Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The unique beauty of rural life: a glimpse of my short vacation in the village

Photo of an orange tree in my wife's village

Shrouded in the surreal beauty of Nature, our rural villages have their own unique way of life that never fails to fascinate new visitors. No matter how sophisticated are the facilities and services in the cities, the villages always leave us with unique experiences that can never be acquired in the towns and cities. So every winter, I make it a point to send my kids to their mother’s village to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding environment and understand the cultural and social values that define people’s way of life in the village. I take it as part of wholesome education since children get the opportunities to learn about both rural and urban lifestyles.

There are some children in the cities who still wonder how beaten rice or butter/cheese are made in the villages and on the other hand, there are children in the villages who still wonder how people in the cities cook rice just by inserting cables into the wall. I don’t want to deny my kids the opportunity to look at life from all angles so that they can have the bird’s eye-view of the world around them as they grow up.

On 25th December 2017, my kids left Thimphu for a two-week vacation in the village. I joined them from Phuntsholing since I had left earlier on an official trip. We spent a few days at Pasakha with my maternal uncle and his family. During our short stay at Pasakha, my kids enjoyed running around and exploring the environment as usual. During such occasions, I always look at them as students of Nature and encourage them to study carefully whatever they find unique and strange around them. We took them around to show them the touch-me-not plants and let them experience themselves how the leaves of the plant close up when they are touched. My youngest son was also truly excited to play with a domesticated rabbit and claimed that it was his first time seeing and touching the animal. He was also equally excited to see for the first time the ducks and other animals which he had seen only in his books. My kids also went down to the brook to play in the water and to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the surrounding landscape. My youngest son in particular was excited to see fishes and crabs in the brook.

Photo of my youngest son, Rigden Subba with a rabbit in Pasakha Bhutan.

On 30th December 2017, the serene sky and spectacular panorama of Sibsoo welcomed us as we entered our final destination, the village of my wife where we were to spend the rest of our vacation. For my kids, it was another good opportunity to interact with the natural environment and continue their exploration of the new world around them. Although they missed television and their favorite electronic gadgets at home in Thimphu, they enjoyed helping their grandparents with daily chores such as collecting fodder for the cattle and assisting them in the kitchen. My youngest son always enjoyed feeding the sheep and playing with friends in the neighborhood. This time, my kids also got to see how coffee is made because people have started coffee plantation after receiving free saplings from the government. It was a new learning for them and I took them around to show them how the plants grow. At my wife’s parental home, the coffee beans are dried, fried and crushed into powder by using the primitive grindstones. It was really amazing that even people in the villages can now produce coffee at least for self-consumption, if not for commercial purposes.

Photo of me with my father-in-law beside a coffee plant in my wife's village. Image courtesy: My eldest son, Thukten Subba.

However, what is more fascinating about rural life is that it still retains the social and cultural values that define the behavior and attitude of people every day. Unlike the urban centers, people in the rural communities still have full trust in each other and live together in absolute harmony and peace. There is a strong sense of community among the members and they know how to own and manage their common resources. If anything tragic happens to any of the members, the entire community instantly comes together to provide appropriate support and help to the victim and his or her family. More importantly, everybody in the community feels safe and secure. I have found that people in my wife’s village never latch their doors even at nights, and yet there has been no case of theft or robbery so far in the village. This means that the entire community is bound together by this special bond of love and trust. Another salient feature of my wife’s village is that every time someone dies, the relatives have the age-old tradition of building community facilities such as bridges across the brooks and rest stops along the foot trails in honor of the dead. These facilities significantly benefit the community since people use them in their every day life. There are many bridges and rest stops in my wife’s village which still serve the community. So although urban centers continue to thrive with sophisticated lifestyles that are shaped by advanced science and technology, we can always see a rich line of hope and charm in the rural communities emanating from the beauty of their natural landscapes and people living there.

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