Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Robbing the Country Blind"- Beyond English Lesson

"Robbing the country blind" was a figure of speech that Druk Phunsum Tshogpa took literally. Over the past months many people including Dasho Benji himself gave the party several English lessons. This case became so popular that the whole nation would by now know the meaning of the figure of speech, but as a matter of fact, no one will ever use it, especially on Facebook.

Opposition Leader with Dasho Benji- Photo Courtesy: RSPN Website
Beyond the English what lessons did we learn?

Individually, we must be warned that we can't just say anything against anybody if we can't substantiate. You should be more careful if you are a prominent figure in the society. Your words can be interpreted in many ways. And most importantly we should know freedom of speech has limits, which is not defined.

On the contrary, what Dasho Benji did was a very democratic example to the so many young followers he has on social media. He is illustrating how to speak up without shying, and most importantly he was showing us that we need not be anonymous to speak up boldly. But what DPT did to Dasho will have very deep impact on the emerging culture of social dialogue. People will never take chances and we may always resort to speaking anonymously.

Druk Phunsum Tshogpa, as a party should have never bothered about such petty comments because this is politics. They should focus on bigger goals of nurturing democracy in the country rather than giving suicidal threats from time to time. Their very nature of going off-focus lost them 2013 election, where instead of talk about what they will do they spent the whole campaign period talking and laughing about what the other party was going to do.

While it's easy to file a defamation case, just as freedom of speech has no well defined boundary, defamation doesn't have shape too. Freedom of speech doesn't necessarily end where defamation begins. The thin line between the two is very flexible. Therefore, now Dasho Benji's lawyer is charging DTP for "infringe upon the fundamental rights of an individual, which is guaranteed by Constitution.” He goes on for 13 pages where international examples of how political parties can't sue individual were cited. In a surprising backfire, after failing to convince the party that 'robbing the country blind' was a figure of speech, Dasho Benji is now substantiating his Facebook comments by digging out the ugly past, which could cost the party Nu.75 million. Party shouldn't have cornered the cat.

6 December, DTP will present their argument and the case will go on for sometime. Opposition will lose so much in this case- from time, attention to their real job, public support and perhaps Nu.75 million. 

Who Should Win?

If DTP wins, freedom of speech will be under question. There will be lesser people daring to say anything openly. There will be lots of anonymous users on social media. The very foundation of democratic dialogue will be dead.
If Dasho Benji wins, then it will lead to more social dialogues, not personal attacks. People who are hiding behind the mask will slowly come out in the open without fear. DPT will need a loan of Nu.75 million to drink their own ara. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rastafari in Primary School

What is the significance of Rastafari (The green-yellow-red) flag? The question is no even important to anyone of us. Whatever its significance were in its glory days of 1930s, now it’s reduced to a mere symbol of Marijuana smokers. The flag and its ideology has travelled countries and oceans from Ethiopia to Bhutan. It has invaded the young minds with illusion of fashion and happiness. Now the taxi and trucks are carriers of the tricolour flag. 
The Flag that has nothing to do with Bhutanese Truck, Taxi or Youth yet they all carry it so religiously! 
It’s already a worrying trend that a new flag has become a symbol of something very exciting among the young people and that they are proud of it, and what makes it scary is that the adults who run business make all the choices available for the children to pick- from shirt, scarf, cap, locket, wristband, handkerchief, to name a few. 
Bob Marley, a Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, who sang ‘Buffalo Solider’ and ‘No Women, No cry’  was a very popular Rastafari (follower of the believe or movement), today not many young people sing his famous songs but they do carry his picture on their dresses or ornaments along with the tricolour flag. He is now considered the lord of the drugs. He died in 1981 from drug overdose (Sorry for the factual error) and after 32 years he is still brainwashing children.
It was bothering me for years now and I have written about it before. More trucks and taxis are decorated with the flag each year. Suddenly one day I went to a primary school for some official work  and there I was confronted with my worst fear. I always thought this ideology won’t make sense and would spare the primary school students but the first child I talked to was wearing a Rastafari wristband. 
“Do you know what is this?” I asked, with the hope that he must have worn it innocently.
“It’s Rasta, sir” Which means he knew all the wrong connotations of the flag and still chose it wear it on proudly.
“Do you know what type of people like this type of bands?” I was hoping again.

“Yes sir, people who love Marijuana.” It broke my heart right way. 

The evil ideology from 1930 Ethiopia has travelled across time and distance into a primary school classroom in Bhutan. That child wasn’t the only one with that fascination for marijuana, throughout the day I was in that school I had to see chilling number of children with that dreadful influence. By the time I left their school gate I was convinced that only few who are parented well will be spared.
The flag has already found it's way into Bhutanese tapestry 
Note: RSTA can help remove the flags from all the trucks and taxis if it's done during the annual fitness test- because it's not our national flag. It may sound like a petty thing but as a teacher and parent I must tell you it's a sign, a very bad sign. Bhutan need not go through this. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

One Horsewoman of Taktshang

In these few years if you have visited Paro Taktshang you must have noticed that there are plenty of horses waiting at the base like taxis at Lungtenzanpa, and as you hike up the hill you would see many more horses plying tourists up to the monastery. It must be a very recent development because I haven't seen horses during my four initial visits from 1997 to 2006.

My late stepfather's sister is now one of the many horsewomen waiting at the base of Taktshang. I am so happy to see that she has finally made a easier choice in life, though climbing Taktshang more than once every days is by no means easy but comparing to what she has gone through Taktshang should be a cup of tea.
Horsewoman Dawa Bidha. Photo by Sonam Peljor
She was a brave lady who refused to accept any stereotypical notions of the rural society she lived in. As a beautiful young widow she could have accepted another proposal and made her life easy and nobody would have bothered after a while but she made the harder choice. She had to bring up two daughters and care for her old mother inlaw, and therefore remained single throughout.

I have heard of men travelling to Tibet in the dead of night, crossing mountains after mountains, through snow and sometimes blizzards, but my aunty was the only woman who did that all her life, and mostly all by herself because she didn't find likes of her in the company of men. She and her horses took that terrible journey thrice a year and then she carried her goods on her back and travelled the width of the country going from door to door and seeking shelter wherever the day ended. She has reached every Dzongkhag and she told me that she entered every Dzong to offer butter lamp and sell her posters (of Buddhist masters) and pocket knifes.

Now it's been some years since the route to Tibet has become very dangerous for poster traders like my aunty after some people started using it for smuggling sandalwood. She now gave up on Tibet. She is in her late 50s and it's time she hung the saddles but because she still has to care for the old mother inlaw, and her two daughters still lean on her with their children she can't sell her horses as yet.

So here she is at the base of Taktshang with her horses, still sweating and still panting yet happily doing her duty as daughter inlaw, as mother and as grandmother by being a horsewoman of Taktshang. Her name is Dawa Bidha.


P:S: Though I will never ride a horse especially to Taktshang but for the longest time I romanticised the idea of riding on a horse to Taktshang after seeing a 1971 picture of Aung San Suu Kyi. It was said that Michael Aris proposed Aung on the same day after reaching Taktshang. What they have achieved in their lives after that will be remembered by history. I personally am so grateful to late Aris for all the books he wrote on Bhutan.
During my fifth visit to Taktshang in 2012, my wife, daughter and sister inlaw took what-I-call the "Aung San Suu Kyi Ride" to Taktshang. Somewhere in the middle one horse ran downhill carrying my wife and if it wasn't for my brother Samtay who caught the horse the memory would have been ugly. While it's nice to ride horses to Taktshang always know that it's risky.

Aung riding to Taktshang, 1971



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Do You Give a Shit?

Today is my beloved wife's birthday and it gave me double joy to discover that it coincides with World Toilet Day. We have been working on the idea of Bhutan Toilet Organisation ever since I became a member of World Toilet Organisation, but this year we didn't have time enough to do anything grand, though the constant effort to change the relationship between us and our toilets will keep happening.

So on my dear wife's birthday and on the world toilet day I would like to humbly launch Bhutan Toilet as an informal organisation for now. Following are the pictures of toilets people sent us and we would like to seek your support in advocating the WTO's messages through a simple campaign- i.e. Send us your toilet picture.  Or your workplace. 

Chhukha Dzong Gate

Lobesa Restaurant 

Royal Academy Paro

Rinchengang School

Zangdopelri Building Thimphu
Email the pictures to passu@passudiary.com or join us on our Facebook Page to interact with us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Collection of Rare pictures of His Majesty the fourth king of Bhutan

Today on this most auspicious day, November 11, 2014, I join the nation and the world in offering my humble prayers for our beloved fourth king's continued good health. There are hundred things people are doing today to make the memory of this day special and I want to celebrate it by making a compilation of all the rare pictures of the Great IV I saw today on the internet. 

Since the pictures were shared freely on the public domains I hope it isn't an issue to share them on my blog. The picture are arranged in no particular order. (Collection is growing each day, from 36 to 56 pictures to now 75) I would like to thank all those people who helped in building this collection.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the latest additions to the collection:
Added on 6.02.2015. Source: Au Tshering Tashi 


















 His majesty in a speed boat. Shared by Wangchuk Dorji
Shared by Kinley Dolma

Shared by Pema Chuki

Shared by Pema Chuki
Shared by Tshering Dema

Shared by Pema Chuki






























Update 18.11.2014: The rarest of the rare Kupar, contributed by Tai HaoLee Zhufu and Jamyang Drukda. Thank you very much for supporting. 


Contributed by Sonam Wangmo








Update 19.11.2014, with contributions from Blogger Kuenzang Thinley, popularly known as Palden Sonam Nima (PSN) the collection is blessed with some of the rarest kupar ever from His majesty's early childhood. 






Update 29.01.2015: Thanks Tshering Dema and Pema Chhomo for sending in two great kapurs to add to my collection. I also would like to thank so many people who remember me whenever you see rare Kupars of His Majesty the fourth king.



Update 1st Nov 2015: Following pictures are sent in by my friend Palchen Dorji.





If you have some Kupars that you think can impress me and can help expand this collection, please do send it to me: passu@passudiary.com


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