Six years after my first official trip to Bangkok in 2009, I am thankful to my boss for letting me join her team to visit a youth center in Chennai in India. When I was told that I have been nominated for the study visit a couple of weeks ago, I accepted the offer with gratitude for two main reasons. Firstly, the activity is part of the project I look after and somehow I had a feeling that I deserve this opportunity after being involved in planning and implementing numerous activities under the project over the past two years. Secondly, it has been a very long time since I had got my first official trip outside the country. So, I thought it would be an opportunity for me to refresh mentally for a while. It has been really a long gap. My wife was 6-month pregnant with my youngest son when I first got to officially fly to Bangkok in September 2009 for a week-long training and now he is six-years-old when I have got this second opportunity. However, my first official trip was a true blessing for me because although I could not officially fly out of the country thereafter, I got the opportunity to travel abroad once every year privately either upon the invitation of external agencies or through scholarships. I think that those blessings are over now and here comes the second official trip. I once again hope that this official trip would also bring me another bunch of blessings for the next couple of years. LoL!
I have my Director General, my Chief and a colleague in the team and we are on the first leg of our journey. We reached Phuntsholing from Thimphu yesterday since we are flying from Bakdokra in India. We could not get tickets to travel directly from Paro to Kolkata in India. So, we are going to Bakdokra this morning and flying from there to Chennai this afternoon. It was a smooth drive yesterday. We started at 10:00 am from Thimphu and we reached Phuntsholing safely at around 3:30 pm. The Phuntsholing town welcomed us with moderate climatic conditions. At least, the heat is bearable these days. After dropping off our bosses in their relatives’ houses, we put ourselves at Hotel Centennial where we got a comfortable double-bedded room at a reasonable price. The hotel management has been kind enough to give us an extra bed in the room for our driver. After taking showers, we went out to explore the town and the nearby Jai Gaong super-market in the evening.
It’s so unfortunate that I have left my white-cane at home and I am still nervous how I will be able to cope without it. I had actually kept it ready at the door to walk out with it, but when the car came to pick me up, somehow I couldn’t remember to pick it up while I rushed out with my luggage. I realized that my cane was missing only when we stopped at Takti Koti for lunch. So in the evening, I went with my colleagues to the town to find out if I could get a normal cane-stick that could at least help me navigate my way within the local environment during my stay in Chennai. But to my disappointment, we couldn’t find even a single cane-stick although we roamed almost the whole town including the Jai Gaong Super-market across the border. Only this time, I realized the actual importance of my white-cane. It has become part of my life now. Just until five years ago, I was comfortable without it but now I feel anxious without it. But fortunately the visit is only for a week and I think I have a good friend to depend on. I am still missing my cane though. Amnesia was not my disease before, but now as I grow older, I am beginning to realize that I am becoming more and more absent-minded. Certainly I think this could be a symptom of aging.
Anyway, I am excited to travel to the capital city of the state where I studied my Bachelors Degree ten years ago. I graduated from PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore with BA English in 2005 and this is my first trip to Chennai in ten years’ time. However, I am sad that I can’t travel farther to Coimbatore to meet my old friends and lecturers due to time constraints. I guess our schedules are tight till the end. I know it would be painful for me to get so close to my friends, and yet not meet them. I don’t think fate would bring us this much closer again in the future. . I really wish if I could meet at least some of them in Chennai. Let’s see if God has any special plan for us. On the positive side, I am dying to taste some of my favorite Tamil foods which I have missed for ten long years. Although I got to taste Masala Dosai in the IMTRAT Canteen at Taktikoti yesterday, I am looking forward to enjoying Briyani, Rasam and Sambar with rice, banana chips and many other South Indian delicacies. I am also looking forward to visiting some of the beaches in Chennai during off-hours. Anyway, I will update you my actual experiences in my next post. Wish me a safe journey!