It’s been a long time since I was able to continue with the story of how I met your mother. I was a bit caught up with The Laptop Saga trilogy, of which I completed two episodes. And its concluding episode is still in pipeline, and the whole story will be online any day.
Of late too, a work colleague Sonam has been after me, questioning when the continuation to How I met your mother would be written. This episode is for her, my latest number uno fan.
The memory of the scent lingers around me. By now I am craning my neck over the crowd, glancing at any group of giggling girls who pass us by, even as my friends Kencho, Yeshi and Sangay caution me. They seem to have noticed a group of men, staring at me, ogling at their women. I feign a weak smile towards them, and signal to my friends. Jostling through the courtyard, we leave the Dzong. We don’t want any trouble here. In fact we don’t want any trouble at all.
The sun bares her soul to us tshechu-pas as we snake down the footpath towards the makeshift bazaar, with its bars and eateries, and makeshift tents.
Each year, the owner of this potato field, just outside the Dzong makes a hellofa profit in a few days. Since the Dzong is situated on a ridge, and there aren’t any flat piece of land nearby, he leases his potato field for four days. And a bazaar springs out there, with blue tarps and metal sheets heating during the day, while loud music and bright lights, and occasional drunken brawls at nights.
And the owner of the field makes a huge profit in rent. Of course he donates a sizeable percentage to the festival management, but still.
“Nan sho hang yongba dabu ancha ya? Taytha zadu na…” Kencho laughs at me, referring to my previous antics. We are still making our way towards the shops.
“Rok sho zamin thongsa rang maka…” Sangay adds salt. They are laughing their a** off. I laugh along with them, but deep inside I feel something different. I do not feel myself today.
Once out of the main gate, we take off our kabneys. We do know a lot of people in this town, but today there seems to be lots more we don’t know. I say my thought aloud.
“Giwala wai. Zamin jigs tshangpo shaaamala” Yeshi mirrors my thought.
Bumthang has a lot of women. But you don’t see them during daytime or off season. Come tshechu season, and you see the most beautiful women, in the most exquisite finery, to even rival those of Thimphu Tshechu. Each day of the tshechu they will be in a different kiras, leaving the most expensive and dazzling for the last day.
Incidentally Bumthang has the most tshechus than ever in any other Dzongkhag, and the tshechu season lasts almost two months, one monastery after another, with the infamous ter-chhams and me-waangs being the main attractions.
As we reach the first bar, I nearly trip over a stump on the uneven potato field. I can’t see the ground properly, the crowd packed shoulder to shoulder even here.
Sangay catches my arm quickly, and even as I try to regain my footing, the same whiff of perfume catches my nose. Again. And I am lost for a while.
“Ebi gika la wai? O dika?” I ask Sangay, frantically looking over his head.
“Wai… nanten bilap dikako mey?” he laughs.
“Mangi ani. ..unu scent sher ani” I explain
“Mastnong ni…ogarang jigss tsangpo la.” Kencho glances around, but I already know.
We have missed them. I have missed her. Again.