Friday, 30 January 2015

Asha Passa – The Uncle Thursday



It is when you try to show how classy you are, the real smart people see the real class of yours.


It is good that in Bhutan there is no class, caste or creed system that is followed. It was there in the olden days but the caste system is followed no more, except for some rare cases in the southern part of the country by the remnants of the older generations.

It is also proved by the fact that we do not have a family name except for the Royal families and few Bhutanese who are trying desperately to pass down the names to the children, but sadly it is no more unique than Dorji, Tshering or Gyeltshen.

Not having the family names somehow upholds our identity and uniqueness as we travel to other countries as a family. The queer looks on the face of the immigration officials in the airports and the expected question of “How come, you do not have a common Family name?” The expected proud reply would be, “That’s because we are Bhutanese”. Thereafter they know that if a family comes to them with all different last names they would be from Bhutan.

The stories of untouchables and the caste system is the one that I cannot come to terms with and accept, like many of you. With my four good four years in India, I have not seen discrimination based on caste in the academy. All of us drink from the same tap and wash from the same shower and eat in the same mess. But I realized its presence in villages when I saw ……..

A good friend of mine was posing with his hands on the hip, chest out, chin up and with an orderly wiping his boots with a old piece of rag, squatting on the ground. This sort of things was nothing new. Due to the paucity of time the cadets wear the boots first and make the orderlies wipe the boot simultaneously, when his hands were busy buttoning up the shirt or tying the tie. But what made my friends action stand out was that there was luxury of time and the capturing it on camera made me ask him why was he doing that. He told me candidly that he is going to send the photo to his mother back home.

The answer was enough for me to form the picture of the discrimination based on caste and how her son broke away from that, joining the academy and how it is being proved to the mother by capturing in it the camera. Would the picture of her son making a man wipe is boots, make the mother happy?  

Without being told to me my friend made it evident to me that he was from the lower caste by trying to show and display with just a small action of his. Similarly many a times we come across such ostentatious behaviours which display the inner qualities and the background of the person.

Bhutanese people refer to them as ‘Asha Passa’ – the uncle Thursday. ‘Asha Passas’ are good people to have around for a short duration. If they are made as a long term friend their extravagant lifestyle beyond their means can make a dent in yours pockets too.