I had been excitingly waited for this event to come as there would be many people around the world, especially those who had a great interest of Bhutan, attending the opening ceremony. My colleague accompanied me there. Once arrived, both of us were welcomed warmly by JJ. He introduced us with his brother and Siok Sian Pek Dorji (the founder and Director of the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy) who specially flew from Bhutan to attend this event. She gave a talk at TED talk about Bhutan in 2012, which you could find it here. After that, we browsed around the gallery and looked at the arts creation one by one.
While browsing, I managed to talk with one of the artists, Rinchen Wangdi, commonly known as Bhap Rinchen. He was surprised when I greeted him 'Kuzuzangpola' (means 'Hello' in Dzongkha), and asked me how come I knew about it. So I told him that I visited Bhutan twice before. He introduced his background to both of us and talking about his aspiration of fostering both traditional and contemporary art in his paintings. He was a very humble and talented Bhutanese artist. I observed all his paintings and they were all absolutely amazing!!! It was all drawn neatly and with perfection. I could feel that he put lots of efforts in his paintings, to ensure that it was drawn perfectly. There were meaning in each of his painting, mostly introduced the Bhutanese culture, religion, places, and way of life.
|Rinchen Wangdi with some of his paintings|
His paintings (round-clock movement):
1. Ap Dawpel, the master of Dramyen - a Bhutanese traditional instrument: a lute with six and half strings - was playing some classical music, Bhutanese men and women were dancing, wearing their Gho - Bhutanese traditional clothes for men - and Kira - for woman, with a background of Himalayas mountains and the famous black-necked crane, which usually found in Phobjikha valley in Bhutan.
2. Guru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche (who brought the Vajrayana Buddhism into Bhutan) on top during the annual Tsechu or religious festival, with two Atsara - to entertain audience with the phallus (or penis) on the top of their head; and sometimes with wooden phallus on their hand, and two Monks performed the masked dance.
3. The typical Bhutanese families enjoyed the picnic during occasion such as: blessing rainy days, Losar, etc.
4. The famous Tiger's Nest or Taktsang Monastery, a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple located on the cliff of the upper Paro Valley in Bhutan. A must-visit place if you go there.
Actually, before coming to this event, I shared my excitement about this with Passu, the famous Bhutanese blogger. I told him that I was nervous to meet the Bhutanese artists and author since I never met them before and they didn't know me at all. They might not entertain me as they were 'busy' people, or 'high class' people, as I often encountered with other nationalities' prominent people, and moreover, I was nobody. He immediately comforted me and said, "You are a good friend to Bhutanese. And there is nothing called upper or elites. If they pretend to be, then they aren't artists at all. They are Bhutanese. Don't worry, they will live your company. Don't forget your 'ena', 'yalama', etc." Hahaha... And you know what? His words were proved to be true, very very true. That was how I loved to make friend with any Bhutanese and that was also why I loved Bhutan.
|Me with Dr. Karma Phuntsho, the author of History of Bhutan during Impressions of Happiness Art Exhibition|
The second person that I approached was Dr. Karma Phuntsho, the Bhutanese scholar, researcher, and founding director of Loden Foundation, who came here to introduce his comprehensive book about Bhutan, "History of Bhutan", and to present more about Bhutan this weekend (Saturday and Sunday) from 2pm. He was resting when I approached him. Upon seeing me, he stood up immediately, shook my hands warmly, and greeted me with his wide smile. He told me that he wasn't feeling well as the Singapore's weather was too hot for him. We conversed for a while and I told him that I didn't expect that his book was very thick. But it must be worth to buy as it contained a very comprehensive view about the Bhutan's history. He was again, a humble person, although he was very intelligent and knowledgeable person. It was my pleasure meeting you there Karma!
|"Dragon"by Karma Wangdi (Asha Karma)|
I was waiting for quite some time until I managed to talk and meet personally with Karma Wangdi, fondly known as Asha Karma. He was tall, well-built, and a very friendly person. First question he asked me, "Are you an artist?", and I said, "No no.. I'm not an artist. I'm a blogger." Hahaha... Then I told him that I knew many Bhutanese bloggers and mentioned few names including Passu. He said that Passu has requested the VAST artists to do something magical on the big wall at the school where he taught, something creative and inspirational. I said, "Yes la, I think I saw him posting the request on the Facebook before."
|Me with Karma Wangdi and his wife|
I met up with his wife and son too over there. All of them were very friendly and nice people. We took photo together with his masterpiece on the background, which was put on the entrance of the gallery before I went back home. I almost lost a chance to take photo together with them as suddenly my camera phone stopped working. I almost cried too, but luckily there was someone, after that known him as Gary, helped us taking photo with his mobile phone and afterward transferred the photos to me. Thank you very much Gary for your kindness!
|With Promod and Anuja - new Bhutanese friends :)|
I was enjoying the evening to the fullest!!! My dreams and wishes came true. I met up with lots of people there. Some of them I'd known before. It's a great feeling to meet up with people who had a same interest, about Bhutan. There, I met up with a Bhutanese guy who found me through my blog and recently added me on Facebook. He went with his expecting wife to the event. He was wondering and asking me, why I had so much interest about Bhutan. He was very curious about it. At first, I told him, "It was just like that." But after some thoughts, I realized that I love Bhutan because of many things: the place, the nature, the culture, but most importantly the people. Although they were intelligent, having a great talent, contributed a lot to society, but they were all very humble, modest, and kind-heart in nature. And I felt much same in harmony with them. Perhaps, like other Bhutanese thought, I was a mistaken-Bhutanese, who might be born in Bhutan in my previous life and managed to find back my way back now, although not completely.
The Impressions of Happiness had indeed brought happiness into my life. And it wasn't just me. Rinchen Wangdi expressed his happiness to me too. He said, "I was overwhelmed with the response of the people attending the event tonight. I didn't expect that there were many people attending this event and had great interest of the Bhutan. Actually, happiness is here, in Singapore!!!" I was happy and smile while listening to him :)
Hope you enjoyed my experience and encounter in this post! I wanted to thank everyone who had given me a chance to attend this opening event (not mentioned the names here), which made me possible of meeting each of them and many people there. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! Hope you all blessed with good health and life full of joy, luck, wealth and happiness!!! :)