LAST PAGE Mask dancers rely on and follow one person. His every move guides them.
I am Nim Gyeltshen, a cymbalist with the Royal academy for performing arts for the last 16 years. I am guide and a herder of the mask dancers.
Every beat of the cymbal guides the mask dancers, and the rise and fall in the tone direct their moves. The two have to be like wind and smoke, flowing smoothly [... Read More]
A campaign to clean up the Dagala trail of litter offers this writer the chance of a lifetime
COVER STORY Bjob gey shi ru, Dagala gi phu me choe … so the Bhutanese saying goes. It roughly means that even to an old nomad, Dagala cannot be distinguished.
Many misconstrue Dagala, and even the nomads themselves find it intricate. While demarcated as a separate gewog under Thimphu, Dagala stretches across a few other districts and [... Read More]
The mighty Am Jomo, one of the six sisters of mount Jomolhari
Tales of the mountain that manifested as a breathtakingly beautiful woman
FOLKLORE Once upon a time, Dzongpon Auechu Nim from Laya was passing through Dagala, when he met the mystical and beautiful Penzo Bum.
The two fell in love. It is not know what happened to the two after that, but the story of their love was forever inscribed, at least orally, in the Bhutanese consciousness.
Dzongpon Auechu Nim composed the zhungdra song, Dagalamai Lazhu, which [... Read More]
After dinner at the dining hall, Karma Yangzom goes to her hostel, slips out of her uniform and into her nightdress, and grabs a bedtime book. At 9pm, lights are out and since it was an early day, Karma snoozes off almost instantly.
Karma Yangzom, 18, is a Class XII Arts student studying in Jakar higher secondary school in Bumthang. She stays in a hostel since her parents live in their village, Choekortoe.
Each morning, Karma and [... Read More]
Ap Boep with his family
The tale of an elderly nomad, who chose to stick it out in the highlands despite his age
MIGRATION It is easier said than done, but Ap Boep, 60, has lived decades as a nomad, herding yaks in Dagala and forgoing the comfort of villages and towns, unlike other elders from his community.
While age has caught up, and he can no longer herd yaks or walk to Chapcha in a day like before, he is [... Read More]
HEALTH & FITNESS I am in my early twenties, with my BMI in the normal range. I don’t follow a particular diet. The little exercise I do is prostration, 100 times before bed, about three or four times a week. Am I doing enough to keep myself healthy? Is prostration a good exercise?
Rinchen Zangmo, Thimphu.
No! You are not doing enough to stay healthy. My personal definition of “healthy” is eating, exercising and [... Read More]
The Bhutanese film industry has found a formula it does (or is it dare?) not deviate from
MOVIE REVIEW The soundtrack is lively, the acting entertaining, and yet there’s something missing in this film.
The two-and-a-half hour film, Miss Kota, starring Tsokey Tshomo Karchung, Sonam Choki and Karma Choechung provides everything Bhutanese films usually do. Perhaps, that is its limitation.
Tsokey Tshomo Karchung’s character as protagonist Denka, a shopaholic, who transforms into a man in an attempt [... Read More]
LAST PAGE As I bid farewell to the mighty Am Jomo and declined towards Thimphu with a deep satisfaction within for having made the journey to Dagala, what kept me wondering and irked was garbage.
It had made its way up into the highlands.
Chewing gum and noodle wrappers, plastic bottles, torn gumboots and kitchen waste are scattered all over places where nomads built their makeshift homes.
From what the nomads said, they knew very little [... Read More]
Once a weapon to be worn and wielded in battle, now a ceremonial sword
COVER STORY Had it not been for Punakha dzongpon Phuntsho Dorji’s kabney (scarf), which entangled his patag (sword) in a crucial moment in battle, history might have been different.
The 1885 battle of Changlimithang, the last of the civil wars, could have been only another battle, and the country still torn between power struggles and civil wars.
The plan, concocted by Alu [... Read More]
Blacksmith Kencho Sithup casting a knife at his workplace in Woochu
BLACKSMITH The craft of traditional patag (sword) making is said to have disappeared from Bhutan about 30 to 50 years ago.
What is left today are a few blacksmiths in the country who just cast knifes, sickles or hoe.
Woochu village under Lungnyi gewog in Paro that once comprised of mostly blacksmiths is one such place. With just three elderly blacksmiths left in the community and no one willing to learn the craft, it is [... Read More]