Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Celebrity Week

This has been the wildest one week of my life- five days of celebration of music, art and literature. All but in Thimphu. I feel sorry for friends who couldn't make it to the week long Bhutan International Festival. But one thing I gradually realised is that things don't happen in Thimphu, individuals and groups make things happen. It's all private initiative, people put brain, money and hardwork to fly in hundreds of foreign talents and discover hundreds of native stars. My deepest appreciation to the organisers.

While few youth have painted the entire picture of Bhutanese youth dark over the years, you should see those youth speakers at TEDx. Their talks will reassure you that our future is in the safe hands. The videos should be on YouTube soon, and I hope BBS will take a step forward to acquire the recordings and broadcast to the nation. By the way, all the talks were free besides free coffee- Amazing Bhutan!

Clock Tower Sq. and Mojo Park staged musics and dances of all sorts with some celebrity musicians from faraway lands performing. For once I wished if I had ten extra pairs of ears and eyes that I could send around to attend each of those events- Art exhibition at VAST, Dance program at Clock Tower Sq., Live Art at the Centenary Children's Park, Pottery and other craft at Tarayana, some never seen before art and science show... Thimphu was for once heaven for people like me. 

And if you have patience enough to wait late after the shows and reach all the places at once then there you have all the opportunities to bump into personalities you otherwise see only on screen, books or hear on your music sets. For me I have left no adventure unlived when the world of celebrities was at my door.

Thanks to Gangchu for introducing me to the central piece of the festival, Lucky Ali. The quiet man standing in the corner was not noticed by the crowd for quite sometime until someone informed the stage. He came out to relax at Mojo and landed up performing- quite a bonus for us. Not to mention that he happily posed with me and Kezang. 
Lucky Us, Lucky Ali
The two larger than live art pieces showcased at the centenary children's park were all over Facebook but nowhere have I seen the picture of two artists who painted them. Here you are. One is our own Chang, who did the Buddha.

The two artists on new canvas 
The super villain,  known to many of us as Feroz Bai, the international Don, our own Kelly Dorji was among us. There was a time when I and my brother watched his south Indian movies every time it came on Zee Cinema, which is like every week, and meeting him in person was quite a moment. To ace it, he sounded more excited to meet me- am I going to be on PaSsu Diary? Humility is Kelly!

Don't Mess with me, I have the Don's backing 
This guy Zhaw gave his explosive performance at TEDx, Mojo and Viva City and I followed him. I have heard melodious voices, and explosive voices but this guy has both together. I don't know if he would even remember but I have never failed to shake his hands after his performance. 

Zhaw!
And finally in the field I love the most-Literature: This must be the fourth time I met author Kunzang Choden, the godmother of Bhutanese Literature in English, but I have never really dared to ask her to pose with me. This time I went with a plan, I asked my daring friend Pema Chhomo to set it up for me. While I was in conversation with the author, Pema walked in and said, "O' Ashi, PaSsu idolises you, why don't two of you take a picture together." Finally Click! Thanks Au Pema.

Finally!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

His Majesty's Carpenter Story

It was winter of 2000 in Punakha that I first saw His Majesty in person, as a young crown prince. You can calculate how young he was then. I was participating in national level sports meet in Khuruthang, when then His Royal Highness visited us. In the school hall, I along with over hundred sportsmen from schools across the country listened to a story His Royal Highness shared.

His Majesty 
The story was about a very skilled carpenter who spent all his life building houses for people except himself. One day the old carpenter was invited to build a house by a rich man, which was going to be the last project because he has grown very old. When he finally completed the house the rich man came to him and said, "You have spent your life building houses for other but you don't have a house for yourself, this last house you built is my gift for you."
The carpenter who should be very happy about receiving the gift, looked at the house he built and in deep repentance thought "If I knew this house was for myself I would have build it better in so many ways"

That day when I heard the story I thought the carpenter was stupid, I felt sorry for him, yet I rejoiced in the fact that he got a house and that he could improve the house as he wished because after all he was a carpenter.

I retold the story so many times to my siblings and friends over the years, and gradually I began to discover the deeper meaning. Soon I began to resent the carpenter. He was a gifted person who had never done his best. Only when he knew the house was his to take he thought of how differently he could have built.

I grew up with the story, and the story grew with me. His majesty's message seeped deep within me. When I look back I realised I was like the carpenter when I was studying, halfhearted in my endeavours and disregarding purposes in things. Later, the life I have build in school was finally gifted to myself at the end of school. I got lucky, but there are many friends who had to live the halfhearted lives they build for themselves, like the regretful carpenter.

Eight meaningful years have passed by since I began my career and when I look back I am proud that I have built all the houses like they were my own, and like the rich man's gift,
everything in coming back to me in the form of satisfaction, experience and happiness.

On His Majesty's 35th Birthday, along with my prayers I commit to put my heart in every little thing I do in enriching the lives of people around me and the society without fear or favour. I commit I will be responsible and won't tolerate irresponsibility. I promise I won't be corrupt and won't tolerate corruption. This is a humble gift to his majesty from an ordinary subject.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Anyone Can Do Portrait- Simple Technique

I am doing this blog for all the people who wanted to know how I did those professional looking portraits I posted on Facebook. Like I promised, it's very simple and at the end you will find me not so talented after all, but it's ok because even I learned it within ten minutes of chat with the founder of VAST Yangtse, Mr Jimmey Dorji. It take a little bit of curiosity with more than average passion for art to do it. 

Step 1. Look for a good quality picture of the subject you want to work on, most probably yourself or your favourite person to begin with. I have chosen His Majesty's picture to demonstrate because I know you will try doing His portrait at one point. 
When using any picture editing software (Paint, Publisher, Photoshop, etc.) convert it into Black and White picture (completely). If you have Photoshop then follow the procedure shown in the picture (Image> Adjustment>Threshold)



The following is the result. Make sure Black parts are well defined. Don't make it too black to too white, maintain the integrity of the picture- it has to look like His Majesty even with just simple Black and White patches.


Step 2. Print out the edited picture. Bingo, we are done! Well not that fast. Choose a good paper if you have. Transparency sheet is best if you want to reproduce the art over and over but otherwise just ordinary paper is ok.


Step 3. Using a blade or cutter knife cut out the black portions carefully. The finer you cutting the better the result. 


This is how a finished stencil looks like. Mine is not so well done because I had to rush to finish this blog.


Step 4. Place the stencil on the canvas or wall or shirt or wherever you want to do the portrait and paste it using a tape. Make sure there is no fold on the stencil.
It's time to choose colour, the best is black. Acrylic paints dry instantly therefore get a small bottle of Black Acrylic to avoid spillovers. Then you need a sponge to apply the colour. But since I don't have a sponge I am going to use brush.
Now soak the sponge or brush in the colour and carefully apply all over the opening in the stencil, making sure that the colour is evenly spread all over. Pay special attentions to small corners like eyes and lips.


 Step 5. Let it dry for a while. If you have used Acrylic then no worries, but if you have used water colour or oil colour then remove the stencil carefully and there you are... Just waiting to be signed! T


The stencil can be used again and again and again until it tears off. If you have used transparency sheet then there is no question! All the best! If you are doing one right away, give me the honour of looking at your finished work!

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Paro Has a Problem

Paro is a gateway to Bhutanese economy, and that explains why our economy is unhealthy. I am quite new to this place to understand the secret to how they managed to keep the town so dirty. It's amazing how people can adapt to living in dustbins and I don't quite know how responsible authorities manage to sleep peacefully.

Someone told me a story about attitude of business people in Paro town; Once an elderly woman was seen dumping her waste in the drain in the middle of town, and as matter of fact he went to ask her to take care of her waste. You know what she replied? "O Boy, don't worry, scouts will come to clean up the town on Saturday." It's clear that all the good intentioned cleaning campaigns school children conducted in the town went on to pamper these people and it only taught them how to take waste for granted.

I confirmed the story firsthand within my short stay in this place. One day Clean Bhutan brought along a passionate group of college students and cleaned the entire town. For the first time I saw the town clean. As always it took a cleaning campaign to let the town breadthe fresh air. I don't know how no Parob felt guilty about letting people from as far as Shrubtse and Gedu colleges clean their town. Quite obviously, unthankfully, and unfortunately I saw the town back to its sorry state just a few days later. Following are the pictures of one spot I took to show you the state of Paro over the past weeks. Now they are waiting for another cleaning campaign! 
Before the Cleaning Campaign
After the Cleaning Campaign
Later, and few days after
People living in this place should know that their irresponsible way of living could damage the image of the whole country. While they deserve to suffocate on their own garbage, they should not forget that they live on the gateway to Bhutan. Tourism keeps the heart of Paro beating and it's their natural responsibility to make the place worthy of the privileges it gets. Be it the town or the way to Taktsang, it's time Paro stopped waiting for the goodwill of responsible people from elsewhere.
Jangsa Bridge
 For now there seems to be no municipal body in Paro, and if there is one perhaps it's time they surprise us by justifying their role. The location and size of mobile dustbins should be intelligently changed. The frequency of garbage collection around the town should be upscaled. Irresponsible people should be heavily fined, because education seemed to have failed but again they might say the garbage trucks don't turn up or the dustbin in the town corners are tiny. So basically it must begin with the change in system. I still remember following a garbage collection tractor along airport road that spilled waste all over the place as it sped ahead of my car. The plastics were flying on to my windscreen and sacks of waste were dropped on the road. Can you believe these were the people entrusted to manage waste?
Tamchoe Lhakhang
I also think the handicraft shop owners should lend their clean hands to make the town clean for their potential costumers to happily visit them. The same should be the moral responsibility of Guide Association of Bhutan and Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) to make the town welcoming for their bread to fly in. It is more than ever important to let Paro shine and glitter because 2015 is going to be big for tourism industry as Bhutan observes Visit Bhutan year. If Thimphu is the heart of Bhutan, Paro is truly the face and we can't present a dirty face to our guest. We haven't done it thus far and let us not set an unglamorous precedent by doing it when we are inviting the world to come visit our pristine country. 

Bottomline: Stop giving Paro fish, teach Paro how to fish!

(I think everybody knows about the effect of solid waste on our environment and ultimately on ourselves, therefore I am not discussing the cliché in this article.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Lost Bloggers- Calling Them Back (Blogger Award Post)

I am happy to see the recent activity among the Bhutanese bloggers, nominating each other for 'Very Inspiring Blogger Award' and forming a warm network. It's an interesting exercise to do from time to time to get ourselves connected with each other and with our writing. I discovered more young and passionate bloggers in last few weeks than entire year because of this chain awarding blogposts. I would like to thank whoever has started this.

Thank you Rima Reyka, the Singaporean blogger who is so deeply connected to so many of us here in Bhutan, for nominating me and getting me in this wonderful loop. The same gratitude also goes out to my fellow Bhutanese blogger Amrith Subba, Langa Tenzin, Lekey Choden Dorji and Sonam Tenzin for considering me worthy of his regards. (Let me know if anyone else has nominated me)


Coming down to real deal, I find it unusually hard to sieve just 15 bloggers from among hundreds I know and read. I have different liking for different blogs, each has different style and theme and at the end their impact is unique, therefore pointing out 15 very inspiring blogs is very disheartening. I have been trying to do it for days.

Then I have decided that I will nominate senior bloggers to narrow down my choices. I have deliberately chosen some bloggers who have left their blog barren for long time, and some who have left blogging altogether. I am strongly hoping that those who have left blogging will return, and pick up from where they left. Because they were the ones to lead, and they have shown us how to make differences.

Therefore I nominate the following bloggers that have shaped my blogging profession in more than one way:


  1. Tshering Tobgay's Blog (Your excellency, I know you are busy but in Blogosphere too you are the Prime Minister)
  2. IamDrukpa (You are crazy- while you posted and while you left)
  3. Penstar (You posted one in a longest while, come one!)
  4. loteY's : straight from the heart (Yes, straight from the heart, still)
  5. Bhutan Literature (After FCB you seemed to have forgotten Bhutan Literature)
  6. Luzee (You are becoming lazy!)
  7. Feelings and Emotions (Is motherhood so bad? Why did you delete your blog?)
  8. Kuenza's Diary (I know you posted recently but I expect more)
  9. Qinza's Stories (What happen now?)
  10. Writing My Own Unwritten Lines (You still have Unwritten Lines, don't you?)
  11. Sonam's SillyWit (Missed your wit for so long, where are you?)
  12. Dorji Penjor (Seen you active on Facebook, let do it on your blog too)
  13. Dorji Wangchuk (Those amazing stories on your Facebook Walls can be here)
  14. Hear My Voice (We will, come back Yeesi)
  15. And There is More to Life (Ya, there is more to life, come back)
While my hands itch to type Wangcha SangeyRiku Dhan Subba's Blog, Through the Eye of a Bhutanese YouthThoughts & Works, Porky Pie, I Relate to ThatLeythro- the Continuity of FateLekey Wangdi - From Tiny Himalayan Nation of Bhutan, and Bhutan Land Of The Thunder Dragon but I have seen that they are active and inspiring people everyday. And I know I have missed on so many other bloggers who have made differences... and that's why I don't like this awarding system... ) 


(The two blogs I still remember years after they are removed are A Blog By Tongyal and Lobxang. I wish they would come back)


7 Things About Me, which are narrowly about my online activities and other relative details:

1. I am a Computer Applications Teacher
2. I am co-founder of WAB (Writers Association of Bhutan)
3. I am founder of B-Bay- Buying and Selling Second Hand Stuffs in Bhutan
4. I am Founder of Bhutantoilet.Org
5. I run the Page 'Thank You Dr. Lotay'
6. I also Run the Group "Breaking the News"
7. I am nocturnal, trying to compensate waking hours from my sleeping hours

Now if you wish to join this nomination chain, following are the rules:


  1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the Award on your blog
  3. Say 7 facts about yourself
  4. Nominate other 15 amazing bloggers for the award, link them and inform them about the nominations

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