After seven long years, I am back in Gelephu. The last time I was here was in January 2010 when I was invited to attend the basic ICT workshop for the visually impaired civil servants organized by the Special Education Division of the Ministry of Education. This time, I am here with two other colleagues to organize a 3-day consultative workshop for the Youth Center Managers. We started our journey from Thimphu on Sunday, 23rd April. I had a comfortable journey with enough space in the car to relax and sleep since I was the only passenger at the rear seat. We reached here at around 7:30 pm in the evening since we had started our journey from Thimphu late. As soon as we got here, we were greeted with cool showers that made the climate quite bearable for us. The Manager of Gelephu Youth Center had arranged tea and dinner for us at the cafeteria attached to the Youth Center. After the dinner, we went to Degu Yangkhil Guest House where we had our rooms booked. We had a sound sleep after a long day.
The next three days were full of excitement and fun. We had a series of interactive discussions and presentations. The participants were very cooperative and contributed positively to the workshop. Since Gelephu Youth Center is the first and the only Youth Center that has youth-friendly integrated services under one roof, the workshop was organized here to showcase to other Youth Center Managers how this model works. The main concept behind this model is to facilitate the provision of various services for young people under one roof. The Gelephu Youth Center has health services, labor information services, Drop In Center, counseling and other youth-friendly services which young people can easily access while they come to the Center. The Managers also explored what components of this model could be replicated in their own Centers.
On the evening of the 1st and third day, I was invited by my friend in his house in Lodrai, about three kilometers from Gelephu town. He was my housemate when we were in Perth, Western Australia. I enjoyed the evening with some drinks and special foods. It was a great moment for us to update ourselves on our professional and personal life events as well as to recollect some of the most beautiful moments we had together in Australia. I have been truly privileged to meet my former housemate after almost one year.
Gelephu in fact has a special connection with my personal life. I was here for the first time when I was a child. It was during the winter of 1990 when I was left to come home from school with one of the teachers. I had no idea that my father had suffered a stroke and had got paralyzed. I had just completed class PP. The teacher who was kind enough to agree to take me home in Samtse first brought me to his hometown here in Gelephu. I stayed a few weeks in the middle of the town where my teacher’s mother lived. The memories of talking to Mynah at the house which could mimic human beings still linger in my head. After a couple of weeks, we moved to Lodrai where my teacher’s father lived with his second wife. I had a lot of fun playing with the kids of my age there. The teacher’s younger brother who was as old as me used to take me for a bicycle ride. I am still wondering how he was able to cycle at that age and that too with a passenger behind. I still remember how we once crashed into the thorny bush below the road when a car behind us suddenly honked and he got nervous. Luckily nothing happened to us except a few scratches across my forehead. He plastered the wounds with soil to stop the bleeding. We were both worried that his brother would scold us. He paddled so fast when we passed through the front yard of the house to avoid being noticed by the elders and we went up to the paddy fields where we waited for hours. Then in the evening, we had no choice but to return home where we got questioned for my wounds and got scolded. We were warned never to go back to the highway thereafter. Those were some of the most memorable things that had happened when I was a child here and today when I am here as an adult, I can still see my past here. I am returning to Thimphu today with all the beautiful memories I have created over the past three days as well as those distant sweet memories I have dug out from my past.