Monday, October 21, 2013

Lessons from Bhutanese

On our way out of the Monastery of Divine Madman in Wandue, Bhutan, my wife and I saw this young lady. “Where are you from, sir?” “Japan?” She asked in perfect English. I can understand why she thought we were Japanese. After all, how many tourists of Chinese descent ever bother to say hello to strangers?

My wife and the sweet young lady
I was intrigued by the cross she wore on her neck. She told us that her parents were Christians and there is also a church there. But didn’t our tour guide tell us that there was no church in Bhutan? Before we parted, she even said, “Have a good day!” How sweet of her! She is only 10 years old!

I was trying to bring home a point by relating this incident to friends. Bhutan was hardly a nation a couple of hundred years ago. Today its people practise a level of social etiquette much higher than ours.

I was also not very conscious about common courtesy until I decided to call Australia home in 2001. My wife and I took morning and evening walks around our apartment at Sydney’s Rushcutters Bay. We were always greeted by whoever we saw along the way. On roads, few would overtake you left, right and centre. Everyone seemed to be observing speed limit. And no random parking!  I began to realize how oblivious and inconsiderate we could be to fellow beings in our part of the world! And we boast about our five thousand years of civilization!

Even though the dwellings of their common folks are pretty simple, Bhutanese are a clean lot. Their grounds are neat and tidy. The same holds true for their public places and monasteries. I particularly appreciate their restaurants. The cutlery is thoughtfully laid out; there is always a common spoon for dishes that are meant to be shared. The food, though Spartan, was generally tasty. And the best of all, the toilets are clean and not smelly!

There is a great deal we Chinese have to learn from Bhutanese!!!

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