29 December 2009

My Daughter's Page I

After becoming father washing diapers became more important than blogging, in case some of you wonder why I didn't write for sometime. My daughter doesn't have a name yet; I wanted to call her Deki Tshomo, but her mother thinks Deki is not a lucky name (she happened to see that in life) she rather choses Ninzey Tshomo and today my mother registered her in census as Kezang Choden, since her birth certificate carries no name.

By 9:09 PM today my daughter will be one month old. This first one month she has been a very good girl. She is not too demanding, she rarely cries at night and she gives us an occasional smile. Her good health is our biggest assert and I am grateful to god.

Tomorrow she will go to Yangthang for the first time. She will meet her little Aunty Pema Yangchen and reunite with her grandmother.

23 December 2009

The Answer to My Quiz!

I am really surprised you all could pin point the spot. I don't know if Lobxang used his common sense or he actually saw it when he was here. But Tongyal is cheating. Youngten L Tharchen is very specific when he said "below Thinleygang", of course the whole area is Thinleygang but we often associate a town to a place.

And thanks Ma'am Loh but you know Google can't help trace a place in Bhutan. I had to correct many locations on Google Earth. Anyway thanks. It's about 30 km down Dochula to Wangdue.

15 December 2009

I can't be Home on Lomba: Guilt of Asha Haap

Nothing is sadder in a Hap’s life than being away from home on Lomba. It falls on the 29th day of the eleventh month in Bhutanese calendar every year. Yangthang is my home and somehow no place could ever replace it. Life in village was never easy but that didn’t matter. Ages from now nothing in Yangthang will belong to me except memories still I will call it my home. Tonight Haa valley will not sleep. Yangthang will be noisy with gangs of lads wandering houses singing with bags that need to be filled with hoentey.

Hoentey is a simple vegetarian momo-like food. The outer skin is made of buckwheat flour and the inside is either turnip or dried spinach (lom) or both fried in butter with world of species. Nothing in the world beats its taste; I can only imagine it this time though. The big local festival is considered the ushering of New Year locally, however we only have hoentey on the menu, and at times I feel it must be the cheapest festival.
Every Hap consider a year older from the night of Lomba. Strangely my baby will be two years old from tomorrow according to Haps, thought she is just 16 days old; she gets 1 year from the time she spent in the womb and another year for having celebrated a lomba. Thus we always had confusion about our age in school.

The thrill of forming groups and wandering the village in the dark making noises and breaking fences on Lomba nights are highlights in the life of a village lad. It has been over 12 years since I have out grown that age group but the memories come back afresh each year. I have never really grown since then.

I am guilty for leaving my village, my home and my mother for this job of mine, which in its nakedness is nothing but greed for money and status. But I console myself knowing that life must go on and knowing that this is what my mother wants of me. Lomba is but all together a different story, I should be home no matter what, I should be helping my mother in making hoentey and challenging my brothers in eating it… where have I come now? How far have I come from myself? When will I get to be where I want to be and do things I want to do and still be satisfied? Why are we running away from who we are in search of ourselves?

11 December 2009

500 KM to Tashigang

Where is this Milestone? It's a notable spot, exactly 500 Km from Tashigang. The winner of my quiz will get...I don't know what I have that I can give you...Forget the prize, give the answer and be satisfied!

08 December 2009

Moments in Photograph!

I don't have a picture from my childhood though there was camera then (how do I know there were cameras?) My uncles have huge collection of photograph with my grandfather in them (probably from 70s), I wonder why my mother is not among them during those moments. It seems like there was a family camera but may be I was too ugly to waste a film!

Well that was history. Now I have a digital camera and I do keep photographic record of every important moment in life. And Most of all I am going to click every little moments of my daughter's life; her first bath(ha I have video recorded it and uploaded it on Youtube), first smile, first cry, her first birthday, her first everything...

Someday when she become old enough to comprehend life she would love to revisit her life and live the innocence yet again in her fathers love. For now I have this pictures...

05 December 2009

Exam Duty in Thinleygang

Thinleygang is a beautiful place hidden under dull weather these days. It's not very cold like Thimphu and not windy like Wangdue. Am I not lucky to get invigilation duty here? I am luckier still for having just afternoon exams since it's a middle secondary school.

As I sit in a corner and watch the children write their exam I see some restless kids launching their searching eyes onto other's papers and making different faces and signs. What they don't know is that they are invigilated by a vigilant man, who had come through the thicket of such tricks. But they should know that I am not here to spy on them and catch them red-handed and kick them out of exam hall (like many people believe) I am here to make sure that each child gets fair chance to write their exam, I am here to give each child the silence they need to concentrate on their paper, I am here to protect them from any sort of harm while writing their exam, I am here to serve any need they might require (of course not in giving them answers) and I am here to make sure that each of their answer script reaches the marking center. But who appreciates our presence at all?

29 November 2009

I am a father!

At 9:09 PM, 29th November 2009, My wife gives birth to my daughter in Bajothang BHU. She is 3 kg heavy with dark black hair, already opening her eyes and suckling her fingers. Thank you god, I am a father now!

In Picture: My daughter's first day among us, her first bath, conducted by her grandmother Gaki, my mother!

27 November 2009

This is why I hate exam!

My brother made a mistake of his life. He did study well but that was not just enough. This year he wants to make a difference. He came to me. All I can help is in computer subject. I helped him last year but the distance made it difficult. This year we had two months to sit together and study JavaScript and HTML. I am confident he is more able now.
This morning the two of us walked to the exam room, I was more nervous than him, I was more desirous than he was. Just before they entered the room BBE called our supervisor to tell him that the supplementary candidates need not sit for practical exam. I was shocked; the document for BBE clearly states that they should sit for practical exam and now all of a sudden the rule changes. I call back BBE to listen to this irrational story. I exaplained to them how much effort we have put in this second year to make up for the first mistake. But they say theya re going to take in last years's mark because some exam centers don't have computers to do practical at all.
The man on the phone finally tried to make it short by say, "persuade the kid and let him go"  and at that moment I made my reply, " Sir, the kid happens to be my brother and as much as it hurts him it hurts me twice."

23 November 2009

Magazines, Bhutan and Ngawang's Dream

My friend Ngawang Phuntsho has a dream I didn't know about. He dreams of Druk Outlook without waking me up, of course he has the freedom of dreaming alone. Druk Outlook is supposed to be a magazine just as I had a dream of a smaller student’s magazine like the Indian Student Today or Wisdom, which would be cheap and resourceful for the students. I don't know what difference Ngawang plans to bring forward with his dream magazine but I would want to have solved question papers, subject notes, explained poems, writing competition, teachers’ and students’ award, etc…

This is but just a part of a big problem. Bhutanese buyers think Nu.100 to too much for a magazine, when they can pay the same amount to photocopy ten pages in black and white. Just go to a photo studio and have a copy of your picture printed in A4 size, I don’t know about Phuntsholing and Thimphu but in Wangdue it is Nu.300. Now look at a Magazine; it’s over 130 pages of full colored pages with write-ups. The cost we are paying for a magazine can actually buy just a page of it or an empty book.

A Magazine or for that matter a newspaper, survives on advertisers and sponsors but our country has very few companies which can afford such luxury. And this few find no reason why they should be advertised in Bhutan when they are already more than known to everybody. So it is hard to dream of a Magazine in Bhutan. And it is harder to dream of it when there are more magazines coming up because the sponsors are the same companies who didn’t see any difference after having being advertised in those former magazines.

Except for Tashi Delek (in-flight magazine of DrukAir) no magazine ever saw their second issue. Bhutan Now was the first and therefore the first to fail. Bhutan Window, Druk Trowa and Yeewong are the produce of 2009 and they are yet to see their second issues. I am positive as much as they are but until then Ngawang and I should put aside our dreams. At least we should wait for our country to come up with a company that can either make a shirt or a soap which is worth advertising and therefore that company is willing to sponsor our magazine.

19 November 2009

Bajothang School Wireless Network: A generation ahead!

When I heard the news (on BBC) of a city in England where every citizen gets access to free wireless internet connection (first of it kind in the world) I just realized that Bajothang School is not bad! You walk into my school campus with a laptop (with wireless device) and you are connected 100mbps wireless network with 24 hours internet for free (Of course I should authorize you).

We began with a dial-up connection in 2007, then we taught internet from book and students has to imagine what email is and search engine… By last year we moved on to broadband. Sharing the internet on an imperfect network was difficult; on top of that broadband is not a connection to be shared on network.
I knew development is going to rain on us when a Singapore International Foundation chose our school along with four other for their Bhutan W.I.R.E.D Project. The core of the project is to use ICT in teaching and learning. And the dream is to connect the five schools with MoE to share resources through internet. The project donated 10 laptops to each school, with a LCD projector each and cameras. We are half way through at the moment but the going is good!

The broadband became old fashioned suddenly; we opted for lease line (all high school must have got this scheme from MoE). Our network became reliable and we started sharing the internet connection. Then the Bhutan W.I.R.E.D required our school to have a domain server which glorified our network and made my college dream come true. Mr. Kong Ming, a volunteer for the project, came out of his shoes to set up the whole thing.

Mr. Karma Jurmi, the man who looks after ICT department in MoE, promised us a set of wireless equipment and he kept his word. Right after we had the network and domain server done we got the wireless set. The power of this tiny device still didn’t cease to amaze me. I worked out a blueprint and left no building in school out of network, through wire and the wireless.

There are about 30 teachers in my school and 27 of us own our own laptops, which are connected to internet as long as they are in the school premises. Mr. Kong Ming showed me even more amazing things we could do on our network. We already started having a school intranet site (of course just within our school network but far more interactive and useful than school website we have) where we can post school announcements, have subject wiki pages, share files, discussion forum, etc.

My senior IT teacher BB Ghalley is on his masters in India. He writes me a mail once in about two months. He tells me that his university has just a few slow computers connected to internet where hundreds stand in line. Is it really a university then? I know his wits can’t withstand this story of a high school he once used to be in. But it’s true Bajo is one generation ahead of many school in the country.

17 November 2009

November Rain- Don't be surprised!

(Apologies for the empty article, but it’s my way of reserving a page on the day when I need time to finish the piece)

I don’t know what inspired Guns n Roses to write their greatest hit song November Rain, but sometimes I get this funny feeling that it must have been something like a rain in November over the Himalayas.

Last year it would have been a surprise if we had a rain in cold November, but this year we are not. Look at me, at 6:50 this morning an earthquake awaked me and it didn’t surprise me much as it would have done some months before.

So many things have changed. Nostradamus predicted various important things that would happen long after his death, but Guru Rimpochee predicted everything in his one line prophesy; dhe num me jur, mee num jur wa een, (Oh, it reminds me of the BBS program which always starts with this line). So we are changing not the time.

The Biggest change I saw this year is in the smallest screen. Of course the media advertised. The pornographic clips are still spreading like wild fire. They all passed my eye too. I felt sorry for the two clips but the third one I saw looks like commercial. What is happening now? I wish to write more but I can’t sound politically correct all the time and could get myself in trouble.

Anyway, the message is; don't be surprised with a silly rain in November, or to have an earthquake for alarm clock, for that matter even snowfall in Phuntsholing, for look what we are doing now, even Bhutanese are making Pornographic Movies.

14 November 2009

Exam is an irrational torture: I hate it!- II

 My School is relaxing today, students are on two day study leave because their exam is beginning this Monday. The school football ground is hosting a grand khuru tournament with about 30 participating teams. My teacher colleagues are wrapping up paperworks for the winter. I can see just me alone sweating in the November cold. I  am trying out computer practical exam in class nine for the first time and there couldn't be a better day than today. But I didn't know I would hate exam more after the test this morning.

There are two reasons that gave me this feeling which is bothering me through. The first batch of fifteen students finished their two hour test and I uploaded their work on the network before I prepare the computers for the next batch. I needed each one of them to stand with me while I verify their work. Half way through I sensed a boy has left the exam hall. With the next batch still outside there's possibility of him leaking the paper to them, so I rushed out after him to find him doing what I feared; we was showing them the paper. Thank god, the test is about practical skill and not something that could be mugged up from the textbook, otherwise the next batch had the privilege of having the question paper before entering the hall. I regreted it though but I couldn't help slapping the boy! I know it's not his fault all together, there is mine too but the biggest fault  lies in the very idea of examination!

The first batch finished with a slap and second began with an attempt-cheating. But my heart melted when I saw one of my student being carried into exam hall by two of her friends. She actually had a normal cough and cold that went on paralyzing her lower half. Her feet were not responding to her but she came to do her exam. I offered her to do her exam next time but she refused to give up. Her mother came in when she was half way through the test. I just let the mother take her daughter to a doctor. I have to make another set of question just for her when she gets well, and it's okay for me. If I tested her today I would be testing her ability to withstand her disease and not my subject. And I hate exams because generally exams overlook this humane considerations, while ironically we say we are educating them!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

10 November 2009

The day didn't end well...

Yesterday was the descending day of Lord Buddha, as holy as it could be. I went on an outing with my family to Punakha. We visited Punakha Dzong, actually we reached at the gate, only my brother Sonam went in with Jigme since he didn’t visit it earlier. Then we went up to Zomlingthang, a beautiful place to sit for lunch. It was fun pulling out my car from quicksand. Everybody made a joke of me, “your car is not a desert car!” My wife got angry. It took us about an hour and a tea break to get the car out of the sand I drove in.
From there we drove to Kuruthang Zangtopelri, it is another place I have already visited so I let in the three kids for their exam’s sake. Then we lunched at a popular restaurant. We chose to take the rough road back home, along the river. There was a little beach where we played in the evening sun.

The picture from the day are posted in my facebook album, please have a look.

Doesn’t the day sound exciting? Well it was a wonderful day. However, the evening spoiled the day. I discovered what my brother Tenzin had done with his exam and result. He didn't show me any paper he got, only upon asking he would vaguely tell me the marks he got. I didn't mind that, not his mark even.

The result sheet  where I was supposed to sign was also hidden. Even if he showed me his terrible marks what would I do? I would look at them, shake my head, give some words and take some words, and that’s it. Why did he have to hide it at all?
Now when I asked him to show me his result sheet, he thought I was joking. There were hundreds other things we joke about at home but he should realize that his education would be the last thing I would joke about. I made him realize that it’s a serious business but he lied to me and said he lost his result. I showed him my nine year old result and asked him how he could lose three day old result. But that didn't make sense to him. He then changed his story; he now said he tore the result.
I got furious and wiped him until he cried and until he showed me his result from underneath the cupboard. He had failed in four subjects and just managed to pass in the rest. I didn’t mind him failing; I didn’t say anything when he failed alike in mid-term. When he cried it almost broke my heart but if I give in to my emotions now I can never make him appreciate how important and serious education is for his life.

After dinner he went to bed early, but I couldn’t sleep for a long time. It was a wonderful day we had, why suddenly did this have to happen. His loud cry kept echoing in my ears. I wanted to go at his bedside and tell him that I am sorry and that I love him, but I couldn’t. Perhaps he already knows how much I love him. I only want him to lead a life he would love to live and for that I may have to break my own heart once too often.

08 November 2009

Earthquake Raining Down on us...

The 21st September Earthquake was my first Ap Naka-experience. I was teaching in class nine when I felt the floor shaking underneath my feet. I looked around at my students to confirm my suspicion and they all gave me the stare of approval. I couldn't say anything, I was just too happy to have experienced the first earthquake of my life- I have missed that big one in December 2002. I made several calls here and there to share my excitement.
That evening BBS broadcasted the worst news from the eastern part of our country. It was the worst earthquake that ever hit Bhutan in our time. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Faith couldn’t keep the temples and chortens from falling; how helpless!
My joy eventually faded into subtle sorrow and then fear. Earthquake after earthquake, as if to say now it’s our turn in the world. Each tremor made me make several calls east and west; not to share my joy but to ask if our walls are still standing!
This morning at about 5am my wife shook me awake to yet another deadly earthquake. It’s no more exciting, I am just hoping this time there is nothing more than the playful shake. I am waiting with my fingers crossed for the 6pm news on BBS, prayerfully hoping it has nothing bad it say.

Picture Source: www.kuenselonline.com 

06 November 2009

Wangdue Gets back it Peaceful Sleep! - thanks to Police

In August I was literally at the end of my wit when I wrote “Burglary on the Rise; Police taking forever to bring them down.” By then three of my friends’ homes were ransacked, my favorite shop is looted, even the poor tailor was not left, several cars were emptied of fuel, few tyres were missing… Almost every night something gets stolen from somewhere. Wangdue was sleepless then.

The suspect, who is on everybody’s mind, is a young local man in twenties. He is jobless. He drinks and smokes. He can be seen with group of brats like himself in the local bars every night. He is tall and lean and has a sly face. He picks up fight with everybody whom he meets after he gets drunk, and leaves them bleeding. He fears nothing. He is a total outlaw.

Every new day a new case of robbery comes up and everybody tells each other that it could be no one else than the regular man. But no one dares enough to point him out. He was living a mafia style life, on the hard earned gold and money of the residents.

Now it’s about a month anybody lost anything. Not many would acknowledge the peace we are gifted by the Wangdue Police by arresting the serial robber. The police was waiting for the right moment and they got it. The local bandit is behind the bar. He has enough cases against him to spent his able years in prison.  Wangdue gets back its peaceful sleep.

31 October 2009

Exam is an irrational torture: I hate it!

We call it examination time, the week long period at the end of the year to see if the students could go to next grade or get into college or a job. I wrote examinations for seventeen years of my life so far to rightfully hate it. I hate it because it lacks logic and I hate it because it is an official torture.
How do you suppose a three hour test could justify a year long learning? Toughest of subjects like sciences in classes ten and nine are just given one and half hour of exam time. In a few hours you fill up a few pages and that goes to rewrite the destiny of your life, is it time enough for such a serious decision?

Let’s look at it professionally; is examination in anyway capable of accessing the achievement of vision of education? Education is countless values and life skill while exam narrowly test the book stuffs. The most disciplined, the most obedient, the most responsible, the most decent students go unacknowledged except for their test scores just as the naughtiest chap could walk out as the best. Where is justice? Is education all about testing the memory power?
Where is the logic in giving children three hours to show what they have got in last six thousand hours? Luck surpasses logic in exams. What someone studied thoroughly has not come in the question paper, thus he fails the exam but look who failed whom? The paper failed to have the question on the part he has studied! Ever wondered why Dechenphu is crowded with students before exams? Exam is a game of luck!
Isn’t exam hall a torture chamber? Thank god we at least come out alive. Three hours is too short to justify a person’s knowledge and negotiate his future, but it’s too long a time for a young student to sit continuously on a hard bench without the freedom to move around. In these three hours a young child has to endure multiple trauma- continuous stretch of attention (at the most a child has an attention span of just 10 min), writing longer than ever before the pen blisters the fingers, the hard bench almost changes the shape of the hipbone, in such long sitting we can’t escape the call of nature that makes the mind restless, and the silence and the tiredness could welcome sleep.
Worst is not mentioned yet; why exams have to be in winter? Did we forget we live on the Himalayas? We must have adopted our education system from India, instead of hugging it all blindly we should at least have had the logic that if we bring buffalo to Haa it should be in the summer. Our fingers freeze, our toes become numb and only thing that keep running in our head is the urge to run out in the warmth of the sun. Our handwriting go crazy, you take ages to shape up a word and after sometime even the mind seems to freeze. Whose crazy idea is it to test the child in the extreme cold? Isn’t exam a torture?
Forgive the teacher in me for carry this contradictory perceptive, but I must confess I hate it more as I watch my students struggle through the torturous hours.

27 October 2009

Why would they want to “kill” the paper(Bhutan Times) they made!

This very team walking out today has given Bhutan Times its wings. Who could love the paper more than them? Not at least a man who joined just some days ago. It is a big story now. Of all Business Bhutan must find it ironic to see how their entrance has coincided with an almost-exit of BT. Anyway they got a hot news to print on a cold autumn morning.
I waited outside the shop that sells BT to see if there would be an issue last Sunday. I was playing with a strange probability in my mind; if there is the issue this week then it shall be a history, if there isn’t then it shall really be a history.
The opposition leader Tshering Tobgay is more excited than judgmental about the issue in his blog, “Volume III, Issue 50 of the Bhutan Times could hit the newsstands on 25 October 2009. If it does, treasure it. That issue could mean that private media is much more vibrant than we realize. And that fact is worth celebrating, regardless of who is right – journalists or management.

The second page is full of scanned copies of letters; from employees to the company, from BICMA to company, from CEO to BICMA. The one letter that caught my tail is Wangcha Sangay writing back to BICMA; I (Mr.) Passang Tshering of Haa Yangthang is thoroughly surprised by the degree of confidence and aggression of (Mr.) Sangey of Haa Wangcha. There is no doubt that this senior citizen of 57 (with a track record of proven capabilities and established credentials- look who is saying this) will rescue the company (from what?). However the letter is anything but official. He condemns the move of the team as “shameful” and BICMA’s interference as “threat”. Many lines are as if directly translated from a furious villager’s tongue.
The news is everywhere; criticism is blown in the wind.  Everybody is talking about how bad it was of the seven people to walk out on their company when it needed them so much. They are of the opinion that they left the company because the company is broke. There are plenty of stories from one side and from the other we have just this phrase “editorial interference by management”. What does it mean? What went wrong inside their office that made these seven people give up their jobs? There must be something bigger than a-cup-of-free-tea wrong and nobody is daring enough to speak it up.
As I read this blog “WE ARE NO WRITERS...” there seems to be a matter connected to that solidarity walk, which gave many oldies the fever of their lives, “It seems like some people have never come to terms with the ‘solidarity walk’. They dig shit. The stink returns. If there is any political reason to it…“ However I am far from understanding anything related to this but my concern is rather than condemning these seven people without even listening to their story, we should urge to know what they really meant by “editorial interference by management”? Thimphu is short of jobs, still why did they have to leave theirs, if not for a big reason? For the good of democracy we the normal citizens demand to know the fact of the matter.
25th October Issue of Bhutan Times must have sold the most, for everybody wanted to know what would be in it. Not so bad as we feared. There are many new names of which “Sangey of Ha Wangcha” out stood all the other, not in the style of writing but in the style of writing the name.
Hope we get to know who is right.