The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Refugees get 30 days to decide on resettlement


DAMAK: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee has granted a month’s deadline to Bhutanese refugees who had earlier filled forms for third country settlement, to reconfirm their choice.

Since the process of third country resettlement of refugees began in 2008, at least 83,000 Bhutanese refugees have been settled in eight countries, including US, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Britain and Norway. Now, the UN Refugee Agency has granted a month-long deadline to those who had filled the interest forms for third country resettlement, but could not be contacted later.

The commission has notified all the three refugee camps at Beldangi, Damak and Shanischare, Morang. “We’ve granted extra time for those who had earlier filled the forms but failed to appear in the interview for the same. We have sent them forms to notify us their final wish,” said UNHCR Nepal office External Relationship Officer Nini Gurung, adding her office is now collecting the latest data of those who are willing to settle in a third country.

“I’ve got a form and I’ve written that I don’t have any interest in settling down in a third country,” said Beldangi-2 camp secretary Sanchahang Subba, adding that those refugees who want to return to their homeland were worried after hearing about the latest move of the commission. Harkajung Subba, one of the refugees who wants to return to his homeland, accused the UNHCR of trying to pile pressure on refugees to opt for third country resettlement.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pinning Bhutan Against the Wall

By Nicolas Rochon


Photo: Michael Foley

In Thimphu, the capitol city's monastery and civic center juggles both religious and national responsibilities as a long disputed border issue with China picks up in 2013.

Quietly nestled within the Himalayas’ eastern edge, the Kingdom of Bhutan exists as a peaceful country whose society, economy and politics have become the center of a border dispute between Asia’s two most powerful giants, China and India.

In 2008, the Bhutanese chose Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay as its first democratically elected head of parliament, a move that reigning Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King) Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck saw as a “responsibility… of people to further strengthen the future of [the] country.”

Five years later, the government has completed its second round of democratic elections, where the incumbent Druk Phuensum Tshogpa (DPT) lost to the People’s Democratic Party. Moreover, the Bhutan Research group confirmed that 5,500 more people cast their vote to this year’s election as compared to 2008, further solidifying the country’s political transition. But just as it enters a new government, regional instability continues to pressure Bhutanese authority.

New development brings new problems
On June 26, The Times of India confirmed that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Communist Party of China entered into Bhutan’s northeastern region and set up three military camps. According to intelligence reports, the PLA entered through the Sektang region in the east and Pang La in the north, and carried out a series of patrols along their shared border. For Bhutan, whose international policy resides in New Delhi, the recent imposition not only disputes its own sovereignty, but also that of India.

Now Bhutan faces a new challenge: to contend with China’s military advancement and maintain its national sovereignty, or to accept China’s aggressive maneuver as reality and weaken its economic and political ties with India. Both options, in the end, would push Bhutan against one of its neighbors and further intensify the Indo-Chinese relations of the region.

From past to present
Presently, Bhutan shares about 470 kilometers of its border with China, representing nearly 44 percent of its total border length. At the same time, both countries hold claims to over 4,500 square kilometers of land within Bhutan’s western and northern territory. In 1972, Bhutan began border talks with China under Indian aegis and continued in this way until 1984 when the latter demanded that India remove itself from the negotiation table. Four years later, China authoritatively took control over the Chumbi valley, which added to the growing tensions between the three.

During the 1990s, Bhutan and China continued negotiation bilaterally, and agreed in principle to trade a total of 764 square kilometers of land. The BBC reported the agreement in July of 1997, but when both countries met in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, one month later, no final resolution was made. Included in the trade was the Doklam plateau and the Chumbi valley, two areas of great interest to China for they offer its military a “commanding view” of Indian defenses and “provide a launch pad to progress operations into the Siliguri Corridor,” according to the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

Writing for the Bhutan News Service, Govinda Rizal writes, “Bhutan, alone cannot take decision to share this pie, since Doklam plateau and Chumbi valley are equally vital for India. Subsequent bilateral talks yielded no results.” But what did result in 1998 was the “Agreement on The Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility in the Bhutan-China Border Areas.”

Under the agreement, Bhutan and China agreed on five principles of “mutual respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity… mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence,” but still the border issue was not settled. In 2007, the Bhutanese government published a revised map, excluding its tallest mountain, Kula Kangri; not much was made of the issue in media and no response came from China. Referencing Google maps, Bhutan now displays three areas — the Doklam Plateau, Jakarlung and Pasamlung — outlined in red to represent disputed territories. Rizal believes that, “As long as China cannot have 100 sq km of Doklam in West, no other gift seems to please her.”

Today, China has border disputes with many of its 25 neighbors, and when Bhutan asked for pity from its sizable neighbor, the Chinese government stated that it could not make an exception for one particular country.

Through India’s lens
In 1949, Bhutan signed an official treaty with India which declared a peaceful co-existence and mutual respect for the other’s economic, political and social aspirations. In a 1958 speech in Paro, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru affirmed that despite his own country’s power and size, Bhutan “should remain an independent country, choosing [its] own way of life and taking the path of progress according to [its] will.” But still, under Article 2 of the Indo-Bhutanese treaty, the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan is to be “guided by the advice of” the Government of the Republic of India in its international affairs.

Today, India’s influence in Bhutanese society is very much present. According to a 2008 Bloomberg report, India “accounts for 98 percent of its exports and 90 percent of its imports.” Moreover, travel blogger Bruce Einhorn writes, “The gas stations are Indian, the cars are Indian, the products in the stores come from India, the signs are in English to make things easier for Indian visitors.” In fact, written in the former ruling DPT’s manifesto, “Above all, India is our most dependable and generous development partner.”

But as many experts suggest, Bhutan’s recent political activities have given India cause for concern. In 2012, former Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Thinley met with former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in Rio de Janeiro, but commented that the affair was innocent. Later on, Thinley purchased a fleet of 20 buses from a Chinese motor vehicle company.

Journalist Sachin Parachar writes, “There’s a new anxiety in the top echelons of New Delhi… [as] senior officers recalled that Thinley had said months after taking over as PM that he only saw growing opportunities in China and no threat.”

One year later India responded to Bhutan’s new friendship by cutting subsidized gasoline and kerosene in early July. The Times of India reported that the Indian Oil Corporation admitted that it stopped shipment to Bhutan after government officials in New Delhi announced that they would no longer reimburse the subsidies of their supplied fuels. Almost immediately, former PM Thinley pleaded with India to reconsider their decision on behalf of Bhutan’s poor and, for their sake, India regressed on August 1, 2013.

With a new democracy in place, Bhutan has been strategically expanding its international reach beyond India since 2007 by establishing many diplomatic relationships within the region. But while the Indian government remains apprehensive, most experts agree that the issue is more about perception than reality.

On August 22, Bhutan and China participated in their 21st round of border talks in the former’s capital city, Thimphu. When asked about the upcoming meeting in early August, India’s National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon replied, “We’ll do everything we can to support and provide assistance to Bhutan.”

Nicolas Rochon is a reporter for The International. To contact the reporter or editor for this story, please email

Going Nowhere

Some 90,000 ethnic Nepalese have quit Bhutan. Officials say it was voluntary; the "refugees" say they were forced out. The truth lies somewhere in betweenStory and pictures by Thomas Laird

"We're Citizens" The government says the ID cards are forged and that these people are illegal Nepalese immigrants; the "refugees" say they're Bhutanese and demand justice

The way Thakhur Prasad Louitel tells it, his eviction began at 9:30 one morning when the police arrived as his farm and marched him to their camp. "They didn't begin to torture me until 1:30 p.m. They kept me tied up and took turns beating me with sticks. I passed out. After I woke up they started beating me again. That went on all night. The next morning they threw me out and said, 'You'd better get out of Bhutan, or we're going to burn down your house with you in it.'" That was Dec. 3, 1991.

Today Louitel, 50, inhabits a mud-floor hut in southeastern Nepal, one of 90,000 southern Bhutanese of Nepalese descent eking out a life in camps supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Like Louitel, most are Hindu and say that the state engineered their eviction -- a claim that is backed up by Amnesty International, among others. Not so, says the Bhutan government: these people voluntarily emigrated after an "anti-national" revolt led by illegal Nepalese immigrants collapsed in 1990.

Foreign Minister Dawa Tsering states the government's case. "We're a tiny nation of 600,000, the last outpost of an ancient civilization, threatened with extinction, wedged between the two most populated nations on earth. So for us, national survival is at the top of our agenda, always. We are so small we can vanish without the world even thinking twice about it. Our feeling was that within a generation we would become a minority within our own country. Not from the legal Nepali-speaking Bhutanese citizens, but from illegal immigrants. Still, we never used extra-legal means to correct this. We are Buddhist, and this is just not part of our culture."

Om Pradhan is Bhutan's minister of trade and industry. The highest-ranking Bhutanese of Nepalese descent in government, he reminds me that despite the exodus, one quarter of Bhutan's civil servants are of Nepalese descent, as is 30% of the population. He flatly denies that Louitel, or anyone for that matter, was forced out of Bhutan. "I have not heard of any case like this," he says. "All I have heard are rumors." The same goes for high court judge Dasho Katwal -- though he acts nervous when asked how many cases of forced eviction have reached court. "Not a single case," says the judge.

If the government is telling the truth, then Louitel and his 90,000 counterparts are illegal immigrants or Bhutanese citizens who "voluntarily" renounced their citizenship. Visit the camps, however, and every person you meet pulls out his or her Bhutanese citizenship ID card (forged, says the government). And land tax receipts, many going back 30 years or more (illegally acquired, says the government). And photos of smiling families in front of their farms and schools in Bhutan. Surely something made these people leave their homes.

The government gives many reasons for the exodus but nothing enrages camp inhabitants more than the oft-repeated line that they left for the free food and opportunity to shirk work. Bhim Subba, an exiled civil servant, gets very upset when he hears this. "Is there any human being, however poor, who would exchange his simple home for a bowl of rice in a refugee camp? Do I have to defend us against this slander?"

So polarized are the two sides that many people in Bhutan believe the UNHCR created the refugee problem. They say the prospect of free food "pulled" camp residents out of southern Bhutan, where most ethnic Nepalese live. Such exaggerations are not confined to the government. Consider the "refugees'" claim that none of them threatened the state. Says Bhim Subba: "The government alleges there are refugees because there was a political disturbance. But it is the reverse: it's not that we were politically active and then thrown out. Forced out, we had to develop a political structure to get home."

Yet Bhim has certainly read the incendiary pamphlet published in the late 1980s by now-exiled leader Ratan Gazmere, just before demonstrations shook Bhutan. Seditious by almost any measure, the tract reads: "The hour has struck for the historic conflict. Now has come the time for us to demand our freedom. A handful of Drukpas [northern Bhutanese] are ruling Bhutan in a very brutal and uncivilized way. Once Chhoygal Raja of Sikkim ruled his country in a similar way but that led the country to become an Indian state. At present the Drukpa rulers are marching the Chhogyal way."

Again and again, both sides point to Sikkim, where Hindu-Nepalese migrants eventually outnumbered the Buddhist natives and then voted the independent state out of existence. The issue remains controversial; to this day China does not recognize India's sovereignty over Sikkim, as President Jiang Zemin made clear last month in New Delhi. The Bhutan government points to Gazmere's pamphlet as evidence that there was a conspiracy to populate Bhutan with illegal Nepalese immigrants and obliterate the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom.

"The fact of the matter," says Foreign Minister Tsering, "is that Nepalese people are migrating. There is a population explosion in Nepal. The economy is not well-managed. Many people are leaving to look for jobs." In a barely veiled reference to the sex trade, he adds: "They are exporting girls and women. When you start exporting women, you are scratching the bottom of the barrel."

For every charge there is a counter-charge: round and round it goes. As with any family dispute outsiders quickly lose interest. In a world with 25 million refugees, 90,000 more barely register. India, which could bring to bear its influence, insists it is a matter between Nepal and Bhutan and urges both to continue talking. Not that it is hard to see where Delhi stands; as people fled Bhutan, it pushed them into Nepal and today arrests those trying to return to Bhutan via India. The other Asian powers sit silent, while the West focuses on its own domestic concerns.

And so the camp dwellers mount protest marches and letter-writing campaigns, or sit around waiting (and making terrorist attacks on southern Bhutan, says the government). Bhutan and Nepal have been negotiating the fate of these people for three years. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robin Raphel characterizes the talks as "too slow," but won't describe the people in the camps as "Bhutanese refugees," saying this is the very point being negotiated. The differences between the two sides show no sign of convergence. Who are we to believe? What really happened? And why?

After six months of investigation in Nepal, Bhutan and the camps, several things seem clear. The Bhutan government tried to preempt what it saw as a demographic war, and many citizens of Nepali descent fled or were illegally expelled. Some camp dwellers (and Nepali politicians) gave Bhutan reason to suspect they wanted to oust the government. Both sides now try to hide any complicity. To understand how all this came about we must go back to when Nepalese began migrating to Bhutan.

Nepalese have looked beyond their borders for work ever since the British started recruiting Gurkhas early in the last century. In the 1900s, a Bhutanese "baron" won the right to tax Nepalese who were settling and farming Bhutan's sparsely populated southern plains. At the time the country was enjoying unprecedented prosperity under King Ugyen Wangchuck. He had replaced a tottering theocracy with a hereditary monarchy, though Buddhism remained the national faith.

The king appointed a man named Ugyen Dorji to oversee Nepalese immigration. His great-grandson Benji Dorji, now secretary of the environment, recalls traveling around his father's southern "fiefdom" as a boy. "One thing I noticed is that every house had a picture of the king and queen of Nepal. Not the king of Bhutan. So there was no great sign of identification with Bhutan. And after they cleared the forests and built up a nice farmstead, they would sell up and leave. That is how it seemed to me."

The Bhutanese banned the Hindu settlers from moving to the northern Buddhist parts of the country. For many years the communities lived in mutual isolation and for the most part the northerners viewed the southerners as useful servants, certainly not equals.

In the 1950s, prime minister Jigmi Dorji, Benji's father, led a clique of young nobles bent on modernizing Bhutan. They found a ready sponsor in Bhutan's third monarch, King Jigme Dorje Wangchuck (1926-1972). The legal status of the Nepalese settlers was one of the first things the king updated.

According to Benji, his dad told the king that a modern Bhutan could not have parallel administrations, and the southern one was shut down. "In 1958 the word went out that there were not to be any new settlements. Then my father requested the king to legalize the status of Nepalese settlers as citizens. It was passed in the National Assembly that anyone settled before 1958 was a citizen. Everyone thereafter had to apply."

Northern Bhutanese like Benji tend to present King Jigme Dorje's reforms as if they took place in a political vacuum. They did not. In 1952, Nepalese settlers heartened by the birth of the Nepal Congress Party set up the Bhutan State Congress. Bhutan's first political party launched a democracy movement (northerners call it "the first anti-national revolt") and urged the king to grant citizenship and political representation to Nepalese settlers.

Not so coincidentally democracy was stirring nearby, in newly independent India, as well as Nepal. In fact, it is widely suspected India's Congress Party covertly aided sister groups in Bhutan and Nepal. Certainly Girija Prasad Koirala, Nepal PM from 1991 to 1994, says he went to Bhutan in the '50s to organize his brethren. In 1991 he said: "Yes, I organized Bhutan State Congress after the 1950 revolution in Nepal. We wanted Bhutan [to] be free of the dictatorial system."

The remark won him few Bhutanese friends. Says Dorji: "Koirala made it clear he has tried since the 1950s to depose the 'despotic regime of the King of Bhutan,'" he says. "And this is the same man who welcomed the refugees. Can't you see the Nepalese were using the refugee issue as part of an attempt to overthrow our government?" (Some in Nepal's current government question Koirala's handling of the refugee crisis.)

Ironically, what Koirala helped start in Bhutan in the 1950s did not immediately take root in Nepal. In Bhutan, however, King Jigme's outreach to the Hindu minority (forced or not) paid handsome dividends. Even exiles say that for many years the northern Bhutanese made Herculean efforts to integrate southerners. The government paid bonuses to couples who wed across ethnic lines. Schools, roads and hospitals were built in the south and a third of the civil servants were drawn from there.

Within a generation, South Asia's most effective and meritocratic civil service had overseen the transformation of Bhutan. It was this explosive growth that helped spark the current troubles. The government could not pay its citizens enough to build all the roads, dams, hospitals and schools. So once again Bhutan began importing cheap Nepalese labor.

During the '60s and '70s tens of thousands of Nepalese contract laborers entered Bhutan. Northerners say many never left, thanks to southern census record keepers who allegedly helped economic migrants acquire false documents. For some reason it took 10 years for South Asia's most efficient civil service to notice that anything was awry.

By the late 1980s the population in some southern districts had doubled, and suddenly the government woke up. Its initial response: a more rigorous census. Precisely what happened next is difficult for an outsider to determine. Somehow a climate of fear and distrust developed between two communities that at least outwardly had learned to coexist.

From the southerners' view, the census was conducted with obvious ill intent. They say 30 years after the fact authorities suddenly demanded a 1958 land tax receipt as proof of citizenship. The government says this is a distortion fabricated by illegal immigrants to frighten legal Nepalese citizens into joining the "anti-national movement." Whatever the truth, between 10,000 and 100,000 people were classified non-nationals, though the government has never released exact figures.

At this tense juncture the government made two tactical errors. It halted Nepali instruction in the schools, and required all citizens to don the traditional robe of the northern Bhutanese when visiting government facilities or attending public gatherings. Officials admit mistakes were made, but insist they scrapped Nepali in the schools because young students could not absorb three languages: English, Dzongkha and Nepali. They also deny the new policies were enforced with fines, jailings and harassment, as southerners claim.

"There was some misperception and the Nepalese were frightened," says Dorji. "I had a southern girl working in my house. One day she came home from school crying and said the teacher made her cut her hair. I called the director of education and said, 'This isn't government policy. Call that teacher and punish him. Tell him what this policy means and what it doesn't mean.'"

Dorji laughs when I suggest that the hair cut was exactly the sort of act repeated many times by northerners that fueled the exodus. Nor did he take seriously the theory that if such things could happen to the servant of a minister then probably much worse was taking place in the countryside.

It was in this chaotic climate that a series of protests broke out in southern Bhutan in the fall of 1990. Of course each side blames the other. Southerners say they were subjected to a government-led campaign of terror. Northerners say the Nepalese torched schools, hospitals and census records and tore legally required robes from people. The Nepalese say they demonstrated to protest against the language, dress and census policies -- and to plead for more democracy. The government says these issues were a pretext for a rebellion that was inspired by a "People's Movement" that had re-established democracy in Nepal a few months earlier.

MORAL AUTHORITY The king vowed to abdicate pending a permanent solution of the "anti-national problem" -- and shortly the exodus began

The protests either fizzled out for lack of popular support or were fiercely repressed. Either way, at that point there was no exodus, and for nearly a year there was a pause in the chain of events. The tense peace came to a end in late 1991, shortly after King Jigme Singye Wangchuck informed the National Assembly that he would abdicate unless he could find a permanent solution to the "anti-national" problem. For once, there is ample documentation of what happened.

"The Proceedings and Resolutions of the 70th Session of the National Assembly of Bhutan" make clear strange things were afoot in October of 1991. The document goes on for some pages, detailing government largesse to southerners. "Despite this," it reads, "they had turned and bitten the hand that had been feeding them." The outrage was palpable in the Assembly."The public is ready to fight these anti-nationals," said one assemblyman, "and requests the government to grant permission to the loyal citizens to fight them."

Twenty proposals were debated regarding the eviction of "anti-nationals" due to "treachery." While some members believed "only those involved in anti-national activities should be evicted," most said "all southern Bhutanese should be evicted," even civil servants and those wed to "original" Bhutanese. Said Home Minister Lyonpo Dago Tsering: "The public would identify anti-nationals and evict them."

DEMOCRACY AT WORK In October, 1991 the National Assembly debated 20 proposals regarding the eviction of "anti-nationals" due to "treachery"

Also on the agenda was a government plan to reclaim large tracts of land in southern Bhutan held by "illegal means." There was more. The government would acquire land because southern Bhutanese were "selling [it] and leaving the country." This is odd because at the time less than 5,000 southerners had left and it was only in the coming year that 70,000 people would flee ("voluntarily apply to migrate," says the government), leaving large swathes of real estate in the hands of the state. Yet here were officials already suggesting that the land be "distributed to the security forces and militia volunteers" -- the very people, say the refugees, who kicked them out.

And where did the king stand on all this? According to the record, he "was pleased representatives of the government and the public had brought up the proposal of evicting anti-nationals with the objective of safeguarding the security and well-being of the country." The king also applauded the plan to give land to the militia.

Foreign minister Tsering concluded: "If His Majesty's far-sighted policies on the anti-national problem were given unstinted support by the people, a permanent solution was possible." Then, despite the pleas of assemblymen, the king made his astounding vow to abdicate. Before long, the news had spread to towns throughout Bhutan -- and the exodus began.

There was never any official decision to target all southerners; nor to let the public evict them. Yet not once during the discussions did the king question either idea. Then in January of 1992, two months after his vow to abdicate, he made his intentions clear, decreeing it a punishable offense "for any administrative or security official to force any Bhutanese national to leave the country under duress." By then an Amnesty International team was on the ground to find out why 10,000 people were pouring into Nepal each month.

Later that month, the king sent an investigative team south to look into the mounting charges that authorities had forcibly evicted southern Bhutanese. According to Kuensel, Bhutan's government-owned weekly, "the team discovered that two families had already left under such intimidation." Included in the team was a certain high court judge of Nepalese descent, Dasho Katwal, the very man who later assured me "not one case" had been brought to court.

The case Katwal chose to forget made it to the high court in 1992, and he was one of the magistrates presiding. It concerned Bachala Maya Acharya, a woman allegedly evicted illegally from her land by a local judge. As the case ground along, once again the king addressed the Assembly. "Far from forcefully evicting people from southern Bhutan as alleged by anti-nationals," said the king, "the government had been doing everything possible to change the minds of the Southerners who applied to emigrate. Not a single anti-national had been forced to leave the country."

One month later the court handed down its ruling. According to Kuensel, "a team of officials had visited Bachala Maya Acharya's house to investigate her property. This was interpreted as a move to force her to leave. The judiciary pronounced this procedure was wrong. But if the motive for the summons was to evict Bachala Maya Acharya, the High Court found no evidence for this. Bachala Maya Acharya had applied to emigrate." Two minor officials earned slaps on the wrist. Today they work for the state; Bachala Maya lives in a camp.

She has a rather different version of events. It goes like this: Police and militia would arrive at her house perhaps 10 times a month and ask, "When are you leaving Bhutan?" One day two trucks carrying soldiers and a civil servant pulled up. They took inventory of every chair, blanket and bag of rice in her home, shop and rice mill. The next day the army loaded up all her possessions and drove away.

It was a cold day in January that she sat in the empty shell of her home with a few broken pots and rags. It was at this point that members of the investigation team arrived from the capital. Bachala Maya recalls giving them an earful. "I saw the home minister and told him what they had done. I told him I didn't want to leave. He told me I should stay. But when I asked for a letter to show the police, he refused. He said I could stay, but he did nothing to stop the police."

Bachala Maya says things got especially ugly on her last night in Bhutan. After hours of threats and taunts, she claims the police hauled her outdoors, put a gun to her head and asked: "Are you going to leave or do we have to shoot you?" She and her family left the next day. "If the house is on fire you can put it out. If a flood is rising you can run. But when the king comes after you, where are you going to hide?"

Five years later Bachala Maya is waiting to go home. There is little reason to believe that will happen any time soon. Both sides remain publicly entrenched. Both continue to portray themselves as innocent victims. Some refugees demand political reform as a pre-condition of their return, hardening the government view that this was the motive for the exodus in the first place. Some officials still favor a "demographic balance" -- that is, keeping the Nepalese a minority at 20% of the population.

In private, however, both sides act more accommodating. Consider the words of a senior Bhutan official. "Some members of the security forces probably did engage in over zealous actions that frightened some citizens into leaving the country. But it was never government policy. And I cannot publicly criticize the security forces." Now consider the remarks of an exiled leader. "If the government is willing to admit officials might have illegally frightened people to leave, why should it be hard for us to admit that some people, raised in the camps, might without the intention of the dissident leaders be returning to Bhutan to vent rage and perhaps engage in common criminal activity? And sure, some young boys in 1990 might have played out Rambo fantasies. But it was never organized."

If left to fester, refugee camps breed terrorists. As it is, the government claims militants trained in Nepal have attacked Bhutan; it publishes putative photos of them on the front page of Kuensel. Though the dissident leaders say such actions are beyond their control, all a conflagration requires is one spark. Now is the time for dialogue -- and if the private comments of each side are anything to go by, there is a willingness to compromise, however grudging, and to admit that the issue is not black and white. Yet for the most part the world sits idly by. Without serious diplomatic pressure by India, the U.S. and Europe, the current stalemate will continue -- or turn ugly. Until then, Bachala Maya Acharya and thousands of fellow refugees -- many of them innocent farmers -- will sit and wait.

-- Thomas Laird is a Kathmandu-based Asiaweek contributor

Monday, September 23, 2013

对不丹的喜爱,就像爱情一样。 我的不丹之行 [复制链接]

Crude translation in English is after the Chinese Text.

黎明时分是一个城市最美好、最纯净的时刻。 空旷、自然,你可以看到这个城市最本真的样子。 在一天匆忙生活开始之前,很多城市看起来更像是好莱坞电影中的布景。 清晨缓慢的生活对于曼哈顿来说是少见的,睡眼惺忪的遛狗人,有些还穿着睡衣,被狗狗带着仿佛梦游一般。

缓慢而又平稳前进的垃圾车发出的声音和公共汽车的喇叭声不时打破清晨的寂静。 而在华盛顿,即使在一年中最忙的时候,清晨也相对悠闲。 在早晨的光线下,一尘不染、庄严肃穆的建筑别有一番雄伟壮丽的味道,仿佛这些建筑都整装待发等待别人的膜拜。 洛杉矶的闹市区,工作日的六点钟要比周末热闹得多,车流源源不断地开进停车场,将它们的主人送往位高权重的国际金融中心或者律师事务所。 但是到了周末,空荡荡的街道让人仿佛置身空城。 洛杉矶18英里外的圣莫妮卡(加利福尼亚州西南部沿海的旅游城市,位于洛杉矶西侧。)的海滩荒凉无人,只有早起的慢跑人和睡在树下的流浪汉。

当太阳在巴黎升起时,新鲜的面包棍​​香味飘满了街道,虽然此时没有商店开门,能让你享用到美味的食物。 而阿姆斯特丹的运河在黎明时分静静地泛着波光,游艇难得地空闲下来,安静地停泊在码头。 有一次我因为倒时差,在阿姆斯特丹约旦区的街头随意闲逛,一个疯子追赶着我,用德语向我大喊,这是我早晨在那个地方见到的唯一生物。 有一次去希腊参加一个特别的周年聚会,妈妈和我几乎把雅典跑遍了,就为吃到一顿早饭,海鸥在头顶盘旋,鱼贩的味道把我们熏得够戗。 曼谷仿佛没有休息的时候,即使凌晨四点的机场,按摩店的生意也和纽约周六中午的美甲沙龙一样兴隆。


现在是早晨六点半,隆冬季节,天气非常寒冷,但还没有冷到这个海拔应该冷到的程度。 六条骨瘦如柴的流浪狗成群结队地在大街上晃荡,根本无视路上稀稀拉拉路过的车辆。 一辆豪华越野车轰隆隆地开过去,说不定是一位重要人物开车去机场或者办公室。 在不丹,政府将只有少数私人可以买得起的好车发放给各个部长使用。

一辆卡车驶过,大约二十个印度人站在拖车上,前往建筑工地。 一些尼泊尔妇女用一些稻草做成的短柄扫帚弯腰扫地。 她们的眼神沉重,虽然才刚刚起床,但看起来仿佛已经劳动了八个小时。 一位妇女用背带背着一个婴儿,婴儿不知什么时候在母亲扫地时睡着了。

人行道上到处都是裂缝和破洞,还有很多鲜红色的痰迹,正是无处不在的多玛的残渣。 在廷布行走,得时时刻刻当心脚下的路。 但是总看脚下,却又错过了喜马拉雅美丽的天空。 白云像一簇簇的棉花糖,簇拥着山峦,让山谷看起来恍若仙境。

廷布没有交通信号灯。 那个用太极拳似的手势指挥交通的古板警察还没有上班。 但这个时候根本就不需要交警,你可以放心大胆地走在马路的中间。 到晚上挤满焦虑不安的游戏者的斯诺克游戏厅,也还没有营业。 布店、饭店、美容“沙龙”以及全卖着一模一样鞋的鞋店都还没有开门营业。 而一个小时后,在这些街道穿行就不仅需要耐心,还需要高超的技术了,仿佛在玩一场追逐的电子游戏。 到时候,孩子们和狗就会把人行道挤得满满的。 肮脏、坑洼不平的街道上挤满了满面风霜的妇女,摆摊叫卖鲜红的辣椒和米粒,让人忍不住停留下来购买,这样一来,道路上的人摩肩擦踵,越挤越多。

这个时候找到一家已经开始营业的店铺需要碰运气。 而如果有店铺开门的话,肯定是在廷布唯一的商业大街——诺新街上。 在街区中间靠下的地方,兹林宗喀路,我终于看到了生命的迹象,有一家店开门了! 我把头伸了进去。



店主佩玛羞涩地笑着欢迎我:“可以,女士。”我现在知道了不丹人称呼我为女士不是因为我的年龄,而是表示尊重的一种方式。 没有经验的人还会用英语怯生生地称呼我为“先生”,这是他们对我的尊称,不特指性别。

“我要买些饼干带到库佐电台去,给'早起的鸟儿'节目组的人吃。”我有些歉意地解释,抱歉这么早来打扰她。 其实对于卖家来说,你到我这儿来买东西就足够了,至于为什么要买根本就不重要。 但我要通过这句话向他表明我不是那种在廷布街头闲逛的游客,如果你看起来是个外地人,价格马上就会贵起来。



这家店里没有新鲜的烘焙食物,我通常就买一袋从印度进口的花生黄油饼干。 “早起的鸟儿”的主持人很爱吃这种饼干。 我也需要一点东西来填饱肚子,于是我拿了一些清淡的消化饼。 有时还买一包红茶,以防播音室的茶叶又被锁了拿不出来。我给店主一张100努的纸币,按照现在的汇率,大概两块多一点美元,他找了我40努。

随着太阳越升越高,街道慢慢充满生机起来。 一些行人害羞而又友好地回应着我的微笑。 有一些——极少数的——好像对我的到来并不高兴,有些怒气冲冲地瞪着我。 很多孩子把我当做了练习英语的对象,当我对他们热情洋溢的“你好”做出回应的时候,他们又咯咯咯地笑着跑开了。 在我到达廷布一周后,每当我走到这条街道,这家商店附近的孩子都会跟在我身后,一边走一边叫着“库佐调频,库佐调频”。

接着我还会拐弯去一家荷兰人开办的牛奶站,这家奶站是不丹唯一可以买到新鲜牛奶的地方,不过你得自带容器,比如可口可乐瓶子。 这条小巷里面流浪狗成群结队,仿佛动物收容所的大门没有关牢(很快我就知道不丹根本没有动物收容所,这也是廷布的一个亟待解决的问题,经常会有人被狗咬或被狗追)。

买完牛奶后我返回到上山路上,不丹的高海拔和陡峭的斜坡让我有些喘不过气来。 在这条街的不远处,不丹商业和工业大厦的正对面,丹麦大使馆的旁边,孟加拉国大使馆的前面,就是我要度过全天的地方。

当我终于走到大楼,上了通向工作室的窄楼梯​​,感觉仿佛刚跑完了长跑回来,虽然我只走了不到两公里路。 我左手拿着饼干,右手提着牛奶,突然意识到正在体验着的感动,我爱上不丹了。

佛教里说你所需要的东西都在你心中,莫向外求。 没有东西——没有人,也没有地方——可以让你生活得圆满或者让你幸福。 随着年龄的增长,经历的事情越来越多,我越来越能参悟这句话。 当然,有时候,地点的变化和身边的人会在恰当的时间,用恰当的方式触动你的心灵,让你内心深处的某种感受苏醒过来。

而正是恰当的时间和恰当的地点唤醒了我心中的爱意。 我人生有很大一部分时间都是在处于急剧变化的地方度过的,但是我很享受这种环境。 上大学时,我所在的学校刚开办十年。 我最开心的工作经历是在一个刚刚处于起步阶段的公司,和它共同成长。 在某种程度上,不丹也是一个正在崛起的地方——一个古老的、曾经与世隔绝的国家目前正飞速向前发展,新的国王,刚刚起步的民主制度,新的宪法。 技术和媒体正对不丹的文化基础带来极大的冲击和威胁。 不丹需要对外界带给它的冲击做出适当的调整,毕竟它与外面的世界隔绝得太久了。

来到不丹,仿佛坐着时光机回到了一百年前,回到大多数发展中国家曾经历过的改革时代,回到了火车、汽车和电子通信技术还没有影响人际沟通和生活节奏的时代。 但是,不丹有着完全不同的特点:这个从来没有成为殖民地的国家完全封闭在内陆中。

我如此倾心不丹还有一个原因,和这儿的居民有关:他们说话的韵律,他们那种带有讽刺感的幽默,他们的单纯无邪,他们被邻国所影响的新习气,他们对自己文化和国王的自豪感,他们的生活节奏,还有他们各种各样的迷信和佛教行为方式。大家都互相认识,或者至少知道怎么去找你要找的人。 每个人都有自己独特的魅力。 卡玛是一个艺术家,金利非常具有记者天赋,佩玛是个天生的领导。 这儿会让你觉得人与人之间互相联系在一起,这儿才是真正的社会,这儿到处都是我只有在大学才拥有的那种纯真友情。

在不丹遇到的外国人也让我愉悦不已。 我从来没有遇到过这么多爱冒险的灵魂,他们离开舒适的环境,打破自己的常规生活,来到这个遥远的地方。 我交了很多外国朋友,一个加拿大的离异的护士,在她的女儿成年之后便开始到处行走,去有需要的地方做志愿者 。 一对和护士差不多大的来自美国中西部的夫妻,他们并肩走在廷布街头的背影真动人。 我觉得那些找不到生活目标的人,迷失了自己的人,应该到外面去见见那些和自己不一样的人,打开自己,把外面的世界迎接进来,这样做的时候,或许那些让你纠结不已的心结就自动解开了。

我这个很普通的美国女人,在不丹却成了少数派。 虽然这有时候让人很不舒服,但我还是挺享受这种感觉的。 受过好一点教育的不丹人知道美国,也有很少的人对美国了解得更多一些,知道大概的方位,知道美国是他们很多人出去读书的地方。大多数人不知道美国在哪儿,只知道我看起来不一样,不是不丹人。 在不丹让我能以一个全新的角度看美国,有点类似于凝视着大峡谷那种广阔的自然奇观的感觉。 美国也许非常强大,是你的生活中心,但是所有人的心中,世界远不止一种生活方式。

对不丹的喜爱,就像爱情一样,感觉非常复杂。 这种喜爱不像你喜欢法国,或者喜欢夏威夷,或者每个假期去参观的国家公园,或者到全国棒球协会和盟国棒球协会的体育馆抑或美国汽车比赛协会的赛车场观看比赛。 在不丹不像度假那样,只去最经典的旅游景点,不丹也不是那种让人舒服的地方或者拜金奢侈之地。 它有许许多多的缺点,充满了矛盾。 不丹从来不在外面夸耀自己作为旅游地的优点,比如终年灿烂的阳光,比如善于运用当地丰富的物产烹调美食的大厨(如果你非常喜欢吃鸡油菌或嫩蕨叶,应该夏天来不丹,遍地都是)。 不丹非常简单和淳朴,仿佛20世纪之初的美国农村。 行进在一眼望不到头的土地上,远处的群山和树木郁郁葱葱,恍若仙境,真的是来到了传说中的香格里拉。 但是这个地方也很贫穷,未开化,人们的生活方式让你惊诧。 而正是这些忽明忽暗、混沌朦胧及这中间包含的无限神秘,成就了不丹的万千魅力。

1914年4月,当月的《国家地理》杂志充斥着现代化新发明的广告,这预示着一个更为便利、快速和融合的时代的到来:摩托车和轮胎,环绕世界的游轮旅游,新奇的便民工具,比如真空吸尘器、电冰箱和罐头浓汤。 但是在88页上,刊登了一篇配图散文,这也是这期最重要的一篇文章,它翻开了不丹历史上非常奇妙的一页。 这篇文章为它的33万读者首次介绍了这个只有少数几个人踏足的国家,也是只有少数人知道的国家。

这?文章的标题极大地唤起人内心美好的感觉:《云中城堡》,作者是一个名叫约翰?克劳德?怀特的英国军官,印度王国的二等勋爵士,他一开始被派往锡金督政,并于1903年参加了英国侵略西藏的战争,这场战争最后以失败告终,历史书上称这次战争为“杨哈斯本远征”。 就是在这次战争中,怀特认识了尤金?旺楚克,他在不丹多年内战后统一了不丹。 旺楚克认识到要确保自己的国家在强大的邻居面前能够保持自己的独立,就要与印度来的英国代表建立良好的关系,事实证明这是一种非常有效的方法。 自从尤金?旺楚克1907年登基以来,怀特一直是他的座上贵客。

在这篇文章里,怀特详细记载了自己带着一群“苦力、大象、骡子、矮马、驴子、牦牛和公牛”,他游遍了整片印度不屑于要的“丛林密布和热病猖獗”的地区,一块印度认为“没有任何探险价值的区域”。 但是怀特在这里却收获了很多有价值的东西,并记录了下来。 带着一套需要用三头骡子背的4米多高3米多宽的相机,他拍下了很多照片,照片上留下了原始的高山景观,还有国王和不丹居民的影像。 很多照片上都有些斑点,这是这场持续数月的旅行留下的岁月痕迹。

他对这片净土的描述,让人觉得不丹仿佛?在地球上,而他眼中的不丹人,也好像是一种全新的物种。 “不丹人身体健康,个子很高,发育良好,开放而诚实,女人都很好看,干净,穿得非常端正,是优秀的家庭主妇。”他写道,“我的语言不足以描述出我看到的美丽绝伦的风景,宏伟壮丽的雪山,让人着迷的如同电影风景般的宗和城堡,以及其他建筑,但是我希望我的照片可以记录下这一切……”

毫无疑问,他拍下的那些让人难忘的照片:冰冻的瀑布,水力推动的许愿轮,身穿“裹”的赤足微笑的国王,古怪稀有的长得既像山羊又像羚羊的扭角羚,这一切极大地激发了人们?想象力。 《国家地理》杂志的读者,德克萨斯州埃尔帕索市的凯思琳?沃瑞尔被这篇文章深深地吸引住了。

沃瑞尔发现照片中的风景和埃尔帕索市的风景非常相像。 所以在她所在的德克萨斯采矿和冶金学院被一场大火毁坏后,作为校长夫人,她说服丈夫应该重建与这个王国独特建筑风格类似的建筑。

而如今,没有人会再把富兰克林山脉和喜马拉雅山弄混了。 埃尔帕索市崎岖不平的岩石景观和不丹郁郁葱葱的群山已经没有任何相似之处——除了它们都有一个强大的邻居之外。 横穿埃尔帕索市的山脉呈灰褐色,褶皱不平,很难看到积雪。 山脉占地并不大——大约只有37公里长,最高峰超过2400米。 而白雪皑皑的喜马拉雅山最高峰则高于8800米,横跨6个国家,绵延2400多公里。 更不要说喜马拉雅山对人类的贡献,它是世界三大水源的发源地,哺育了大约?亿人口。

但是在1914年,远距离的航空飞行遥不可及,也不可能用笔记本电脑联网查看卫星照片,人们认识世界的唯一窗口只能是黑白照片,可以理解为什么沃瑞尔夫人会觉得这两个地方非常相像。 由于沃瑞尔夫人在历史上并不出名,而且也没有任何后人知道这个故事,所以她在埃尔帕索重建不丹这个她从来没有到过的地方的原因,永远湮没在岁月的尘埃中了。

建筑师唯一可以借鉴的线索,只能是怀特先生拍下的照片和他在《云中城堡》的文字。 “从这个角度,可以非常清楚地看到这种斜顶建筑的墙面?以及劈开的松木铺就的突出的屋顶。”他写道,完全没有想到这些描述将来有一天会成为复制品的蓝本,“每面墙都微微呈弧形……窗子的式样非常别致,每个窗边都是向内嵌进去的。每栋小楼都是两层建筑……下面粉刷成浅灰色,上面刷了一圈宽宽的品红色。”

根据怀特的描述绘出的建筑草图和不丹的实物简直一模一样,而且这也是这种建筑第一次落实到纸面上,不丹人是没有蓝图这个概念的。 直到今日,不丹的工匠都是依靠记忆来修建房屋。 另外,还有一个不同之处就是埃尔帕索的建筑使用了钉子。 那个时代的不丹没有什么五金?具,不丹人利用石头来固定屋顶,用沉重的门闩来关闭房门。 当然,传统的不丹建筑也不可能有玻璃窗。

重建的德克萨斯采矿和冶金学院于1917年落成,是当时美国最为奇特的建筑,总共招收了60个学生。 在过去一个世纪里,学校的名字变迁了两次,规模也在飞速扩张,除了一小段时间之外,它的风貌却越来越像不丹。 在60年代末,有一栋与周围建筑风格完全不同的现代建筑拔地而起,一位当地人士写信给媒体表达了自己的反对意见。 到了1971年,作为对批评声音的回应,还有为了让建筑风格更为协调,这座建筑被“不丹化”了。 从?以后,大学管理委员会再也没有允许其他类型的建筑出现。

这所学校就是德克萨斯大学埃尔帕索校区的前身,大学占地约148万平方米,校园各处分散着90栋不丹风格的建筑物,不过还是有些细微的差异。 可容纳1600辆车的停车场和入口处的保安室都是不丹式的橘红色斜屋顶建筑式样,甚至自动取款机的亭子都是不丹式的。 这不经意间透出一点讽刺,因为不丹只有廖廖数台取款机,大多数人还不会用。 同样具有讽刺意味的​​是大学旁边耸立着豪华的希尔顿花园酒店。

这个现代化的不丹?时地还能透露出极为纯正的不丹味道。 校图书馆大厅里的咖啡吧后摆放着从不丹进口的20英尺高的佛龛和3.6米长,4.9米宽的宗教画轴唐卡,在那儿默默地欢迎着你的到来;学校百年纪念堂后飘扬的经幡;纪念堂前侧竖立着的类似于不丹转经轮的瓮状物。 但是就在街对面,大学之外的地方,郊区式样的商场建筑终于让人感受到了美国风格。

最重要的是,如果你在大学附近问人们为什么德克萨斯大学埃尔帕索校区看起来会是这个样子,他们会奇怪地盯着你,仿佛你问了一个非常白痴的问题。 人们所知道的是大学本来就是这个样子。 而有?人则知道大学与不丹之间的联系,但是大多数人都不知道不丹在哪儿,还有这个他们从来都没听过的亚洲小国会对学校的建筑产生如此大的影响的原因是什么。

沃瑞尔夫人逝世几十年后,大学管理委员会的一位颇具好奇心的员工深入探究了大学建筑的审美根源。 这时候是20世纪60年代,不丹还在闭关锁国当中,当时也没有网络快捷搜索工具可以使用。

这个员工——戴尔?沃克,深入到学校的各个角落,给所有的建筑物都拍了照片,然后将这些照片寄往世界各地有可能见过这种建筑的人手中。 在沃克先生寄出信件后一年,他收到了不丹三世国王的王后的回信,信件写在柔软如棉纸的信纸上,写信的时间是1967年12月4日。


在信的最后,王后希望将来有机会与学校合作,同时也询问可不可以招收一名留学生。 ?校同意了,于是吉格梅?道济,同学们称其为吉米,成为了不丹送往美国的第一个留学生。 他毕业于1978年,获得了工程学学位。

沃克先生还向曾经去过不丹的为数不多的西方人求证。 波特?托德1949年曾经到过不丹,他也是第一个前往不丹的美国人,和不丹的王后是牛津大学的同学,他向沃克先生确认说不丹的城堡和埃尔帕索校区的建筑“几乎一模一样”。 1959年,记者戴斯蒙德?多伊格是第一个被允许到不丹采访的新闻记者。 他告诉沃克先生他还以为收到的照片是廷布街头的最新建筑,“当我得知这是美国大学里的建筑时,我惊呆了。”

约翰?克劳德?怀特逝世于1918年,就在埃尔帕索第一栋不丹式样的建筑落成的第二年,他永远不可能知道自己的照片和文字所带来的影响。 凯瑟琳?沃瑞尔也永远不会想到,虽然她从没有去过不丹,但她却将喜马拉雅山麓的不丹搬到了德克萨斯的一角。 正因为他们,正因为媒体的无形力量,不丹和埃尔帕索之间永久地联系在了一起。

现在这种联系更为紧密了。 在过去的二十年里,德克萨斯大学的校长——戴安娜?娜塔莉赛欧通过每年招收更多的不丹留学生,加强了与不丹王国的来往。 德克萨斯大学埃尔帕索校区开始利用其独特的风格作为自己的宣传策略,宣称自己是“边境外的不丹”。 而不丹自己的边境也被越来越多的人穿越,在这各种各样的仰慕者中,有一件事情是确定无疑的:每个来到这个国家的人都被它的魅力深深折服。

有一些人还在不丹的历史上扮演了重要角色。 威廉姆?麦基是一个基督教神父,他于20世纪60年代在不丹建立了第一所高中,而且,他一手促成了不丹和加拿大之间的友好往来以及交换学习。 再晚一点,不丹皇家家庭教师麦克?艾瑞斯,在第三任国王的请求下,编写了数本有关不丹历史的书籍。 奈瑞?拉斯特姆基是最先对不丹发表不同意见的人。 他是印度指派给锡金的顾问,他的著作一直被禁止在不丹境内发行,因为其中很直白地描写了不丹历史中黑暗的一面:第三任国王的情妇声称第四任国王是她与国王的私生子。 大家都公认这位神秘的女士是演员雪莉?迈克劳林(美国著名女演员,曾荣获第56届奥斯卡最佳女主角奖,第41届金球奖最佳女主角奖,主演过《母女情深》等电影。)。 作为当时代理首相的偶像,她在1968年曾受邀前往不丹,而且将自己的灵魂探索之旅写成了《高处不胜寒》一书——又一本禁止在不丹发行的书籍。

自从不丹开放以来,流传着各种各样友好往来的故事,既有国家层面的,更多是发生在个人层面的故事。 不丹人喜欢讲单身、野心勃勃的西方女人来到不丹度假和当地导游陷入爱河的故事,她们对温文尔雅的不丹人恋恋不舍,害怕回去后再也找不到这样的男人。 这种禁忌之爱是一个名叫杰米?齐帕的加拿大女人所著的书的原型,二十年前她来到东不丹支教,后来和她的学生坠入爱河,并育有一子。 在皇家高尔夫球场当了一段时间的高尔夫指导之后,瑞克?利普斯回到家乡建立了不丹青年高尔夫协会,每年会派遣两名高尔夫教练来教授不丹的儿童和成人打高尔夫。 最让人激动的是数字摄影家迈克尔?霍利拍摄的瑰丽景色,他出版了摄影集,也是世界上最大的摄影集,约1.5米长,2.1米宽,60公斤重,每本售价1万美元。

每一次往来,每一次友谊,每一次流动,旧的不丹在逐渐消融,新的、不一样的不丹在逐渐成长。 每一个喜爱不丹的人——不管这爱是多么的纯粹——都在慢慢地改变着不丹。

Crude translation in English

Bhutan's favorite, like love, like. My trip to Bhutan

Dawn is one the city's most beautiful and most pure moment. Open, natural, you can see the city's most authentic look. Before the start of the day rush of life, many city looks more like a Hollywood movie theme. Morning slow life is rare for Manhattan, bleary-eyed dog people, some still wearing pajamas, with a dog seems to be sleepwalking general.
Slow and steady advance of garbage trucks and buses sound of trumpets from time to time to break the silence of the morning. In Washington, even in the busiest time of the year, early in the morning is relatively relaxed. In the morning light, the spotless, solemn buildings do not have a magnificent taste, as if these buildings are ready to wait for someone else to worship. Los Angeles downtown, the six o'clock weekdays than weekends lively much traffic pouring into the parking lot, they are sent to the owner how high an international financial center or law firms. But by the weekend, the empty streets people feel like being ghost town. Los Angeles, 18 miles outside of Santa Monica (California southwestern coastal tourist city located in the west side of Los Angeles.) Desolate uninhabited beach, only to get up early and jogging tramp sleeping under a tree.
When the sun rises in Paris, smell fresh bread stick Piaoman streets, although at this time there are no shops open, allowing you to enjoy the delicious food. The Amsterdam canal at dawn quietly glowing waves, yacht rare idle down quietly moored at the pier. I once because of jet lag, in Amsterdam free to stroll the streets of Jordan district, a madman to catch up with me, and shouted to me in German, which I saw in that place the morning the only creatures. A trip to Greece to participate in a special anniversary party, mother and I traveled almost Athens, it is to eat breakfast meal, seagulls circling overhead, fishmongers taste our Xunde unbearable. Bangkok seems no rest, even though the four o'clock the airport, the business of massage parlors and nail salon in New York Saturday at noon as booming.
In such a distant and backward country, the capital Thimphu, the population growth over the past decade the city has quadrupled, in fact, do not have the basic elements of a city. Even if it is growing at an exponential rate, but in the first rays of morning sun, still looks like a narrow rural areas, but not as a being developed in the bustling metropolis.
It is half past six, the middle of winter, the weather is very cold, but not cold to the altitude should be cold to the level. Six scrawny stray dog ​​on the street in droves sloshing, simply ignore the sparse road passing vehicles. A luxury sport utility vehicle rumbled open in the past, maybe is an important figure to the airport by car or office. In Bhutan, the government would have only a small number of private citizens can afford a good car payment to each minister to use.
A passing truck, about twenty Indians standing on a trailer, go to construction sites. Some Nepalese women use some short handle made of straw broom sweeping bend. Their eyes heavy, although only just got up, but it looks as if already working eight hours. A woman carrying a baby with a sling, baby do not know when the mother fell asleep while sweeping.

Sidewalk cracks and holes everywhere, there are many bright red Tanji, it is ubiquitous Sodom residue. Walking in Thimphu, was always careful foot of the road. But always look at the foot, but missed the Himalayan beautiful sky. Like wisps of cotton candy clouds, surrounded by mountains, the valley looks so reminding us of scenes in Wonderland.
Thimpu has no traffic lights. Tai Chi-like gestures that use old-fashioned police directing traffic not to work. But this time the traffic police do not need, you can safely walk in the middle of the road. The evening packed with anxious players snooker game room, not yet open for business. Draper, restaurants, beauty "salon" and the whole shoe store selling the same shoes are not yet open for business. And an hour later, walking through these streets will not only need to be patient, but also need high technology, as if playing a video game chase. At that time, the children and the dog will put sidewalks packed.Dirty uneven, weathered streets crowded with women sounded, stall selling red peppers and rice, people can not help but stay down to buy, this way, people Mojiancazhong on the road, the more crowded more.
This time the business has begun to find a shop need luck. And if there are shops open, then certainly in Thimphu only commercial street - Connaught new street. The middle of the block on the lower places, Zlin Dzongkha road, I finally saw signs of life, there is a shop opened! I put my head into the stretch.
"Can I come in?"
My staff are generally very polite, especially to Bhutan.
Pema shopkeeper smiled shyly welcomed me: "Yes, madam." Now I know Ms. Bhutanese people call me not because of my age, but rather a way of showing respect. Inexperienced people will use English timidly call me "Sir," they told me this is a title, not specific to gender.
"I want to buy some biscuits to go to the library Zuo radio, give 'early bird' program group of people to eat." I am somewhat apologetically explained, I'm sorry to bother her so early. In fact, for sellers, you come to me enough to buy things, as to why buy simply not important. But I want to pass this sentence to show him that I'm not the kind of tourists strolling in the streets of Thimphu, if you seem like a stranger, and soon the price up.
"Yes, madam."
After a few weeks I have almost every day to buy things.
This store is not fresh baked goods, and I usually buy a bag of peanut butter imports from India biscuits. "Early bird" host love to eat this biscuit. I also need a little something to fill his stomach, so I took some light digestive biscuits. Sometimes buy a pack of tea, tea leaves to prevent the studio has been locked get it out. I strive to give the owner a 100 bill, according to the current exchange rate, probably a little more than two dollars, and he gave me 40 efforts.

As the sun rose higher and higher, the streets full of life slowly up. Some pedestrians shy and friendly response to my smile.There are some - very few - if not happy on my arrival, some angrily staring at me. Many children put me as a practice English object, when I told them warm "hello" to respond when they ran away laughing Kaka Lo. Before I get into Dating Bu week later, whenever I come to this street, this shop near children will follow behind me, walked shouted "library Zuo FM, Junior Library FM."
Then I will turn to a Dutch-run milk station, milk station Bhutan this unique place where you can buy fresh milk, but you have to bring their own containers, such as Coca-Cola bottle. Inside this alley stray dogs in droves, as if the animal shelter door not closed securely (soon I know there is no animal shelter in Bhutan, Thimphu, this is a serious problem, often someone will be dog bite or dog chase).
After buying the milk after I returned to the mountain road, Bhutan's high altitude and steep slopes make me somewhat breathless. In this street, not far from Bhutan, commercial and industrial buildings opposite side of the Danish Embassy, ​​the Embassy of Bangladesh in front, that is where I want to spend the day.
When I finally reached the building, on a narrow staircase leading to the studio, I feel like just finish a marathon back, although I have only less than two kilometers away. I'm left holding biscuits, right hand raised with milk and suddenly realized are experiencing moved, I fell in love Bhutan it.
Buddhism says everything you need in your heart, MO outsiders. Nothing - no person, no place - can make you live a successful or make you happy. With age, going through more and more, I am more able to ponder this sentence. Of course, sometimes, change of place and people around them will be at the right time, with the proper way touches your soul, let your deepest feelings somehow revived.
And it is the right time and the right place awakened love in my heart. A large part of my life there are dramatic changes in place to spend, but I really enjoy this kind of environment. In college, I just start where the school years. I am most happy work experience in a company just in its infancy, and it grow together. In a way, Bhutan is a rising place - an old, once isolated country is now fast forward, the new king, the fledgling democracy, a new constitution. Technology and media culture is based on Bhutan tremendous impact and threats. Bhutan needs to bring its impact on the outside world to make appropriate adjustments, after all, it is cut off from the outside world for too long.
Came to Bhutan, as if sitting in a time machine back a hundred years ago, back in most developing countries have experienced the reform era, returned to the trains, cars and electronic communications technologies have not affected the pace of life and interpersonal communication era . However, Bhutan has a completely different characteristics: this never became a colony in the country completely enclosed in the inland.

I was so enamored of Bhutan there is a reason, and residents here about: They speak rhythm, they kind of ironic sense of humor, their pure and innocent, they were affected by the neighboring new habits, they are on their own culture and pride of kings, their pace of life, as well as their various superstitions and Buddhist behavior. We all know each other, or at least know how to find you are looking for. Everyone has their own unique charm. Karma is an artist, Jinli very talented reporters, Pema was a born leader. Between people here make you feel linked to each other, here is the real society, everywhere I am here only in the university only has the kind of pure friendship.
In Bhutan, foreigners also let me encounter endless pleasure. I have never met so many adventurous souls, they leave the comfort of the environment, to break their routine life, came to this distant place. I pay a lot of foreign friends, a Canadian nurse divorced in her adult daughter after they began walking around, going where it is needed to do volunteer . One pair and nurses almost as large as the couple from the U.S. Midwest, they walk side by side in the back streets of Thimphu really moving. I think those who find life goals, lost his man, should go outside and they do not meet those same people to open themselves to the outside world to meet in, do so, and perhaps that will make you endless tangled knot is automatically solved.
I have this very ordinary American woman, has become a minority in Bhutan. While this sometimes make people uncomfortable, but I'm enjoying this feeling. Bhutan received a little better educated people know that the United States, there are very few people in learning more about the United States, know about the position, many of them know that the U.S. is out of place to study. Most people do not know where the United States, just know I do not look the same, are not Bhutanese. In Bhutan, so that I can order a whole new perspective the U.S., somewhat similar to the kind of staring at the Grand Canyon's natural wonders broad sense. U.S. may be very powerful, is the center of your life, but the hearts of all, the world is much more than a way of life.
Bhutan's favorite, like love, like, I feel very complicated. This love is not like you like the French, or the like Hawaii, or each holiday to visit national parks, or to the National Baseball Association and the allies or the American Major League Baseball stadium NASCAR racing games to watch the game. Unlike holiday in Bhutan, as only go to the most classic tourist attractions, Bhutan is not the kind of comforting place or worships money and luxury land. It has many shortcomings, full of contradictions. Bhutan was never proud of yourself as a tourist place outside the advantages, such as year-round sunshine, such as good use of local rich natural cooking gourmet chef (if you really like bacteria or tender chicken fern leaf oil, should summer Bhutan are everywhere). Bhutan is very simple and honest, as if the beginning of the 20th century rural America.Marched in the end in sight of land, distant mountains and lush trees, reminding us of scenes in Wonderland, really came to the legendary Shangri-La. But this place is also very poor, uncivilized, people's lifestyles make you surprised. And it is these flickering, dim, and the middle of chaos contains infinite mystery, the achievements of thousands of Bhutanese charm.

April 1914, the month of the "National Geographic" magazine filled with new inventions of modern advertising, which indicates a more convenient, fast and fusion era: Motorcycle and tires, around the world cruises and novelty of convenience tools, such as vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and canned soups. But in the 88, and published an essay with pictures, which is the most important one of this article, it opened a Bhutanese history of a very wonderful. This article is the first of its 330,000 readers introduced only a few people set foot in this country, is only a few people know the country.
This? Article's title greatly arouse one's heart good feeling: "Cloud Castle" and the author is a man named John? Claude? White British officer, second-class Hindu kingdom Lord disabilities, he began to be sent Governor of Sikkim government, and in 1903 took part in the British invasion of Tibet war, the war finally ended in failure, history books, said the war is "Younghusband expedition." That in this war, Wright met Eugene? Wangchuck, who unified Bhutan Bhutan after years of civil war. Recognizing Wangchuck to ensure their own country in front of the powerful neighbor to maintain their independence, it will come with India's British representative to establish a good relationship, it proved to be a very effective method. Since Eugene? Wangchuck ascended the throne since 1907, Wright has been the seat of his guests.
In this article, White documented his own with a group of "coolies, elephants, mules, ponies, donkeys, yaks and bulls," he traveled the whole piece Indian disdain to be of the "jungle fever rampant and "an area, an India that" the value of the area without any adventure. " But Wright here but gain a lot of valuable stuff and recorded. With a need to use three mules back more than four meters tall three meters wide of the camera, he photographed a lot of photos, pictures, leaving the original Alpine landscape, as well as residents of the king and Bhutan images. Many photos have some spots, it is this last several months of travel left signs of aging.
His description of this piece of pure land, people feel like Bhutan? On Earth, while his eyes Bhutanese people, but also seems to be a new species. "Bhutanese people healthy, tall, well-developed, open and honest, women are very nice, clean, dressed very correct, is an excellent housewife." He wrote, "my language enough to describe me see absolutely beautiful scenery, magnificent mountains, fascinating cases as a movie-like landscapes and castles, as well as other buildings, but I hope my photos can record it all ...... "
No doubt, he photographed those memorable photos: frozen waterfalls, water-driven wheel vow wearing "wrapped" barefoot smiling king, weird looks like both rare antelope goat butter twist angle antelope, all this has greatly inspired the people? imagination. "National Geographic" magazine readers, TX El Paso City, Kathleen? Vorrel captivated by this article.
Vorrel find photographs landscapes and scenic city of El Paso is very similar. So she resides Texas Mining and Metallurgy College was destroyed in a fire after his wife as president, she persuaded her husband to be rebuilt with a unique architectural style similar to the kingdom building.

Today, no one would then confused Franklin Mountains and the Himalayas. El Paso City rugged rocky landscape and lush mountains of Bhutan has no resemblance - except that they have a powerful neighbor outside. Mountains across the El Paso City grayish-brown, wrinkled uneven, difficult to see snow. Mountains area is not large - only about 37 km long, the highest peak over 2400 meters. The snow-capped Himalayas, the highest peak is higher than 8800 m, across six countries, stretching over 2400 km. Not to mention the Himalayas contribution to mankind, it is the birthplace of the world's three water sources, feeding about? Billion people.
However, in 1914, long-distance air travel out of reach, it is impossible to use the notebook computer networking View satellite photos, it is recognized that the only window to the world is only black and white photos, you can understand why Vorrel wife will think these two places very similar. As Vorrel lady in history is not known, and there are no descendants know the story, so she Bhutan in El Paso reconstruction she had never been to this place because, forever lost in the dust of the years the.
The only clue architects can learn, can only be captured Mr. White's photos and his "cloud castle" in the text. "From this point of view, you can quite clearly see this slant construction of the wall? Well as prominent split pine-clad roof." He wrote, had no idea that one day these descriptions will be copies blueprint, "Every wall is slightly curved ...... very chic design windows, each window is to embed the outset. Each story house is two-storey building painted light gray ...... Here, above the brush the wide circle magenta. "
According to Wright's architectural sketches and descriptions drawn almost exactly the same kind of Bhutan, and this is the first implementation of this architecture to paper, there is no blueprint for Bhutanese people of this concept. Until today, Bhutan craftsmen rely on memory to build houses. In addition, there is a difference is the El Paso building using nails.Nothing of that era Bhutan hardware? With Bhutan people use stones to fix the roof, with a heavy latch to close the door.Of course, the traditional Bhutanese architecture can not have windows.
Reconstruction Texas Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, completed in 1917, was America's most unusual buildings, a total enrollment of 60 students. In the past century, the school's name change twice, also the rapid expansion of the scale, except for a short time, except that it was more like the style of Bhutan. In the late 1960s, there is a completely different architectural style with the surrounding modern buildings erected, a local media who wrote to express their objections. To 1971, as a response to critics, as well as to make a more coordinated architectural style, the building was "Bhutan" of the.From? Later, the University Management Board no longer allow other types of construction appears.

This school is the University of Texas El Paso campus predecessor, the university area of ​​about 1,480,000 square meters, with 90 campuses scattered throughout Bhutan-style buildings, but there are some subtle differences. Can accommodate 1600 cars parking and entrance security room are Bhutanese style orange pitched roof architectural style, and even ATMs are Bhutanese style pavilion. This inadvertently revealed a bit ironic, because only a very few number of units Bhutan teller machines, most people will not use. Ironically, the same university stands beside the luxurious Hilton Garden Inn.
This modern Bhutan? While also revealing to Bhutan extremely pure taste. School library in the hall after the coffee bar stocked with imports from Bhutan, 20-foot-tall shrines and 3.6 m long, 4.9 m wide religious scrolls Thangka, where quietly welcome your arrival; school Centennial Memorial After fluttering prayer flags; Memorial erected in front of the prayer wheel is similar to Bhutan urn substance. But just across the street, a place outside the university, suburban style shopping malls Architectural style finally the American people feel.
The most important thing is, if you're asking why people near the University of the University of Texas El Paso campus will look like this, they will stare at you strangely, as if you asked a very stupid question. People do know is that the University has always been like this. And there? Others know the link between universities and Bhutan, but most people do not know where Bhutan, as well as they've never heard of this small Asian Congress of school buildings have such a big impact What is the reason.
Vorrel wife died a few years later, the University Management Committee a considerable curiosity staff delve into the university building's aesthetic roots. This time is the 1960s, Bhutan is still closed-door policy which, at that time there is no network can use the quick search tool.
The staff - Dell? Walker, deep into every corner of the school, to all of the buildings are photographed and then sent these photos from around the world may have seen this building hands. Mr. Walker sent a letter in the year after, he received the King of Bhutan III queen's letter, letters written on the letterhead as soft as tissue paper, writing time is December 4, 1967.
"Dear Mr. Walker, seen in the distant United States, actually have a university-style building constructed in accordance with Bhutan, I'm excited. Simply building does not look like the top of the window, because in Bhutan, all the windows lacquered wood with carved done. Your school is very beautiful, modern buildings and ancient architecture Bhutan organically combine together and I hope that the future construction of Bhutan can build it so beautiful. "
In the last letter, the queen hopes to have the opportunity to cooperate with the school, but also to recruit a student asks Can. ? School agreed, Jigme? Daoji, the students called Jimmy, Bhutan to the United States became the first student. He graduated in 1978, received a degree in engineering.
Mr. Walker had been to Bhutan to the few Westerners confirmation. Potter? Todd visited Bhutan in 1949, he was also the first American to Bhutan, and Bhutan queen students at Oxford University, he confirmed that Mr. Xiang Woke Bhutan castles and El Pardo Cable campus building "almost exactly the same." In 1959, reporters Desmond? Doig is the first to be allowed to interview Bhutan news reporters. He told Mr. Walker that he thought the photo was received from the streets of Thimphu's latest architecture, "When I learned that it was the U.S. university buildings, I was shocked."

John? Claude? Wright died in 1918, the first building in El Paso Bhutanese style architecture built in the second year, he never knew his own photos and text impact. Catherine? Vorrel would never think of, though she had never been to Bhutan, but she puts the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan moved to Texas iceberg. Because of them, because of the media invisible forces, between Bhutan and El Paso permanently linked together.
Now this more closely it. In the past two decades, the University of Texas principals - Diana? 娜塔莉赛欧 Bhutan through more students enroll each year to strengthen dealings with the Kingdom of Bhutan. University of Texas at El Paso campus began to use its unique style as their promotional strategies, claiming they are "outside the border of Bhutan." Dan himself without borders has also been an increasing number of people crossing, in which a variety of admirers, there is one thing is certain: Each came to this country people have been deeply its charm impressed.
Some people are still in Bhutan's history plays an important role. William? Mackey is a Christian priest, who in the 1960s established the first in Bhutan high school, and he single-handedly contributed to Bhutan and friendly exchanges between Canada and the exchange of learning. And then later, the Royal Bhutan tutor Mike? Ayres, the third king's request, wrote several books about Bhutan's history books. Nairui? Rust Premji is the first to express different opinions on the Bhutanese people. He was assigned to Sikkim, India consultant, his book has been banned in Bhutan issue, because it is very straightforward to describe the dark side of the history of Bhutan: The third king of the king's mistress claims she and fourth King's illegitimate son. Everyone recognized the mysterious lady is actress Shirley? McLaughlin (the famous American actress, has won the 56th Academy Award for Best Actress, 41th Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, starred in "mother Female Wife "and other movies.). As was the Acting Prime Minister of the idol, in 1968 she was invited to Bhutan, but also his soul adventure written in the "mad" a book - another issue of the books banned in Bhutan.
Since the opening of Bhutan, the spread of friendly exchanges between the various stories, both at the national level, more is happening at the individual level of the story. Bhutanese people like to talk about single, ambitious Western woman came to Bhutan vacations and local guides fall in love stories they told gentle Bhutanese reluctantly, afraid to go back and then could not find such a man. The forbidden love is a man named Jamie? Qi Pa book written by a Canadian woman prototype, twenty years ago, she came to East Bhutan to support education, and later fell in love with her students, and has one son.When at the Royal Golf Course golf instruction for some time after, Rick? Phillips returned home to set up Bhutan Youth Golf Association, will send two annual golf instructor to teach children and adults Bhutan golfing. The most exciting is a digital photographer Michael? Hawley shot magnificent scenery, he published a photo book, but also the world's largest photographic collection, about 1.5 meters long, 2.1 meters wide and 60 kilograms weight at $ 1 million.
Every exchanges, every friendship, and every movement is gradually melting the old Bhutan, the new, not the same as Bhutan has grown. Each one favorite people in Bhutan - no matter how much love is pure - are slowly changing in Bhutan.

From the Land of Dragons

By Naomi Canton

Manju Wakhley is thought to be the first Bhutanese woman to study at Oxford University. She read an MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation & Management at St Hilda’s College in 2008 – the same year that the fifth King of Bhutan relinquished his absolute power and the country became a democracy. In this interview, the 27-year-old speaks to Oxford Today about life in the tiny Buddhist kingdom, its unique conservation ethic, the recent elections and her financial struggle as a student.

Oxford Today: The current Dragon King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, went to Oxford. What is the perception of Oxford in Bhutan?

Manju Wakhley: Oxford is considered as a place for kings! The people that have gone there have made it very big back in Bhutan. Very few Bhutanese people have studied at Oxford; it’s a small country. Some are now Members of Parliament, but there have not been many Oxford alumni like me – becoming entrepreneurs or doing something green.

OT: How did you find your time at Oxford?

MW: Oxford was a name I learnt in primary school, so going there was like living a childhood dream. My course was about the interaction and conflict between wildlife, humans and livestock. It was really nice, but then I faced the harsh reality of trying to live in England. I could not afford to go to a ball as it cost £50 to £100 and there were lots of social events I did not have the right clothes for.

I did not even have enough money to pay my department fees. My family had shown on paper we had the money, but we did not. In the end my parents mortgaged the house they had built and that’s how I went. I had hoped to get a job in Oxford, then my tutor told me not to work. I had no idea how expensive the UK would be.

For all that, I enjoyed the academic side tremendously. After two months I was so broke that I went to the Bursar’s Office at St Hilda’s and asked if I could go back, but he refused and helped me apply for some college grants. In June 2009, when my course was finishing, the King of Bhutan called me to say I was getting the first annual King’s Scholarship covering living expenses and tuition fees.

It was £23,000 and cleared my family’s debts. The King personally selects who receives it. I am most grateful to the King. At 23 I think I was also the youngest Bhutanese to gain a postgraduate qualification from Oxford.

OT: What did you do when you left the University?

MW: At first I took a 40-hour a week job at Poundland in Oxford on the minimum wage. The problem was I was overqualified but had no experience. Working in the pound shop I saw a really different side to Oxford – the real Oxford that most students don’t see. It wasn’t postgraduate students but plumbers, electricians and cleaners.

After eight months I moved to London but still could not find a permanent job in my field and instead distributed Save The Tiger flyers outside tube stations. I returned to Bhutan after my visa expired last year with just £15 and two solar light bulbs in my pocket and focused on my two businesses instead.

I had started my business Light of Asia in 2010 when I was at Oxford in 2010. It is an eco-green technology company that sells solar-powered light bulbs, street lamps, mobile chargers, water heaters and other green technology across the world. The idea is to take solar lightbulbs out to remote villages where there is no electricity. We are looking for dealers in different countries.

OT: What was it like growing up and living in Bhutan?

MW: Economically it’s a poor but rapidly improving country. There is TV, Internet, hip hop and discos, yet about 80 per cent of Bhutanese are farmers. Unemployment is increasingly becoming an issue. Every year there are thousands of graduates; we need more venture capitalists. A few western brands are coming in, but we don’t have traffic lights, McDonald’s or KFC yet.

There are people who don’t have a square meal but there is contentment among them because of Buddhism: they don’t perceive life as about material things. We're a country rapidly dealing with rural to urban migration, and a biodiversity hotspot – it's one of 35 places left in the world with more than 70 per cent of its original natural habitat. Our constitution states that 60 per cent of the country must have forest cover. The population has to coexist with the wildlife.

OT: Bhutan was one of the last countries in the world to get TV, back in 1999, along with the internet. What impact has that had?

MW: The Internet has had a very positive impact by connecting Bhutan to the rest of the world. It was quite isolated before. Lots of kids are glued to Korean soap operas but TV has not had a negative impact. Before, it was compulsory to wear national dress in public; now you can wear jeans. More than the wearing gho and kira, Bhutanese culture is the Bhutanese heart and social value system and I can’t see that changing.

OT: What it the state of sexual equality in Bhutan?

MW: Compared to elsewhere in Asia, Bhutanese women are quite empowered but there is room for improvement, in politics especially. We got our first woman minister this year.

OT: What do you think of the second parliamentary elections in Bhutan in July 2013, in which the opposition party, the People's Democratic Party, won?

MW: It was the first time the people had voted for change. Our first democratically-elected government had lots of ministers that had been in that position for more than 10 years. The new cabinet is completely different. A lot of election campaigning was done online this time: the current prime minister used social media and blogging, which is so powerful in a small country where we have mountains, different languages and people used to walking for days to convey messages.

OT: Gross National Happiness is a policy introduced by the Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in the 1970s. How is that working out for the population?

MW: It’s about judging the success of an economy not on material growth but on the happiness and wellbeing of a person. We are used to this – it is not new. In Bhutan you will find gross national happiness on the one hand and the refugee crisis in Nepal on the other. These two narratives of Bhutan are contradictory – it's time the refugee issue gets attention.


Monday, September 9, 2013

‘Seek Revenge!’

Teresa Rehman procures the secret diary of ULFA militant Hira Sarania. It reveals Bhutan’s one-time collusion with the outfit and the ULFA’s deep-seated ire against India
Teresa Rehman 

Hira Sarania, the commander of the ulfa’s 709 Battalion and one of the most dreaded militants still active in Assam, is described by those who have known him as an ordinary-looking man with an extraordinary mind. He is 5 feet and 4 inches tall, clean-shaven and fair. He usually wears a brown jacket and carries a jhola.

Sarania is believed to be close to the outfit’s commander-in-chief, Paresh Barua, who currently lives in Dhaka under a Muslim alias. Sarania leads the cadres operating out of the outfit’s military camps believed to be located in Bhutan’s Samdrup Jhongkar district abutting the Indian border. Two years after its cadres were driven out of Bhutan in Operation All Clear, undertaken together by the Indian Army and the Royal Bhutan Army, the ulfa, under Sarania, has re-established its presence there, setting up at least three camps.

The 42-year-old hails from village Dighalipaar under Tamulpur police station in Baska district in Assam. His father is dead and he is the eldest among four brothers and two sisters, both of whom are in their twenties. Sarania joined the ulfa in 1990, before he could take his ba final-year exams. Those who knew him then describe him as a reserved and introverted individual who used to discipline his brothers and sisters. The Saranias, who own 15 bighas of land and are fairly well-off, live in a typical Assamese house.

Sarania’s diary, which fell into the Army’s hand, (see box) reveals a deep hatred of India and claims that the former Bhutan king, Jigme Singye Wangchuk, used to visit the ulfa camps located in the Himalayan kingdom. The king used to call Sarania “Diamond”. He makes frequent and bitter references to the betrayal by Bhutan in his diary.

Sarania’s diary with its meticulous entries could have been written with a purpose in mind — either to enthuse and inspire new recruits, or to keep a record of events during a difficult period. From the entries he comes across as a caring person, keenly sensitive to the sufferings of his cadres. He is also a strict disciplinarian though and his juniors respect and obey him — even in very trying circumstances. Before they embarked on a tough mission, Sarania would try and motivate them with an encouraging speech. Sarania remains a key leader in the ulfa hierarchy and may feel a strong sense of responsibility towards his cadres.

Written in Assamese, the diary shows the ulfa commander as man committed to his cause and determined to endure the most extreme hardship in its pursuit.

It is clear from the entries that the diary was written sometime around December 2003, when Operation All Clear started. It is a long account of how Sarania, along with his cadres escaped from the Indian Army, undertaking a long and arduous journey along the hilly and inhospitable terrain in Bhutan. They had to face much anguish and many hardships but Sarania managed to lead his men to escape. It records moments of poignancy, moments of distress at the death of colleagues, light moments with cadres and Sarania’s musings on the future course of action.
Excerpts from the Diary

It was the 5th of December. I was asked to come to the chq (Company Headquarters) urgently through a wireless message. I had to leave by the 13th. As soon as I got the message, everyone was apprised of the situation and duties allotted regarding combat, camps and the task of making the workers a disciplined force.

Over the last few years, during various rounds of discussions with the Bhutanese, we could feel the situation deteriorating. The Bodo Liberation Tigers, along with the Indian Army, had entered Bhutan to undertake destructive activities. In June 1999, in Namlang, three of our senior and skilled cadres were killed indiscriminately. Even Bhutan’s army had helped along with the common people and the Indian Army.

Bhutan’s elite was very fascinated with the glitter of India. They came to India for education as they cannot go to the West because of economic depredation. India is an ideal country for them; they are fond of wine and women.

Once, we organised a Bishnu Rabha Divas (famous Assamese singer composer) in one of our camps, and invited a few Bhutanese. After the Bihu dance, I asked one of them, “How was the Bihu?” He replied, “Your ladies are very nice.” If you ask a student of Class vi or vii, “What is your hobby?” He will give an instant reply, “Girlfriend”.

The king of Bhutan met me when he came to the ulfa camp. “Diamond, I am finding it difficult to trust my own men. My ministers, army officials, everyone is busy singing praises of India. On the other hand, Bhutan’s internal condition is not very good. There is always a fear of a revolt by the Nepalese after they were chased away once.”


The condition of the ordinary Bhutanese citizens is very pathetic. There is no market to even sell their basic minimum produce. Even if they manage to sell, they don’t get the right price. If they sell their oranges in Assam, they get over Rs 150. But if they sell to the Bhutan government, they don’t get more than Rs 60 or Rs 70. Many Bhutanese say that if the price is not increased, they will not sell oranges. Ginger was sold for Re 1 to Rs 2 per kg.

When we first arrived in Bhutan, they did not know how to use soap and oil. A foul smell emanated from their body and it was full of scars. We used to spend all our soap and oil on them.

Their knowledge of the world was very limited. Our cadres spread all around, held open discussions and imparted information about the outside world. They were taught to keep their head down and never to look at the king’s eyes. After meeting our cadres, when they were looked upon with their heads held high, the rulers were surprised. An ordinary Bhutanese could not even afford to send his child to school. Desperate, they realised that one day there will be a revolution in Bhutan. Though their income was little, they had to pay a lot of taxes.


After discussing the situation with the west-zone cadres, we became sure that if India attacks us single-handedly, they will suffer maximum damage and won’t be able to uproot us. There are chances that they’ll attack us in co-operation with Bhutan. Bhutan too cannot attack us alone. Though they are an independent country, in terms of resources and intelligence they are in no way superior to us. We decided to be careful of both the sides.


Due to India and Bhutan’s strict measures, it was becoming difficult to procure foodstuff. We had to procure stuff by defying the enemy’s eyes. We had to make do with the bare minimum and had to do away with the extra essential provisions.

In different situations, one has to be a father, mother, friend, philosopher, guide and brother at the same time. The luxuries of hierarchy have to be shed and there should be equal division of labour.


On December 7, I started my journey to the chq. I had no time to rest, as we had to walk 12-14 hours daily. Though we had to endure hardships, we enjoyed it. We haven’t met the cadres on the other side for the past one-and-half years.

On the 10th, through radio contact we came to know that our colleague Raktim Narzary alias Ranjit Talukdar was killed in Bongaigaon. The enemy surrounded him and he burst a grenade. Along with him a lieutenant was also killed. I felt sad but my heart swelled with pride. This self-sacrifice will not go in vain.

We reached Deothang and learnt about a serious problem. One of our cadres Rudra Haloi was killed with a khukri (small knife) by a Bhutanese and Indian patrolling party. In the Deothang camp, a spy entered in the guise of a lunatic.
As soon as I reached the camp I was told about the situation. The minister’s intentions were not good. The intelligence chief major came with an associate to the chq. He said that the king was supposed to come at 8am. He brought bottles of vitamin and a basket of oranges for father. It seems on earlier occasions too, the king used to send things to father (‘Father’ is ulfa adviser Bhimkanta Buragohain, who was caught during Operation All Clear).

I could suddenly hear the dhoom dhoom burst of an lmg. I ran and reached sir’s house. I asked sir, have you heard anything? I couldn’t tell whether it was real or just a joke. I immediately rushed and took the arms equipment kit bag and took the others to a safer location.


I went to the chq. It was a plain field with not many trees around. Meanwhile the sounds of the mortar made the tree branches fall off. After taking sir to a safer distance, we stopped.

Meanwhile the crowd started running and a severe attack began. Since the area is open it was easy to see the mortar monitor. In the area we stopped, there were big stones and trees. A mortar’s splinter came and hit the car’s driver.

At a distance of one foot from me, Liberation screamed — “Sir, it has hit me on the chest.” Immediately we went down holding each other. After going a few steps, my head was also hit by a piece of mortar. I slowly touched my head. The wound was not very severe but blood was oozing and there was swelling.

I told Liber slowly, “I am also hurt. Don’t worry, keep walking.” After going for about 10 minutes, Liber could not proceed further. Seeing no way out, I took the provisions in his custody and hid it in a good place under the stone. I told him, we will come and take it after the shelling subsides. We wanted to shake hands while leaving, he (Liber) repeatedly said, “Take me. I do not want to go into enemy hands.”

We all had a lot of affection for Liber. We told him not to worry as everything will be fine. For the last time, I tenderly took his hand and let him sleep on the lap of the earth. After an hour, our main group met. By afternoon, the shelling at the chq reduced. We waited till the camp was searched. Meanwhile heavy shelling was going on in the ghq and communication with all the camps were disrupted. We could not apprehend the attack beforehand.

We had reached the chq school and saw Bhatija coming with Liber on his back. As soon as he came closer he said, “Ankur is gone”. We were all stunned. When he was in Assam, he was called Ankur. Ever-smiling, he was adept both in warfare and music and was never behind anything. We had lost Liber on the first day itself.


The noise became louder. Before noon we reached the main camp. We kept sending reports to higher authorities. No decision was reached by afternoon. Eight members of our group suffered injuries while trying to procure food. The c-in-c said they can’t do anything now as negotiation with Bhutan was almost over. Till now no retaliation orders.

Many suggested that we leave the place, as it wasn’t easy to fight them. I searched for an opportune place and asked them to wait for sir. Even going to Assam and settling at a favourable place would be a big risk. It is not easy for the women, children and the elderly. Instead sir suggested waiting for some time.

I looked at the face of my colleagues. Otherwise we will have to embrace death like this.

I said looking at the face of the women and children, we will have to embrace death if necessary. Some time passed silently. I examined their faces. It was a very pathetic moment. There was helplessness and uncertainty on many people’s faces. Many hoped that somebody would rescue them.


After bidding farewell to Neog sir, I came near Rabin Handique. Sir told me in my ears, “Sarania, in this old age, I have no will to be caught by the enemy. Please do not forget me.” After this I looked at the rest and my heart trembled. I had experienced many such moments of farewell with my co-fighters. But this farewell seemed final.

I felt like I bid farewell never to see them again. Borbora hugged me and said he will return in two days time. Mrinal Rajkhowa also came and hugged me. Looking at their faces, I became mentally prepared to take on the enemy forces with double gusto.

I felt bad that I was leaving the battlefield so easily. I could not look back again. We started moving and when we were 100 metres from the chq, I could see action in all directions. They were burning houses and the provisions.


We waited till they moved away. By another half-anhour it would get dark. There was no sign of their moving away. Moreover the dry bamboo broke while we walked and made a lot of sound. The enemy could not hear us due to the sounds of the raging fire. We stopped around 200 metres from them. At night again mortar sounds reverberated at a distance. We thought that whoever was left behind would be finished. At that moment, our sense of pain, anger and sympathy for our fellow men started shimmering. Each one of us vowed that even if it takes 100 years, we will seek vengeance on India and Bhutan. On the morning of the 18th, we resumed our journey. We went up and saw there were no signs of their leaving. They started burning our camps again. Moreover it was not possible to establish contact with the chq and ghq. We all felt very sad. The assumption was that maybe everything was over.


That is why we wanted to go to our motherland and continue fulfilling our obligations and put up a tough fight. In this endeavour all my co-fighters supported me. I said, “In our group, at least two should avoid the enemy. In case we face them, we will fight. We have nothing new to lose except our lives.”

Some went to inspect the enemy side. Within two days the women, children and the elderly surrendered to the Bhutan authorities.


I asked everyone about the village. They told us that though this was the interior of Bhutan it was safe. I was not satisfied. Amidst the sound of stones and pebbles, I could see three men coming towards us. As they came closer, I shouted, “Halt”.

They said, “It’s us ndfb (National Democratic front of Bodoland).” We called them closer. We had initially thought they were our men. They were also a four-member group. On the day of the incident, after having food, their commander had gone out and then the firing started. From then what had happened to the commander nobody knows. They took shelter near the river and followed us. They informed that the army is ambushing and firing along the banks of the river.


Amidst the gunfire, I gave strict instructions to refrain from making any kind of sights and sound — like burning fire or sneezing etc. even a slight sound can spell trouble for everyone. During the day, except to pass urine and stool, nobody could go out. It seemed like the longest day of the world. As night sets in, the sounds of guns boom again and we can start proceeding.


The enemy gunfire would sometimes echo in the heart. In between, many thoughts engulf me. I keep remembering the one’s I had left behind. The thought of Liber kept troubling me. I recall a day when we had stayed as guests at a house in a Bhutanese village. My physical condition was not good. My feet were swollen, blisters were bursting and my joints were aching. I was extremely restless. I called Liber, “Please massage my body or I will die.” The massage was always done by Liber. If the others do the massage, it becomes more painful.
Dusk was setting in. I asked everybody to get ready. For three days we could not have proper food. My companions had become quite weak. Except for essential items, I asked them to hide the other stuff. During evening I came out of the shelter and addressed everyone: “Dear comrades. Our time has come. The enemy will fill all the loopholes in our route to escape. Yesterday, you had seen all army vehicles lined up. That is why today by any means we will have to cross this enemy bastion. If we face each other we will have to fight. If they attack we will have to retaliate.” We resumed the journey.

At night we felt like we had lost our way and might run into the army once again. But going back might be dangerous. That is why everyone had saved food for two days — biscuits, rice powder, bread. After sometime there was stillness and the boys were fast asleep. Even if I try to sleep, even the falling of a branch makes me wake up with a start and I bring my gun closer. chq seemed silent and everything seemed silent. There were fewer gunshots. The sweet memories of the days spent in the camps kept coming back to us. In the midst of the sufferings, we had enjoyed a lot. The conversations revolved around all things including Assam’s shameless politicians.

There was the attack on the World Trade Center towers in the US. We all praised this act of heroism. A country like the US which had bossed over the world was trying to be everybody’s guardian and subjugate everyone. This attack had hit right at the heart of the US. But we had nothing to like or dislike about this act. Though there was an element of heroism in the act, for people like us who believe in the freedom struggle should not be happy with such acts. In the entire northeast, Indian freedom fighters have been termed terrorists.


The so-called heroes of Indian nationalism Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not have guts to speak out against America when they strip-searched their chief disciple George Fernandes. Of course, they take it easy when the Indian Army tries to strip naked our daughters and daughters-in-law. What is the guarantee that they have not threatened Bhutan?


We had assumed that Bhutan was a safe base to attack Assam. But by the year 2000, Prafulla Mahanta’s betrayal brought immense hardships for us. We had shifted Lower Assam’s main activities to Bhutan. The cadres in Assam became easy prey for the enemy forces. The workers, well-wishers and all progressive thinkers became victims of secret and open killings.

In Assam, the fear-feeling prevailed. The news of the demise of our co-fighters could not even be delivered to our organisation. We were busy with other things in Bhutan. In this moments of crisis we could not help our cadres. We were burning with anger.


As soon as it was dark, we proceeded to the village. We entered a house and identified ourselves. The night would pass off easily and we would reach a comfortable place. The lady of the house gave us food. We started walking. We entered a village; they wanted to know what had happened in Bhutan. The crowd sympathised with us. We will have to remain mobile in all situations in Assam. I got everyone together, “Dear co-fighters. This may be our last day in Bhutan. We will have to decide our future course of action. We will have to take the people into confidence. We will not look back. Many will think we are finished. We should not lose hope.

In fact, on August 15, 1947, before the Indians were under British rule, thousands of freedom fighters had to lay down their lives. I will not say that everything will be possible but none of us should betray the common man or the ideals of the organisation. Every life is dear to us.”
These excerpts were translated by Teresa Rehman

Jan 27 , 2007