Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Encounter with People from NHK- No Happiness Kingdom


After two weeks of no communication, I decided to my call wannabe politician and gonna-be bureaucrat friend Ugyen for cup of lukewarm coffee (well, restaurant always sell lukewarm coffee) and chitchat. We had a half an hour chitchat discussing various issues of politics, philosophies, life and books, as we always do, in Yeewong Resturant which is his favourite place for hang out because of the beautiful counter girl. By the way, to my friend, it seemed rotten food serve by this beautiful girl with luscious body is always better than tasty food from some ugly ladies. Anyway, I am just kidding as I don’t want to suffer his Napoleon-oriented wrath. 
Over the cup of coffee(if you don’t want to call modified water), he told me that in the capacity of Literary Secretary at Royal Institute of Management, he has  conducted the Quiz and Debate competition  that have not many takers among trainees. He bemoaned the fact that some of the to-be-bureaucrats cannot recall the name of UNICEF guy who bashed up the school teacher and who gained lots of notoriety in local media in the recent time. ‘I think they may be relaxing as they crossed biggest hurdles of their life or maybe they don’t just care,’ I opined. Then after few more opinion, counter opinion and comments, we decided to look for prizy books as he told me he can’t afford to buy pricy books for winners.
Paying the flirtatious and not very courteous Seductress of Counter, we heeded to the nearest book store. On our way, he remarked off-handedly, ‘I think her face is modified’ referring to the Rapunzel of Restaurant.
Entering the Pekhang bookstore, we are helloed by Peday, erstwhile tomboy of Pemagatshel School and now the manager of the store. It may seem pervert-like but she has become luscious if you notice her rear. Confident (at least I) that she wouldn’t be pissed off even if we don’t buy the books; we heeded to inner chamber of the store to eye-shop and hand-shop the books. Browsing and stealthily looking at the price written at the back of each book, he reiterated what he said earlier, ‘I don’t want very expensive books.’ At the same time, he didn’t want to compromise on quality. Adept shopper! I thought.
After short listing the ‘Flies in the forgotten tea’ and hoping that we don’t become ‘Fries in the Fury of Peday’ (for we didn’t buy any book after a long search), we hopped onto another book store. The same browsing and no buying happened for four times in four different bookstores to shortlist four books probably for four winners. I couldn’t help but feel pity for people at the counter whose hopes of selling a book (from dust gathered shelf) is dashed as we exited empty-handed.
Then, we came to the Clock Tower Square to watch the arrival of DANTAK-organized Mountain bikers just be told by some passers- by that we were late. On careful observation, we found out furniture were being loaded which we had mistook for unloading a minute ago. So we decided to part our ways to our own home. We young Bhutanese hug or shake hands in meeting and do same in departing. As we are rural import, we don’t do this huggy-beary thing but we do shaky-handy thing. Before we could stretch our not-very –hygienic hands for parting shake, we heard ‘sirs, can we take interview.’
Spurning around, we saw three Japanese imports with local male Product who seemed to be showing around what-is-not-happiness in Bhutan. This local product (many call tourist guard) said, ‘they are from NHK Japan. They heard that Bhutan is grappling with youth unemployment problems. They want to ask few questions based on that.’ What the hell!!! Is this guy marketing the poverty tourism?
Anyway, after initial reluctance like rural Bhutanese do, we accepted to be interviewed. The Japanese lady reporter said something in Japanese. Then the guide translated.

Translator/ reporter; Where are you from?
Ugyen: Trashigang
Translator/ reporter; what are you doing here?
Ugyen: Undergoing civil service training at RIM
Translator/reporter; Thank you

Translator/ reporter; Where are you from?
Me: Mongar
The translator’s face lit up. Probably, he though he found a poor unemployed fellow from eastern Bhutan. Of course, I was a perfect suspect with stinky overcoat, faded jeans and cheap old slippers. Well, sometimes, dressed deceives, at least partially in my case. 
Translator/ reporter; what are you doing here?
Me: I am associate producer at BBS
Translator/reporter; what do you feel about unemployment in Bhutan. 
Many thoughts crept like creepers into my skull. I could tell them the unemployment figures of youth. I could tell them about the reluctance of youth to do blue collar job and work in private enterprise. I could tell them about government’s dismal attempt to develop private sector. I could tell them about policy paralysis of government with fabricated truth.
Anyway, I started stammering, ‘yes, there are unemployment problems especially in class ten and twelve…..’ suddenly, I realized I am selling for poverty to Japan people through NHK Channel. I realized they are not in search of Now-Happy-Kingdom ( NHK) but in search of No-Happiness Kingdom in the birth place of enlightened concept called Gross National Happiness. ‘I don’t know what to feel,’ I concluded to the interview. This time, ‘thank you’ from guide was hardly genuine.
After the interview I told my friend, ‘how am I supposed to feel? The question quite vague.’
‘yep, reporter should have asked the questions that can elicit concrete answer,’ he said with his journalistic instinct.
‘May be the question is lost in translation,’ I said accusing the translator.
Inside my skull, I thought , ‘GNH that Bhutan promotes so aggressively in Bhutan probably is also lost in translation. This has become idealistic approach rather than realistic approach. That could be reason even foreigners want to do story of unhappy youth in the land of promoted happiness.’


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