Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Mother is giving up

My mother was in Thimphu during the earthquake. She told me, "Since you all are away there is nothing to worry about in the village". She went home after six days to check on our house. Though the house was still standing there were several large cracks running down the entire mud wall. Rooms were filled with debris from the broken walls. But she returned to Thimphu that same day, without even cleaning the rooms.
She later told me, "If this house falls to ground as well, I am not going to build another house." I could see tears welling in her eyes.
Our village Yangthang rose from ashes after 2002 Fire. It took years before we had a roof over our heads. We  not just lost our homes in that fire, but our history and memories. What we lost after the fire changed the whole course of our lives. During construction we were living in huts, where we lost all our ancestral inheritance. We learnt to live without it, just then we lost our father. By the time we entered our new home we had nothing.
My mother is giving up, she doesn't want lose so much again. I wish our house will stand strong and not let my mother relive the trauma of building a new home again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bhutanese Twitter Accounts Hacked

My mailbox is flooded with direct messages from Bhutanese twitter friends, and after checking two of them I was confirmed that it was spam. It seems like all the accounts are hacked including mine, from where many messages have gone out as well.
Experienced internet users like Boaz, Murray Gunn and Sonam Ongmo knew it right away and took time to alert friends but many might fall victims to whatever the hackers are after. Murray seems to have followed the link and got "sucked"- he wrote to me. It may be for a promotion of something or may infect your computer...

How NOT to get "sucked":

  1. Change your password right away.
  2. Don't click on the link mentioned in the tweet.
That's all I know and I did. For more secure advice ask Boaz @www.Thimphutech.com.
P:S: Apologies to all my Twitter followers who received direct message from my account that sucked!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis Murdered by the US

As far as I understand Troy Davis' murder case of 1989, there is hardly any evidence against him and he maintained his innocence for the last many years. We are not sure if he really killed police officer MacPhail but we are very sure that Troy Davis is murdered by the US, despite millions of petition. We have witness and evidences to prove that the most civilized country in the world has murdered Troy Davis in Georgia.
Troy Davis
Who will punish the ancient judge? Who will punish the men behind the barbaric law? Who will punish the man who injected poison into Troy Davis? It's a very organized crime and they call it justification of death. Who says the US is a civilized country?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bhutan's Biggest Earthquake

This was the strongest and the longest earthquake I felt in this life of mine. I was with my wife and daughter at a hotel visiting my brother and our Japanese in-law. At first I was calm, telling my wife not to worry but as it went on and on I was the first to run underneath the door frame and then gathered everyone around me. My in-law was unexpectedly cool about it, she shares how such quakes happen often in Japan. But what she doesn't know is that the pillar she is holding on to may not be as strong as those in Japan.
Our son was all by himself and away from us, we desperately tried to connect to him but in such times even mobile fails us. Then I got worried about my mother but it was five hour later that I could talk to her. She tells me this was the biggest quake she felt in her 50 years on earth. Upon reaching home it was a big relieve to see nothing happened and that we could share news to friends and family via Facebook.
Our Prime Minister, who is currently in New York quickly clammed us all by sharing news from across the country through Facebook. He was even aware of the status of Mobile Phone service in the country, to which I asked what alternatives do we have in such times. His excellency was kind enough to make a reply on my wall. But despite his comforting promise I wonder how could we possibly ensure a secure communication line in such times, when we saw earlier this year how super countries like Japan could fail.
PM's reply.
Another major concern is our lack of preparedness despite so much of awareness done through different medias. Listening to how people reacted today, everybody seems to have ran out of their home for their lives, but that is the unsafest way out- many know about it and only few trust it.
The final and the most dangerous practice in our communities is our quickness in cooking up rumors and spreading them. In times of disasters we must try and help calm people around us, ensuring everybody's safety, get needful information from authentic sources and report casualties to authorities without waiting for someone else to do it. On the contrary, we are good at panicking ourselves and dragging others into it by listening to and spreading rumors. Today, many families are sleeping outside fearing the aftershock which was rumored to happen by midnight. Some people are already talking about GLOF triggered by the earthquake and few crazy people have started talking about the end of the world. As an educated individual it becomes our personal responsibility to verify the rumors and make it stop from spreading further because sometimes it could cause more damage than the disaster itself.
It may shake us but it can't break us.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Oil on Canvas for my King and Queen

As I watched my friend Hemlal giving finishing touch to the portrait of their majesties the king and queen for their wedding celebration, I wondered how I should express those million feelings that are singing in my heart. I could see people around me writing beautiful poems and composing sweet musics, there are already so many lines written on Facebook walls and blogs, how could I write something so differently satisfying? Eventually, after months of pondering I realized however I write I am only going to dilute my strong feelings.
Then during one of my visits to Hemlal's makeshift studio I suddenly remembered my childhood passion for painting. But since he has done the portrait so well I had to think of another way; something through which I could bring out the character of the compassionate king and the divine romance of the wedding.
I recollected all the kings I know from history and none really qualified my criteria- some weren't kind, some were brutal, some fully consumed by greed and others by lust, the few kind kings I remembered weren't either wise or handsome. There was no one worldly king I could think of who could be used as a legendary reflection of our beloved king.
Penciling my feelings.

The only king I know who so much characterizes our king was but an imaginary king from Disney Renaissance; an image of the perfect king envisioned by Walt Disney Feature Animation- yes the Lion King. The king I loved for ages. There among the many pictures of Lion King I saw one which emits the radiance of pure love and eternal comfort, which is exactly what I wish for our king. Thus I picked it up and started sharing the room with Hemlal.
The Finished canvas. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thank you Dawa Knight

My blog began enjoying over 1000 page views per day since early last week even when I didn't add anything new. I just checked back and found that one post I wrote on September 11 last years was drawing in lots of American visitors. It was about how not to remember 9.11. Later yesterday I saw an unbelievable 3080 page views and it happened on September 11, 2011. I couldn't help announcing it on Blogyul, a Facebook page for Bhutanese bloggers. What happened next gave me even greater joy, a fellow blogger Dawa Knight gifted me a sketch of me and my daughter in appreciation for the massive hits.
Dawa Knight's Gift.
I would like to thank you Dawa for considering me worth for blackening your wonderful fingers. To the world it may mean nothing more than a sketch of an ordinary Bhutanese with his daughter but to me it mean the world. I would love to receive the original copy as you promised.
Screen shot from Blogyul

Saturday, September 03, 2011

First Weekend in Bajothang

Today is a day to remember in Bajothang, the first weekend after the closing of Gangthangkha. In the last three days after the deadline, town has almost come alive. There were lights everywhere, so many cars and hundreds of people coming out in open for the first time in my five years in Wangdue. The hustle and bustle quite resembled a busy evening in Phuntsholing.
The beautiful evening however might not have been so good for many families who didn't get a parking space, who were stuck in traffic jam, who had to honk and wait forever for the driver who has parked behind them, who got their slippers in sewage overflow, and those who didn't get an apartment to live in yet.
I am full of smiles as I walk the streets and see all the beautiful shops that we never had, so many options to choose from- looks like time has come for all the monopolies to break once and forever.

Earlier Stories:
31st August: Battle of Wangdue Phodrang
1st September: Rough Road to Bajothang

Wangay's Letter - "Bereaved leave"

Wangay is a teacher in Phuntshothang Middle Secondary School, Samdrup Jongkhar. I don't know him but his letter (see the picture) published in Bhutan Observer yesterday connected to me. He had to come to school to attend to his duty leaving behind his grieving wife whose mother passed away. In times of sickness and death even enemies join in to give helping hand but because he was a working man who ran out of allotted leave, he failed so much as a husband.
When I was in my first year of college my father passed away. My sister was one year senior to me in the same college. Two of us cried our long journey home. I cried more when I thought of how my mother would be, and cried even more thinking about our three younger siblings. Our youngest sister was only three then. When I reached home I rushed to see my mother, why has already cried herself to unconsciousness. My little sister was among the villagers trying to revive my mother, she wouldn't know what had happened. She would say her father has gone to collect firewood. My youngest brother was on his way back from school and hadn't yet known his father was dead. My other younger brother was strongly waiting for us, since he was the eldest when we were not there.
All our close relatives living in Thimphu provided us with all the money we need to preform the funeral rites, but when it comes to being by my mother's side they weren't there for even a single night. We children were the only people surrounding the widow. And the most ugliest, most regretful and the most inhumane part of that story was our early return to college. The two eldest children left their mother on the seventh day because of our unforgiving attendance system in college. If we didn't have the required attendance we wouldn't be allowed to sit for exams no matter what. Even today, it pains me so much when I think of that system, and my biggest regret is the choice I made- I chose too leave my broken mother for a damn college.
This is my story among thousands of your stories. Of all the times in life shouldn't we be given a special leave  when something like these happen? These are life changing moment that don't happen often. And with Wangay, I wish to urge the government to think over it. It's should matter if it isn't in American system, Bhutan is the first country that should welcome "bereaved leave". Please.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Rough Road to Bajothang

August 31st was the date people in Wangdue were waiting for months with different feelings. But nothing much was happening today besides some closed shops and one lone DCM truck carrying a family's belongings to Bajothang. Official notice has been issued, where it is stated that if any shop is found operating from tomorrow their trade license will be seized. The road to Bajothang, to change the history of a place is going to be rough again.
The biggest cannonball that the people loaded in the cannon to backfire the deadline is the readiness of Bajothang. They question the safety of town, hygiene, traffic, accommodation of people and vehicle. While the finished Bajothang town would have answered all these questions but if you visit the half-alive town today, you will see

  1. Many structures are half complete. Anything could fall from above and risk the lives of passersby. 
  2. The road network are blocked by construction debris on almost every street thereby making road inaccessible to cars. 
  3. Sewage from some building are running free on the streets, pollution both land and air. 
  4. All drainage systems are damaged, and nothing has been done till today. 
  5. There is not a single traffic signs erected or line drawn on the road, forget the line, there is not blacktopped road visible in the entire town. Streets are filled with cars parked randomly without following any traffic rules.
  6. All apartments are filled up, there is no room for people living in Gangthangkha to squeeze in.
I have toured both the towns this morning and viewed the situation from the eyes of an ordinary Bhutanese who has nothing to lose or gain for whatever happens. I had taken along my camera and captured shots of things to backs the story of what people claim. All the pictures are taken this afternoon, please go through the photostory.
This is where Children Park will be. Who will construct it and when is the deadline?

The tiny truck parking is being cleared for tomorrow. How many trucks will fit in there?

BOD. Why did they have to late for so long. Will they be ready by tomorrow morning? 

How to get to the other side of the street? Is it a mule track? 

Forget about traffic signs, you can't even see the road. The bridges you are seeing is constructed over sewage overflow. 

Desolate shops in Gangthangkha, left behind by people who have  shifted to Bajothang.

So far only two structures were dismantled. September 10 is the last day for clearing structures in Gangthangkha.


Where is the road?
Lone truck shifting a home.

Tomorrow morning when I wake up, Gangthangkha will be no more the place people will crowd. I wish people all the strength it takes to let go the past and embrace the new place, after all Bajothang is a bigger town, with bigger opportunity, with space for bigger dreams.
And I wish if the responsible authority could play their role swiftly and give themselves deadline, besides giving to others, in making Bajothang business ready.

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