Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Daughter Becomes Nine Month Old

Sonam N Tshomo near Chimmi Lhakhang
9:09 PM this evening my daughter became nine months old. Thank you, God, for the nine months of extreme happiness and thank you more for leading us through the heart breaking moments. Being a parent is the most serious business I have known for the last nine precious months; business where all our love is invested without a slightest expectation of return. All you ever want back is an innocent smile, which my daughter, Sonam N Tshomo has lots to give.

List of SNT’s Activities for the Record
  • tore two pairs of shoes
  • broken a Walker
  • speaks a lot (her own Language)
  • shoots from room to room at supersonic speed
  • shits only when put in walker
  • doesn’t even have her first tooth
  • uses her left hand most of the time
  • hates playing with toys- she likes real things
  • dances to Dzongkha songs
  • farts like a big fat lady
  • uneasy with new people
  • sweats heavily
  • can clap, wave, and dance when asked to
  • can say apa, mama, angay, … and hundred others sounds
  • hates sleeping in Cradle

All good things come to an end

Dechen in the Center (in White) during her office Picnic

Dechen is one rare species of humankind; fat body with the fattest heart. Her life is boring without a single enemy. She makes sure everyone gets a seat in the hall and there is chicken on everybody’s plate. She has become a part of my family; she is our driver, second mummy to my kids, second husband to my wife, and second wife to me (joking). She is the best human we know in Wangdue, but Wangdue ran out of its luck this morning or may be we were unlucky; Dechen packed her home and left for Thimphu.

We were so lucky to have crossed path with Dechen who left golden footprints in our lives. Tonight the sky over Wangdue seems darker. Goodbye Dechen you can’t leave us, we will follow thee.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cactus in Wangdue

Prickly Pear- the type found in Wangdue
Cactus may be ornamental plant for people living in any place other than Wangdue. Here it is nuisance. It over-grows everywhere. It got me wondering if Wangdue was a desert once upon a time, or at times I fear if Wangdue is going to become a desert some day too soon. Of course, my understanding is cactus grows in deserts. The question remains; why would this plant which is supposed to grow in arid land, grow along side the Punatshangchhu.
Over these years I have come to understand the thorny plant and learnt to live with it in harmony- I have realized it is not as attractive as I have known it. I have learned to forgive it. Of all the wonderful species of cactus Wangdue has the ugly Prickly Pear of Opuntia family, which is commonly found in North America.

Good side of Cactus
Golden blossom

  • It flowers seasonally. The golden yellow blossom spellbinds many first timers.

  • The fleshy stem can be cooked and fed to cattle after removing the sharp thorns.

  • If used for fencing it can be more secure than bob wire.

  • Though not done here but records in Wikipedia shows that same cactus found in Wangdue can be used for medical purpose, can be consumed as food, and can be used as intoxication.
Bad side of it:-

If you are touching the plant, its fruit in particular, by the time you realize hundred and one almost-invisible thorns called glochids would have dislodged and pricked your skin. Forget about removing it you can’t even trace it with your naked eyes. But the pain is in contrast to its size. These fine spines are blown by wind and it can reach your room posing threat to your children’s comfort causing irritation and if not removed can cause infection (Sabra Dermatitis).
Glochids on close-up
The bigger thorn has a strange natural character, if it pricks you it can’t be removed backward without medical surgery. It has to be driven further in to be drawn from the other side of your body part.
It is the worst enemy of vehicle tires. Once it gets into your tire, unlike nails, it is impossible to trace therefore every time you fill in the air your new tube will be punctured by the hiding thorn.

Further this plant had bad history with countries like Australia where it was once introducted as natural fencing but later it invaded the farmland resulting in making huge amount of land unproductive. The government had to go as far as creating a Commonwealth Prickly Pear Board to get rid of the plant. 

Larvae of Cactus moth
One thing to learn from history; introduction of certain moth called cactus moth or nopal moth can gradually bring an end to the Pickly Pear population outburst. The Larvae of the moth feeds on the plant.







All Picture are from Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

“Ladies, go back home” Policy

Government drove off all Indian maids working in Bhutanese homes and now you can’t even keep Bhutanese helpers. What alternative did the government come up with? Well it none of their business. Following the house raid last year families across the nation are devastated, all they could do was to call their old parents to babysit for them. What about those without parent? Well, don’t give birth!
Despite substantial effort in bringing about gender equality, Bhutan couldn’t really remove its deep root from feminine discrimination. The ill feeling is at the heart of our beliefs, superstitions, religion and culture. We are all brought up with the belief that girls are nine lives below us, whatever it mean. It takes a man to perform or inaugurate an important ceremony. It will be considered bad if a woman walks over a man, or for that matter his gho or any other things that belong to man. If you know a Bhutanese fairy tale, tell me who is the gunda boss? Who else but a witch. There is no room in Bhutan where man can’t go in but many temples have certain chambers where females are forbidden. Symbol of male sex organ (phallus) is considered scared and is seen hanging from roofs and drawn on walls but not the female one. Even wise figure like Guru Rimpochee relates tobacco with female menstrual fluid. One Dzongkhag text we were taught in high school fully talks on how dirty a female body is. This is a short list I can remember to illustrate the depth of feminine prejudice in our society.
And with change in time things seem to have moved on but with the root deep down underneath how we could expect so much; Health people say a mother must breastfeed their baby for full six month while the maternity leave is just three months and no office will allow women employees to walk in the office with their babies. Now as women rub shoulders with men, our society can't resist it and therefore “ladies, go back home” policy is put in place- I mean if babysitters are illegal or made unaffordable it only means mothers leaving the jobs and going back home.
Just sit down with a cup of tea and look back on our beliefs and culture and ask yourselves who must have made them. If your mind is not frozen in some ancient times perhaps you would realize that all of these are brainchild of some powerful foolish men back in Dark Age.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bhutan’s Dream Town in Making

Wangduephodrang survives on one of Bhutan’s most rustic towns built clumsily on a hill along the eastern highway. It was temporary town though but lasted for generations without development. Today it faces all problems on earth; litter, toilets, parking space, housing, water supply, traffic congestion,… which bring about social disharmony among the dwellers.

It is only good for tourists who love looking at strange places; one could easily misunderstand it for a village badly stricken with poverty. But in those shaky huts, among the dusty dwellers live people with big dreams and big money, all they ever needed was a space.

Plan for the new town was laid seven years ago in the breathtaking paddies of Bajo valley. But land allotment dispute froze the plan for over six years. The place was called townplan, it had road, electrification, drainage and parking in place except buildings. It was often referred to as invisible town.
Wangdue Landscape 2002- Google Earth


All disputes apparently came to an end last year and government gave green signal to constructions. The race began and in less than a year we can see magnificent structures standing. From some verandas we can already see clothes hanging. The deadline for completion of construction is by the end of December 2010, which seems like a lot of time. By then the town is going to come alive with people and shops.

From a distance Bajo town looks like a huge palace unlike other new towns elsewhere. Our neighboring town of Kuruthang looks like a town wrecked apart by a bomb. But Bajo is going to be different; it is a well planned and executed. Building owners sat with their clients on the drawing board over interior and exterior designs to transform the whole look and feel of the structures.

Bajo Town nearing Completion 
As of now I can see three night clubs, two gyms, four full flat shopping malls, and an all in one medical store coming up along with the designs. Other service enterprises like beauty parlors, hotels, karaoke bars, gaming house (that’s mine), computer centers, childcare centers, etc are all waiting for the completion of the structures. I am excited about pizza restaurants, coffee houses, books restaurants and other brave new ideas people are discussing. All in all Bajo is going to be a complete package town with even people from Thimphu visiting us on weekends.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Living after Death

Earlier this week BBS headlines included a piece of News from Japan; body parts of a dead man were donated. And our students also brought it in the headlines of Bajo Broadcasting on Saturday this morning; of course they always make hot news out of stale ones. I was translating the news to my Singaporean friend Germaine and to my surprise she was surprised. She asked, “How come it is even news?” She told me that in Singapore everybody donates by default.

Then I wondered about our culture; we burn everything and perform expensive rituals. And people believe that if the body couldn’t be cremated well or the rituals weren’t performed right the soul won’t find its path and may come back as a ghost. But Buddha didn’t teach us so. He taught us to be selfless, he taught us to detach ourselves from our body even when we are living, but what are we doing? We don’t want to give up our body even when we die, worse we burn it- how selfish.

Bhutan should be the first country in the world to adopt body parts donation as national pride by the virtue of being the only Buddhist GNH country. But I am sure we will be the last country to be because we are so resistant to good change.
No matter what I am agreeing to donate my body parts after I die; I want to live after death. I swear I will not come back as a ghost.

My Take away List!
  • Take my heart, it is strong and good.
  • Take my brain, it is only half used.
  • Take my kidney, they are stonefree.
  • Take my liver, I only drink occasionally.
  • Take my Lungs; I only smoked for three years.

But Don’t take my stomach, it’s bad, it took in lots of chickens, goats, cows, yaks, pigs, even some frogs. It is the source of unhappiness. Give it to my family for cremation. And during my funeral ask them to play Scorpion’s Wind of Change. And know that I am living after death because my heart will still be beating…

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Drukpa: The Brave Lives on

First Issue of Drukpa
When Drukpa Magazine was launched December last year I was wondering why people don't learn from mistakes. We saw many glossy magazine launches in last few years but never saw their second issues. Some shops are still selling the first issues of those dead magazines. So there was no reason why I should be excited about Drukpa even though I love reading Bhutanese writings so much.

But to my glorious surprise I am holding the eight issue of Drukpa today and before I even started reading the first word I just looked at the caricature of Jurmi Choling and kissed it, "man, you are real something". I know even Drukpa might not have profited a bit but it is not all about business, it has to be more about loving to do the thing and I can't praise Drukpa team enough.

The Great 8th Issue
This magazine has a wonderful history; a man who was going to start a mining changed his mind and invested in something less lucrative, but he knew he was up to making a history. If he had gone for mining he would have made fortune so far but hundred years from now people will look at the deep hole on the mountain and curse him. Drukpa will earn him love and more love as years go by. I already honour this visionary man.

I hope to write for Drukpa when the theme is something I am interested in but every month I am keeping aside Nu.100 for the Brave Magazine which lives on.

Drukpa on Facebook

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mis-Manager

We have very few good players in out team and I confess I am not one of them, but playing as a left winger for last three years gave me some crucial knowledge of the position. Out of 24 teams in the tournament I very unpleased to say that our native team is the first to exit from the league round. All thanks to a man who has never turned up for the practice matches and suddenly made himself a manager during the match. We were defeated 6-0 by a team we had played and evened many times before. I didn't go for the second match against a team from Gasa. If we had won that we were through to the next round but we drew.
My Team before the 6-0 Defeat!

Losing a football match, singing competition, marathon race and failing an exam are few things I consider unimportant because I am not designed to be good in them but the mismanagement of the team robbing the charm of the game disturbed me a bit this time. For him this is his fourth year of blunder.

By the way, Bajo Open Football Championship is the most popular in the valley, drawing teams from as far as Gasa.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I met my superstars

Kuenzang Choden  (Source:http://image.evene.fr)
I was invited to attend a creative non-fiction workshop in Thimphu this afternoon to speak on behalf of Writers Association of Bhutan. It was bigger than a dream; I was sitting with Ashi Kuenzang Choden, Lily Wangchuk, Dr. CT Dorji, Dorji Penjor, Yeshey Dorji, Tashi Tshering, Pek Dorji, an American Editor Mr James and many young aspiring writers. I never thought my luck could be this good. For me these are the superstars and I could meet them all at once and had them listening to what I had to say. I can never forget this day.

I have a few more things to write from the day... May be later, For now I am too happy to concentrate.

Read more about the Workshop on WAB

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Smiles and Tears

It's Okay, Darling

Oh, it is 1 AM already, so it was about yesterday I am going to write now. The result day. It has never been bigger. Our hall couldn't hold all the parents. After the result was declared I walked around teasing kids and asking their results. Among the smiles and tears I stood still to watch a little girls crying on her father's chest. 
I liked the girl's tear because it shows she was sorry and I liked the father's hug because that's what a parent is for.

Photographing Flowers

This morning while students were anxiously waiting for their result, with their parents seated in the hall with teachers, I was trying to calm my nerves too with my camera. I took some shots of some flowers but i don't know their names.






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