When people ask me where I am from, my answer always differs but all of them have one thing in common; they have two parts. Oh wait, there are two things in common; one is mentioned above and the other one is that I was born and raised in Thimphu. I am from Kurtoe but I was born and raised in Thimphu; I am from Sarpang but I am from Thimphu. Originally from Zhemgang, census is in Sarpang but I was born and raised in Thimphu (this one has three parts). I feel that I am a part of Thimphu as is Thimphu a part of me and I kind of feel proud whenever I say that I am from the capital. May be that’s the reason, you know, hailing from the capital city. This doesn’t mean that I am not proud of my origins from both my parents’ sides.
From my father’s side, I am from Kurtoe, Lhuntse. And what can make me more proud than this? It’s the ancestral home of our beloved monarchs. At this point I would like to point out that people who are from Lhuntse are not all Kurtoeps. The people of Kurtoe gewog who speak the Kurtoep language are the Kurtoeps. (Wow, too many Kurtoe and its derivatives in the paragraph). And it’s not just that, my father’s village is a very beautiful place to visit although the journey can be quite a bit tiring. For someone like me it’s heaven out there because when there are guests at a house, relatives and neighbours come to visit us at our house and instead of the host house serving food, the visitors bring food for the guests. That’s a part of the custom there and there are so many visitors each day. So you can imagine how much I get to eat when I am there. There are quite a few holy places in and around Kurtoe and of course the Dungkar Naktshang to visit. As I mentioned earlier, the journey to Kurtoe can be quite a tiresome one, but it’s always worth it when you are with your family and you get to see a lot of different places on the way, hear different stories and create a lot of wonderful memories during the journey. I have been there only a couple of times but they have all been great experiences. I rode a horse for the first time during my first trip, a wonderful family trip during my second visit and quite an embarrassing third visit. All in all I am proud of the fact that I am a part of such a beautiful place that has given me so many experiences during my visits there.
From my mother’s side I am a Khengpa from Zhemgang with my census in Sarpang. I haven’t been to Zhemgang yet but I plan to do so in the near future. And as for Sarpang or to be more precise, Jigmechholing gewog; the journey is comparatively quicker (by a day) and it is just an hour’s drive from Gelephu town on the Gelephu-Trongsa highway. I have spent most of my winter vacations there with my grandparents attending the annual ritual which is always a great time to get together with friends and family (although I do admit that I don’t “mix” around much). I have really fond memories from my time there and even some not so good experiences too. My first swimming experience(I still can’t swim), collecting firewood and nakey(fern), climbing trees, falling into cow-poop, meeting distant relatives for the first time, making new friends(mostly cousins who I don’t see that often), I tried betel nut (doma) for the first and last time with just a bite, doing “commando training” around the house. And the list goes on and on. The place has changed quite a lot with time; there are lesser shops along the road than there used to be and a few buildings have popped up. The buses don’t stop where they used to anymore, the shops from where we bought our “gum-boots” have disappeared, the house where I watched most of the Nepali movies I have ever watched is not there anymore, I can easily climb up trees and the cowsheds which were very difficult to climb as a round kid. I can now cover the yard in front of our house, where I used to race with my sister and cousins, in just a few jumping steps. Finding familiar faces has become a bit difficult. But even with all these changes, whenever I walk around the village, my memories are refreshed instantly, every time I walk by a familiar house, tree, ground or a face. All I remember at that moment is all the fun I have had in the past and the not so friendly memories hardly come up. All these experiences have played a major role in shaping up the person I am today.
And finally ‘Ngye Thimphu’, the place I miss the most when I am at college. I have spent most of my life here so naturally I am very fond of the capital (it has a nice ring to it when I say it like that). I just love looking at Thimphu from places like Sangaygang and Kuenselphodrang and while on the road from Semtokha via the old road from Lungtenphu. Now, most of you guys might think that I must be knowing Thimphu like the back of my hand because I love it so much, but that’s nothing near the truth. I don’t know anything about it. Every time I think that I am getting to know Thimphu a little better, it surprises me with something else. Every time I walk through the town, it’s like a different place and most of the time I don’t know what is where. Of course I know my way around Thimphu, but if someone were to walk up to me and ask me for directions to the best momo places, or the best areas to go shopping for clothes or shoes, or the party place in town, I wouldn’t be of any help at all. But I guess that’s the beauty of it; I will never know Thimphu like the back of my hand but I will always be curious about it and be surprised every time I walk around. And it’s not just the town area, it’s the whole Thimphu valley. I have gone around the valley many times but it’s always something new the next time I visit. Thimphu, being the capital, has naturally given me a lot of exposure and opportunities to learn something new every day. It is because of the few opportunities that I took that I know what I know today. It keeps changing all year long and continues to give me surprises and new experiences every single day. All I have to do is hop into the “Thimphu Express” and see life differently every other day.
All the places I have been to are a part of me one way or the other. But these three places make up the most of what is me. They are a part of me and I a part of them and I am proud of that.
But wait........... this still doesn’t clear things about where I am really from, does it? Well, here is something to clear things up:
I am part Kurtoep and part Khengpa by birth. Lhuntshe and Zhemgang are a part of the Sharcho-khorlo tsip gye or the eight spokes of the eastern wheel (my translation) which means I am a part of the East or a sharchop. Khengpas are usually from the central areas so I also have a central “Bhutaness” in me. Sarpang is a southern Dzongkhag so that checks off the South. I never fail to mention Thimphu when talking about my origin, so even the West is covered. All that is left is the North, and the only way I can see now is to find a wife from Gasa maybe ;)
So this kind of makes me a whole BHUTANESE with a part from everywhere.
I am from Bhutan and I am Proud of it.