When you go to a new place, no matter how prepared you are; sometimes it so happens that you start to hate the destination a few hours from starting, when the course put your patience and determination on test. Because the journey is so harsh and nerve raking you begin to picture the place to be like a hell. However, after everything is over you cannot help falling in love with the place. Then you realize, patience and endurance introduces you to some of the sweetest fruits.My recent voyage to one of the remotest schools in the country taught me this. I along with my two other friends headed from Thimphu to Shataksha Primary School in a bolero pick-up truck at 6 am. Our 120 kilo meters drive till Taksha chu was a fine ride, although at some point I thought to myself Thimphu to Wangdue national way has become a farm road under the name of road widening. Taksha chu is the exact point from where we will have to take the farm road till School, which is another 20 kilometers away.
We stopped at Taksha chu for awhile asking for the direction. The whole place was so dusty and windy. For once it appeared like a scene from Mummy Returns, where sand storm engulfs the whole area. We could hardly open our mouth even to talk, I wondered how people live under such condition. “That’s a compliment you get for having quarry in your vicinity, may be,” my inner voice whispered. Just then a man came carrying a green Chinese bag-pack asking for a lift. “Hop in, we got a room for one, plus we need a guide.”I let him sit beside me. “Oh, don’t worry la, I know the route, I live a few meters away from the school.” He cut our conversation short revealing his un-brushed thirty teeth as he smiled looking at the driver. His sincere smile came as a gesture to thank me, because earlier the driver saw him emptying a few bottles of beer and speaking nonsense, so he refused. I was completely unaware of this and didn’t know he was quite drunk until he burped, “I was so thirsty.” That was the excuse and again showed his thirty teeth. It seemed like areca nut and slaked lime ate away his other two teeth.
Taksha Chu vicinity under the cloud of dust and heat
Lorry ferrying stones to Stone Crushing Plants
Tandin Gyeltshen taking a group-fie of three of us
Jiwan and me, under the dusty sky.
Slowly we started to roll up the terrain to Shataksha, and down went the trucks filled with stones to stone crushing plants leaving behind angry clouds of dust rising. Kilometer by kilometer as we leave Tasha chu the road became narrower and narrower leading us through almost a virgin road. Few hours up the road my instinct told me something was wrong, “Do cars really go up this road? Did something happen lately?” Quite taken aback, “Yes, vehicles normally go but only pick-up trucks that also before the monsoon. Didn’t you know there was a very bad wind storm yesterday?” The man could have seen us like chickens when we went, “Really???” “Yes, that’s why I am going home to fix the roof. It was all blown apart yesterday by the notorious wind storm. I am coming from Sarpang, I stay there.” Now this gave me goose bumps, no wonder my friend from School was trying to tell me about the road condition, when she called me in the morning; but the net was so bad it went out without delivering the complete message. “A few government pick-up trucks with some officials and reporters have gone ahead of us,” this message we got it from the man. At least it gave me some guts to act normal.
Past half Shataksha farm road, we started encountering huge boulders and broken trees on the road. Axe and knife marks were all over freshly cut branches, but how did they manage to pass through such a narrow passage made us wonder. For five of us it took nearly twenty minutes to clear the road, without any tools. Again we came across a huge tree blocking the road completely. The driver looked at me frowning, “Doesn’t school have any strong boys?” ”No, they are all small.” I knew exactly what he was thinking, “We will have to find a way and try clearing this blockade. We must deliver the consignment.” I saw the trail left by the trucks it was a few inches from the edge, how they drove over gives me goose bumps to this day. We had a real hard time rolling the huge tree which was about 30 feet long, off the road. It took 30 to 40 minutes, thank goodness we gave a lift he really was the man of the match. And before moving on we posed for a group photo shoot for times to come. Just then the sky started to roar and my heart roared too as took in a deep breath, if anything had happened to anyone or anything it’s all my responsibility.
Myself, Jiwang Gurung and the man of the match,
observing the way to move this huge tree
After we have moved the tree successfully,
making the road clear then with the tree as our
background we posed for a photo shoot
All this incidents made me impatient. I have started imagining what not pictures about Shataksha, yet I was positive it got to be a beautiful place. Exactly after twenty minutes Shataksha Primary School was there, so calm and so serene. At first I thought I have reached Tango and Cheri in Thimphu, the landscape: similar and the mental peace it radiated was just wonderful. Sadly, I could not take any pictures at the moment of our arrival, since we were in hurry, firstly to unload and send the truck back as fast as we could, fearing it might rain. If it at all rained and road is blocked again, then it’s going to be another three or four months before somebody clears the blockade. I came to know later that night, and there are stories. The sheer thought of leaving the one-day-hired pick-up truck in the remotest school ideal for months, gave me a chill spine. Luckily it didn’t rain. And secondly I wanted to start working right away.
The actual beauty of Shataksha School was revealed to us by the nature, early next morning only. Sun rose so early and it painted the whole school in gold. Clouds hung low on her bosoms blanketing the entire valley down below as though guarding the slumber of souls living there. I was so happy the weather granted me permission to admire the real beauty of Shataksha Primary School. Its is so beautiful. I just loved the place.
Sunrise in Shataksha
Shataksha Primary School under the golden rays, at 6am
Gradually, I made an understanding with myself about the place where Shataksha Primary School was located: one should never judge a place by its road. Might be quite a struggle but at the end of the day its rewarding and fun to recall later.
Therefore, I call the whole journey as Fun-truggle.