Wednesday, January 13, 2021

To the Half born Sharchop!

Disclaimer: No racial sentiments were intended to be harmed while writing this article. 

Wake up, or else, Ama will be sad. You guys got up early for Diwali and Dasai!
Motivation - Pocket money to buy “Amarkatay”, melted solidified sugar candies, wrapped around thin layer of Ataa or Maida.

Cocktail, the correct terminology unveiled with literacy, when palms could hold and brain could handle Oxford Dictionary, till then, we thought we were cocktails. That’s what all the uncles and aunties in the colony called us. Now I realize, they were simply illiterate, and yes they were.

It is difficult just to fit in, because all our lives we were celebrating every festival, that in adulthood, it became difficult not to. As we grew up in Phuentsholing, I didn’t have much ngalong friends, and wasn’t accustomed to their culture. It isn’t shocking, to find few of our friends, unable to speak proper Lhotshampkha or Hindi or sharchop. Opportunity was given, why they didn’t take, it speaks more than mere combinations of words. Being a cocktail makes you polyglot, to be able to communicate in seven different languages.

There were many losars, and we would ask Ama, why so many losars? She would then explain that meeting of nine evils, some blessed rain drops, the twelfth month, the first month, the harvest associated with the celebration, and it went on coinciding with the government holidays. Every losar has one blueprint, and the blueprint does not change. Mornings, everybody got up enthusiastically, and only on blessed rainy days, it was mandatory to take bath. We, growing up as kids, got confused and were made to bath in every losar day. When puberty struck and our minds started to function, we took baths singing thre thre thre.., the remaining losars didn’t require us to take bath, it was a scam parents pulled upon their children who feared water like goats.

The blueprint, the standard operational procedure, started with morning offerings to choesum (alter), served to the gods in pictures and forms of idols. Then the humans were served suja, zaw, khabzey (snacks) and thup (porridge), and till lunch was prepared, our services were required in kitchen for peeling vegetables or chopping them, yes, the whole house got converted into Master Chef episode – act of child labour. If only companies in Silicon Valley knew about us, we be driving Tesla today. Then followed by lunch, eaten in circles, feasted like Vikings, and the adults drank like them. Perhaps, there are many similar characters between a Punjabi and a Sharchop, difference in Human Anatomy. No wonder everybody goes to Lovely Professional University, and just like Punjabis, my sharchop uncle is too proud to have studied there. Forgetting the memes on the internet, but a man can have ideas and dreams, can he not?

Dinners, however were accompanied with more gatherings with neighbors, like last year we hosted, next year some aunty would host, uncle had no say. The beautiful thing about being a sharchop is that your parents will advise you against alcohol while they consume ara (local ale) with fried eggs. After their sermonizing, you were given the very same fried eggs from the cup, dipped in ale. You might be six or below ten, might not have had pubic hair, but you were already a decade ahead from the Americans who chose to drink in their twenties. And suddenly, the whole world wonders, why a sharchop liver can outstand any livers in the world. Not to forget that you are scolded as kokti “bastard” by your own parents. If others call you that, it is offensive. 

The adults then sang songs and danced, which I am yet to understand and contemplate, why? Why tease as if you were going to end the circumference, but you came back, why? Round is our favourite shape, we eat in circles, we dance in circles and we pretty much decide everything in circles, with modernization kicking in, round is the shape of our bodies. Oh, we love curves.

When we migrated to Thimphu, I got to make few ngalong friends. They didn’t differ much, they too celebrated but with lesser people and lesser alcohol. Some losars they didn’t, and said, for a sharchop everything is a losar. The truth is, if you haven’t partied like there was no tomorrow, you are not a sharchop in your heart. A sharchop will complain about ngalong parties as much as a Matwali (middle class who drinks) would when they attend Bawn (Brahmin) parties. Just that the former will complain about absence of alcohol, the later will complain in addition – at least they give meat! We then wonder, how Bawns are good at financial management?

But when festivals are around, I feel nostalgic, and laugh upon how different each culture is, but what binds us all, is the little joys that we enjoy with our own circle, our own friends, our own families, our own neighbours. As truly written, human beings are social beings. Festivals are the only events that we celebrate by giving more to others.

I also remember at one point, going for picnics. This wasn’t much fashionable and flamboyant; it was out of desperation – a joyful one. A dwelling could not accommodate everyone that we cared for, hence we went into jungles, with our shrieks of laughters and odours of various food, disturbing those ecosystems for few times in a year, rest of the year, we took credits for protecting like no other beings in the planet.

But the perks of having sharchop gene, is to come home tipsy late at night, only to find your grandmother searching for her bottle of Liquor. And having shots with her, listening to her stories and laughing about them with her. However, you just need to ignore her demands after that, for future bride – she needs to know how to weave – namar sho tha thak kan gopi noh - that is the time, you turn Punjabi and say – Buddhi pee chukka hai! (Old woman is drunk).

The perks of being a cocktail is always winning an argument. Yes, I have eaten more losars than you. Half of Bhutan has.
Happy Daw Chunipa Losar.

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