My Village

by Dorji Om

Old people say that no matter whether your village is under a bridge or not, it is the best place for you to live. My village is famously known as Geptay, land of happiness. It is located in the western part of Bhutan, and falls under the Paro district. It covers a hundred acres of land, and approximately 2,000 people live and work in it. There are many things that make my village precious. My village is one of the best places to settle because Paro Hospital, one of the biggest hospitals in the western part of Bhutan, is located in my village.There are many hotels, shopping malls, and handicraft shops in my village because Paro International Airport, the only airport in my landlocked country, and Paro Dzong, one of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan, are located either in or near my village.

In my village, if a person walks on foot from his or her own house, he or she will take a minimum of three minutes to reach his or her nearest neighbor. When I was a kid, I used to hear one neighbor calling another neighbor from their windows. I used to hear a community messenger shouting and conveying messages, sent by community heads, from door to door. However, nowadays, due to an increase in the number of people using cell phones and telephones, I don’t see or hear anyone shouting outside.

 

Most of the houses in my village are two-story Bhutanese style houses, constructed by our local carpenters. We use the upper story for ourselves. Most of us have a kitchen, a sitting room, two bed rooms, and an alter room in our upper story. The Lower story is where we store grains and crops. Most of us own our own play ground in front of our houses. We use it to let  our children play, to take rest, to dry our crops, and to park  our cars.

Like my family, most of the people living in Geptay are farmers, and they mainly depend on their farmlands for their income. Since the village is located in quite a hilly area, the houses are located on hills, and the farmlands are located on the lower plains, half a mile away from where we live. Although we traditionally used domestic animals such as oxen to plough our land, and horses to carry our goods, today, we use new advanced farm machines in our fields and vehicles to carry our goods.

There are two main roads in my village, a road that leads to the hospital and another one to Olathang Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Paro. The roads are always busy with different types of vehicles passing by. Early in the morning and in the evening, farmers come to sell their fresh vegetables and homemade products along the roads. Government servants and tourists usually buy their goods there. Young beautiful village girls also go to sell their dairy products, and hot tasty boiled corn. Students are their daily customers.

Almost all the people living in my village are Buddhist. Early in the morning, when the village seems as fresh as cucumber, we can smell the scent of butter lamp, a conspicuous feature used in Bhutanese alter rooms and temples as one of the ritual items, and hear people reciting Buddha’s doctrine from almost every household. Then, until the night falls, we can see the villagers busily working as bees. When night falls, at around 6:00pm, the caretaker of atemple blows a shell trumpet which stops the people in the village from continuing their work. They, then, call it a day and go back to their respective houses. The next day, the same routine begins again, and it remains the same except during special occasions.

Just one kilometer away, above the village in the hilly area, a small temple was constructed in 1940s by the Tibetan monk Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in order to protect the villagers from harmful devils and demons. Women from each household always go once a week to the temple to pay respect and worship our local deities. They offer a bottle of fresh milk, a bowl of red rice, and a hand of banana or other fruits. Nearby the temple, there is a stupa constructed by the affluent people to help all the living beings to purify their mind, and to terminate their sins. It’s a place where we can see a larger number of old people chanting prayers, and narrating their past stories to each other.

Red rice, hot dry red chillis, green vegetables, potatoes, pork, beef, and dry yak meat are the daily diets eaten by the people in my village, and it is considered tastier when it’s cooked by the mothers. Most of the children and adults love to have red rice, hot chillis mixed with cheese, dry yak meat, and suja, butter tea, as their lunch. It’s mandatory for all the family members to be on time for breakfast and dinner. Family members make a big circle with father, head of the family, sitting near the windows.

Although the village seems small, people inside the village are living comfortable lives. There is no severe gender or racial discrimination. Every individual is given their rights to express their thought and ideas. The unity among the villagers, grassy hills in and around the village, colorful prayer flags fluttering on the top of the hills, green farmlands on the lower planes, and uniformly constructed traditional Bhutanese houses on hills always make the village more attractive and beautiful place to live in.

by Dorji Om