What do you do on Sundays? How do you spend your weekends? These questions are often asked of people who follow a Monday to Friday routine. I have been asked these questions many times by people who follow a routine like mine as well as by some who have a more random lifestyle.
In this Sunday afternoon blog, I allow my friends a sneak peek into what I did today. This is intended for light reading!
Waking up – Beyond the Cuddling and Cajoling
I don’t get the luxury of sleep farting till 8:00 or 9:00 am on Sundays as many parents with grownup children do. My younger son is in class ten. Having dispatched his elder brother to foreign shores a quarter of a year ago, my wife and I are left with having to take care of him.
Paid tuitions started in Thimphu some two decades ago and they are here to stay. Show me a parent with a class 10/12 student child and I will show you a man/woman who doesn’t believe in classroom teaching. Teachers find all kinds of excuses and reasons to delay teaching during normal school times and very subtly or in some cases openly call for tuition. Tuitions are held at odd hours – 6:00 to 8:00 pm, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm or worst, 8:00 am on Sunday!
My son takes tuition with a husband and wife couple, who are teachers at his school. As they are good old-school Christians, they go to church every Sunday and want to finish the commercial tutoring by 10:00 am. Based on their conveniences, tuition is called at 8:00 am every Sunday! That means my electronic cockerel got to crow latest by 7:00 am. What’s more, my wife also expects me to extend her my helping hands a little more during the weekends.
‘Saturday and Sunday is yours’, my wife half-sleepily cajoles me out of bed.
Two days are much better than five. The bargain is good. ‘But I help you on weekdays’, I try to negotiate. My wife pretends to not listen and turns her bums 180 degrees around.
I get up, take a quick wash and saunter to the kitchen. My wife and I often talk about how daughters might be different. At fifteen years, we believe a girl is better able and prepared to take care of her own breakfast, at least on a Sunday morning! We don’t have a daughter. We don’t know. However, I have heard that not all parents with teenage daughters are exactly happy with the self-help attitude and skills of their daughters. This makes us believe that we have a reasonable son! What say you, my mates, with teenage daughters?
My son likes bread a lot. Thank god, Thimphu grocers now offer quite a variety of breads. Every Saturday evening, I need to ensure that we have at least three slices of bread. He likes the bread either browned in butter, French Toasted or made into sandwiches. Today, I go for the easiest – sauté in butter. Then I prepare a bowl of mixed fruit – banana (his favourite), mangoes and water melon – in fresh cream sauce. Next, I brew a pot of tea – masala tea – with a pinch of grounded black pepper, cinnamon, fenugreek, and cloves, besides a dash of fresh ginger paste. A
Weekend routine – Grocery and Leisure
Around the time our son completes his tuition, we set out of home. Besides picking him up from the YHS gate, we also complete our weekly round of the Sabji Bazaar and 8/11 Store. In between, we check on what our boy wants to do, eat and buy. Today, he wanted to go to Coffee Culture for his favourite Spaghetti Bolognaise. While he had his spaghetti, my wife and I had our regular cheese momo. He had a cold chocolate; we had cold coffee.
While we were ordering the spaghetti, the man at the counter whispered that it contained beef. I said, ‘I know. We have come here before’ and confirmed the order.
I was born in a typical Southern Bhutanese Hindu family of Nepali ethnicity. I am aware of the special place cows occupy in our socio-religious culture. Talking of socio-religious practices, we need to pretend a lot in order to conform and stay afloat. Every one of us pretends. It is only a matter of the magnitude and frequency of our hypocrisy. Many of us have friends and relatives who eat and drink near everything, but would like everybody around them not to know or tell. I also pretend sometimes. For example, whenever I visit my village, the first thing I do the first morning of my arrival is to wear the sacred thread and smear my receding forehead with Vaishnava Tilak. I was initiated into the Vaishnava faith when I was in class 5 and the majority of the people in my village subscribe to this faith. My temporary pretension improves the villager elders’ acceptance of me and a sense of belonging to the community.
In spite of this grounding, we have not taught our boys to differentiate between various meats. I say either complete veg or no discrimination! While we have never purchased and cooked beef at home, I have always allowed my sons to enjoy their burgers and spaghettis. Perhaps, it is genealogical. My paternal uncle who brought me up after the early death of my father, always advised me and my siblings to eat any meat that is served, but to always avoid alcohol. I am afraid I have barely been able to average his sound advice! Today, my elder brother, who is a bigtime non-conformist and rationalist, says ‘ I don’t discriminate between animals’, when someone asks him about his choice of diet.
Verandah floriculture – Sharing my wife’s passion
My wife is a full-time home maker. Using old school British English, initially I used to call her a house wife until someone advised me that the modern, more respectful term is home maker! One of her passions is floriculture. As we live on the third floor of a five-storied building, she conducts her passion on the tens of flower pots on our balconies. Fortunately, we have two verandahs, each about twenty feet long. There, my dear has flower pots of myriad kinds – used milk packets, black polythene bags, cut oil jerry cans and real pots. She has a good collection of varieties of local flowers, most of them flowering around this time of the year.
|The pink Azalea|
Her priority is flowers, Buku (our boy) and me in that order. It is only after the numerous potted plants have been watered and fiddled, she turns to Buku. ‘He can take care of himself, my flowers cannot’, she reasons quite well.
After dropping off my son for tuition, I help my wife move a pink azalea that is in full bloom, from a discrete corner of the eastern veranda to a prominent spot facing the large parking space and overlooking neighbourhood balconies. She is proud of it. A while later, I go to check how the flower is doing. Across our veranda, from a similar veranda, a neighbour ups her thumb in the direction of our veranda. At first, I don’t understand. I had just taken a shower and clean shaved my little face. I look around for any signs of distant promiscuity. Then I understand. Her stiff thumb is meant to appreciate the blooming pink azalea. I am left waiting!
They say, if you want to maintain and improve your relationship with a person, you should like and appreciate what the person likes. Share their passion. So, although I often find the potted plants sharing my wife’s time with me, I try to find time to appreciate my wife’s work. I discuss with her the cactus that is about to bloom and smirk when she tells me that one of her begonia tubers has died.
Managing Facebook – Snoozing Shiva
It is early afternoon, when we return home. After dumping the grocery on the kitchen table, I settle down on Facebook. On the international front, it is full of stories and pictures of Meghan and Harry’s wedding. The USA has new stories on racial profiling and the dumb witted leadership of Trump. I follow the ongoing (cricket) Indian Premier League, where Kings XI Punjab are facing ouster after leading the score charts in the early phase of the league.
In between sharing some beautiful snap shots my brother has taken during his official tour to Samtse and liking the status of a friend of mine (Binai Lama), who is clinging on a dry rocky surface purportedly looking for honey, I start managing my page.
In spite of Zuckerberg reassuring the FB community that our data is safe and that he would take additional steps to strengthen privacy and data safety, there is a lot of crap that a discerning Facebooker needs to confront. I particularly hate chain posts and direct dumping of videos and links on my Messenger Inbox. I also don’t like religious and sectarian posts. It is also annoying when someone shares a joke you first heard 20 years ago.
In cleaning my page, I make a good use of the ‘Snooze’ function. After unfriending a couple of low hanging friends and snoozing several posts and friends for 30 days, I come across a post shared by a friend. ‘God Shiva’, says the page. As I choose the snooze function, I find it interesting that I can ‘unfollow’ Shiva and put him to sleep. FB has given us this power to manage the pantheon of gods and goddesses, Trulkus, Gurus, Lamas and Rinpoches.
After putting Bhole (Lord Shiva’s pet name) to snooze for 30 days, I start liking the posts and updates shared by my 500 friends. I actively practice the old symbiosis adage ‘scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ in managing my FB page. If I like their posts, they will like mine. After all, FB is about colleting as many likes as you can!
Meanwhile a paternal uncle of mine is in town visiting us from Neoly. After the recent National Council elections, I find that the balance of ‘power’ has shifted from towns to the villages. Prior to the voting day, I tried talking to some of our relatives back home about who we should vote.
Whereas, in Thimphu, we thought we should go for change, my uncle wanted continuity. ‘Dasho Jigme is such a nice guy’, he advised us and suggested we choose continuity. When the election results were out, I realized that it is no more the urban dwellers who understand democracy better. At office, during tea and work breaks, I brag about being able to influence at least 100 voters. I now realize that by the next election, I may not be able to influence even my wife!
Finally, to answer my curious friends, I also sometimes write blogs on Sundays!