To Mr. Khaw BoonWan, What did you expect?

(This is in reply to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore on his comments made on our country )
Dear Mr. Khaw,
I was not surprised when you said Bhutan is not the last Shangri-la on Earth, because I had a friend from your country who found Bhutan only "full of mountains and valleys". When you visited Bhutan, what did you expect? Those flying mountains you saw in Avatar? or Every Bhutanese merrily dancing in designer clothes? Well, you must have at least expected fancier cars and taller buildings but we only have taller mountains (not flying ones) and thicker forest (truly natural).
I am not surprised even when you said "Most of the time, I saw unhappy people, toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." because I heard a proverb in school that goes, "Two men looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and other saw the horizon". I am only surprised that you have spend "Most of your time" in Bhutan looking in the fields. I am amazed at your ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them- O' you even knew they were "worried about the next harvest". No wonder you country export human resources.

The Man who didn't find happiness in Bhutan. Source:channelnewsasia
I visited your wonderful country sometime ago, and it felt like a city from the future. The transportation system held me spell bound, Cleanliness of the street is so much that I didn't find a fragment of dust on my shoes after walking for the hours, Every building and car looks new, and there is no question about the civic sense among the people. Four days after I landed in Bhutan I woke up and started sharing the stories of your wonderful country- yes it took me four days of sleeping to shake of the hangover of many sleepless nights in your 24X7 country. I read the amazing history of your country and thought to myself, if Bhutan's to develop, Singapore can be our vision.
But since you questioned the presence of happiness in Bhutan, let me answer by telling you few things that you overlooked when you visited my country. Those people you saw in the fields weren't unhappy, if you have gone closer you would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives, perhaps you won't understand that. If you have spent a little longer time watching them, you would have seen and a woman with basket on her back and holding arms with several children coming with steaming food- we don't have McDonald or KFC. Then everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing and joking, feeding babies, for over an hour- you wouldn't have had so much time to sit and watch I know, times means money in your country. But we have luxury of time. People don't worry "about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." In fact, we don't do much commercial farming, we do most of them to keep with the tradition. And when the sun sets, doesn't really matter what time, people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting. Large family because we don't chase away our children when they become 18 or children cast away their parents when they age.
We don't need Health Insurance to survive, nor have to go for Education Loan for educating our children. We don't hang the drug users, we counsel them to hang on to their lives, we don't have to have a job to survive, and when we fall sick even the furthest cousin comes to attend without having to update Facebook status.
If you reread our history you will find that our wise kings have hidden us from the outside world so that we could remain the way we are today. If we start mining our mountains and lumbering our forests, we can become Singapore but no matter what you do you can never become Bhutan. It is far too difficult. We shall be the last breath of oxygen on earth.
Bhutan may not be the Last Shangri-la but we are happy.
 

Gaddafi Killed, World Healed

God gave Gaddafi everything a man could desire for in life, only he failed to understand his purpose of life. Over years he thought he was the god, deciding who should live and who should die- same thing that bloody Hitler did over half a century ago, and same thing his contemporary Saddam pursued. But the cow dung didn't learn anything from their fateful ends. He rather died a dog's death, much like this kinder spirit Bin Laden. Even when a dog dies next door we stop to pray for it but not a teardrop deserves to be wasted for these blunders of God. Their brutal deaths are God's apology to humanity for His having created them, and having bestowed them with powered they could handle. World is a better place without them. Hope they don't gang up in hell and restart their regimes there.

I wish Libya recovers from the months of war and join hands for a better future, and I wish the new government shows mercy on the captured Gaddafi Loyalists and allow them to make fresh beginnings. Punishing them in anyway makes the new government no better then the old regime. Let the sun shine brighter on the Libyan soil from tomorrow.
 

Father King's Gift of Happiness to Bhutan

On December 14th, 2006, When His Majesty the Fourth King handed over his duties as king to his son, present King of Bhutan, the ministers who were attending the ceremony shed their tears silently, common people across the country were shock and felt helpless, and I went speechless. I thought it was a bad dream. For us Fourth King was the personification of God himself and I had a wish to live and die under his rule. It was the hardest to realize and accept that the King we loved all our lives was resigning at the age of 51, changing the course of history and tradition.
But what we didn't realize was his vision of happiness for his people. And today, after two major events in the history of the nation- the coronation of the Fifth King of Bhutan and Royal Wedding, when I look back it brings tears to my eyes as I understand how great a gift our Fourth King gave us on that fateful day in 2006.
First Time in the History of Humanity
Never in the history of our country, or any other country, a father king crowned his son. It was always after the passing away of the father that son gets crowned. Forth the first time in the history the raven crown was worn on the head of king who was perfectly happy during the crowning ceremony. And that glory reflected in lives of every Bhutanese. And that was the Gift from the Fouth King that we didn't understand back in 2006.
The Royal Kiss in Changlingmethang

Never in the history of our country a queen was crowned in the presence of her father in-law. Ashi Jetsun Pema Wangchuk was the first queen who received Dhar Negnar from the dotting father King. The Royal Wedding became so special just because there was the father king to bless them and this is blessing to the people of Bhutan that we didn't understand back in 2006.
And every morning we wake up to the love and grace of the charming King without having to miss our former King just because we know he is still there watching us, and that is the daily happiness we enjoy and it the gift from the Fourth King that we didn't understand back in 2006.
Now, there will be another moment in our own time when our Crown Prince will be born, who will be the first crown price to receive the blessings and wisdom of his Grandfather. That shall bring immense joy to us all.
Thank you Your Majesty, now we know why you did what you did in 2006. You are truly the God of happiness.




 

Bhutan's Queen Crowned Today

How much ever I write today, it is bound to fall far short of what actually happened.Queen of Bhutan is crowned and people far beyond our country have seen the crowning glory. Just for the record, I want to post this so that someday my daughter will grow up to read this and know that she was present at the ceremony.
I watched the whole ceremony live on BBS with my family and just when the King and Queen walked out into the crowd to meet the people, we dressed up and rushed to the Latshothang to see them. I nearly lost my camera at the security gate, but I convinced them that I am a responsible photographer and that I have taken it just to shoot my wife and daughter. After two shots of my family the battery died out, that's how responsible I was.
It was so exciting to see the newly wed King and Queen, Fourth King and Ashis, Princes, Princesses, Sogyal Rinpochee, popular political figures like Loenchen, OL Tshering Tobgay, Sonam Kuenga, Sangay Khandu (We shook hands) and many many more. Something special about Bhutan is that we consider these people as celebrities and not actors and singers.

The Royal Couple posing for Media. BBS Photo.
There are two events I will never forget in my life; First, The crowning of His Majesty the King, Jigme Khesar Namgay Wangchuk by his father, Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singey Wangchuk and Second the crowning of Ashi Jetsun Pema by His Majesty.

And Dear Daughter, you were a little sick and cried a lot but you were there with us in Punakha during the Royal Wedding (October 13, 2011).

 

My visit to Lingkana Palace

In Bhutan you don't have to be special to visit the Royal Palace, meet your King, and converse with Him. His Majesty makes it his personal interest to invite different groups of people to his palace and talk heart to heart with them over tea, which often he prepares himself.
With Royal Couple in their Palace
On the eve of royal wedding I am proud to share about my visit to the palace and meeting His Majesty and Ashi Jetsun Pema. His Majesty wished to sit down with people from different media groups and thus there were people from newspapers, radio, TV, film industry, Media Foundation and me- well I was to represent the bloggers. Blogging is picking up in Bhutan and now it has claimed its space alongside the mainstream media in the country.
During the conversation His Majesty shared with us about how he wants his wedding to be- humble and truly Bhutanese. He wants no chairs, no plates, no cold drinks, no beer, no wines, no international cuisines. He beamed as he described the display of local delicacies from 20 dzongkhags and palangs of local beverages. From the way he described his wedding plan it sounded to me like a wedding of an ordinary Bhutanese, and it made me so proud to be a Bhutanese.
His Majesty talked to us on various subjects ranging from his choice of music to books he read, from ancient Indian kings to first recorded Bhutanese song, from Ashi and him fighting for TV remote and laptop (they only have one TV and one laptop) to discovery of Third King's storeroom in Tashichhoedzong. When he shared the letter third king wrote to his Majesty the fourth king, who was then studying in London, I couldn't help crying.
His majesty and Ashi talked to each of us by calling our names and asking about things we do. Ashi Jetsun showed interest in my blog and asked for the blog address. She said, " I should read your blog.", which sounded to me like " The Oscar for the best Best Blog goes to PaSsu!!"
Throughout the audience I couldn't help watching his majesty's expression of love to ashi through his words, his smile, his touch  and playfulness. Nothing in the world seemed to me so perfect than the choice our king made, and nothing in the world felt so powerful then the love I saw between the royal couple. His Majesty fondly told us that ashi takes good care of him despite being ten years younger to him and I thought that's the best service a queen to render to her country.
Tonight I pray to all gods in heaven with all my heart to bless our king and queen all the happiness in the world. And May the divine Royal love reflect in lives of every Bhutanese couple for all the times to come.

P:S: My visit to Lingkana Palace was about a month ago, I am sharing it on the eve of Royal Wedding.
 

Diseased Turnip: Call for Help!

Turnip may not be one among the best vegetables- some people in town may not have seen one yet, but people of Haa have woven their lives with it. Infertile soil deprived of favorable weather conditions forced Haaps to make their living by herding yaks and turnip is one among a handful of crops grown in Haa. Turnips goes in making the region's famous recipe- Haapy Hoenty. The leaves of turnip are dried to make Lhoom, which then becomes very good combination with phaksha seekham and shakam.
However, the harvest looks bad this year. During my recent home going, I found all the turnips in our garden yellowed and dying. My mother wasn't surprised, she told me that a disease had been spreading in the region for last two years. Once infected the turnip buds turns into chain of three balls(see the picture), something similar to radish and then dies out gradually. I inquired if they have reported to the agricultural officer of the region, to which they gave a casual no. Perhaps they didn't know that they needed help. How come people don't know that there is an office who could help? How come the three year old disease didn't receive remedy so far?
Boy posing with Healthy turnip bud (right hand) and two diseased turnips (left hand)
(the symbolism of healthy boy and injured boy in the backdrop is accidental)

 
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