Monday, June 13, 2022

Published June 13, 2022 by with 0 comment


 In 2011, a 25 year old carpenter’s son from Kerala makes his first journey to Bhutan. After nearly four days of train ride, the longest journey he had ever taken, he reached Bhutan gate in Phuentsholing. His first breath of cold mountain air was not a welcoming experience. The foods and people were stranger than he had expected. After a day in Phuentsholing, he began to painfully miss his warm tropical home in Kerala. The separation from parents began to become more painful by the hours. He wept like a child lost in the mountains even before he began his climb into the mountains. He wanted to return home. He regretted not heeding to his parents to not take flight very far away. But he was young and adventurous, with a dream to earn well and live his life independently.

He graduated post graduation in Masters in Mathematics in 2008 from Annamali University in Tamil Nadu, a neighbouring state to Kerala. He had begun his teaching career from 2010 in Kerela after his B.Ed graduation in 2009 from Culicut University.He had taken a rigorous interview to get selected to come to Bhutan from Alhuda Central school in Kerala where he had been working as a teacher. Of more than ninety candidates he stood first in the selection evaluation, and was among twenty who had been selected.

 His friend who introduced to the new venture to an unknown country had told him wonderful stories of Bhutan and a very high salary for Indian teachers in Bhutan. Indeed, the salary was double that he had received from his university. He assumed that Bhutan was one of the states in India he knew.

An Indian teacher had come to receive and guide him and his two friends to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. One of his travel mates was wife of the guide who was a teacher. It was in the beginning of April, when monsoon was beginning to shroud the sky with fog and mist, that he reached Thimphu. It was like waking up in a village to see places with small houses and building everywhere on the mountains. For a young man who had come from amidst the metropolitan life, even Thimphu and Phuentsholing was a remote place. The shops were dingy and small, there were no glittering citylight effects, very few cars and road precariously narrow. The foods were hot and everywhere the smell of beef was nauseating. His religious traditions revolted against meats and alcohol, and these were lavish in every hotel.

His first posting was to the east of Bhutan. He reached a small school after three days of travel and hours of walk. It was like an illusion that he was teleported to the east in a dream, amidst insecurity, cold, sadness and hope. After a day in the school, he longed to return to Thimphu. He felt sad and sleepless, he felt like he would not survive another day in the school. In few days, he was fortunate to be relocated to another school, and this time in the west. This was the beginning of his tryst with Dechentsemo Central School in Thinleygang, in Punakha Dzongkhag. It was on 4th April 2011, he began his teaching career in Bhutan. The new place was somehow more favourable for a young man who came from a place where average temperature was thirties even in winter. Thinleygang was warmer and closer to the highway, and closer to Thimphu. It was not easy. He could not understand word shopkeepers spoke, and none could understand him. His English knowledge became his saviour.

Today, Mr. Sreekanth has survived 12 years, and with wealth of experiences very few Indian from his hometown can pride. He says that, one of the first differences between students in India and Bhutan was the sense of connectedness students have to teachers, the deep sense of respect and humility, and comparatively displaying good behaviour and moral values. Over the years, Mr. Sreekanth had become connected to Bhutanese people and culture, more than he is to the traditions in which he grew up.

Mr. Sreekanth got married in 2014. He has lived most of his life away from his wife and child. His seven years’ son has been suffering from nephrotic syndrome since 2020 and had been worrying him but he committed his passion to teaching in Bhutan. Mr. Sreekanth believes in karma, and that he must bestow his service to the country for making his life one of success and contentment. He said, “I am deeply thankful to His Majesty the King and people of Bhutan for this rare opportunity to be part of Bhutanese life and culture. I believe that, every man must have the courage to live through the predicament of his life. It is through such bitter experience in the beginning that a life will be lived in fulfilment and joy.”

A few months ago, sir Sreekanth had begun building home for his family on a land he bought in Malappuram, his birth place. Neither the distance from home nor the difficulties of life he has to live alone in the mountains deters him from making his dream come true. Mr. Sreekanth is one of the humblest Indian friends I have ever known, who have learnt to live and cook, socialise and celebrate like any Bhutanese.

“I will have a house blessed by Bhutanese through my earning from my teaching services. I am able to take care of my son’s medical expenditure and keep him healthy and happy. What can one ask for if we have a happy family and a home.” His sincere gratitude only reveals how much Bhutanese he has become.

Kerala the southernmost state of India and is the hotspot of the world since ancient times. Kerela is known as ‘God’s own country’ for its lush green landscapes and crystal clear beaches. Mr. Sreekanth have been fortunate to be born in ‘God’s own country’ and also to make life’s conquests in the heart of Himalayas where happiness thrives.




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