April 11, 2015

Remembering Home

A couple of weeks ago I was in Ogyen Choling in Tang, a rural village in Bumthang. And there I got to visit the house of my friend’s elderly mother. It was outside the complex of the place where I was putting up.

Her house was the only one which was beautifully painted, with intricate Bhutanese designs. The surrounding houses looked new, and raw. As I climbed the wooden stairs to the house, she met us on the porch. We entered inside her warm living room-cum-kitchen, sat around the iron stove ‘bukhari’ and got to talking, as she prepared tea.

“My house is the smallest in the entire village. All newer houses are bigger than mine.”

I could hear a hint of regret in her voice. I don’t know how we reached this part of the conversation, because I distinctly remember not asking her. I looked around. The house looked tidy, with everything arranged neatly around. I liked this house. It brought memories of my village, and my parental house.

Because electricity reached my village only a couple of years ago, my memories of the vacations spent there are of dark, ancient rooms lighted with kerosene lamps, and of the smoky kitchen with the stone stove ‘thab’ in one corner. But it felt more homely then.
But now, there is this brightness everywhere, which is brought by electricity. Everything is faster, easier, and cleaner, better… but is it?

I am reminded of that song “Video killed the Radio Star”….
[A typical kitchen stove in use for a long time in rural Bhutan]