28 December 2010

Beautiful Sunset in Samtse

Sunset in Samtse: Forgive my friend's Antique Camera
After the exams were over I sat down with my wife and planned our vacation. We subtracted the day I will be occupied in workshops and also the days that will go in making the journey to and fro the stations. Finally when all the obligations were slashed off, what was left on the calendar wasn’t enough to reignite the excitement we had long stored.

To make the mood worse, 18 Bhutanese perished in plane crash for the first time. As the list of the victims appeared on TV my heart ached, it ached worse when I realized they were families on divine vacation; vacation from which no one returned. How chillingly it made me realize that everyday we are together with our family is a vacation in itself, every journey, every meal, every joke, everyday… it was harsh but a bold reminder that every date on the calendar needs to be counted.

And thus our plan for this winter changed altogether. We packed our bags and started our vacation; I am on paid vacation with my family to Samtse. The journey was boring from Wangdue to Thimphu because I have always driven that road. But now when I look back, it gives me cold feet; a bus accident killed nine people. That driver must have taken that road hundred times more than me and yet he faced the worst nightmare, can I afford to take that road for granted? One girl from my school lost her life, a boy suffered broken spine and a teacher colleague suffered two broken ribs.

Breakfast in Dantak canteen near Babesa was cheap and satisfying. All my life I travelled in buses and had lunches where drivers loved or the owners demanded. But this time I stopped where we got yummy, clean and fresh food. I waved hard on Bhutanese restaurants on the road in revenge and headed straight for Taktikhoti. We Bhutanese need to learn the basics of business.

But the road from Tsimasham to my lunch place tested my patience, driving skill and eye sight. Thimphu Phuntsholing highway has always been under construction- rough reminder of a country in the permanent state of development.

I always loved Phuntsholing, here is where I first met my wife some five years ago. Weather is pleasant at this time of the year. Street are filled with people, I mean the Jaigong streets, where every Bhutanese empty their purse. Of course, Phuntsholing is no different from Jaigong, after all most of the businessmen are Indians. Who would want to pay a bigger price when on the other side of the wall you get it so cheap?

I honked the honk of my life, and perhaps my car must have thought I have gone crazy, on the road to Samtse. It was worth it; here I watch the last sunset of 2010 with my family and I must admit the sunset in Samtse is so beautiful!

16 December 2010

National Tragedy- Nepal Plane Crash

This day will remain in the minds of every Bhutanese and on the face of time like a never-healing wound. To me personally, I got the shock of my life. I was getting ready for my school when I saw the breaking new marque on BBS. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate our National Day and here we are shaken by the loss of so many Bhutanese. I pray to god with whole my heart to bless the bereaved families with boundless strength to overcome the great loss they are suffering.
In Kuensel- Before the crash was confirmed

and In Bhutan Today

Story Unfolding in Kuensel Online and BBS



However I am deeply touched by our King's and PM's Fatherly involvement in dealing with the loss. I hope this divine touch will go on to heal the deep wounds of those loved ones left behind. Thank you.

14 December 2010

Country of many Bans

One question that kept bothering me: why did Bhutan ban tobacco? A smoking man doesn't sleep on the road. A smoking man doesn't assault his wife and children. A smoking man doesn't shout in the crowd and pee in his pants. A drunken man does. Why alcohol is not banned? Is it because we are a Buddhist county? Perhaps! But didn't we agree that our politics will be free of religious influence?

BBS Picture of Burning 2.4 M worth of Tobacco
World would be amazed to know that Bhutan has burnt million worth of tobacco. Some tourist would think Bhutan is so rich but many know that Bhutan survives on countless foreign loans and grants. Then they would wonder why we are acting foolish, Bhutan has banned tobacco but India didn't, it all came from India and we could easily sell it back and generate some funds to put some street lamps along Lungtenzampa Bridge.

Business Bhutan Picture 
National assembly wants to create the record of one ban each year and this time it's drayang. Social disharmony is taken hostage. The problem is not with the drayangs, it is with indecent men. And for such men it need not necessarily be drayang, they do it onto waitress in the hotels, doma sellers in bus stations, office colleagues and assistances, vegetable sellers, passengers sitting on the side and any girls walking along. Should we then go on banning Hotels, Offices, Vegetable Markets, Taxis and Buses? Or the better alternative is to ban women from coming out in public.

And the funniest part is Labour Minister's Promise of employing the girls. What about the boys? What about the fate of the businessmen who had invested everything on this business. Perhaps he should have given a minister's thought before making his first parliament promise, now he has hundreds of questions to answer on various forums and blogs as to what are his promises for the thousands of jobless youth.

13 December 2010

Dear Students- V

Exams are over and papers are in your hand. Some of you have scored high enough to fulfill your purpose of coming to school, doing us proud and bringing joy into to the lives of your parents who want nothing but your prosperity. While there are many of you whose performances insult the teachers, sadden your parents and yet amuse yourselves. If you care you would regret, and if you regret you are on the right path. You should know Rome was not built in a day.

I wish success to all who deserve it. However, your results do not summarize who you really are. At the end of the day you are what you do- what you do when you have everything, what you do when you have nothing to lose, and what you do when no one is watching; your character and your attitude are your wings on the flight of your life.

You don’t prove your courage by not respecting the school rules no matter what time of the year it may be. True courage is in resisting those temptations to cross the lines. We have come to the end of year and you have strived through while some among us had to give up on their ways and go the wrong way dragging our reputation along. Your journey to the end of the year wasn’t by mere chance, you have made choices each day to bring you here and you have to make choices here which will take you forward. But when your choices go wrong we intervene and if you agree perhaps you will see your dreams sooner but if you feel we are failing to bridge the generation gap then I am sorry to inform you that you may have to go to a place where you best fit. We had the worst of years and we have learnt our lessons.

It was an embarrassing year for us having to see the extremes of indiscipline that degraded our school’s reputation, reputation that took years to build. It may take us years again, but together we must rebuild our school into a place where best of students desire to study, a place where people look up in respect and you feel proud to call it yours.

This year is over now and when you come back next year make sure you come with feeling of belongingness to this place. This is your school and you are the owner of this school. Nobody stays here forever, not the teachers, not the principal, not you and not even the caretaker  but that should not stop anyone of us to ignore the fact that glory of Bajo is glory of us all.

Happy Vacation!

09 December 2010

My Dream of Lungtenzampa Bridge

A bridge is a symbol of art, landmark of the city, an icon of development of a country. But what is Lungtenzampa Bridge? In the heart of Bhutan's capital city, where it should have been a beautiful bridge that could live up to the legend of the bridge of destiny lies a dumb-looking engineering blunder. 

It is not pleasing to look at, shapelessly huge and rough, giving an outline of a sleeping elephant seal. It is not friendly for pedestrians to cross and worse is when the summer rain dams up in its enormous depression right in the centre of the bridge. If Phajo Drogom Zhipo and Khandro Sonam Palden had this bridge between them then, they would have gone back rather.

Lungtenzampa- photo by Ugyen

18 Century Wangdue Bridge
Bhutan had built beautiful bridges way before London had the Tower Bridge (1894) or San Francisco had their Golden Gate (1937). We had built them without a piece of iron or a spade of cement.  Without even a drawing. We have history. But history only. Today France has Millau Bridge, South Korea has Banpo Bridge, Singapore has Henderson Waves, China has Hangzhou Bay Bridge, Brazil has Oliveira Bridge, Germany has Magdeburg Water Bridge… all masterpieces of their country's architects and all landmarks of their countries. But what do we have? Lungtenzampa Bridge? If Zhabdrung came back he would die of shame.

I dream to see a Bhutanese masterpiece stretch over the Wang chu one day, that is so beautiful that we are proud to step out of our car and walk over it in the evening, that is so unique that when the world sees it on TV or internet they know that it is in Bhutan, that is so intelligently built that there is way out for the rainwater and way across for people, that is so iconic that it changes the face of Thimphu.

03 December 2010

How to answer wrong questions correctly?

Don’t go deep into my topic, it is not some ‘how to’ tips on answering wrong questions correctly. It is rather a plight of an ordinary man who finds difficulty in answering straightforward questions. I am disturbed by some questions in computer studies practical paper and computer application practical paper from 26th and 27th November 2010.

In class XII Computer Studies practical paper: HTML Form elements such as Text box, Radio button, and Text Area were invisible. The question stated that the webpage should look like the screenshot given below (in page 4 and 7), and if students did exactly the same they are in trouble, their 50 marks in JavaScript section will remain a dream.

In class X Computer Application paper: Question 1, sub part 4 had come out of the blue. Students were asked to design a Database Form based on the Table called ‘Marks’, while there was no such table in the entire question- question was on Student’s Health record.

Further, Question 2, which was to prepare PowerPoint presentation on the working of ‘StdResult’ in question 1, but question 1 was on ‘Student’s Health Record’, thus the confidence in whole 15 marks question is lost.
I just hope students figured out the errors and wrote the answers as expected- students are smart. However, these errors were easily avoidable if BBE had reread the question just once before it was printed.

For wrong answers students are punished, whom to punish for wrong questions? 

29 November 2010

Dear Daughter- On Your First Birthday

Today is your first birthday. I can’t believe a year has swiftly passed by amidst smiles and laughter. Last year this day your mother and I drove to Sunday market in the morning. She already knew you would be coming today so she did a quick shopping. She cooked lunch herself and asked me to drive her to the hospital. The doctor informed us that you were already on your way. We were asked to get admitted by 8PM and expect you by midnight but you were quicker. We ran back to hospital at 6 PM and waited for you in joyful agony. Your grandmother was with your mother and I was sent out to make bed in the ward for your mother and you. I paced in and out of the ward for two longest hours of my life and then at 9:09 PM I heard your first cry. Everybody in the ward looked at me and I felt like a celebrity; I simply said that’s my babe.

You continued crying but the door never opened. I was right outside the door waiting to look at you. A Nurse came out and closed the door behind her. She asked me to guess your gender. I told her it didn't matter. She insisted me to choose and I chose ‘a girl’ because your mother always wanted one. The nurse beamed at me and said, ‘Your wish is fulfilled’. The door opened and I was asked to come in. I couldn’t imagine how your mother would be but to my surprise she was smiling at me when I saw her. You were on a small bed suckling your thumb,one eye was wide open and the other was yet to open. You looked very funny and cute and I couldn’t help kissing you. That night three of us slept in the ward and your mother was shocked that I slept well while two of you remained awake.

Throughout this one year, it was always your mother who sacrificed her sleep while I enjoyed the luxury of not having a breast. However I always slept by your side and patted on your chest except for 15 unavoidable days I was out on duty. When I returned you didn’t forgive me for one whole night but next morning you crawled over me again and from that day on, I promised never to leave you.

As your birthday approached you showed us how strong you are; you started walking on your own and even your teeth are showing finally. But, by the day you are becoming naughtier, louder and faster; my face and your mother’s chest are full of scratches from your nails. In crowd, you embarrass us with your big farts, people think it’s us. Every day is fun with you among us and can’t believe I have lived without you until last year. Only today I truly understood the meaning of ‘many many happy returns of the day’. Happy birthday darling, may you grow into a wise respectable lady.

25 November 2010

Yangthang behind the bars

Next year when governments implements the tobacco law, which roughly says that any tobacco user without the permit will be sentenced to jail, my village Yangthang will be behind the bars. Since any jail will be small to fit in over 50 households I think it would be wise to construct walls around my village because only in one of the homes tobacco is not used.

I tried to figure out how my entire village got addicted to tobacco; my theory was that it could have been influenced by Indian army base in Ha but old folks told me that tobacco was there even before IMTART came in. While it has a long history, today tobacco play an important role in the performance of my village workforce. They claim that they can't work without it. Some say they lose temper very quickly when they run short of stock. There are some who lose their mind without it.

The recent ban on tobacco has changed nothing in my village, they only had to pay higher but they are supplied somehow. And in my opinion these people, if not helped, will suffer if the law comes into act. Their income may not be enough to buy them the taxed tobacco and therefore resort to black marketing which will land the entire village behind the bar.

22 November 2010

Water Bill- Let Every River Count

Today National Council discussed on Water Bill. I am unsure of what all comes under Water Bill and what they discussed in the house but as much as I could grab from BBS news they were trying to create a separate commission for water. However, the house failed to come out with a resolution since many thought it was too early for the move. Had I been there I would say it's quite LATE to think of this but we could make up if we do it now.

Isn't it a matter of grave concern and shame that many homes are deprived of decent supply of water in a country where fresh water rivers flow through every valley? Many wetlands run dry and barren due to water scarcity. From Thimphu to Tashigang, there is no place in Bhutan where water isn't the problem. It isn't lack of effort from the government, it's but lack of enough effort. It is lack of focused action. Environment Commission has lots of things to worry about and thus water issue receives divided attention, which is just not enough.

Dam up the river: ultimate source of water.
It is not too late to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter; water is not just water anymore, it is livelihood, it is health, it is happiness. It's not too late to appreciate the call of rivers. Across the world sea water is harvested, sewage is recycled, deserts are dug... here in Bhutan fresh water is waiting to be dammed up and treated- as easy as this. It's going to be one time investment for sustainable supply of water both for drinking and irrigation. How can we claim 'every drop counts' when rivers are left to flow down to sea unused. Let every river count too.

19 November 2010

My Brother's Shoe

My brothers: Tenzin & Samtey
Both my little brothers outgrew my height. I feel secure walking with them. Can't believe I carried them on my back once, fought for them, and thrashed them often. I am happy they grew into gentlemen I could be proud of. But I never thought their feet will outgrow the shoes in market, especially Samten's.

He had to leave school for about a month when he was in class eight just because we couldn't get him a shoe of his size. Despite the help of all our relatives in Thimphu we couldn't get one there. Finally I had to go to Phuntsholing to try my luck. I got one, ugly and shapeless but big enough to room his feet. If it continued that way I thought my brother could never complete his studies, he still had many more years to grow. Luckily, Origin shoes arrived in gigantic sizes and we never had problems.

Smaller on is mine and I wear no.8, Guess his size?
But now, days of wearing Origin shoes are gone for him and no shoe stores in Wangdue, Punakha and Thimphu sell formal shoes bigger than number 8. I didn't realized it until I went looking for it in Thimphu. I went to every shop that sold shoes and they all tell me the same story.

Today is my lucky day, I got one for him finally... style, color, and quality do not matter as long as it fits him and it did. So this article is to celebrate the occasion along with my wife's Birthday. She is happy too that I got a shoe for him and she wants no gift more than this.

15 November 2010

Beggars in Wangdue

When my mother and I visited Phuntsholing about a decade ago I was shocked by the number of people walking on the dusty street of Jaigong. It was my first time seeing so many people at a time. Adventure began as soon as our bus entered the parking- four or five Indian men climbed our bus even before it came to complete halt. I thought some bandits attacked us. My mother calmed me down and told me they were coolies.
Once on the street, baggers started bothering us. I was amused while my mother ignored them. She told me that if we start giving money to each bagger we would have to become bagger ourselves by the time we reach the end of the street.  She was right; there were many of them to count. However, my mother made exceptions with crippled and blind. She justified, “these are helpless people. They have to beg because they can’t work.” These words became a part of me during all my countless visits to Phuntsholing. Later I was amazed to learn even my wife shared almost the same philosophy. She pitied the man with thin twisted leg at the gate, while she shoo away the able baggers who come chasing us.
Who would expect any bagger in so prosperous place like Wangdue? Worse they come knocking at our doors. Something common in all of them is their mode of begging- all of them have taken religion hostage. They fake themselves into goemchens knowing our weakness for disciples of god. Three years ago I would be kind to them, inviting them in for tea. As a child I have learnt that you should never turn away a person who comes asking at your door. And now that I know who they really are, it leaves me with no good reason to be kind to them.
They are ordinary villagers who come on business trips. While they are around they just take out their dirty maroon kabney and start going from door to door. The prayers they say contain no word, it’s all murmuring sound. In their hand they will show their collection wrapped inside hundred ngultrum note- look what they are after? From some we can smell alcohol at a distance. And towards evening you would see what your money has done to these men- they will be sleeping on the road with flies all over their faces.
 They are strong able men and they can work for their food. But how can we deny them alms when they come at our doors. But despite our complacence some of them are way too demanding, leaving us regretful of what we gave and fearing that they might curse us.
“Paow, only Nu.10? You are a civil servant and you should be better of than this.” Demanded one gomchen at my door.
And I told him, “You should be happy I gave you so much. Why don’t you earn for yourself?”
He turned furious and replied, “How could you scold me for Nu.10? How do you suppose you will gather merit by that?” which is when I asked, “How much do I have to pay to gather merit? Is there a fixed rate? Am I asking for discount?”
He left shouting, “pa pa pa…” That was his third visit in half a year and perhaps the last because next time he comes I am going to slam the door at his face, I know god will forgive me. In Phuntsholing, even a coin means a lot to a bagger and here baggers are beginning to claim their share out of my salary.

11 November 2010

November Eleven, the Date that is writ in Heart

If you ask a person of my age in Bhutan: What day is the most auspicious in a Bhutanese year? The answer is November Eleven. Early on, we loved that day because it was time for celebration, it was a beginning of a three day holiday, it was the last holiday before the exam, and it was the day we had school picnic. But as we grew up we realized it was more than just that; it was the day our king was born. 

The king who had to leave his playground at 16 to lead our country, the king who put lots of importance on children, the king who put people's happiness before country's wealth, the king who gave the people to rule the country, the king who so happily stepped down the throne...the king who so much manifests god himself.

November Eleven became a phrase among us that described the best holiday of the year. There were people who claimed to be born on the day, some who changed their birthdays, anyway we envied them a lot. I prayed for my baby to be born on eleventh of November, she delayed by 18 days. 

It breaks my heart when we no more march to the beat of the drum on November 11 but yet the feeling never changed: November Eleven is writ in Heart. How great it feels not to be gifted with a new king and Twenty First February to celebrate.

Happy Birthday my king.

I couldn't locate the authentic source of the great photograph I have used here, however I am grateful.

How to Show Folder hidden by Virus

This evening, out of the blue two students visited me with intention to learn JavaScript. They were with their laptop. They told me that they could not find their files on their thumb drive. I thought files were hidden and decided to locate them but I could not find them. Since I had many JavaScript solved examples on my drive I inserted my drive into their laptop only to find that all my files are gone too. Only unobtainable shortcuts are left. I took back my drive and scanned it immediately on my laptop. A virus called zouwoo.exe was detected. Even after it was removed my folders were missing. I nearly kicked of the two boys. They left without a cup of tea.

I tried hundred ways to retrieve my folders only to find myself defeated and fearing the worst. But deep in my mind I was praying to Google. I knew Google Rimpochee will have a solution. And yes, after three or four tries I landed up with the following solution that WORKED.

Provided by: jack4rall on Aug 14, 2010

Over 9000 Files- Lost and Found!
If you did not format your flash drive, then check whether the files are not in 
hidden mode. 

Click on "Start" -->Run-->type cmd and click on OK. 
Here I assume your pendrive as

Enter this command. 

attrib -h -r -s /s /d g:\*.* 

Note : Replace the letter g with your flash drive letter. 
Now check for your files in Pen Drive. 

Source: Kioskea.net
To all your life's problems there is Google Rimpochee!

09 November 2010

Uneconomical Worship

I heard tearing or burning or for that matter any action resulting in making a currency note unusable affects the country's economy. But my love for computer subject since class nine deprived me of studying economics and thus understanding that fact or any other issue related to business and economy.

However I at least understand that a country cannot print as much money as it likes, it has to go by its gold deposit. I have no idea where the gold has to be deposited and how much money Bhutan can print. But every note we destroy counts down the national money. Every single note is expect to go around, hand to hand, buying things, making profit, ...and being useful and therefore one note destroyed means the end to its long useful journey.
Kids envying the floating money!

Even as an educated adult I can't quite comprehend it wisely let alone the illiterates and kids. The picture shows a beautiful pond with a statue of Khandrom pouring water into the pond from her Bumpa. And what is shocking is that the pond was filling up with money that day I visited. I could see lots of Nu.20 and Nu.10 notes aging at the bottom of the pond, soon to be joined by hundreds of fresh notes floating on the surface. I nearly jumped to collect the money, seriously it was lot of money being destroyed if not rescued soon. There should be a signboard: "This is not wish fulfilling pond, please don't throw your money."

02 November 2010

My Daughter is not teething

Many of you have seen my baby grow through my blog and you would agree that she is a very healthy girl. She is far more intelligent than any baby I ever saw, not to mention her physical strength and sound making ability. She can already tease us and make us laugh just when she wants. Just five days ago she was gliding over the floor on her belly and as if to mark her 11th month she crawled that evening. She is 11 months 4 days today and can walk on her feet with little support from things around her. By all this my daughter is an illustration of perfect healthy baby... if only she had some teeth in her little mouth. My daughter doesn't have her first pair of teeth yet.
29th Oct 2010- 11 months old and toothless angel of mine

Dear readers (senior parents, doctors and anybody who knows about it), is it something I should be worrying about? Should I just wait or rush to hospital for some sort of medication, if any? I am writing to parenting@bbs.com.bt though but it would be nice if you could give me your piece of mind.

01 November 2010

Coronation Day- the moment that stopped the world

November 6, 2008: Thimphu was filled to the neck, so we decided to enjoy ourselves in the school. We had our school picnic to make the day memorable. The ceremony in Thimphu was telecast live on BBS. I quickly Googled a way to project the TV on wall and made it possible before they could boil the morning tea. Now, school hall gathered huge crowd. I was proudly waiting for the crowning ceremony; didn't have a clue how it would happen- father king crowning his son. Never saw one before- none would have possibly seen in the entire history of mankind.

Crowning Glory- the moment that stopped the world
I was shivering with excitement. Picture of fifth king with crown was already publicized but still the thrill of seeing His Majesty wearing the raven crown on TV was killing me. Everything seem to happen in slow motion- Je Khenpo lifted the crown (I thought it would be heavy but it wasn't) and offered to our fourth king. My eyes were gathering tears suddenly, I didn't know why. My heart raced and then it stopped all together when our new king bowed to his father and received the raven crown. The hall went dead silent and world stopped moving. Then came the loud cheering and clapping and shaking hands and hugging. World just witnessed the magic of the millennium.

Today we celebrate the 2nd coronation day and I wish my king immortality and perfect happiness. 

His majesty is celebrating his coronation with the victims of Chamkhar Fire today. 

For the Record: November 1st is observed as the coronation because that was when the ceremony began from sacred chamber (Marchen) of Punakha Dzong. 

Picture Source: http://cache.boston.com

29 October 2010

Close to Heaven

Fountain at the gate
Today, the descending day of Buddha, was a nice day for family outing. Jigme had planned his day with his classmates and Samten wanted to remain in our shop. So it was just the three of us. Our best friends Ugyen and Pema joined us. We visited the new monastery in Punakha on the way to Talo. It looked impressive on TV, which pulled us there.

On reaching there I realized it was the best place I could choose on this auspicious day. Today was the day Buddha descended from heaven and for me it would be the day I ascended to heaven. What more could heaven be? The place overlooks the entire valley, right from Thinleygang on west to Khuruthang and Punakha towards north through Wangdue down below to south. I wish I could just sit there watching the sun rise and set over the valleys.

Golden serto of the Jangchub Chorten
Apart from the spellbinding view the monastery itself is one masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture I ever saw. Every pillar has art carved on it, the doors have more of them and wall paintings are just stunning. Even floor didn’t miss the designer’s touch, nor did they leave the gutter. The Jangchub chorten has the entire history of Drupthobs immortalized into statues around it. The magnificent golden statues in the main temple are housed within gigantic dragon carved alter and the state of art lighting adds soul to them.

Thousands of people rushed there today and everybody I talked to has only one word to say, “Wow”. Amidst my bliss I missed my mother so much. I always wanted to take her to Bodhgaya and today I found a better place. I called her right away and shared my excitement.

Apa and Bumo, so close to heaven
A piece of heaven has been brought here on earth by Jab Ugyen Dorji and there can’t be a better pilgrimage for your parents, that too right at home; closer, cheaper, peaceful and so close to heaven.

Khuru and Women

Women playing khuru has become a hot topic on Kuensel forum. The cultural shift has received as much praise as it’s been mocked. There are ones who appreciate the participation of women in keeping the spirit of the traditional game while others consider it gross and even ominous. There are ones who think women are finally seeing life beyond their kitchens while others think they are creating mockery of the game.

And there are a few people, including khuru players themselves, who declared (on BBS) playing khuru is a sign that women are equal to men and that they can do what men can do, which is when I started laughing and even doubting the intention.

If ladies truly enjoy playing the game then they must play. It boosts social interaction and physically fitness. It kills boredom and punctures daily frustration, and yes even let their husbands know how it feels like to be left alone on weekends and losars, ha ha ha. But if it is done to prove their equality with men then I wish to tell them how wrong they are. It is a gross misunderstanding of the principle of gender equality. In that case wearing gho instead of kira would speak louder than just torturing themselves under scorching sun playing khuru.

Woman playing khuru. Graceful?  ( From Nopkin.com)
There are a thousand ways women could justify their strength; there is no short of inspiration, motivation and right. Khuru is a wild game; throwing khuru and hitting target is one thing while screaming and dancing like crazy is another. Women are icon of beauty and grace but watching them play khuru on TV really freaked me. Khuru was a wrong choice. It’s like selling your hair to buy a comb.

Khuru: a traditional Bhutanese dart game, played usually by men.
Losar: new year day, but now it refers to any special holiday.
Gho: National dress for men
Kira: national dress for women.

26 October 2010

Biggest Fire Disaster in Bhutan- Chamkhar Fire

Bhutanese architecture is known for its lavish woodwork. Until recently even nails were shaped from wood. It is the wood that gives beauty to country’s various infrastructures. The rich forest provides easy supply of cheap timber for construction. However this very material that we pride in is the greatest weakness of our architecture.

Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. Destroyed by fire in 1950s
Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and Singye Dzong in Mongar are chilling reminder of how vulnerable our structures are against fire. Thimphu Tashichodzong and Paro Rimpung Dzong had to be reconstructed after major fire disasters.

Every year several families are made homeless across country. In 2002 February my village lost twenty five houses to fire. I was then in Monger working in construction of Kurizampa. When I returned home, it was gone. Hundreds of years of family memories are smoked into the frozen sky. Those were the hard times in our life; sleeping in tents with icy ground underneath. My baby sister was only two days old and had to spend her tender days in the open winter air.

When I heard of the biggest fire disaster in Bumthang Chamkhar this morning it broke my heart, because I truly know the pain of being homeless at the face of approaching winter. It is sad to share that disaster has just begun for them, what follows after today will devastate many families. In building my village back we saw lots of deaths, which were the aftermath of the fire. It became impossible to get manpower and cost of material and labor shot record high. It took us over five years to get back into the warmth of our homes despite the generous help from the throne. And just when we had our home back my tired stepfather gave up on his life. Eight years on, we still have a few families hoping to get their house roofed.
Photo by Kesang Tshering, Kuensel.

With already high demand for construction labor across the country I can’t imagine how long it would take for the many victims to have their homes back. For now it is very inspiring to see how quickly government reacted in dealing with the disaster. In few years time they will have new homes but what they lost today would go on to change the course of their lives. I only wish them hope and courage to go on.

24 October 2010

3 Idiots- The movie that taught me more than my schools

If you haven’t watched 3 idiots yet you are the idiot of the century. Surprisingly nobody minds being called idiot after that movie. Everybody wants to be the 4th idiot. I am sure there won’t be anyone who didn’t watch it over three times.

3 idiots- the movie that touched my heart!

The movie must have made fortune enough to forgive me for downloading it from The Piratebay. I regret it but if I haven’t done that I would have to wait until it comes on TV. After having watched it over ten times now I feel like I have to pay for it. It has taught me more than I have ever learnt from school. I would like to say thank you to everybody who came together to make 3 idiots and enlighten the world.

I, being a student once and now a teacher, got the most out of the movie. Every character seems to have something to teach me in becoming a good learner and a better teacher.

Rancho comes to college to learn engineering for the love of doing it and not to get the certificate. He gives Millimeter money to buy a school uniform and join any school the kid likes. If he is caught ‘uniform change, school change’. Going to school is not about passing the exam, getting the certificate and going to next level and finally landing up in a job. It is about learning. Rancho himself gets kicked off from class often but he gets into another class. This is something I want my students to seriously reflect on.

My favourite scene in the movie is when Rancho was asked, “What is Machine?” Despite his excellent answer, he gets kicked out. This happens in most of our schools. But what doesn’t happen here is what Rancho does when he returns for his book. The message goes out to students who are fond of mugging up books and most of all to teachers who fail to understand the depth of students’ mind.

I cried when Farahan’s father finally asks him to return the laptop and to get himself a professional camera. Life is not about what people would say, as is in our society too, it’s about what makes you happy. Farahan says, “If I become a photographer I may earn lesser, but for the rest of my life, every day I wake up I will happy”.

Failing to understand this costs ViruS his own son. The son never appears in the movie but plays a major role in shaping the theme. He wanted to become a writer but his father forced his dream of engineering onto his son’s life and he has jumped from the train.

Joy Lobo has invented a helicopter with the camera (Now known as a drone) but ViruS declares it ‘unrealistic’ just because Lobo fails to submit the assignment on time and worse ViruS calls up Lobo’s father to tell that the boy will not graduate this year, which forces the bright boy to take his own life, leaving a message, ‘give me another chance’. That song is my favourite.  It calls for us teachers to be sensitive, tolerant, and appreciative of students’ creativity and not mere name-sake deadlines.

Telling ourselves “Aal is well” even when things are not so well does not solve the problem but worrying about it only makes it worse and gives us exaggerated pain. Raju is a victim of countless worries and therefore leaving himself with lesser energy to focus. After his suicide attempt he realizes Rancho’s ‘Aal is well’ wisdom. And his job interview shows us the magic of honesty and faith in one's self. When his two friends bring him the stolen paper, he throws it away and says, “I will pass if I can and fail if I must but do it honourably”.

“Go for excellence, success will follow you”, is the biggest message of the movie. Such abstract nouns are hard to explain, however, the movie has boldly personified the two; Rancho illustrates 'excellence' and Chature is 'success'. The movie goes on to illustrate success running after excellence at the end.

ViruS’s college is just like any school in Bhutan and the movie questions the way things are going. It questions the system, questions the teachers and parents and it even questions the students. It’s one movie all of us must watch and for those of us who have come to love the movie, it is an indication that we are heading in the right direction.

I sat for Chiphen Rigpel TOT selection test

Chiphen Rigpel is a big ICT project in Bhutan by NIIT. It has an ambitious goal of training five thousand teachers and setting up computer lab in every school across the country. Read more on this in MoE website. To kick start the project it needs to set up a core group of 50 members from among teachers. The announcement was floated on the website, which many missed- I nearly missed too if not for my brother in-law. On 12 October the list of applicants were shown on website and were called for selection exam today.

Surprisingly I was not there in the list. In fact no one is there from my school though we all filled up the form and sent. Upon inquiry we realized the our application went missing somewhere on the way. Nobody to blame. Thank god, MoE gave us (me and Mr. Kailash Shongben) the chance to sit for the test today.

Technical paper (1 hr) and Aptitude test (30 min)- it was fun doing exam on something you know quite well. Of course I don't mean the Aptitude test; it had simple questions that could fool a complex man. But I have done well.

Ask me if you wish to try out the Aptitude Test, I can publish the questions...I think it is set by NIIT.

23 October 2010

A Show for Tourists

I watched Jampa Lhakhang Drup live on BBS this morning. It has something different to offer than Tshechus and I want to watch it once.
 However, as the camera turned around to show the spectators I was surprised to see more cameras than eyes and more pants than ghos and kiras. It almost looked like some press conference of mask dancers. Whole thing only looked like a show for the tourists.

21 October 2010

Loving Jungle Book and Hating Tiger

Mowgli Riding on Bagheera (alexross.com)

Mowgli playing with Baloo (startedbyamouse.com)
Shere Khan- the hated tiger (bandofcats.com)
Tiger- almost disappearing from the wild!
I first read Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (Ladybird edition) somewhere in early 90s, when I actually couldn't read well. I enjoyed the pictures. And recently I watched the animation movie of the book with my friend's son. It was amazing. I borrowed the DVD and watched to over and over. I want to get a copy for my daughter. I can already imagine how exciting it would be for her.

She would love Mowgli, and may fantasize herself riding on Baloo or Bagheera and sleeping in the curl of Kaa. She would hate Shere Khan, the tiger and wish if Akela, Baloo and Bagheera could come together and kill the cat. I hated the tiger back then. So must be the feeling among children across the world who read the book or watched the movie.

Could it be the cause of disappearance of tiger population? Everybody was a child once, and therefore must have love The Jungle Book and hated tiger. We grew up with the feeling that tiger is a bad animal. I have forgiven Shere Khan and started loving tigers, but will tigers forgive Rudyard Kipling and his The Jungle Book?

It may not be possible to change the character in The Jungle Book but someone could write a nice book on tigers for children and let Save the Tigers publish it, and let Disney make a cartoon. If we have to start something it should be with children.

20 October 2010

B Mobile vs Tashi Cell as Dual SIM Mobile Comes in...

I was thankful to B Mobile when it first came in the market. I didn't mind paying Nu.600 for the sim card and loading Nu.300 voucher even when I didn't have enough money to buy my shoe. I even found Nu.5 per minute cheap, though I didn't appreciate it being deducted even when the line gets disconnected a few seconds later.

But it all changed when Tashi Cell came to break the B Mobile monopoly. Three months of free talk time, Sim card free and rate as low as Nu.3 per minute, which is again divided into three units. That's when I realized how cheap it could be. I instantly used Tashi Cell but problem was all my contacts used the senior service and it was not fair for them as B Mobile charged higher on calls to Tashi Cell.

The two cellular services lived along in the market for last few years and Tashi Cell couldn't gain as many users as B Mobile had since people already have a sim. Over the years both tired different strategies to market their product. And by any count Tashi Cell was generous, may be it still had to multiply its subscribers three folds to catch up with the senior rival. 

My Dual SIM Mobile using both B&T
Now with the dual sim mobile everybody is going for two sims, one of B Mobile and other Tashi Cell. And it won't take much before Tashi Cell gets equal number of subscribers as B Mobile and that's when occasional smartness could mean huge turnover.

I used Tashi Cell more when they offered Losar bonuses and these days when B Mobile's Power Voucher came in I am using B Mobile more... We have a choice now, smarter choice!

18 October 2010

Dear Students- IV : More you study Luckier you get

How was the first paper this morning?
I was on invigilation duty this morning and the three hours of silence really put me to test. Three hundred thoughts ran across my mind and three hundred bones ached in my body- how many bones are there in our body actually? Doesn’t matter, because every bone ached.
Luckily my chair had cushion on it and I had the freedom to move around and out. I was given tea and biscuit. But I was worried about you. If you have undergone the physical training I prescribed earlier, it would have helped. Did it?
Many of you had running nose; not that I saw your nose running over the table but I heard and felt your utter discomfort as you rubbed your nose between the words. It is not because of cold as you might assume, rather because of the unusual physical and mental stress. You can call it exam-flu. If your body is used to such stress on regular basis the problem would disappear itself. This is where your physical preparation comes handy. I bet you won’t have the nose problem by the time you do your last two papers, and that’s because your body gets tuned finally.
One girl grew restless in my hall and I was worried she might be up to something. Halfway through she handed me her finished paper. By rule nobody can leave until the last half an hour of the exam time. She was however desperately in need of toilet. It is a big funny problem. Everybody laughed. Lucky for her that it happened during the trial exam otherwise it could compromise the quality of all her answers. It can happen to anybody and taking care of your body especially during the exam should be considered important. Keep yourself warm, do not eat unusual food, don’t overeat, don’t under-eat even, and do your businesses with toilet before you enter the hall.
I have my best wishes for you and want to wish you all the luck in the world. But as far as I have known exam it always occurred to me that the more I studies luckier I got.  If you didn’t study anything at all even luck will be helpless. Same is the case with visiting lhakhang and offering butter lamp before your exam, no matter how many kgs of dalda you offered finally what matters is how much you studied. You can’t bribe god it write exam for you.
Your trial is a scale that measures your readiness for the final exam and I hope you will put in your best to get the correct reading, which will motivate your additional preparation for the board exam.

16 October 2010

Business Bhutan?

My friend Ngwang (link to his Business Bhutan profile) writes often for Business Bhutan and he would ask me if I read his stories. But the sad story is that I could never get the paper in Wangdue. I was looking for it since last year when I heard that they have published my article "Freestyle Dance and Bhutanese kids". They didn't ask for permission and I didn't mind even but I wanted to read that paper, especially Ngwang's stories.

Ngwang was in Thimphu a few days ago and visited Business Bhutan office. Though it was his first meeting with the people there he was very happy about their impression about him through his contributions. He took my frustration of not getting the paper to their notice, to which he was told that there is an outlet in Wangdue.

I knew it was the shop which sold the other papers and went straight there. The shop had all the papers except the one I wanted. I bought a copy each of Kuensel, Bhutan Observer, Bhutan Today and Bhutan Times and dared to ask the harsh lady if she sells Business Bhutan. Without even looking at me she announced,
"Business Bhutan?? There is no such paper". As if don't know!
Then I asked, "Is there any other shop that sells papers?"
A costumer quickly answered for her, "this is the only shop that sells all the papers."
Then the shop lady added, "Did you mean 'Business'? I think you are talking about that yellow headed paper, it's not 'Business Bhutan', it is Business".
Then I knew she never saw the small "bhutan" under the big "business". Well whatever, "do you sell that 'business' ?"
She said, "you will never get one because I get only 10 copies and they are all subscribed."

The small 'bhutan' under big 'business'
Today I went to the same shop to buy BMobile's power voucher; unfortunate though but she happens to be the seller for that too and even magazines. She didn't have that but to my surprise I found a Business Bhutan paper on the shelf. I quickly took one. My god, it is the 56th issue and so far this is my first buy. I don't know how it is available today! After I paid her off I couldn't help pointing at the small 'bhutan' to her. She didn't seem happy about that though I enlightened her...

P:S: I couldn't find The Journalist in Wangdue either.

13 October 2010

A Casual shot that served a purpose

I drove my wife and mother to Sunday Market, and unlike other Sundays I didn't have to accompany my wife through the crowd since she had my mother, so after I found a parking space I went out with camera to shoot Wangdue in morning sun. A group of western tourists soon joined me with their cameras, only one of them had a little better than mine. It was a great location to catch the Dzong and the bridge towards south and upon facing north we get clear view of the Bajo town and my school.

Western tourists. Look at the man on the left, he has the Camera I envied!

It was a long wait. I already finished shooting in all four directions.By then the tourists left. Then I sat there and took close-ups of anything that came into my view. I shot two varieties of flowering plants, they didn't come out well. I shot the maddening crowd in the market with full zoom and previewed it to see if I can recognize anybody- yes I knew most of them. I enjoyed shooting behind the bush scenes, every now and then a persons runs behind the bush and hurries their clothes off to give way to nature's call. Only then I realized there is no toilet constructed anywhere around the vegetable market.

I got back in the car and started deleting the pictures which weren't good, and which were just taken for nothing, like those behind-the-bush scenes. I don't know how I missed out deleting the flowering plants, my friend Ugyen Tshering upon see them later in the evening exclaimed,
 "Where did you click this pictures?"
"Why? it's above the vegetable market"
"Good, good, good, let's get it. This is the plant class XII are going to do Biology practical exam on."

The Flower that was needed- I don't know the name even!

For last three years I joined him in his specimen collection and I still remain his savior. It could have taken him days to locate the plant. He was grateful and I was happy too.