Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why is RSTA still doing this?

Tomorrow is the deadline. Tomorrow vehicle owners must have the ownership of their cars transferred to their names. What will happen if it's not done? What is the intention behind pushing it so much now? What is the excuse of not having it done so far? Who are the victims?

There was one very striking article on bBay by Tshering Wangdi about the issue, it has covered everything that I ever wanted to pour out on this matter and because bBay is about buying and selling second hand stuff, I let the article be there only to see it go viral. Within a day it has gathered over 200 comments and shared over 20 times. Therefore I would like to reblog this article:
RSTA comes up with stupid rules once in a while. It required taximeters in all taxis in 2007-2008. The taximeters cost Nu. 8000 and you had to buy it from RSTA-approved supplier. Many taxi drivers were fined huge amounts for not having taximeters. Now, 3-4 years down the line, RSTA totally forgot about taximeters and

nobody uses a taximeter. Who paid the price of a bad policy by a government agency vested with authority and power (which it used with full force on some taxi dr
ivers who didn't comply or who doubted the taximeter idea). In the end, taximeters neither helped the customers, nor the taxi drivers? It was the poor taxi drivers...who had to bear Nu. 8000 each, and our country as a whole which lost more than Nu 40 million to taximeter makers in Taiwan and Thailand.

Now, they want people to change ownership of vehicles. What is the reason - simply police or RSTA can't find owners. Well, when vehicles are registered, RSTA and Police should update details like Id card and mobile phone numbers in their database. Hit and run cases and criminal activities in your car will be charge to the owner? How many hit and run cases are there in Bhutan, or how many criminal activities are carried out without drivers in the car? If crimes are committed when the vehicle is used, you should catch the driver of the vehicle (not the owner). You also have the option of seizing the vehicle.

Now, RSTA is charging 5% for vehicle sale tax - which comes to about Nu. 10-20,000/- for small vehicles and about 50-100,000 for luxury vehicles. Same vehicle, taxed two times or more. Most people don't make money on selling their cars, so why sale tax again and again? What if vehicles are sold 3-4 times, who is going to pay the tax? One of the reasons people don't change ownership is because of the high tax incurred every time ownership is changed. RSTA should have a flat administrative fee of Nu. 1000 for ownership change and standard fee for new bluebook issued by RSTA. Sales tax should be levied only on brand new cars. (In Bhutan, many brand new cars are purchased by high level civil servants with quota and previous MPs, they never paid single Nu. as sale tax. Now, why second hand car should pay sale tax?)

I tell you RSTA will forget this within 1-2 years about ownership change...only loss will be people who pay 5% for ownership transfer.

I drive my uncle's vehicle. I will not change the ownership, because no where in the law says that a nephew is not allowed to drive uncle's vehicle. Sorry RSTA, you will not get my money.

PDP government should stop RSTA from harassing the people. This is my humble request to PDP government...I am sure lots of other people feel the same. RSTA is doing an exercise in futility and innocent people are paying the money.

Now, they want people to change ownership of vehicles. What is the reason - simply police or RSTA can't find owners. Well, when vehicles are registered, RSTA and Police should update details like Id card and mobile phone numbers in their database. Hit and run cases and criminal activities in your car will be charge to the owner? How many hit and run cases are there in Bhutan, or how many criminal activities are carried out without drivers in the car? If crimes are committed when the vehicle is used, you should catch the driver of the vehicle (not the owner). You also have the option of seizing the vehicle. 
Now, RSTA is charging 5% for vehicle sale tax - which comes to about Nu. 10-20,000/- for small vehicles and about 50-100,000 for luxury vehicles. Same vehicle, taxed two times or more. Most people don't make money on selling their cars, so why sale tax again and again? What if vehicles are sold 3-4 times, who is going to pay the tax? One of the reasons people don't change ownership is because of the high tax incurred every time ownership is changed. RSTA should have a flat administrative fee of Nu. 1000 for ownership change and standard fee for new bluebook issued by RSTA. Sales tax should be levied only on brand new cars. (In Bhutan, many brand new cars are purchased by high level civil servants with quota and previous MPs, they never paid single Nu. as sale tax. Now, why second hand car should pay sale tax?) 
I tell you RSTA will forget this within 1-2 years about ownership change...only loss will be people who pay 5% for ownership transfer.
I drive my uncle's vehicle. I will not change the ownership, because no where in the law says that a nephew is not allowed to drive uncle's vehicle. Sorry RSTA, you will not get my money. 
PDP government should stop RSTA from harassing the people. This is my humble request to PDP government...I am sure lots of other people feel the same. RSTA is doing an exercise in futility and innocent people are paying the money.

The same writer has worked on the probable cost of transferring the ownership as follows, which by all Bhutanese standards is too high.
Alto/Santro - Nu 10000-12000Swift/i20/A-star - Nu 20000-25000Tucson/Grand Vitara - Nu 45000-60000SantaFe/HondaCRV/Hilux - Nu 75000-90000Prado (GX) - Nu 95000-110000Prado (TX) - Nu 175000-220000Land Cruiser old model - Nu 220000-275000Land Cruiser V8/Range Rover - Nu. 300000-450000 
An honest Bhutanese's monthly salary is far lesser than what workers in Australia earn in 24 hours and buying a second hand car from that salary is impossible without taking loan from a bank, loan that will haunt us for five longest years. And just when you thing you have a car you are asked to pay 5% just to change the ownership is too much to digest for any Bhutanese. Where will so much money come from?

From BBS
Public comments on that article on bBay clearly show how disappointed people are, it almost seemed like people are protesting against RSTA, but shockingly 900 people have already obeyed the rule leaving the rest on their own. People have openly expressed displeasure against this rule and given the weight and mass of public opinion RSTA ought to withdraw it but looks like they are badly and shamelessly in need of huge money.

People have even pointed finger against the ruling government, whom they thought was responsible for this sudden stiffness in rule but Prime Minister came on TV to say that his government has no hand in it. He rather questioned why it was not done as required. The government of the day may not have their hand in this but as people's government isn't it their duty to at least put their feet in it when so many people are affected in the face of economic bad times?
 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Emotional Little Girl

Watch this 48 sec movie my five year old niece shot herself and try to understand the emotion this little girl is experiencing as she sings the song. Later she explained that she was thinking of her parents growing old and her little two year old brother becoming helpless. I could not really explain this but I sure laughed with eyes full of tears. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2003 Guilt

Where were you in December 2003? 

I asked this question to myself again on 15th December 2013, when I watched the heart breaking documentary of His Majesty the Fourth King during 2003 war in the south? It pained me so much to see our beloved king so dejected as he spoke to the brave army then. Every word his majesty spoke seemed to break a piece of me. I was melting with shame and guilt in front of the TV screen. I felt like spitting on myself. 

Our beloved king
In 2003 I was selected into teaching and was deployed as apprentice teacher to Haa. Upon reaching my home front with all the happiness in the world, I was shattered when I was sent to Sombaykha, a good four days walk from Haa and way off from where I wanted to be. After about 10 months in isolation, on December 17 morning in 2003 we declared the students' results and on the eve of homecoming we heard on radio about the victory over insurgents in the south. 

This, I know, cannot justify anything now but as I write this I feel a strong sense of relieve and courage to forgive myself. Tomorrow when I pass Dochula and see the 108 chortens I will be less guilty... but still guilty. I know time will still spit on us. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Happy 17 December


 I would like to wish fellow Bhutanese a very meaningful 17 December. May you spend the day in recounting 106 reasons why you are proud to be a Bhutanese. Do something memorable today!

106th National Day
Of late I have been changing my blog banner to celebrate certain occasion or day or person and I noticed that after I change it I don't have the banner stored anywhere in my blog, therefore I would like to start a new series of posts where I will post the banners when I change them. Let this post archive the recent banners.

Her Majesty's Birthday
Election 2013 (This was not original)

November 11 2013


Ninzi's 4th Birthday

Celebrating ourselves

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Extremism and Buddhism, Sex and Liberation

Extremism and Buddhism are two words not even meant to be written on the same page but over time the two were crossing paths or perhaps the inconvenient truths that always existed are finally surfacing in the awakened society. There are a certain ideology in Buddhism that are truly extremist in nature and I know many would deny it like a blogger friend, Karma wrote in his radical piece "Confessions of a Trulku’s Mistress: Lies and Whispers"
Lust

Trulkus are born lucky or made lucky, I don't even care. They are after money, unexpected yet ok, they know they are humans after all. They want women, men are men see, but why trulkus always have to be men? That's something to wonder but it's not what I am going to stress on.


Recently I was listening to a friend who is highly religious. She is young and beautiful and you won't expect her to be someone who has already made countless trips to all the holy sites in India and Nepal. I have high regards for her deep faith in religion but I pity her greed for blessings. She has lavished so much in her lamas and monasteries that she is barely surviving now, and ironically she thinks that she has sinned in her past life.

As I listened to her narration of biography of each trulku she worships, she talked about a certain Rinpoche that I couldn't digest. She proudly told me that the Rinpoche must sleep with 108 girls and liberate them from their sins. I almost screamed, "In which book is it written?" 
She explained that she heard it. 
I told her, "Your Rinpoche must be the reincarnation of a breeding bull then."
She left.

I know she is religiously innocent. She was made to believe that. And perhaps she was intending to be liberated some day. Religion is such a bait that even the smartest of people can be hooked. Sex is good for health but how can sex liberate one from sin? Have you heard about such extreme application of Buddhism? Buddhism is about mind, when did sex become a chapter? How can rapist deliver liberation? Who is playing Drukpa Kunley? 

If such trulkus got away with this so far they are lucky, because they only met with blind faith, if they think they can screw the world and screw the very essence of Buddhism itself they will have to face the fate of Asaram Bapu of India. They can be charged for Deception, Rape, molestation, wrongful confinement and defamation of religion. 
You shouldn't Copy me!
P:S: This is written with due respect to the great Buddhist masters who protect and uphold the teaching of Buddha with heart and soul. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Boto to Remember 11.12.13

People say 11.12.13 is a special date and I don't let go such dates pass by without doing something special to mark it. But today I wasn't able to do anything different because I was deployed on exam duty to Punakha. However, when I reached home by afternoon I heard my daughter crying from inside. I froze there for a while, I have this biological inability to react quickly. She has fallen off our bed, she seemed to have jumped in excitement when she heard me coming and landed on her forehead. This is not the first time she fell but the swelling of that size was new to her. She cried badly, and cried worst when we tried to apply ice pack. She always hated ice pack. She only loves ice in her mouth in the form of ice cream.
Ninzi with Boto
I took her to the mirror and showed her new face with the boto and she laughed. We laughed for quite sometime and it helped in healing my broken heart. Now I know why parents age sooner. Children fall and rise but every time they fall a piece of parents' heart is broken.

She asked, "Apa, will this boto go away?" almost crying.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Celebrities to Visit Bhutan

Bhutan is a nice place to visit for celebrities who are sick of attention because Bhutanese don't really celebrate celebrities. Our own actors, singers, writers, journalists, TV hosts, DJs, etc walk among us on the street and nobody cares to say, "Wow, hi, I am your fan" even when they are. Instead we let them pass and watch them from the corner of our eyes.

The Cricket God Coming to Bhutan
Date: Not Decided
 The younger generation who were born near the TV set are a little different, they have the honesty to express their admiration openly but the two celebrities who, I heard, are coming to Bhutan are Bryan Adams and Sachin Tendulkar and therefore the honest kids won't be so excited.

Bryan Adams Coming to Bhutan in 2014
Date: 23rd April
Venue: RTA,Thimphu
Bryan Adams is a musical legend for our generation and older. Our children hardly know about him. His songs are seldom heard anywhere these days, but when we hear one our world stops for a while. Sachin may be cricket god but Bhutan loves football, when Baichung Bhutia couldn't impress our kids so much Sachin can freely walk our streets. Of course Sachin will be coming here as UNICEF Ambassador. 

But personally I am very excited about seeing them live in Bhutan and I know thousand others will be. And interestingly many Bhutanese will wear a different attitude when it comes to seeing international celebrities. Many will show their childish honesty and openly scream "I love you Bryan..." "I am you big fan Sachin..." and our own celebrities will think "Wow, our people are capable that."

Bryan will sing some songs and leave, sachin will hold a bat perhaps and say, "Wash your hand" and go away. In few days dust will settle on normal life. Nothing will be changed. I wish and pray for someone who could change our nation to visit us, inspire us, and leave his footprint in Bhutan forever. And the person on my mind is Mr. Bill Gates. Wait, wait, I am not eyeing his money and his 'World's Richest Man' status, he comes to my mind because of his Microsoft company, Gates Foundation and the countless lives he changed in the developing countries. I have a feeling that he can transform the rural schools over night. For now I only pray that he comes here once. I hope someday he will read the invitation tweets I sent him...(seriously).
Bill Gates, Please come to Bhutan 

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Nelson Mandela and Zhabdrung Rinpoche

This morning we woke up in the world without Nelson Mandela. The entire world felt the pain of losing him, and perhaps the entire universe must have known that someone so dear has passed away on earth. This is a life well lived. This is how we must strive to live.
Zhabdrug

While the world today celebrates Mandela's life and remembers him in million different ways, I, a Bhutanese pay tribute to his great life by comparing him to Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhabdrung lived four hundred years before Mandela yet there is something so common between the two- Zhabdrung unified Bhutan as a nation state while Mandela unified different races to make South Africa one strong nation. Zhabdrung fled to Bhutan to escape arrest in Tibet where he was supposed to be the rightful leader. But after he became powerful in Bhutan he never sought vengeance against people in Tibet who wronged him, just as Mandela reconciled with people who imprisoned him 27 years.

Today, when Mandela dies I am reminded of Zhabdrung's death. He died in 1651 but his death had to be kept secret for 54 years fearing his absence might disrupt the unity of Bhutan. He was the unifier and things were in place because of his presence. Country saw numerous civil wars and assassinations of leaders after that until monarchy system was established in 1907. Zhabdrung couldn't be immortal and therefore the unity and peace he brought were threatened after his death.

Mandela RIP
Mandela too is mortal, and in the age of TV, Facebook and Twitter his death cannot be kept a secret, in fact world knew he passed away the moment he did. Now the question is, will his absence affect South Africa? He was 95 and sick, every moment he was kept alive was in deed torturing him. It's best to let him rest in peace after the Long Walk to Freedom. He needs to be freed from his aged body. And if South Africans truly wants to honour him live the freedom he fought for, keep the torch of his legacy burning. Let him live forever in the hearts.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

10 Businesses that flourished and perished in 90s Bhutan

Everyday I set up a new business in my head. To me it’s so real that I would have visualized that font on the signboard to the color on the wall. When it’s all set I travel in time to see how far it goes but as always I am too romantic even with business, which makes me a bad businessman even in my imagination.

I have thought about enough business ideas that would work in Bhutan to fill up a book, some very crazy and original, and many adapted from outside. The book will be published some day if I fail to translate the ideas into real businesses myself. Let them remain business secrets for now.

While considering certain ideas I couldn’t help travelling back in time to see the good and bad businesses of the past. And not surprisingly you don't have to go so much in the Bhutanese past to find out because there is nothing much beyond few decades.

Surprisingly, within the last fifteen years so much has changed. The hottest businesses in late 90s are now
no more. They flourished and perished without warnings.

Following are the 10 Flourishing Businesses of 90s that have perished now:

  1. Video Cassette Shops: Every town had several Video Cassette shops that would hire a movie for Nu.20 per day. These shops used to be full of posters and the countless shelves were filled with movies from across the world. I used to wonder where they got so many movies from, but now I wonder what they did with all the cassettes. Perhaps woven bags out of the reel.
    If you have seen this, you have lived it!

  2. Video Halls: Those days if you had a Video Screen and a Deck you would be considered rich. Many owners found it very lucrative to turn their video set into a money making machine. Just put the video set in an empty room with any movie in it and people will rush in with Nu.10. There were video halls in every third building in any town.
  3. Music Cassette Shops: These shops were very noisy, they will play the latest Bollywood song at top volume and the setting was quite like the video cassette shops but here we can’t hire music we have to buy.
    I feel nostalgic...
                                       
  4. Music CD Writing Shops: In the last days of Music cassettes there came a new business, the business of writing music onto a CD disk. Back then one CD could only hold 8 songs and it would cost Nu.150. This business died even before people knew it existed.
  5.  Telephone Booths: Telephone booths became rampant in every town. Tiny glass booths were squeezed into many shops, and hotels. Some had electronic billing system and other would charge us as they wished. There were terms like local calls and trunk calls. Making trunk calls, calling inter-Dzongkhag, were more expensive than calling SAARC countries today.
  6. Wishing Card shops: Exam Wishing Cards, Love Cards, Valentines Cards, New Years Cards, Birthday Cards, Friendship cards,… so many different types of cards that could fill up a whole shop, and people would flood in during occasions like now you see at meat shops before the holy months.
  7. Bollywood Post Cards: Before I watched any Bollywood movie I knew most of the actors through the post cards. Post cards were a stand alone business but it was like doma, every shop sells it and every child buys it. It cost Nu.1. At the back of the card there used to be a box for pasting stamp but we used it for writing “For Get Me Not”- each word on the four corners of the box.
  8. Photo Studios: This was a big business. Photography was very expensive. A roll of film cost Nu.100. Developing the film into negative cost Nu.50 and each photo cost Nu.10. Interestingly the photo studios will give two copies of each photo, regardless of how the picture came out. We can have our photos taken in the studio too with amazing backgrounds- I bet everybody from my generation and older had such a picture taken.
    Do you have one such picture?
  9. Commercial Photographers: Anybody who had a camera was a businessman. The business was so lucrative that even a school boy does that. We would go requesting for certain number of reel and even the place and time. And wait for ages to get our picture, which has to come from Phuntsholing. Each picture cost Nu.10.
  10. Torch Battery: This is not a business on its own but it was one commodity that sold like salt because it was used in torch, radio, and tape-recorded. Though pencil battery still exist the big brother of our time is gone forever.
    Where are you now?
Anybody from my generation could relate to these stories but if you are born in 90s perhaps this will be like a history note for you, because when you were born they were gone.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Made in Bhutan Apps (BHUTANews)

It's so shameful to discover that Bhutan couldn't produce one person capable of programming a simple computer software that we could proudly talk about in the world. Forget about a full scale software we haven't developed a mobile phone application so far. Somewhere I read that an 11 year old has developed an application for iPhone. I personally have lots of guilt because I entered computer lab back in 1999 and ever since I have been in touch with computer but still today I am dealing with Microsoft Office. I was never prepared for that. Exam was our only concern.

But wait, what have we here? An Android App made in Bhutan! The makers of Sherig Collection has pioneered an android app called BHUTANews. It's the first of its kind in the country and perhaps the alarm clock to us all. The app, which for now is available only on android devices, is capable of giving up-to-date news compiled from Bhutan's major newspapers, magazines and blogs. It's a one stop shop for news in Bhutan, and if you don't want to miss anything you should get it. It's free! Apple device users should have to wait.
Download it for free!
Like their Facebook Page to Ask Questions and Post Feedback

While I and my generation failed to make any significant impact on Bhutan's IT history, I have great hope in some of my students. They will do what I couldn't and when that day comes you will read about it here on this blog. You already read how much they have done during the School Club Exhibition.

Also some massive changes are coming the IT education in Bhutan, which has the potential to produce first generation of Computer programmers in Bhutan. I will write about this later. For now you download the app.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Born in November

My Daughter Ninzi is born in November, yes right at the end of November, which makes her one of the youngest four year old this year. November is a special month for Bhutanese because of November Eleven, birth month of a great king in our history. End of November is even more special because it's the beginning of long holiday and when my daughter entered this world at this time in 2009, by right I would have only five official days of paternity leave to dedicate to my newborn but because there was nothing important to do in the school her father got all the time in the world to spend with her. That was the good part of being born in November.
Now, the bad part of being born at the end of the year is that you get your age only at the end of the year, which makes your younger than everybody born in the same year. Being younger or older shouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the school admission policy. Admission in PP requires the child to be 6 years of age which means a child born in 2009 should be going to school in 2015, but my daughter will be eligible only in 2016.

I know one year night not make a difference, but if you have noticed, kids of this generation are unusually brilliant. My daughter, like many children of her age, is already ready for school. In fact if you give them the standard PP test they will easily pass it. Then what's the logic in holding them back till 6? What will my daughter do for the next three years at home?

Can something be done with school admission policy? Because things have changed so much over the years. Or should I, like many parents, do something with my daughter birth certificate? In my school, I have noticed that most of the students in class ten are between 14 to 16, which means they began school at 3 to 5. How did they do that?

My friend Ugyen Gyeltshen once confronted with a similar situation said, "I don't want to begin my child's education with a fake document", and I don't think I want to do that either.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Thank You BCSEA for the colorful Paper

In December 2010 I posted an article following a visibility issue with computer studies practical question paper.  As a subject teacher I grow equally excited about exams when my students sit for exam on my subject, but when they come out with teary eyes it pains a lot. That year my students who went into the exam hall with so much confidence came out like beaten dogs. It wasn't their problem, not mine either. The paper was supposed to have several picture of webpages but because it was printed in black and white the picture were invisible altogether. Students had to see the pictures in order to program something like that but since they couldn't see a thing they were shattered, so was I.
The Colorful 2013 paper

But this time to my pleasant surprise the pictures were printed in color, for that I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to BCSEA. It's not my childish fancy for color that I am thanking, color rather brings out the clarity in the pictures that are intended to be colorful, thus making the question very vivid. Now if students still can't answer the questions then the fault lies either with themselves or we the teachers who taught them.

Therefore, thank you for the colorful paper!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ninzi Becomes Four

My Daughter becomes four today, and the four years with her seemed like quick vacation. It had its own share of heartbreaks and tears but the joy she brought surpasses everything else.

First Month
Nine Months
One year
Over a year
The Shaved head
Two Years
Three Years

Now She is Four




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Story of Books in Bhutan

Publishing a book in Bhutan is the easiest way to become poor, and if a writer dares to publish their second book then respect them because you have no idea how much they invested in their passion. Everybody wants money from your book. The publisher who gives you their name, the guy who did the layout, the other guy who designed your cover, the press that prints your book, and the bookstore that sells your book, all of them want more profit from your book than you will ever make.
Latest Book in Bhutan: The Night Hunting
Have you bought one yet?
 Once the book is published all your friends want a free copy each, there are several offices that claim five copies each of your book as an official requirement and by the time you finish selling the few hundred copies you had in your hand you will realize that you didnt even recover your printing cost. The worth of your words is an absolute zero. Everybody made profit out of your book except you.
Escapades: Perhaps the Book of the Year
What do you say?
Bhutan is an untold story, million books won't be enough but how many books are written so far? How many will be written? Books are national treasures and there must be national will to build our treasure. Publishing a book should be made easier, let the writer write respectfully, don't let him run from office to another for registration to approval to whatnot. Let there be just one office that will do everything for the writer. Lets not ask money from the writer, instead sponsor half the printing cost because afterall it's national treasure. Initiate annual writers' award to recognize good writers, inspire young writers. Writing is a passion, don't treat it like a business.

And of all the things in the world don't talk about censoring books. If you can't write books it's ok, there are other who can, and if you can't read it's still ok there are others who can and will read. Lets just inspire, that matters a lot.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

VAST: The Art Cafe

It was in junior high school when I was dying to become an artist. I was lucky to meet my art inspiration and English teacher, Karma Wangchuk in Paro, but I never had any formal training from him. I would just look at his work, go back to hostel and play with my colors.

It was about that time VAST opened in Thimphu. By then I was doing well with watercolor and was winning some prizes in school art competitions. I went to Thimphu several times just return from the VAST door, I couldn't dare walk into the studio. I was very insecure. I thought it was for the rich and talented. That mistake cost me heavily. Even though I kept the passion throughout high school I couldn't really do anything significant. I couldn't afford a set of oil paint, and when I finally bought one I couldn't buy a canvas. Today I could afford both but my art has left me.

Still today I dream to visit VAST, I slow my car when I pass by their Chubachu Studio just to see what is inside but a certain feeling of guilt won't allow me to pull over and walk into the studio. I have known and seen the great founder of VAST Asha Karma for years and I have huge admiration for the man. I just wish I had gone to him, I know he would have made me an artist. I wish I had known VAST is for anyone who loves art. Perhaps being an artist was never painted on me.

Asha Karma & VAST
Well that was my story but yours shouldn't be like mine. I have asked VAST artists and lovers about the formalities of visiting VAST and there is none. You can walk in just like that and if you wish you could spend hours painting there under the guidance of professional artists. If you have your art works you could take there and hang them among their works to be sold. It's a haven for artists.

So Dear Readers, if you have an artist in you, among your friends or in your family who wants to take art seriously in life take them to VAST. It keeps its door open to everybody. I am going there in December for sure, I am not too old begin again. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

iSherig 2018

Today my team presented the final draft of ICT Master Plan 2018, which we branded as iSherig, to the Education minister, Secretary, Directors, and heads of all the relevant organizations including private sector. We have worked on it for the last four months and have scanned throught three round table meetings. The feedback on the final draft will be further discussed and the Report will be published by mid December 2013.

The following is an illustration of what we are hoping to achieve by the end of first five years of implementation of iSherig, i.e. 2018. I hope to share some more details on iSherig in near future.
iSherig 2018

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Salty Story- How Much Salt Do We Need?

If mankind can understand how rumors spread, the world would have the next generation of communication technology, which don't require any infrastructure, power and manpower. It can reach to the end of the world and back, penetrate the thickest of society and has the power to convince regardless of how silly the information is.

That salty evening when Kezang returned from her grocery shopping she came with the news of the salty rumor. I told her that I will believe in anything but salt shortage. By then we could see people running from shop to shop and lucky one loading bags of salt into their car trunk. Both of us didn't bother though the scene in the town was creepy with everybody talking about salt and walking with salt.

Cartoon by Wangchuk, Kuensel
We had a packet of salt at home already, how much more do we need? Before Bhutan opened trade with India salt was a big thing. It took men and horses across the mountain to Tibet just to get salt. But that was before we knew there were seven ocean full of salt. And before buffalo knew that he was living in land of salt and needn't wait for the yak.

It's interesting to note that we Bhutanese can believe in something as silly as salt shortage without a second thought and run to buy salt like the world is going to end with salt. But what is most interestingly disheartening is how we react in such situations. Within an hour every phone started ringing and the next moment we hear that all the salt in the towns across the country was sold out.

Some early birds(hawks) bought loads of salt as if salt shortage was going to affect just their families. They haven't paused for moment to think about what their greed would do on to the rest of the population. Thank god the rumor was false. Let them now have salty meals every day.

Shopkeepers suddenly inflated the price of salt and some were heard being very rude when asked why they were increasing the price. How would they show their face now? Are they going to do this to their customers if something real happens in the future?

Some shopkeepers hid all their salt stock in the store inside and lied to their customers knowing that they will fetch bumper price by the day as people become more desperate. They became not just selfish and greedy but also liers that evening.

That evening showed how salty we Bhutanese truly are, thanks to the rumor we got the opportunity to see the true color of our society. We are so selfish. We now know what will happen if a real crisis occurs. That was so unBhutanese and salty experience yet a good opportunity to reflect on what have become of us.

**BBS did a great job of enlightening the public on the issue that evening.
BBS did a wonderful job of clearifying 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lunch for Dr.Lotay and Team

Dr.Lotay's team began their voluntary surgical camp in Bajothang on 4th Nov 2013. The next day my wife underwent the surgery. During my two days in the hospital I have witnessed the finest human qualities and absolute sacrifice. He ran from one end of the hospital to another with bright smile on his face, between two surgeries he sees 10 to 20 patients, still there are people waiting to take chances on his way to the OT. He shows no sign of disgust, he rather walks them to the bench and ask them to wait there until he finishes his next case. This continues from 8 in the morning to late into the night. In the following day the team spent over 18 hrs straight, completing record 32 cases in a day, and calling it a day only at 5AM in the morning.
Dr.Lotay doing his last surgery in Bajothang on 13th Nov.
 I was so proud to see my school mate and adopted sister Nime Chunda in the team. She always had that caring nature in her and this time she has found the right team to work with. She hides her shy smile behind the mask and deals with hundreds of patients with consistent softness. I offered to bring her meals but she declined saying she eats with the team in the hospital itself and that's when I learned that they were eating at the hospital mess. I know the food there isn't so bad but for the team that's doing so much I felt it would be an honour to offer them good meals.

I made a casual post on Facebook about offering lunch to the team and suddenly I received a message from a Bhutanese living in New York. Ugay Wangmo supports various causes in Bhutan and this time she asked me to offer lunch to the team and has sent me Nu.10,000. I was so motivated that I offered to serve them lunch throughout their stay here. Even my school and my friends promised their help. By 10th Nov morning my wife recovered enough to help me and together we worked on menu for 13 member team and over 6 helpers. We ordered the lunch from the best hotel in the town.

It's interesting to observe that the team has no set lunch break, they run for lunch in twos and threes as they get time and rush back. Dr.Lotay himself had less than 20 mins to finish his lunch before the next case was ready. But I love it so much when he looked at his menu and commented: "Someone must have told you that I love fish." Yes he loves fish. He was so pleased to see my wife standing and working. Later in the evening when we went to serve them tea and momo, he took my wife in front of the crowd of anxious people and said, "See, there is nothing to worry about. She had her surgery and now she can even work, she is our cook." She was made to show her healing wounds.

Patients consult Dr.Lotay during the Lunch Break
That night they went on till 5AM in the morning to complete 32 cases. After few hours of rest on 11th Nov they conducted 80 endoscopy and still managed to work on seven surgeries which took them till 2:30 AM, this morning. During the lunch I expected to see everybody exhausted but not surprisingly they were full of energy. They were relaxed and had little more time to spare. They say that jokes keep them awake and give them energy but at the end it's the passion that drives them to extremes.

I got a call from a young entrepreneur, Chencho Dorji who wants to help me in offering lunch to the team and he contributed the additional amount of Nu.2000 for yesterday's lunch. For tomorrow a close friend of mine, and an inspiring young leader has offered his hand. He said said, his is not rich but he can do so much for Dr.Lotay. He will send me Nu.5000. He chose to be unnamed. At the end I may have to contribute only a small amount but experience of doing it is an honour for my family and all thanks to three of you.

The following is a poem that has inspired Dr.Lotay and I hope it does the same to all of us. Thanks Tshewang Rabgay for sharing it.

Do it Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. 
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. 
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. 
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. 
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. 
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. 
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway.

~Mother Teresa

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Dr. Lotay- The Healing Buddha

Dr.Lotay is known for his extraordinary medical wisdom and pair of divine hands but what makes him the greatest is what he does with them. We have seen him reach out to people through BBS when he was still working for Health Ministry and now that he is free from regular service he is using his freedom to heal people right at their doorsteps.
Dr.Lotay in Thimphu Gyedagom, Photo by Nima Tshering (Seen with Him)
Click on the Pic to read What Nima Tshering wrote in his Facebook journal.
I have heard about him doing voluntary gallstone removal surgery on over 140 people, all at free of cost, in Thimphu Gyedagom in the past month. And now he is in Bajothang working over 12 hours everyday. He runs between operation theatre and chamber no.8 every twenty minutes, and even at 9PM at night walks and talks like it's in the first hour of the day. While his team readies the next patient for surgery he attends to queue of people in chamber no.8. During the whole two days I was attending to my wife in hospital I couldn't help watching this great human being with wonder.

My wife needed this surgery ever since the conception of my daughter but since hers wasn't giving problem we ignored it until we knew that it could cause cancer in long run. We went to Thimphu Hospital some months ago only to get appointment in March 2014. This time the blessing has come to our door, Dr.Lotay's arrival in Bajothang is a blessing to my family and hundred others like us.

Healing Buddha
It was only 11 AM on 5th November when my wife was taken into OT, she was his fourth case for the day already. As he began the surgery it appeared on the screen in the waiting room, I could literally see the inside of my wife. At first I was anxiously shivering but soon I told myself "Come on, it's Dr.Lotay" and all the fear is gone. The procedure is very complicated, having to separate gallbladder from the liver with no room for error but when he does it everything seems easy. In 15 mins a brother came out with the stones and handed over to me. There was more than a palmful of stones in my wife's gallbladder, some as big as marble. The gallbladder was fully swollen and if we hadn't removed then serious problem was waiting.

It was 8PM when Dr. Lotay finished his 13th case for the day. It was on my principal. Before leaving he came around and soothed many patients. He didn't even looked tired. That day hospital was running out of bed and they had to keep at 13. But I heard they have done 15 to 16 every day since. Sometimes it was at 11PM the team leave for night.

Everyday people are pouring in, and some are coming from as far as Bumthang, even some people from Thimphu have followed him here. People come with all sorts of disease. Dr. Lotay has promised that no one will go back unhealed and thus extended his stay in Bajothang. I heard he is going down to Phuntsholing after here.
O' forgot to mention, you don't have to have any connection whatsoever to receive warm smile and best treatment from him. May god take care this compassionate soul.

Update 12 Nov. 2013: The number of patients coming increased by the day and Team Lotay had to extend a day more in Bajothang. In the last few days I have witnessed even greater power in the compassionate doctor and his team. His skills and spirit of volunteerism on one side and his energy on other side makes the man out of the world. His team began the first case of 10th Nov at 10AM and continued across the night till 5AM of Nov 11th to finish 32 surgeries. After few hours of rest they completed 80 endoscopy and seven surgeries that took them till 2:30 AM this morning. They are back in action again at 9AM today. Impossible is nothing for a willing heart!

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Class Picnic

This picnic with my class was long due. They always wanted it but I was never really sure if I wanted to take 29 young kids away from home and school and cook for them and give them a day worth remembering.
A few days back they came to me with the date and shopping list and left me with no choice but to agree on it. We sat down calculated a decent cost and wrote to their parents about today, the place and time.
My VIII C

Because they are very young I was worrying about every little detail, from salt to pots to bus. They were counting on me. I thought for a while and declared that I am going to be their guest and that I am not going to do anything. It's their picnic and should be done their way.
Well that freed me from all the worries and for the first time I enjoyed the idea of going on picnic with my class. This morning when I reached the picnic spot they had the breakfast ready, and were already in preparing for lunch. We had a good laugh over the spoilt breakfast, the fried rice that turned into pizza, which turned out to be tasty.
They have managed over six dishes with our decent collection, god knows how they managed it and the lunch they served today could beat any hotel in Bajothang. This is the best picnic I ever had, that too on the coronation day of his majesty.

The Pose, lead by my friend Tshering Zam, and directed by Jaggu...;D
Moral of the story: If you want to enjoy kids' picnic, let them be in charge.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Love Story and Real Life Story

My son is in love and he is very serious about it, which makes me very happy as a father and as a friend to my grown up son but there are some thing I want to tell him about love and life but he won't listen to me, perhaps he thinks I am too ugly to judge his love story or perhaps he thinks I am too old to understand  his way of life. I don't blame him and his school of thought. They are inspired by our generation.

Our generation, who are now parents of young adults are responsible for reshaping the culture of modern Bhutan. We were the ones who introduced love story in schools, who were the ones who experimented with drugs, we were the ones who formed gangs and popularised gang fights, and therefore now we are paying for all the wrongs.

I personally have no hand in any of the revolution in schools those days, I fought but alone, I loved but silently, and to my parents I have been the best son who gave them happiness every year and who never bothered them financially or socially. Perhaps that's why it hurts worst when my own child doesn't pay attention to my words.

I was only explaining to him a simple concept of love and life. At his age it's his natural right to fall in love and think that the world revolves around his girlfriend. At his age it's also obvious to love the song "when we are hungry, love will keep us alive." But sometimes it's foolish to wait and learn from ones own mistake, we could easily learn from others mistakes. I have seen that love doesn't keep people alive when they have nothing in the kitchen.

My Facebook Cover :(
I have met many high school lovers of our time living desperate and pathetic lives and wosres without each other, they have tasted real life and understood that their high school love wasn't enough to keep them together. I don't want my son to regret his love story like them, I want him to have a wonderful life with her and tell their children about their long love story. For that to happen they must concentrate on building the foundation of good life, which is education.

If they truly love each other and have serious intention of living the rest of their life together they should inspire each other to study harder, promise to bring great results, insist on completing homework, remind about assignment, and all the loving things that will bring them joy and seal their future.

But encouraging each other in bunking school, missing classes, ignoring homeworks, spending wasteful hours on phone and Facebook chat, and cheating parents and romancing will only bring momentary and selfish pleasure. These are recipe for a disastrous life and relationship. They will hate each other for being the reason for their failure in life.

But there is still time and I want my child to listen to me once seriously and live his love life intelligently. I also want my students and all the student lovers to decide how they want to live and love...


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Easy Education is Blessing

When I was growing up in village I was a hungry boy. My mother would say if I didn't return home by dusk I would sleep hungry and it happened several times. When I return home very late they would have finished their dinner. I would silently sneak into kitchen only to find the pots empty. I would cry until I fall asleep. Same punishment happened when I didn't do my share of household chores. And this desperation for food forced me to listen to my mother. I literally had to earn my food. Food was honoured as prize for being good. This is the story of hundreds of village children once upon our time.

Later when I grew up and saw life beyond my village I was up against hundreds of surprises and one that I couldn't digest was the way my urban cousins took food for granted. Their parents have to run after them to feed them, with promises to take them to town if they could empty their plate. If kids don’t eat parents get worried and fake many stories such as, if you eat you will grow strong like hulk, you can jump like Spiderman, and your hair will grow long and shiny like Barbie’s…

I just look at them and wish I was so lucky. But over time my crisis with food ended. I reached high school where we were given to serve our own meal and as much as we wanted. Gradually I began skipping breakfast and at times lunch. Then I realized why my urban cousins weren't desperate about their food. When something is given lavishly and for free we tend to take for granted. We forget to appreciate it.

Is this happening to education in Bhutan? Getting education in Bhutan is easy and free and every child’s right but unfortunately the easy education seems to be taken for granted. There is no desperation for education because desperation comes with deprivation. When I look at my students I could see the lightness with which they take school. They come to school, sit there and leave. Given the chance they would want every day to be sunday and go on picnic. They wouldn't realize the value of their right until it’s deprived. Should we be deprived of free education to appreciate its value?
"We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.” -Malala Yousafzai
I want to print the following picture of Malala and hang on the school wall so that someday our children will understand how blessed they are and most importantly learn to appreciate their blessing.
Image from buzzfeed





Wednesday, October 23, 2013

God Don't Need No Money

The Buddha and his Buddhism I know about and I believe in doesn't talk about money, it doesn't talk about buying blessing with money, it doesn't talk about greed for blessing, it doesn't talk about blind faith, and it doesn't talk about cleansing of sin just by bathing, offering or praying. It is all about selfless sacrifices we make for others, freeing from greed and attachment, and contentment with what we have. But looks like we have made Buddha into a business model.

I am not a faithless man but what is happening in Thimphu at RAPA hall is a religious circus where they make mockery of holy relics, which they know is a magical commerce. When religion opens a shop, there is no need for advertisement and nobody bargains. About 16,000 people kept aside their sleep and hunger to see the relics and throw in their money with prayers and wishes.

Image from BBS.bt
When I look at the wild crowd of pilgrims there I see greed, greed for blessing. Everybody wants to selfishly get in the front and everybody wants to be blessed first and more. They throw in money as if blessing is up for sale, and bigger the amount they throw more satisfaction they get with the selfish feeling that they will be blessed more.

On the other hand, there was Health Walk organised to raise money for Health Trust Fund, which is the money that will sustain our free health service but how many of us contributed? How many of us contributed without criticizing the move as political stunt? Our country is in difficult economic state and if there is anybody who needs money at this time its our country, not God, God don't need money.

Image from Kuensel
Rupee shortage has been bothering us since last year, which hugely inflated food prices and also was the very cause of vehicle import ban. In such times we have to put in collective effort to reduce rupee expenditure to stabilize the balance of trade but the millions of ngultrum we collectively threw at RAPA hall in the name of God will be converted to rupee and flown back to India on top of the huge fee we paid them to bring the relics to Bhutan. God didn't take the money, it was taken to India.

When will we understand that God is impartial; God won't bless those who came there more than those who didn't come, and those who paid more than those who paid less. When you will understand that you cannot bribe god for blessing, of all the things in the world god don't need money.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Youngest Bhutanese Blogger

How young do you think will be the age of the youngest Bhutanese Blogger?
Would you believe if I told you he is a 10 year old boy in Thimphu? Well you have to.
Singye Namgay is the youngest blogger I know in Bhutan and perhaps the most unbelievable. At his age I couldn't write a sentence in English correctly and this boy is reviewing books, movies, TV series ... with utmost spontaneity and brutal innocence.
Reading his article is like listening to an adult native English speaker, with soothing transacting from sentence to another and not to mention his great vocabularies, some of which aren't yet in my dictionary. Everytime I open his blog (www.singye.bt) I get goosebumps and I can't help wonder what substance this little soul is made of.
Let me not reduce his worth with my words, his own words will show you his true worth. Visit his blog by following the link above or by clicking on the picture below, and remember I am not responsible for what happens to you on his blog ;)
Singye's Blog 

Friday, October 18, 2013

After So Many Wednesdays

I began a new club in my school called eLearning Club this year. The members were recruited from different levels and right on the first club day I fed them with big dreams. I presented to them what we are going to show to the school on the last day of the club, giving them the mental picture of the annual club exhibition day.
Members who presented on the Day, there are more outside the picture.

Over the many Wednesdays we met our ideas narrowed down to small projects and we divided ourselves into subjects groups to venture out hunting for materials. I let them know that there are endless resources on internet to bank on. By the second month Rigsum has launched their Sherig Collection and we didn't have to struggle much on international materials anymore.

However, we took inspiration from Sherig Collection and worked on our own tutorial videos and audio books. Some students produced impressive maths video tutorials. But we failed on recording videos of important Science experiments, this is something we will take up seriously next year.

Last Wednesday, the time finally came for us to show what we have done in so many Wednesdays and I reflected on the vision we had. We set up a projector, two laptops and a computer connected to 42" LCD screen.
Following are the works we exhibited.

  1. Animated offline webpage, which contained all our works subject-wise. We had video tutorials, question bank, presentations,... on various subjects in website.
  2. We had a presentation on our members' blogs.
  3. We had set up a laptop as a station for the visitors to listen to the audio book recording of "Dawa, the story of stray dog in Bhutan"
  4. We had digital comic books of many short stories taught in different levels of classes, and also had print version of some of them.
  5. We had another station where we had installed Rigsum Sherig Collection for demonstration and distribution. 

By the end of the exhibition, after over 700 visitors came in and walked out with excitement I knew we have lived the dream we saw on the first day. My Club members were so happy themselves and perhaps they now know what they have to do to make 2014 Exhibition even bigger.

Kindly visit my students' blog and motivate them:

MY STUDENTS' BLOG

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