Why do Tibetan doctors get drunk when preparing certain medicinal pills?

By Bhuchung K. Tsering

This is the first personal blog posting that I am doing in 2017. Developments in the US of A, including the atmosphere pre and post presidential elections of 2016, somehow made me want to stay away from writing.

In any case, I had the sudden urge to resume posting on my blog. This led me into recalling why I put my thoughts into words. I grew up and studied in India and the little practice in writing that I have had has been acquired while working for the Indian Express newspaper and subsequently for the Tibetan leadership’s official journal, Tibetan Bulletin. I have also had the pleasure of getting rejection slips from various newspapers as also having my pieces published in publications like Hindustan Times, Deccan Herald and Himal South Asia. The academic journal, The Tibet Journal of the Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, has printed some of my writings and book reviews while the Tibetan Review has provided me a forum, including a regular column for some years.

Although straight news reporting has been the focus of my professional time when I was working as a journalist, personally I am more drawn towards human-interest issues. I like to look at the lighter side of life, find humor in situations and and take note of those behind the scene happenings or idiosyncrasies that make life colorful. For example, what could that lady be doing every day as she walked along the road next to my college hostel, putting something on top of the wall at regular interval? Why do Tibetan medical doctors virtually get drunk while preparing a particular “precious pill”? Or, where is the spiritual logic when some attendants in a monastery or a temple pour out and replace a butter lamp (the oil for which was duly paid for by a devotee) the moment another devotee comes wanting to make such a lamp offering? Or, imagine my chagrin when lining up to get the autograph of Salman Rushdie for his book Midnight’s Children, and I had what was obviously a pirated copy (as most novels that college-students of those days could afford were).

So, as I try to exemplify to those who know me, I want to see life as being funny, even when tackling unfunny-like situation. May be I should strive to be a humorist.

There have been times when well-wishers advised me saying I ought to write about non-Tibetan issues as almost all of my writings are related to Tibet, one way or another. May be I should act on the advice. I do have a deep passion for things Himalayan, particularly Bhutan, but aren’t we related in one sense?

Occasionally, I meet people who have grown up reading some of my writings of the past, particularly the columns that I did for Tibetan Bulletin and Tibetan Review. Quite a few of them have even suggested that I compile them in a book. I guess this would be of interest to students of contemporary Tibetan society.

I have two unfulfilled dreams when it comes to the issue of writing. Sometimes I feel I should try a hand at fiction writing. In fact, I had wanted to take a course in creative writing, and in fact looked for some appropriate institutions. May be if the stars are aligned, I will be able to do this.

Another of my dream is to write in Tibetan, not in the lofty classical style, but in the language of the ordinary people. In the past I did attempt doing that when I handled the newsletter in Tibetan of an office that I worked for. The language used was somewhat colloquial and it even invited a bit of criticism from a member of the elder generation. I even tried maintaining a blog in Tibetan, but have not been able to make much progress. If it is of any solace to myself, I do attempt to tweet as much as possible in Tibetan or give the gist in Tibetan.

I hope I can fulfill these dreams before North Korea really decides to do something nasty and ends the world!

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