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Mountain Echoes 2016: The seventh edition of Mountain Echoes came to an end with the Chief Royal Patron of Mountain Echoes, Her Majesty the Queen Mother Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck sharing an intimate time with the audience and participants in a hall that was packed beyond its capacity in Thimphu yesterday.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother revealed her personal favourite books and authors when she was a child, and recommended a few books to read, to the young students that attended the session.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother spoke about how oral tradition was dying with the advent of modern technology and devices. Her Majesty said she tries to keep this tradition alive by narrating stories to her grandchildren today. Her Majesty the Queen Mother also touched upon the strong women characters in her book titled Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother further delighted the audience when she responded to a question that she would have been a primary school teacher if she hadn’t been a Queen. “The foundation is education for children especially in their formative years where it helps them inculcate right values,” Her Majesty said.

Her Majesty the Queen Mother shared how Thimphu has dramatically changed since when she first arrived in 1963. “Changes have taken place in every way; politically as well as physically. When I came to Thimphu, Trashichhodzong was the only central piece with a few traditional houses and shops. It was a completely different world. I’m grateful for the changes that have taken place and to the people who have made it possible to bequeath the proper changes.”

Her Majesty the Queen Mother also shared her personal experiences of a journey to the remotest parts of the country, to which Her Majesty referred to it as the best years of her life.

Pavan K Varma discusses his new book titled When Loss Is Gain at Mountain Echoes yesterday

Pavan K Varma discusses his new book titled When Loss Is Gain at Mountain Echoes yesterday

When the floor was opened for questions, a student asked Her Majesty about her next book to which Her Majesty revealed that it would be on Her Majesty’s grandson, who is also the reincarnation of an ancient master, Vairotsana. Her Majesty the Queen Mother shared that her favourite genre is non-fiction and poetry upon another inquiry.

The next session was with former Indian Ambassador Pavan K Varma who shared his thoughts on his first fiction book titled When Loss Is Gain, a book that was written when he was in the country. The book is going to be adapted into a film where a part of it will be shot in Bhutan.

Pavan K Varma advised aspiring writers to persevere. “You don’t need to write but explore other fields. Follow your passion and discover it. The key is, it should give you genuine pleasure.”

Pavan K Varma revealed his next project, a book on one of the greatest philosophical minds in India, Shankar Acharya.

The next session took a scintillating turn with Indian actress Tabu. Being the only one from the Indian film fraternity, she was bombarded with a lot of questions from the Bhutanese audience, most of whom who were familiar with her movies.

Upon inquiry, Tabu shared her experiences in the Indian film industry and on how she chooses roles that resonate with her. “Everything in me is the role that I have done. I go with the characters that give me a chance to express myself in a way I feel right. It was also the reason why I wanted to explore outside of commercial films.”

Tabu told the audience that Indian actresses today are willing to do far more layered characters and not just one-dimensional characters. Today an actress can be dark and seductresses, not just a nice woman on screen, she said. “I would love to visit Bhutan again,” she added.

Earlier in the day, Neyphug Trulku from the central monastic body gave a talk on the celebration of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s visit to the country. Neyphug Trulku referred to Zhabdrung as the Bhutanese prince – the man with all the qualities.

Neyphug Trulku along with National Council member Sangay Khandu and an archaeologist Kuenga Wangmo, gave a detailed account on Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s visit to the country, and why he is revered and deeply respected by the Bhutanese people.

The second day saw some of the most interesting and entertaining sessions especially when Indian Ocean, an Indian musical band’s member Rahul Ram, and Dasho Tshering Wangda, belted out few tunes in Dzongkha and Hindi. They got the audience humming along with them.

Other sessions included on writing detective fiction, folk music of Rajasthan and a talk on the art of stillness by the renowned author Pico Iyer.

The last day of the Mountain Echoes was equally packed with interesting sessions ranging from a talk on our current times, to the trekking trails of Bhutan, the meaning of one’s identity in today’s time, a book launch by three Bhutanese authors and a talk on how to deal with the adolescence.

Mountain Echoes ended on a positive note with festival director Pramod Kumar KG reciting a paragraph from His Eminence Gyalwa Dokhampa’s book titled The Restful Mind where Rinpoche talks about how understanding the mind is a key to freedom, happiness, contentment and overcoming challenges.

The three-day festival is an initiative of the India-Bhutan Foundation in association with Siyahi. The festival is presented by Jaypee group and powered by Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan.

Thinley Zangmo 

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