Dragon Tales,Paro-A Dzong ,monks and movies.

Dzongs [pronounced as zong] are fine examples of the traditional Bhutanese architecture. Each district has a dzong which serves as administrative and monastic centres.  They also have temples and living quarters for the monks. Most of them were built during the 17th century. I was surprised to know that they are built without nails or iron bars and without any blueprints. Then how were they made? A high ranking lama will be calling the shots and he would be guided by spiritual inspiration.

Rinpung Dzong is a  majestic golden domed red and white building dominating the Paro skyline .  Rinpung means   a heap of jewels.This impressive  fortress/monastery    had  also seen massive   earthquake and fire and what we see now is the rebuilt structure. Most of the treasures were lost in the  mishaps except  a precious tapestry Thongdrel.This is unfurled  once a year  during the Paro Festival and it is believed that seeing it can cleanse  you of all  your sins.Festival season is the best time to visit Bhutan and  the next festival will be from April 7-11.

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Rinpung Dzong

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Bhutanese people have to be in  their national dress to get inside  and they also have to wear a  silk scarf known as Kabney [for men]  and Rachu[for women].I must say they look very elegant in this attire.There is no such dress code for the visitors. We just have to be dressed appropriately-long sleeves, no shorts, no caps.

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Men in gho and kabney and lady in kira and rachu

I was in no hurry to get inside and spent time admiring the vibrant colours and the intricate woodworks.

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After going through the imposing  main door you will see  the    huge courtyards, winding corridors,central tower ,temples and living quarters for the monks.The entire structure is   breathtaking.For me Rinpung Dzong was the jewel in the crown of Paro.

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COURTYARD

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CENTRAL TOWER

 

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MONASTIC QUARTERS

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We have to climb a lot of stairs and some of them can be quite challenging.The ascent is fairly easy but the descent needs  lot of caution.Photography is not permitted inside the temple complex.

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A VERTICAL NIGHTMARE-What goes up must come down !

Saw these student monks playing in the courtyard. They seemed  to be having  a good time and   I wondered  how many of them will go on to becoming lamas. Do they miss home? Is their curriculum tough?What if they can’t cope? What if they want to leave? I was very keen to talk to them.They are not shy and are quite used to  visitors.But this was their  recess and I did not want to disturb them.

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YOU NEED A HAIR CUT,BUDDY

Seeing these young  lively monks     I was reminded of  a delightful  Tibetan movie Phorpa [The Cup]. It is  about a  mischievous kid monk who is obsessed with football  and is set against   the 1998 Football  World Cup. It was made by a Lama and I think this could  be his own experience. It takes you to  the  unknown world of young monks and they are shown as they are- free spirited and natural. Another one I remember is  ‘Spring,Summer,Fall,Winter and Spring’-a Korean movie on the life of a monk with each season signifying a  stage in his life.

Paro Dzong and movies? Yes, few scenes from  ‘Little Buddha’ were shot here.

Turtles can fly ?

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On a serious note,Turtles can fly  is a 2004 Kurdish movie directed by  Bahman Gobadi.This is one movie I wish everyone watches at least once to see the horrors of mindless war through the eyes of innocent children.

I had seen this movie many years ago  but  still feel   connected to it.

Haunting and lyrical.That is the power of  cinema and children.

 

Kindertransport-A mission of hope and glory.

Have you heard of Kindertransport?I never knew.Movies have opened my eyes to many wonders and yesterday a  documentary made me see the horrors of the holocaust through the eyes of children.

 

Into the arms of strangers-stories of the Kindertransport is an academy award_ winning documentary. It is a heartwrenching account of those dark days and a  rescue mission which saw thousands of Jewish children between the age of  5 and 17 from Germany, Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia leaving their parents to go to foster homes Britain-the only country which agreed to accept them.Between December 1938 and August 1939 more than 10,000 children were brought to Britain and this is their story narrated by the survivors in their 60s and 70s.

They recall their idyllic carefree life with parents, the preparations for the trip, final goodbyes, the journey, discovery of a new country and learning to live with foster parents.They speak from the heart and tell you their struggles to adjust to the new family and surroundings and living with the hopes of reuniting with their families.They come to know of their parents and siblings perishing in the concentration camps and a few fortunate ones are reunited with their families.What I find most refreshing is that they narrate their stories with candor.They also acknowledge the foster parents and their limitations.They are all survivors and show immense dignity and grace.Many have settled down in UK and USA and are shown leading meaningful lives with children and grandchildren.

There are some movies which have to be seen by all and this is one of them.Yes, there are many popular movies like Schindler’s List, The boy in the striped pyjamas, The pianist,  etc.I find this more intense and moving.Even if you are not a fan of cinema, please find time to watch this.

Four statues were erected to commemorate this epic rescue mission in UK, Poland, Germany, and Holland.Frank Meisler, the sculptor had been on kindertransport.What an irony of fate.

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Kindertransport-Meisler

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“I ceased to be a child when I boarded the train in Prague.It is strange that it’s only six years out of a long life and those six years will affect the rest of your life” -this is how Eva Hayman,  a survivor recalls.

I salute all those kind souls who made the mission possible and those foster parents who gave them a home and life.

Movies on children.

I like well- made children movies, not those kinds where children look and act like adults mouthing preachy dialogues.I also wonder how the directors work with these little ones to bring in all the nuances of a magical childhood.Do they tempt them with chocolates, ice creams or promise a visit to Disneyland? It is also sad to see many popular child stars succumbing to the pressures of stardom and ending up alcoholics and drug addicts.Some have died very young and some have committed suicide- a heavy price to pay for instant fame and fortunes.I think we never let them grow and always visualise them as the adorable characters they portrayed.

Some of my  favourite movies are     The kid,To kill a mocking bird, E.T,Kramer vs Kramer, Sixth sense, The 400 blows, Le petit Nicolas, The  colour of paradise ,Children of heaven ,Turtles can fly, Masoom,Stanley ka dabba,Taare zammen par,Timepass,Shala and Fandry.

What is your favourite?

Oscar again

Have you ever wondered why Oscar  awards committee is partial to differently abled/physically challenged  people?

Remember  Dustin Hoffman  for Rainman,Collin Firth for The King’s speech ,Daniel Day Lewis for My left foot, Marlee Matlin for Children of a lessor god  and Holly Hunter for The piano are  some of those I remember.I was reminded of this while watching this year’s best actor awards.Did not have to wait for the slip from the envelope to know that it would  not be for the favoured Birdman.