Saturday, August 24, 2013

My photo memories

Mount Fuji, highest mountain of Japan at 3776 meters. I'm told it has been recently recognized as one of the World Heritage Sites.

An Octopus-like island as seen from the plane.

Dancing clouds over Japanese mountains

The kiss of the last rays of Sun

Reflections stand high and tall too...

A closer look at the Dew-drops!
A bit of photo editing gave it a wonderful best so far.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Let's play English Rakugo! A lively evening with Mr. Kanariya Eiraku

Rakugo is a form of Japanese verbal entertainment. This form of verbal entertainment is performed by the lone storyteller on the stage. Rakugo artists uses only a paper fan and a small cloth as props, and without standing up from the sitting position he/she depicts a long and complicated comical story. The story always involves the dialogue of two or more characters, the difference between the characters depicted only through change in pitch, tone, and a slight turn of the head.

On 22nd August, 2013 evening Mr. Kanaria Eiraku entertained us with his laughter filled performances. That evening, I had a chance to try it out too. I chose the one below:

The chemical formula
A teacher is talking to a student
Teacher: Ken, what is the chemical formula for water?
Ken:       It's HIJKLMNO.
Teacher: What are you talking about? There can't be such a formula.
Ken:       You said so yesterday.
Teacher: Did I?
Ken:       Yes, yesterday, you said the formula for water is H to O.

I think we can use this same technique to narrate stories to our children. I particularly find it very useful for me just because the change of tone and display of different characters by a single performer is so much fun. If you wish to know more about it or get a feel of how it is performed onstage, please visit this site to watch performances of Mr. Eiraku here - . I'm sure this will inspire you too.

Have a good time!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Traditional Social collective actions

It refers to an action undertaken in a relatively spontaneous way by a large number of people within the community or within the same village.  Such social collective actions generally result from internal or through natural processes, with no apparent external influence in response to the specific need of the community that ultimately gets ingrained as useful societal mechanisms. And, I’m sure we have many such social collective actions in our country.
Provision of the list of these social collective actions along with brief write-ups was one of the pre-requisites while applying for a training programme on Participatory Local Social Development (which I’m currently attending) offered by Chubu International Center of JICA, Nagoya, Japan. Therefore, drawing experiences from my own village, Banjar in Mongar Dzongkhag I managed to list down at least some of them here. The explanations provided against each of them are solely based on my personal experience and understanding gained during my childhood days.
Tshogchang – whenever government officials or Lamas visited the village or when civil servants from that village came on holidays, one member from each household with a Palang of ara (home brewed wine) would gather at the house where the visitors are hosted. This normally happened in the evenings after people returned from their fields. When the attendance of all members are confirmed, these Palangs are presented before the guests and then the host lady serves ara, first to the guest and then to all who are by then seated in circular fashion. Most often, this drink session is accompanied with the offering of few rounds of traditional Boedra dances too. After the session, the guests in return would provide some cash or gifts against each Palang. This is how people of Banjar village welcome their guests.
Dulang – whenever village gets information about the visits of government officials, the Peerpon (a village representative also known as Chupon) goes around household to household collecting grocery items such as rice, kharang, eggs, butter, cheese, vegetables, salt etc. The amount and numbers of collection from each household would be based on the expected duration of stay of the guests and number of guests.
Dungzan – This term is same as picnic in English. During the lean season, people would organize among themselves and decide to go on a picnic. This usually happened among the younger generations of the village. In this case, each member or each family would contribute items based on their capability and availability within the family.
Boling – This refers to an individual effort and therefore, does not find relevance here however, I prefer to write it down here, together with others before I forget it. Sometimes, an individual or two would take up an independent farming activity on their barren agriculture land and reap the harvests independently. This is known as Boling in local dialect. This practice was prevalent among where there existed joint family.
Similarly, there are different forms of community labour contribution that village people observe.
Zhabto Lemi (Zhabto – voluntary; Lemi – labour) – This refers to voluntary labour contribution from the people towards certain communal activities of the village. In the past, activities such as maintenance of routes and water source management used to be carried out through this mechanism. A member each from the household would come forward and join rest of the members to take up communal activity. This at times appeared synonymous with the Gungdrang woola. These days, people still provide Zhabto Lemi during construction of Lhakhangs in the village or in the neighbourhood.
Gungdrang woola (Gung – household; woola – labour) – This used to be practiced widely in the past and this sure should have a standard definition already. But for now, I would simply define it as a compulsory labour contribution from each household. While this has been abolished long ago, its practice still continues in the village through mutual consent of the members in taking up important communal activities like lhakhang construction.
Danpa – This form of labour contribution or labour mobilization is commonly practiced in taking up farm activities or during house constructions within the village. In this particular case, a household or a family would go around the village and hire required number of labour force based on their time availability. Once the labour force is confirmed, it becomes the responsibility of the host to serve them adequate meals from the breakfast till dinner accompanied with liquor. The day ends with a grand dinner and a plenty of drinks.
Laktsab – In this form of labour contribution we can see a bond developed between the two – the person who hires and the hired. If today, I hire my neighbor for my work I’m required to go for his work next time when he requires my service. On the other hand, if today my neighbor do not come to work for me, it is likely that I may not want to go and work for him when he seeks.

(I’ll keep on adding as and when I come across such other forms of social collective actions)

These may appear outdated to some while most would have their own experiences to share like mine. But, I'm now beginning to understand what it actually means lot for a community and its harmonious existence. And more so, the PLSD concept recognizes it as one of the main assets of the community that's required for successful implementation of any development projects at the grassroots level. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

My first night-out

In the other room, my brothers got into conversations, as the dusk gradually crept in. They talked about their ‘night hunting’ experiences. It was in 1980s, when I was a young school boy. I was not even fifteen then. Those days, night hunting was common among rural folks. Hearing their experiences I was getting tempted to venture it myself too. But as a young undersized boy, the thought of it was enough to make me shy and uneasy.

Acho Jigme promised to guide me and my cousin out that night. Probably, he had already sensed our temptations. "I'll take you to our neighbours place," he said. Our neighbours place was barely twenty-five meters adjacent to our house that stood at the corner facing south. "There are two girls, you know that," he began to draw up strategies for us. His hands pointing through our kitchen window, he showed us the direction, "They occupy the store room, while parents prefer to remain warm in the kitchen near the hearth."

"One of you should carefully tip toe to the main door and lock it from outside so that you do not create any unusual scenes should any mishap occur," he continued, "Meanwhile, one of you could mount on the wall of storeroom to prepare your entry through the window, ..."

Three of us sneaked out after everyone in the house fell asleep. Midway to our neighbour's house, "I have to attend to nature's call, you can go now," Acho Jigme stopped. "Do as I say! and no flashlights please," he went back.

As we reached the house, my cousin preferred to mount first. I went to lock the main door as instructed by Acho Jigme. By then my cousin had already opened the window shutters halfway through. The soft beams of setting moon was enough to guide us through.

I followed him up the wall. Before, he put in his head, I managed to take hold onto that window too.

Our knees trembling from the excitements, we were readying ourselves to fit in carefully when suddenly, a strong beam of flashlight surprised us.

Down came my cousin crushing over me. He fell down and I went sliding over the wall, badly scratching my right leg.   With no words to share, we surrendered ourselves - my cousin limped as I pulled home my right leg.

At home, as we opened the door, "Was it successful" he burst out into a huge laughter. But we had no mood to share the laughter with him that night, instead we went to our bed straight away.

Lying on the bed, I thought "If it weren't for Acho Jigme's prank, we would be dating the girls already. And, my first night out was an encounter with Acho Jigme's prank!

Acho Jigme was my first cousin who wouldn't talk much. We used to call him Ajime. He was better known for his hard work, dedication and the strong determination in doing whatever task he was assigned. When other brothers went to school, he was left behind herding the cattle and helping parents at home. And I still remember that he had one regret in his life, of having not gone to school along with other brothers. However, he had managed to learn ABCs, 123... and Ka Kha Ga Ngas... through his own initiative even before I started my school. I loved him so much that, I would often go to live with him in the forests along with cattle, during my vacations. I used to enjoy his company even if he never talked.

Unfortunately, in early 1990s a severe disease of unknown nature took away his life at a very young age. 

Let this anecdote be a fond remembrance and a tribute to your exemplary personality that you portrayed to us. I shall always remember you.