Thursday, August 20, 2015

sixth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival

The sixth edition of the Mountains Echoes literary festival began yesterday in Thimphu. It will be held till August 22, 2015 and is dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in commemoration of His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary celebration.

This is the sixth edition but the first time for me to attend the festival. I have always wanted to attend it but somehow, I never got around to do it. So a year back I promised myself that come hell or high, I will be attending this year and I made it. I’m so proud of myself.

As a bonus, it happened just 2 blocks away from my office where I can sneak out from work and attend the programme at my discretion. It’s quite interesting that you have a plethora of choice on the programme catering to your convenience since the sessions are being held at four different venues.  

What particularly piqued my interest was Jamie Zeppa’s conversation with Neha Tara Mehta and Pawo Choyning Dorji’s session The light of the moon: The legacy of Xuanzang.

I read Zeppa’s memoir Beyond the sky and the earth during my freshman year in Sherubtse. The book is so full of wit and humor and I could relate to the places she mentioned for I was physically present there when I read it. 

Her underwear story in the book is particularly so funny. When she mentioned the story this morning again, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

Beyond the sky and the earth is one of the books which I loved immensely written by a foreigner on Bhutan. When I saw her name for this year’s festival, I had to double check it. For I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought she left Bhutan for good.

Jamie Zeppa reading excerpt from her book Beyond the sky and the earth
Zeppa says that she is back to the country after a decade and it’s difficult for her to navigate around Thimphu now, for it was a small town in 1989 and now Thimphu is a city.

I loved it when she said “When you fall in love, you lose yourself” when asked about how she came to write the memoir.  She further says that when she fell in love with Bhutan, it changed her profoundly. Just like in her book, I found her very witty and candid in person. For her writing process, she says, it’s very helpful for her to have a boring life to write. So much inspiration there. 

Please excuse the grainy photos from the phone.  

With Nawang and Zhonba
I have been following the works of Pawo on instagram and facebook. His series #sacredpathsproject on instagram and adarsha photography on facebook are absolutely beautiful. 

In his moving tale of The Light of the Moon: the legacy of Xuanzang presented this morning at the Royal University of Bhutan, Pawo has crisscrossed the ancient silk routes to retrace the paths of Xuanzang, a Chinese Buddhist monk and has come up with astounding tales. 

He is such a good storyteller. The facts, stories and photographs supported to bring about Xuanzang's tale simply blew me away. Nawang said that he was moved to tears at the end of the session.

I wish I had no work so that I could attend the festival full time. There was not a single empty chair available. Luckily I met Nawang and Zhonba and we sat on the floor on the aisle. In an earlier twitter conversation with Zhonba, I was informed that I have to join the floor gang, which I didn't mind. It was so worth the time. 

If you haven’t attended this season’s mountain echoes, I’d recommend you to attend it and show some love. You can check the programme here and accordingly attend if you are not able to devote your full time.


  1. Nice! at least you made it this time :) Hope you had an awesome day!!!

    1. I finally did it this time la. I was so thrilled :)

  2. I could imagine how exciting you were to meet Jamie Zeppa and the rest of your idols ^^ I read and loved her story too, that what made me visiting Sherubtse :D Enjoy the rest of the events and have fun! :)

  3. I think I was too excited that I couldn't say ask her anything when I had too many questions on my mind. I could just blabber, "I loved your book." :D

    Enjoy your holidays.


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