Sunday, April 29, 2007

Playing Khuru

Guys, this post is in the form of an audio file about Khuru; the transcript can be found below. gListen to the file and learn about Bhutan. Pictures accompanying this post are here.

A warm welcome to y’all out there. This is Sam – aka Sam Dorji - from Samtse, Bhutan.

During the next couple of weeks, I’d like to present you a couple of audio samples from Bhutan. Living in a different culture, you are not only discovering new food, new customs, and new environments, but as well very special sounds. After having returned back home to Switzerland last August, I discovered how hard it was to tell my friends back home about the environment that I was encountering in Bhutan. Part of the reason for why it was hard to explain them was that I couldn’t give them access to any sound samples. There are certain things that you have to listen to in order to get a good feeling for a place.

The first audio sample gives you an impression of a traditional Bhutanese game. The name of the game is Khuru and it is played by men all over Bhutan. A Khuru is a dart that is made out of wood and a nail. Every Khuru player builds his own two Khurus. As you can build your own Khurus without a lot of effort, both rich and poor folks can play Khuru. This is not true for archery which is as well very popular in Bhutan. Bows that are used for archery might cost a fortune. But let us go back to Khuru.

Khuru is played in teams of about 10 people and two or three teams share a track. In every round, every player throws his two Khurus and tries to hit a target that is about 20 meters from the players. The target is a small wooden plate and all the players that have already thrown both of their Khurus gather around this target. Considering that the Khurus have nails in the front, this looks a bit dangerous and incidences happen now and then. Let me tell you, you don’t really want to get hit by a Khuru – your foot might be badly damaged and if you are not lucky and it is not your foot but your stomach – then you’ll probably be lucky to spend a couple of months in the hospital at the best. The players gather as close as only possible around the target and try to convince the Khuru to find its way into the target. They do so by shouting, dancing, pointing, and running. It’s quite an amazing view. But the real fun starts only when one player hits the target. That’s the time when all members of the team start to perform a dance and sing loudly. It’s quite a song that they perform – so let us listen to such a song:

Did you like the song? Can you imagine how they dance? You probably start to understand why it is hard to get a good feeling for Bhutan without having listened to such songs.

Let us continue where we left. The team that gets most hits during a round wins a point. Sorry, I cannot quite recall how many points you get, but I think it depends on the number of times that you have hit the target and how many times the opposing teams have hit the target. If none of teams hits the target itself, the Khurus close to the target are counted. The team that acquires first 25 points has won the game. It might be that the number of points that you have to get in order to win a game might be different from tournament to tournament; I’m not quite sure.

The Khuru tournament that I have observed today started in the morning at 8:45am and most of the games were still going on at 3pm. Being in the sun all day long – considering that it is about 30 degrees Celsius in Samtse – and throwing the Khurus to a target 20 meters away makes Khuru quite a tiring sport. Folks out here love playing Khuru but often they have a sour arm the day after.

Guys, hope that I could give you an impression about life in Bhutan. Cu next time and enjoy life. All the best from Samtse, Bhutan. This is Sam Dorji.

1 comment:

Helen E Land - San Francisco said...

Hi Sam,

This is Helen Land from San Francisco and I just happened across your Blog. As I just returned from an 8 day trip there, which was wonderful, I was wondering a bit more about what you are doing in Bhutan. Feel free to email me at I am in the travel industry and was also curious what ICT is and what you are doing in Bhutan now?