, then its here.’ Somewhere up in the mountains, where sorrows and frets are a distant thing of the past.

It was an easy climb uphill for me where the calm Rima took her time with such grandeur and ease. However, the descend downhill was a little difficult for me. But no complaints, it was a good hike. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

sixth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival

The sixth edition of the Mountains Echoes literary festival began yesterday in Thimphu. It will be held till August 22, 2015 and is dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in commemoration of His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary celebration.

This is the sixth edition but the first time for me to attend the festival. I have always wanted to attend it but somehow, I never got around to do it. So a year back I promised myself that come hell or high, I will be attending this year and I made it. I’m so proud of myself.

As a bonus, it happened just 2 blocks away from my office where I can sneak out from work and attend the programme at my discretion. It’s quite interesting that you have a plethora of choice on the programme catering to your convenience since the sessions are being held at four different venues.  

What particularly piqued my interest was Jamie Zeppa’s conversation with Neha Tara Mehta and Pawo Choyning Dorji’s session The light of the moon: The legacy of Xuanzang.

I read Zeppa’s memoir Beyond the sky and the earth during my freshman year in Sherubtse. The book is so full of wit and humor and I could relate to the places she mentioned for I was physically present there when I read it. 

Her underwear story in the book is particularly so funny. When she mentioned the story this morning again, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Beyond the sky and the earth is one of the books which I loved immensely written by a foreigner on Bhutan. When I saw her name for this year’s festival, I had to double check it. For I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought she left Bhutan for good.

Jamie Zeppa reading excerpt from her book Beyond the sky and the earth
Zeppa says that she is back to the country after a decade and it’s difficult for her to navigate around Thimphu now, for it was a small town in 1989 and now Thimphu is a city.

I loved it when she said “When you fall in love, you lose yourself” when asked about how she came to write the memoir.  She further says that when she fell in love with Bhutan, it changed her profoundly. Just like in her book, I found her very witty and candid in person. For her writing process, she says, it’s very helpful for her to have a boring life to write. So much inspiration there. 

Please excuse the grainy photos from the phone.  

With Nawang and Zhonba
I have been following the works of Pawo on instagram and facebook. His series #sacredpathsproject on instagram and adarsha photography on facebook are absolutely beautiful. 

In his moving tale of The Light of the Moon: the legacy of Xuanzang presented this morning at the Royal University of Bhutan, Pawo has crisscrossed the ancient silk routes to retrace the paths of Xuanzang, a Chinese Buddhist monk and has come up with astounding tales. 

He is such a good storyteller. The facts, stories and photographs supported to bring about Xuanzang's tale simply blew me away. Nawang said that he was moved to tears at the end of the session.

I wish I had no work so that I could attend the festival full time. There was not a single empty chair available. Luckily I met Nawang and Zhonba and we sat on the floor on the aisle. In an earlier twitter conversation with Zhonba, I was informed that I have to join the floor gang, which I didn't mind. It was so worth the time. 

If you haven’t attended this season’s mountain echoes, I’d recommend you to attend it and show some love. You can check the programme here and accordingly attend if you are not able to devote your full time.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

On writing

It wasn’t a deliberate hiatus from this little blog. Work wasn’t that stressful as it had been for the past eight months. I had plenty of time on hands to sit down and write on the mundane things in life which are as vast as the sky. Perhaps, the vastness of the mundanes overwhelmed me to write, you’d think. Or I was unplugging from the internet. Neither of it. I chose not to write.

There were some mornings when I got out of the bed and thought to myself, ‘I will start writing today.’ Then like this August weather, my mind would change and I would find myself lost in the sea of activities only to come home tired after a long day.

Other times, inspiration would strike me while in the shower or when out on a stroll. I’d immediately write it down for consumption at a later time. Later, I’d sit down to work on the idea on my PC, but to be lost for an hour or two in the internet black hole. Exhausted, I’d shut down and sleep.  

I thought, “Hell, what’s happening to me? Is it a creative block?”

There were too many thoughts and ideas running on in my head. The thoughts were fogged-out landscape from which occasional memories appear like isolated trees, in an almost broken panorama.

Like in Stephen King’s words, I was approaching the ‘act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart.’

The sense of nervousness and excitement from too many thoughts stopped me from writing altogether.

This morning, I put off the TV, carried my PC to the living room where the light is good and where my adored stack of books lies to give me strong vibes. I sat down on the couch and started writing with cups of coffee to pull me through the whole process.  

Usually, I write on my desk in the bedroom where I have the pastel wall as complete front view and the jungle view to the right from my window. But from my living room, I have the view of a small set of my neighbor’s kitchen garden where tall maize plants have overgrown and I can see the quaint neighborhood. The change in the writing space was the perfect vibes for me.

How’s your writing process like? Do you have a favorite place to write or you write where you can?


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