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.