Thursday, June 4, 2015

One of Bhutan’s Microwaves: Punakha!

The ceiling fans moving all night wouldn’t cool the blanketing hot room air and wouldn’t deter the mosquitoes that sang all through the night. In a hot place when you are served penny-pinching meals, one doesn’t feel like eating despite the volcanic appetite and the nausea only heightens when water from the tap is warm. Getting into a car would be the last thing you would do on a hot summer day.  It’s like getting into a microwave.

I have been to Punakha on several occasions and perhaps this time my opinion of this historic place will be a little gawky considering the weather at this time of the year. Everything in Punakha is about beauty, simplicity and elegance like any other places in western Bhutan. The only worrying thing about Punakha at this time of the year is the scorching heat! I was a resident of P/Ling and Chukha for all these years and the heat didn’t bother me as it did in Punakha. I had never experienced such irritation in life.

Just recently I had this opportunity to witness the signing of the constitution of Bhutan’s first Children’s Parliament. A noble move perhaps and I do hope that this initiative brings out efficient leaders and citizens in future. We did this in the Kuenrey of the famous Punakha Dzong. This Dzong is still nothing short of an awe inspiring structure.
The signing ceremony began, one by one the student representatives from all over Bhutan put a sign on an elegant book and the coordinators were just there to witness this moment. Children had to walk in the heat for rehearsal from Punakha HSS till the Dzong and back. My student representative didn’t eat a decent meal while in Punakha. She had a worrisome time with the food and the lodge.

To add to the agony of sweating that I was into, we were asked to bring Tshog-Lham (Traditional Boot). A woven Gho with a TshogLham in an already packed room with temperature outside rocketing by the moment, I was thinking, hell has broken lose. I thought I was the only one experiencing this but to my relief, others beside me were undergoing the same. It was much worse for the teachers who had the habit of chewing our very own infamous ‘Doma’. The stinks from Doma further reassured the already rising nausea in me. The heat made me take short naps while the session was on and the coordinators beside me whom I have never seen, one in particular a chubby colorful lady was looking at me as she was on a mission to crucify me.

It was historical to witness the gathering but I felt equally irksome about the heat. I was roasted; toasted, baked, scorched, parched, seared…you name it. My tryst with Punakha was being cooked up in a microwave oven!