The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, May 11, 2013

My Father returns Home

His Infant and High School (1965-1977 May)
The Sibsoo High School at Gola Bazzar in Sibsoo Dungkhag (Samtse) where Royal Bhutan Army currently occupies the campus is the Alma Mater of my father. That was the place where my father received his share of modern education which made him into a gentleman.
Sibsoo High School
During his entire schooling, he was excellent in dramatics and equally good in athletics. He has won a ton of sport certificates in his time and received accolade after accolade for his dramatic skills. He acted brilliantly for a skit ‘Paral Ko Aago’. It was an enactment of a famous Nepali Blockbuster. He swept the audience with his immaculate acting skill and his act of smoking a real cigarette on the stage purely out of  love for acting brought waves of anger among family members at home.

The Letter that changed his life (September 1977)
After completing eighth Grade (final grade offered by the school) he spends next four months toiling field and looking after cows. It was during these months when he had spent some quality time with our mother, the then a village girl.

Growing up in a large family she had to make a choice between household chores and walking to school. She took up the household responsibilities and allowed her brothers to attend school. She often visited my paternal grandparents whenever she was free from her unending chores, some time to chit-chat and often to help them with their share of work.

One fine day, a letter from ‘Man Power’ landed on his hand. During those times, the name ‘Man Power’ was commonly known for the office that recruited citizens in various government agencies. The office was stationed in the Capital, Thimphu. It was the letter that molded a man’s destiny. This letter which was typed on a thin paper using a typewriter commenced a journey that took my father 34 long years to return home but with great pride and honor.

His first visit to Thimphu (1977 October)
In those days, the motor road that we have today connecting Sipsoo and Samtse didn’t exist. The only route possible was through Indian towns. He had to cross our border to Indian town known as Thaljhora where ‘Dattha Transport’ would take him to Nagarkata and from there he had to board another mini bus to reach Jaigoan (border town near Phuntsholing, Bhutan).
My great grandmother holding me on her lap( pic: 1984)

My Great Grandmother, 98 years old now, gave him 30 Rupees (Bhutanese Currencies were not prominent then) to spend on his journey to Thimphu. Phuntsholing Town was a tiny patch of settlement then. On the following day he aboard BGTS (Bhutan Govt Transport Service) bus from Phuntsholing to Thimphu.

On the way up, the present Bustling Gedu town existed with only few huts and Tshimasham or Chimakoti as it was popularly known then served as a pit-stop (it still does) for drivers and passengers to rest and eat. The place also had few scattered huts. There use to be four check points before one reaches to Thimphu; First came Kharbandi ( now known as Rinchending Check post), the next point was near Chukha Bridge, then came Chimakoti (near present Chukha BOD) and finally at Chuzom (confluence where Paro-Thimphu-Ha roads diverge).
Thimphu Clock Tower  

While reaching Thimphu, the bus took him and his fellow passengers to an open space where we have our prized Clock Tower today. The open area served as a dropping point for passengers until the Tower was built. A smaller iron bridge use to run beneath the present Luntenzampa Bridge which helped traffic to cross the mighty Thimphu River.
Along Norzin Lam

The traffic consists of mostly Jeeps and a lot of people were seen wearing pants and shirts. Meanwhile, in the western world it was the hippy’s trend that blazed the time. ‘I looked like a hippy,’ he proudly said. He had long and shabby hair, tight gogo pant and had worn a pair of shiny leather shoes when he first came  to Thimphu.
My father up with the GO GO style

He was accompanied by his uncle to the ‘Man Power Office’. A long and heavy register on the desk of the ‘Man Power office’ showed him a list of vacancies for him to choose from. There were two hundred plus vacancies available, re-called my father.

One post captured their attention. The technical allowances paid for the post was Nu: 100. In addition to it, Nu: 300 will be paid as salary after the required training completes and during the training period a stipend of Nu: 200 will be given to the trainee. So, he placed his signature next to it and there forth his destiny was sealed.

Training and first official posting (77 Oct – 78 November)
His training in Animal Husbandry took him to VTI (Veterinary Training Institute) at Wangchutaba. In the middle of his training, he visited his village to get married with the village girl who always came to help his parents; our mom. On 18th May, 1978 they tied their knots and my father returned to complete his training. After completing his one year training and serving for six more months he went back to his village to bring our mother along with him to Thimphu.
Near Pangrizampa (Thimphu). Back drop: One of the mighty trees there.

The place where Tarayana Building and Chuba chu BOD stands today.

After completing his training in November of the same year, his first place of posting was at Veterinary Hospital then situated opposite to the present City Mall at Chubachu. Then he shifted to Dechencholing where he had to often give treatments to the Royal cohort of cattle at the palace. They stayed there from January of 1978 to June of 1980.
In Paro..(i am in front of my mother)

Between 1981 to 1986 November, when I was three years old, my elder sister was six and my younger sister was only a few months old, we came back to veterinary Hospital, Chubachu. From then on we moved out of Thimphu to Paro and got transferred from one District to another within a span of two or three years for next twenty six years.
 (Near Mount Coot-tha City of Brisbane)

Staying at Paro he got enlisted for three months training at Queensland University, Australia. It was the first group of Bhutanese sent aboard to be trained as Livestock Inspectors (now known as Regulatory and quarantine inspector, BAFRA).
My dad playing with the Kangaroos. 

After twenty three years the government of Bhutan offered him yet another opportunity to travel abroad on an official tour. This time it was Bangkok, “the land of smiles” for twelve long days starting 21st Feb, 2010.
Some where in Bangkok

2012-    Sipsu calling
On 26th September, my dad, mom and i packed our stuff for the final time. We moved on to our village in Sipsoo, the final place of posting for my father before he retires in October 2013.

That day when his feet touched the soil of our village my heart poured out all the respect and love that one heart could ever muster. I only saw a happy man but I couldn’t image the amount of satisfaction he might have experienced in the heat of the moment. It was a long travel around the country and arriving at the place where it all began must have meant a lot for him and I felt it too. My eyes were filled with happy tears and got moved pondering upon every little sacrifice our parents have made for our happiness. They indeed lived a self-less life.
At Paro........ Back Drop: The majestic Rimpong Dzong.
The moment my father stepped down penned a story of a man who served his country with his best ability. With all honesty, sincerity and utmost dedication he was there at the service of our King, Country and the People. When my mother recently asked him to resign owing to his ill health he said, “34 years went by….i am left with one more year to serve my country as a civil servant… so lets wait!’’

It was indeed an emotional moment for him. After we settled down with our stuff, my father hurriedly updated his Facebook status.. … He wrote:
Left his village when he was a young boy of 19 on tour for 34 years. Still one year to complete his official tour....he is now back to his village to complete his last 1 year which will be his final and his last one year time he has to cover many important works which will be his tour conclusion...God bless him.....
Like ·  · Follow Post · Thursday at 6:03am via mobile

The day we reached our village was also a very special day for my mother. Her journey along with my father also completed a whole circle. My heart equally felt for her too. She must have been also satisfied and happy for she has been doing the best what a mother could possiblely do for her family. She has been the rock of our family who decided on many things for the betterment of her family and has selflessly dedicated each day of her life in the service of her family. For last 34 years she has been anxiously waiting at the door for my father to arrive from office, the day commenced a year that marks the end of her waiting because my father has finally returned home for now and forever.



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