I knew Flora few months ago through my blog (she followed my blog) and slowly we became Facebook friends. From there I found out that she was staying in Melbourne.
So, when my trip to Australia was confirmed, I thought of meeting her. I mean, wouldn't it be such a good opportunity to meet up with her and to become real friends? Furthermore, we both would be staying in the same city. And at the same time, I would love to know how Bhutanese lived their life there, at the land where most Bhutanese would love to go: to study and to work.
I informed her about my trip almost a month before but we set up our meeting about two weeks before due to match up our schedule and to decide where and how to meet.
Since they were not working that Saturday, they invited us to their rented house for a Bhutanese dinner. Wow, I was very lucky, wasn't I? Even as far as Melbourne (apart from Kolkata and Singapore), I was still being able to taste the delicious Bhutanese food, cooked by the Bhutanese :) But of course, my main point meeting them not because of the food la.
We reached their place at 6 pm. The sky had turned into the dark. There were 4 of us (my sis, her son, my hubby, and I). We were just returning back from our 2 day 1 night trip to Phillip Island and Mornington Peninsula. The houses there were quite dark. Seemed like Australian loved to save the environment and electricity, only used what was deemed necessary. With the help of the GPS, my sister found our way there.
Flora and Karma welcomed us warmly. Girls were hugging each other. For her, I was the first virtual friend that she ever met in real hehe... I was honored, Charo! ;)
They led us to the living room. Their rented house was huge. There were 6 bedrooms in it and all rooms were occupied and rented to Bhutanese. There were 3 couples like them and 3 Bhutanese students occupying each room. The living room was warm and cozy. There were lots of chairs and sofa seats plus coffee table in the middle. It was an old house though but still function well and in a good shape :) It was located near the train station where they used train a lot as form of transport, also not far from the bus stop where they used to reach their working place. The rental fee was reasonable too.
We settled down ourselves and Flora started serving Ngaja (Bhutanese way of making tea with milk and sugar) for all of us. She took out the assorted biscuits that I brought and served it with the tea. (We had agreed that I too, should bring something there as not to trouble them. Therefore I brought biscuits, wine, chips and fruits. And this too, one of the Bhutanese culture that I learnt, to bring something when being invited to their house. Hope I was right :D).
|We finally met up :)|
After finishing our Ngaja, she opened the wine and the chips, also took out plates with peanuts. We continued our conversation while drinking and munching.
Karma, Flora's husband, used to work as lecturer back in Bhutan. Other than that, he was also working as a Secretary to one of the Princess' husband overlooking many of their business. He went to Melbourne about 17 months ago on his own accord to further his study. (He is currently undergoing Adv. Diploma of Business Management and after completion, by this July 20th, he will pursue Master Degree of Business Administration).
Flora decided to join Karma just about 13 months ago by quitting her just started study in Southern India as Karma needed her and Flora herself would also love to experience life in Australia. (Both of them are in their mid 30s and have a 11-year daughter back in Bhutan).
When my sister asked Karma, "How do you find life in Melbourne?" Karma, who was open and frank, answered it right away without hesitation, "Life here is very challenging, especially for international student like me, who have to study and work at the same time. I have to work and stand up all the time for 8 hours. I have no chance to rest and sit down and I always have to show them that I am working. Cameras are installed everywhere inside the kitchen. If you are slack, you will be out of job very soon." (Karma has to finance himself by working part-time after schooling. He works in the kitchen to assist the Chef in a Greek restaurant). "I am thinking to switch job like what my wife is doing and now I'm trying to get the certificate required to be able to get into the job." (Flora is currently working at the nursing home). "There, from 8 hours working, at least I can have a chance to sit down for 3 hours. Unlike my current job. It is so tiring and my legs pain and tired."
Flora had to travel about one hour journey by bus to reach her working place. Sometimes she had to work at night shift and went back home in the morning. "I've never thought that life will be very difficult here. I'm missing home. I'm missing my life in Bhutan. But it's good to experience this."
Karma also added, "Here, I do things that I never do back in Bhutan. Usually this kind of job is done by very humble people in Bhutan. But it's good, so that I know how they feel."
Later on, we found out what had been their main motivation of insisting to live this kind of life - even further his study and to stay there longer - despite the hardship that both of them had to face in their daily life. "We plan to have our daughter coming here next year to study. She is in class VI now. She is currently studying at Dr. Tobgyal School, one of the best private schools in Bhutan. She is good in Dzongkha, also in English. But we want her to study here so that she can experience the education here, life over here. Most importantly we want her to become more outspoken, learn to be more sociable, dare to talk and express her feelings where in Bhutan, she is more reserved and shy."
(If her daughter happens to read this blog, I hope she can feel how much love that her parents have on her and how much hope they both put on her well being and future. Even I start crying and feel very touched by their statement. In every parents' eyes, they always put a big hope on their child. They want the best thing happen in their child's life, when they themselves have to live in otherwise situation. But for them, it is all worth it. All the hardship is nothing for them).
|Delicious Bhutanese dishes cooked by Karma and Flora :)|
In a while, Karma offered us to have our dinner at their dining room. Both of them had prepared the Bhutanese dishes for all of us. Even though both of them were vegetarian, they still cooked Shakampa (home made dried Beef) with capsicum and turnip for us, and hard boiled egg fried with butter, onion, and chives. For themselves, they only ate the Bhutanese red rice (they reserved this Bhutan red rice only for us at this opportunity - they really brought this rice from Bhutan) and Kewa Datshi (potato with cheese, onion, and capsicum). They didn't put chilli on every dishes as they knew my toddler nephew was joining us for dinner. How considerate both of them were!
|With my sister and nephew|
They both had become vegetarian since they stayed in Melbourne. Flora said she still couldn't eat other food there and only started learning to eat bread recently. Everyday she cooked rice with Kewa Datshi or Ema Datshi for her meals day and night. Even she brought packet lunch filled with it everyday.
We were all very grateful for meeting both of them. Although we had never met each other before, they were kindly inviting us to their home and serving us the wonderful meals that they themselves not even ate. From our meeting, I managed to know how they felt true from their heart. Although not every Bhutanese would experience the same thing, but life as many Bhutanese who lived in Bhutan always saw it otherwise, could realize and learn something from it: "No matter where you are, no matter where you live, life is always full of challenges. It's like a roller coaster ride, full of ups and downs. We need to work hard, we need to be persistence towards our goal in life, we need to always have our families close in our hearts, but most importantly, we need to take everything in life with positive heart and mind. Not forgetting that we too need to be happy."
Hope this small article, will be able to open your eyes, to learn from other people's experience that life is not a bed of roses. And it's not always about money. Even the wealthy one has their own problem in life. Our attitude toward facing life ahead is very important. Remember to always be positive and never give up towards any situation in life. And you are not alone. At time when you need any help, do voice up to people surround you: your friends, families, even to strangers. Don't ever let yourself fall into depression and think of giving up your life. Life is precious. Be content and treasure it. Live life to the fullest. Always.
P.S. I've been given permission by Karma and Flora to write their story here in my blog. Name same kadinche-la Karma and Flora! It's a great pleasure meeting both of you even only for a while. Keep in touch and who knows we shall meet again, perhaps back in your lovely hometown, one day, at one fine day :) Meanwhile, I wish you both all the best in everything and wish all your dreams to have your daughter study and stay together with you in Melbourne will soon come true. Take care of your good health and be happy always! :)