Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Celebrity Culture in Bhutan



Why there is no celebrity culture in Bhutan?  I was thinking, over a pile of documents that requires to be signed, and not over a cup of coffee as you must be guessing. That is queer, but I normally get queer thoughts, when I have works to do and when I m praying. While praying, mouth moves chanting the prayers looking at the script which is almost memorized but still looking through it, just in case because the mind wanders to the things, that I may do immediately after finishing chanting the prayers, the things that I should have done and many other strange thoughts. The uncanny thought this time is – why there is no celebrity in Bhutan?

In India and other countries the people are crazy of celebrity figures and they throng to have a glance and ask for an autograph. After getting it signed, I wonder what they do with the signature, later. May be this feeling of what I will do with just a sign of the celebrity is shared by all, here in Bhutan. I think that getting an autograph is just an excuse, to get near the celebrity to take picture and to show off later to friends and families who may look at it with awe.

Here in Bhutan we do not show our emotions openly. How many of us have said ‘I love you’ to the person you cared.  We take it for granted that the person we loves the most knows it without saying it. We are timid in expressing our love and happiness but it is otherwise, during the times of mourning; as amplified by the fleets of vehicles following the deceased to the crematoriums.

I remember an incident where I got a merit card in academy. I thought that I would be appreciated and flooded with love and appreciation for my achievement, from my Bhutanese friends there. But I was sadly wrong. They pretended that they did not know, but then, it was awarded in front of the gathering of the whole academy. The appreciation shown was better from the Indian friends, they hugged me and congratulated me genuine feelings. They were genuinely happy in the achievements of others. I liked this attitude in them the most - If you can’t do it why not, be happy in the achievements of your friends.

This attitude of the people in other countries might be responsible for creating a celebrity figure there. They are genuinely happy for the success of the others despite themselves being the competitors. Giving a genuine hug, saying a genuine heartfelt ‘congts’, genuine feeling of awe are the things that creates a celebrity, I think. They just bask in the success and happiness of the others.

At the same time I can empathize, with the feelings that are going through the celebrity (if they are not in Bhutan) heart. They must have had the feelings like me getting the award and conveniently ignored by the friends. Even when told that, “I m a hero of that film” or “I won medal in Asian games”. The reply would be, “I could have also won the medal” or “been the hero”, if I tried. Even if it is not voiced, they must be thinking the  same.

The criticism, disapproval, admonition, condemnation and as well as appreciation would be given not in front of the person concern, but it would be talked about, at their back. And that is the celebrity culture out here. Once I bump into a familiar looking man but there was no sign or signal that indicated that we knew each other. That was strange, but later I realized that I saw him in movies. No fans following.

If this mentality does not change there won’t be celebrity in Bhutan except Phurpa Thinley.