Snapshots Of Kindness From Bhutan
Posted by Tim Huang on Oct 8, 2014
Here are a few short stories of compassion-in-action here in Bhutan:
1. When I was on a nature walk with 3 kids in my extended host family, Sonam, the cute little girl in this photo with me, was picking a small bouquet of pink wild flowers for me. When I showed her and the other girls a smile card, they decided to gift the beautiful flowers to a neighbor who runs a local shop that benefits their entire village. We left the flowers at the shop’s doorstep and the act left smiles on our faces!
2. Two weekends ago, I took a taxi down to town to take care of some chores. Because I always love learning more about the lives of taxi drivers (who often work multiple jobs to make ends meet for their families), I asked this particular driver, Rajman, about how he was doing and where he is from, which spun off into a conversation about his kids, his interests, and what makes him happy (i.e. helping his family and friends). We had a great conversation and when the taxi arrived in town, Rajman actually refused to take my taxi fare even though I kept pushing him to take it! He just smiled a huge smile, thanked me for the conversation (which he said for him, was more than enough), and encouraged me to keep it up. I was surprised, because that had never happened to me before. So I thought to myself, how can I pay it forward? Because of Rajman, now, I often leave little lollipops behind in taxis if I find out the taxi driver has kids. So, thanks Rajman - hope the ripples come back your way!
3. The kids, my host dad, and I surprised my wonderful host mom, Bumu, for her birthday by writing her cards, singing her a surprise happy birthday song, and getting her a delicious chocolate cake. Madam Bumu is one of the most compassionate generous human beings I know. Every month she saves and donates money from her salary to support programs for recovering substance users. She knits and delivers hats to kidney disease patients at the hospital. She buys juice to thank service industry and road workers who work long hours in less-than-ideal conditions. She supports two differently-abled uncles by giving them land and support labor to run a small organic farm. She is so humble and always so giving, rarely accepting anything from others. So we were all very happy when she smiled and finally received for once!
4. During Drubchen, a Buddhist festival honoring a local female diety, the temperature was unbearably hot as everyone sat in the glare of the noon sun watching the traditional masked dances. The elderly lady and young boy (in the photo) sitting next to my host family and me looked really overheated and thirsty. Two of the amazing kids in my host family (Kuenkhyid and Jamyang) noticed and immediately poured them some organic apple juice from our lunch stock. They looked very surprised, relieved, and grateful, all at the same time. It was as though that small act pierced through the discomfort of the heat so that we could all enjoy this cultural experience together.
5. Last week on our way from Paro back to Thimphu, my co-workers and I were stuck in a long line of traffic because of a road block caused by some falling rocks. While we were waiting for the road block to be cleared, I stepped outside of our car to get a bresh of fresh air, only to notice a plethora of wrappers, plastic bottles, and other trash on the side of the road. Inspired by my amazing older sister (who always brings bags with her to pick up trash anywhere she is), I decided to start picking up the waste by putting it in a bag that I had left over from some apples we were snacking on. My co-workers who were with me at the time asked me what I was doing, and once I explained it to them, they got out of the car and started to join me. After we cleaned most of the trash up, I looked around and saw that many of the drivers who were stuck in the traffic and grumpy because of it were now smiling. I think we all have a part to play in keeping our natural world clean and green, and I was really glad that we were able to contribute together!
These stories paint only a small portrait of what I think is so great about Bhutan. I feel very grateful to be surrounded by inspiring people, from little kids to taxi drivers, who embody kindness and compassion in their everyday actions. In my stay here, I know Bhutan has many more lessons to teach me about my own inner transformation, in service of social change. I look forward to sharing more with you!