31 December 2011

Last Post of the Year 2011

This is my last post for the year 2011 and I am so happy that I wrote over 90 articles this year with many of them printed in national papers. At this time I could hear the last minute count down to the New year and here I am doing the thing I love the most -blogging. Fire works are cracking in the Phuntsholing sky and hundreds of people are screaming but I am celebrating the 202882 hits and 228 followers on my blog.

United States
United Kingdom

As the year ends I would like to thank all my readers for inspiring me and cheering me up in doing this thing that means the world to me. You have made me a serious thinker from a casual blogger, and given me so many reason to find joy in simple things. My host family and their friends are all gone for party but I am here with my family writing this because this is what I want to do each day of 2012 and not partying. We hold a strong belief that we will keep doing the same thing that we did on the new year day, and I sure don't want to be drunk and out partying every day, therefore I am here putting my babe to sleep.

In 2012 I am eager to see how the biggest lie of mankind will be exposed. I have never believed in the end of the world but many secretly do and each day of the year is going to be very painful for them, I just wish they could live their life each day at a time.

And finally My New Year Resolution (motivated by my friend Neil): All this years I drank Whisky with Coke and I became sick, I tried with soda and still felt bad, and tried with water, which still made me unwell. Now I promise I will never drink Coke, Soda and Water!
Seriously I am resolute that I will not change any good thing in me and will try to work on doing away with every bad energy that comes out of me.
As always I will never overstay in the school impressing my principal. I will reach home five minutes after the final bell and be with my wife and children. I will always take my family along with me on all my workshops. I will call my mother every two days and tell her something to make her smile. I will spend lesser time watching TV and browsing. I will read more books than webpages. I will only drink at home and on weekends. And I will write more than 100 articles on my blog in 2012.

See you next year:) with the sunrise tomorrow morning!

Our Faith, Their Business

I am a true Buddhist but I am still amazed at the amount of money people are investing on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and other holy places across India. At this time if you are in Phuntsholing you will see how our people are struggling, sweating, arguing, fighting and what not to get a ticket to Bodhgaya.
Buddha sure attained his enlightenment there but he didn't promise enlightenment for us by coming there, rather he left behind the road map to enlightenment and that didn't have any place in particular.
There are several double-decked buses leaving for Bodhgaya each day and I see them all cramped up with dedicated Bhutanese people. Each Bhutanese will be at least carrying over Nu. 50,000 excluding the massive shopping they did. They are on their way to find Buddha and may land up being robbed or murdered but their faith keep them going, not knowing the impact on our economy.

Every day affair below the bus station
Pilgrimage is supposed to bring about peace of mind but half of the time you have to spend on taking care of your luggage and worrying about it. Each day of your Buddha-finding journey has to be spent sleeplessly worrying about your belongings and the huge amount of money you are carrying.Rest of the time you are either complaining about the heat and dust or cursing the huge number of beggars coming after you. At the end of journey you are bound to be disappointed that you didn't find any salvation but lost all you compassion.
Bhutan has the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage site and I wonder why Bhutanese are so much after the risky voyage. Is it about the status? Then it's very unBuddhist. If it's not about showing off then Paro Tasktshang, Bumthang Kurjey, Paro Kichu, Haa Lhakhang Karpo, and so many others are place you could find perfect peace of mind without having to worry about accidents, pick pocketing, murder and heavy expenses. After all Buddha is there where there is a good heart.
As of the "Very Important Wang in Bodhgaya", a resident of Phuntsholing told me that it's an annual business strategy the Indian use to lure the Bhutanese. The "Very Important Wang in Bodhgaya this year, which is going to be the last" was announced for the last ten years and Bhutan still believe in it.

J.Brands Clothing

Northface to Southface
One place you will get the best brands of clothing is the J.Brands, the brands everybody wears and nobody wants to admit. The J.Brands, or in short JB is the only place I know where second hand clothes are sold in mass. The clothes come from far as the USA and Japan. The very business is illegal if you dig its roots- it was donated for the poor Asian people but somehow it went on to become the hottest brand for the Bhutanese.
For all ages
Keeping aside our ego, if we are looking for true brands, JB is the only place you will find them despite having to invest lot of time making selection and even more time in bargaining.  I confess my fondness for the place since I visited Phuntsholing for the first time as a high schooler. Today I have enough money to invest in new clothes but I still can't help going there looking for something special- which you often find if you are lucky.
When I go there I don't wear face mask like many people do. More than the time I spend in choosing clothes and bargaining I spend watching the Indians seller, their patience and their ability to read Bhutanese minds. Amidst the drama I get to see lot of high class Bhutanese setting their high class foot on the low class market- because after you are out of JB nobody knows where your clothes come from! Some JB guys leaked to me that many overcoats in branded shops in Thimphu goes from here.
Pepe, Lee, Levis...(watch for defects)
If you are new in the JB, you may be shocked when the shopkeeper tells his price and you may want to run right away but wait for sometime, you get to tell your price as well. If they say Nu.1500, you close your eyes and say you will pay Nu.150. He will pretend to be angry but don't worry you increase by Nu.50 at a time and by the time you feel you have reached the price you actually wish to pay just walk away- I promise you he will call you back. In case he doesn't then go back and increase Nu.50 more. Always remember that those brands you get in Thimphu are nothing compared to ones you get in JB, except the newness- which is just a matter of days.
By this article don't assume that I am fully covered in J.brands clothing but at least know that the best clothes on my body are from there.

27 December 2011

Phuntsholing Youth and My Car

I was surprised when police didn't see the forest fire under the clear blue sky, but later today I was surprised no more- Phuntsholing police has too many thing to take care of. There wasn't a day I didn't see groups of youth swaying by road under the influence of some intoxicants. And today some of then crossed their limits on to my car. My poor already-injured car was peacefully parked alongside several others when a group of boys practiced their boxing skills on our side mirrors.
My wife and another car owner shouted from their windows only to get back all sorts of slang. I was in the class when my wife called me up, she informed me that the culprits were head in my direction and that I could track them down by the side of the Doti river.
The kids were totally senseless and one boy was bleeding badly from the cut he got from punching our mirrors. To my disbelieve there were two girls in same conditions making a show out of themselves on the road where hundreds were passing by. I asked myself, would I help these girls if they were raped? With the border so near, and so many warnings, I will never understand why these girls had to do this.
Three cars were broken and police was informed, the culprits were under my watchful eyes. By the time police arrived the two girls were gone- good for them, I can't imagine how their parents would feel if they were arrested. After a hard chase three boys were brought down, and thanks to them I got my mirror broken and now I have to waste my afternoon in police station giving statements.
The very moment I saw the mother of the bleeding boy my heart broke. I wished if the boy spared some of the money invested in his fashionable clothes on his mother's clothing too. Her pitiable condition and her begging eyes melted my anger into sorry. All three of us soon withdrew our case, which was to be done in writing. I went to the boy and requested him, "Please, never do anything that may bring your mother to police station- this is the last place they want to be.  We are withdrawing the case not because your crime is minor but because your mother has to take the punishment. She doesn't deserve this."
Other two parents looked ok but all their self esteem faded as they entered the office and they were literally on our feet. They may be some respectable people but thanks to their kids they had to bow to their knees before us.
Please watch where you kids are going and what they are doing during the holidays.

Reporting Forest Fire

As seen from PHSS
There is hardly any forest in Phuntsholing and the little they have was on fire this morning. During the tea break we saw a thick curl of smoke rising over the Toresa and right then we knew it was from across the river. I quickly took a snap in my iPad and reported it on Breaking the News- Bhutanese Social Media, the group I created on Facebook to tip off news media. 
We made a mistake of assuming that the police would have known by then since there were over 40,000 people on the home side of the river. But just to confirm we made a quick call to Police and I did the talking- to my surprise it was a breaking news for them. I had to show them the location of the fire.
Later today I realized two things: that the hundred things happening around here keeps the police too focused on the town to see anything in the forest, and that even over 12 hours later there was no respond on my Breaking News page. I hope the fire is contained by now, else the wind tonight is going to take it on a long ride.

23 December 2011

Ngultrum Identity

Ngultrum (Nu) is almost losing its identity even before it had one. Forgive me if you find me ignorant but I can't help wondering why our currency is not acknowledged as it should be. I don't know why we have to pay over Nu.50 for a US$, I am just thankful it is as powerful as Indian Rupee. It's surprising to learn that there are many powerful country whose currency value is lower than ours, which gives us all the reason to be proud of.
However, going by the trend, a kid says, "Mummy, give me ten rupees", and an adult would say, "Do you have change for 500 rupees?" or if it is in Dzongkha, we say "Turu". Nowhere we use the term Ngultrum! On the fuel pumps you will see the rates of fuel reflected in Rs, and every commodity in the shops has price tag written in Rs, that can be forgiven as stuffs are imported. The recent announcement of domestic airfare by civil aviation was in US Dollar, and that was the biggest surprised.
Currency Symbol for Ngultrum for the  time being.
In written scripts we don't yet have a currency symbol, something that can be used to represent Ngultrum universally. The abbreviation Nu. might be mistaken for symbol but it's usable only in English. India realized it and they have come up with symbol for rupees recently. It's beautiful and now they can use the symbol in every language. In Dzongkha, we can't us Nu. therefore it's up to the writers either to write "turu", "ngultrum" or "ruub". Though it's none of my business, I spent many days thinking, designing, discussing, and redesigning a symbol for Ngultrum. I looked at all the currency symbols of the world to gain some insight into it but at the end  I agreed with the fact that it's none of my business after all. But that doesn't mean that Ngultrum can be left without a symbol. We need it now and here! If that can't be done soon, you might chose to use the one that comes to your head when you think of Ngultrum (see the picture).

22 December 2011

Snake and Ladder in Bhutanese Public Service Delivery

Tshering Wangdi's report on "Revolutionizing Public Service Delivery" in Bhutan Times on 18th December brought me immense happiness after having gone through a long procedure of acquiring a trade license for my brother last week. My eleven page thick application form required signature from over ten individuals from different locations and needed over six legal stamps and numerous photocopying. If it weren't for my support and diligence my brother would have given up on the idea long ago and chose to remain a jobless youth rather. We are still waiting for the committee verification, and recommendation before going to Thimphu again.
G2C in Bhutan Times
Bhutan Times' report highlighted government's move to make services easily accessible by public through Government-2-Citizen (G2C) services. Once done it promises to make acquiring services simple and effective, inexpensive, time saving, and hassle-free, thus guaranteeing costumer satisfaction.

The picture illustration with the report didn't impress me much, because the current situation depicted alongside their vision didn't really tell the truth. The series of ladders in the picture shows that, though time consuming, there is progress in the way services are delivered today, which we all know is not true. Today if you are going to Thimphu for a work you must prepare yourself like your parents prepare for pilgrim to Bodgaya, for in there we are bound to be caught in Snake & Ladder game. I have invested good amount of my time in the following model, trying to depict the way public service is in our country today.
PaSsu's Model of Public Service in Bhutan

20 December 2011

Preserving Paro Town

My visit to Paro last week gave me an opportunity to look at the town in a whole new perceptive. I have spent seventeen years of my life in Paro but it never felt that way until I spent these five years away. After having seen the changing faces of many Bhutanese towns the old street in Paro town is something that made me stop and wonder and then wish.
The Beautiful Paro
Paro Tshongdue the forgotten names means the business place, where the Bhutanese and Tibetan businessmen met to barter their goods long before we knew India and Bangkok. This town has history and it has the structural design well preserved to be called the Iconic Town of Bhutan. Interestingly many of these houses are converted into Handicraft showrooms thereby promising to remain so for years. But the desire for bigger and better houses has slowly eaten away at least two houses and many might want to follow soon. 
Government could adopt the street and preserve it creatively, without hurting the sentiments of the landlords and without freezing their desire to move forward. 
The Last Bhutanese Town, Paro

Towns bigger than Thimphu are bound to come with time but if we lose Paro history may never forgive us.

13 December 2011

My Home Haa-ppiest

Why the study showed Haa as the happiest Dzongkhag? I know it's not a mistake, I grew up in Yangthang and despite all the shortcomings I have fond memories from my childhood. When I look back I wonder how it was possible for us to be happy. Today, I know all the factors that are necessary for social well-being and therefore happiness in the community but surprisingly Haa is deprived of many of these, and more surprising people are happy without them.
Yangthang- the village I grew up
Haa is harshly cold during the winter season, nothing can be grown during the winter months. Even during the summer months weather conditions allow only few low yielding crops to grow, which brings no commercial benefits. Everything has to be imported and despite Haa being very close to Phuntsholing and connected by road commodities are very expensive.
No industry or company ever showed interest in operating in Haa due to all the disadvantages. Tourism is only a recent thing in there. Only three bus services operate from Haa and none of them is a Coaster Bus. There are only few taxis and most of them done move at all. Though a solid Dongkhag, we don't have a full fledged hospital. Our Dzong is housed in a common house and court in even smaller house.
One half of the entire Dzongkhag was completed isolated until recently, and it took over four days to reach them. Food prices in these places are insanely high due to transportation problem.
AND despite all these shortcomings we are the happiest, how was it possible? The answer in hidden deep in the root of social lives. It lies in our strength not only to survive but also live and enjoy without some many thing in life.
Happy Lomba to the people who could locate happiness in hardship.

Invitation to Bhutan

My sister in-law is a Japanese, living and working in Taiwan. She visited my brother for the first time after their long Facebook relationship in September and spent over a week with my family. She enjoyed her times with us so much that she sacrificed her job and bonuses to meet us again in October. Fifteen day stay made her even more happy and wanted to come here again.
This time I thought I should invite her as our personal guest so that she won't have to pay so much as she did during her first two visits- she paid cost of a car already. However, I didn't know that the Immigration in my country won't acknowledge her relationship with us. My application for invitation was rejected. By the rule they have in their book, we should have met her outside Bhutan to qualify for invitation, which otherwise means that she can't be my sister in-law because she met us in Bhutan. What could be the possible logic behind recognizing acquaintance outside Bhutan? What I think should be important is the authenticity of the relationship. 

At Dochula, during her second visit.
Many people I contacted for information advised me to find a person who has been to Taiwan and prepare the application in their name, or to cook up a story of having met her in Singapore during my visit there but I defended knowing our true story was far better than those lies- after all they are humans at the other end! If I had known there are all robots interpreting the rules rigidly I would have listened and lied.
It's not all about money. I just wanted to show her the Bhutanese we are, our courtesy and hospitality to guest, and that's not possible after letting her pay thousands of dollars. She was supposed to visit us for the third time in February 2012 but she couldn't wait that long. And here my application was rejected. I couldn't tell her that she could will have to pay a huge price to meet us again but it turned out that she was more Bhutanese than the people who rejected my application. She consoled me saying, "Hey brother, don't worry, money can be made." 
And thus she came here for the third time as tourist and these days she is with us in Wangdue having a wonderful vacation with my family.

P:S: If you happen to be a wanna-be guest or a host and stumbled upon this post while Googling, please note that this article is not to encourage you to cheat your way out in this process, but I am not responsible if your application is rejected after telling the truth either!

US Dollar Across to the Eastern Bhutan

Many Bhutanese like me must have excitedly waited for the completion of airports in Bumthang and Tashigang and I personally wanted to make my first trip to Tashigang by one of the domestic aircraft.  The long wait finally ends at the announcement of domestic airfares; looks like it was never meant for us. The airfare is not only insanely high for most Bhutanese but also proudly converted in US dollar. What meaning can you draw from a Bhutanese airline announcing its airfare to Bhutanese people in Bhutan in terms of US dollar?

Domestic Airlines in Bhutan
Seemingly the two airports were built for tourist and tourist alone, the shameless airfares show that the airlines only had tourists on their minds and never for once thought about the state of our own people. If the airfares are not revised to a reasonable level then I can see no other way than to stone the aircraft down from Dochula- after all it's not going to make a difference to Bhutanese lives.

30 November 2011

My Daughter Becomes Two

On 29th November 9:29PM my daughter became 2. They say the height of a two year old multiplied by two will give their adult height. So I measured her the very minute she became two and found she's 87 cm tall, which means she will be 174 cm tall by the time she becomes 20- She is going to be 2 cm taller than me.
The long fearful wait for her teeth is finally over. I didn't count but there are enough teeth in her mouth now. Sometimes I regret shaving her head, even after five months her hair is not back, forget having thicker hair. Only her girlish outfit identifies her as a girl, and on many other occasions I had to correct strangers that my babe is a girl.
On her birthday, it's time to reflect on her two years among us, it's strange to realize that someone from nowhere comes into our lives and suddenly takes ownership of everything we ever had and we gladly give in. There were times my wife and I sit and talk about "if's": if our babe could sit up, if our babe could walk on her own, if our babe could talk... but later we realized that everything happens when it's time and there is so much joy in appreciating what she could do at the moment than thinking of what she can't do yet! My cousin became mother recently and she wishes if her babe could run around and play like my daughter, but I told her to enjoy her babe when she is still there on her lap and smiling because that moment is never going to come back.
For Memory!
What I don't like about my daughter is her mad love for technology. It was our fault, we tried to amuse her with some interactive games on iPad and now we are having it! Her favorite game is Angry Bird and she doesn't understand that it's not our favorite game and that we have many other works to do- she lets us play with her for hours and if we deny at any point she turns into Angry Bird herself. I am thoroughly beaten by my daughter- her punches and slaps are something I don't want to mess with.
She knows Youtube is for videos and my broadband accounts exhausts within a week from her Angry Bird commercial movies- I didn't know Angry birds was so popular until she took me there. Now she is also contributing to its popularity of billion views! 
Something My daughter loves!
Her second birthday was attended by my friends Ugyen and family, Juggu and Family, and Lop Tshering Gyeltshen over a small cake and dinner.

29 November 2011

Social Stigma- Can we afford one more?

Every once in a long while there comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind. The last such disease was leprosy that infected the human civilization for over 4000 years. This disease divided human race into two, human and leper. The leprosy stigma was so strong that lepers were forced segregated and quarantined, deprived of basic rights and warmth. In medieval times sufferers were worn leper bells, like cowbells, to signal their presence. Even in recent times, after the disease became treatable, lepers suffered equally strong stigma- termination from jobs, ban from public places, deprivation of healthcare and worse of all their families giving up on them.
Leper Bell! (Picture:: Wikipedia)
Bhutan has its own history of leprosy; stigma drove sufferers into isolation into the remote caves to wait for their ends. One such recorded history is that of Gelong Ma Pema's. Even today, after all the education, medical breakthrough, and understanding nobody wants to be associated with a leper; the stigma finds it hard to leave the society that has it rooted deep within its .
The bacterial disease is finally gone, or as good as gone but a virus has come and it's given a very technical name- HIV AIDS. Like I said, every once in a long while comes a disease that changes the fate of millions and test the rest of mankind- while leprosy surely changed the fate of millions but the rest of mankind failed the test. Now the time has come for another test, AIDS has changed the fate of millions but will the rest of us repeat the same mistake of depriving the sufferers of our love and compassion? Are we going to force segregate and isolate them in social caves? Are we going to wear them virtual cowbells?
Let us realize that the disease hasn't come for nothing, it's god's way of testing mankind of our virtues. If we are going to repeat what we have done to lepers with AIDS patients God may never forgive us. It's not about who sees the death first, many people die each day while infected people are living for years, but it's about the emotional support they need each moment of their lives fighting the disease and we owe them that much. Let's not wait for 4000 more years to realize that they are our family.

In two days we are going to see four HIV positives Bhutanese on National TV to share their experiences. We are all waiting with mixed feelings but one thing we must remember is they are sick of hiding and fighting alone. They are counting on us to help them fight the disease stronger and freely. 

28 November 2011

Encyclopedic of Bhutanese Hotels

I didn't know there were so many hotels in our country until I came across hotel.bt. Out of curiosity I checked a few hotels I know to see how good the site is, and I am thoroughly amazed at the collection of precise information backed up by beautiful pictures. It covers the hotels across the country and now I can already choose a hotel in any part of the country depending on my budget. And since it's online tourist from outside the country can make their choices too.

Click on the picture to visit the site.

The idea and the design re-inspired me to go back to my drawing board and work on my Question bank project which I dropped after MoE announced their project, which of course didn't materialize as well.

18 November 2011

Rising Star- Promote Little Tshering Dorji

Little Tshering Dorji is a fifth grader with magical voice. There are about five YouTube videos uploaded by pemajigs in last three days, and I couldn't help watching them over and over. The boy has that charm in his voice which I never felt in most Bhutanese singers. He is as good as those kids on SaReGaMaPa Lil Champs, only he needs some training and support.

If you haven't heard him yet, you won't believe me. Just watch the video and help him by spreading the words. Somewhere there may a musician who may invest in his voice and give us a singer who will pay us back with songs that could touch our souls. We must help him because he deserves it.

Update (2 Feb 2012): Tshering Dorji has found the stage with National Talent Hunt, and is winning the hearts of every Bhutanese with his seasoned voice on BBS 2. Like they say, he is going to Do Something!

16 November 2011

Dear Daughter, you were wonderful today

You just slept. It took a long time, you were feeling strange, I know, it's your first day without milk in your entire life. But we could see you were trying so hard, you already finished over five bottles of orange juice by the time you closed your eyes. Thank you babe, for being such a nice girl today. You have always been so cooperative when it came to taking big steps in your life like the toilet training last week. We sat you on the potty one time and the next time you asked for it. These for many other kids proved to be very difficult and often painful but you are special.
My Daughter's Recent Picture
 There are 14 days left for your second birthday, which is when we had planned to quit breastfeeding you but today out of the blue your mummy excitedly shared with me what she has done to you in my absence- she applied soya sauce over her nipple and showed to you saying it's so painful. You looked at her with worried expression and asked her to cover it up. You then asked for bottle. By the time I came home for lunch you have already passed six hours test without milk. By then you were resolute, you were saying No even when you mummy teasingly tempted you.
Darling, we are very sorry to have done this on to you but you must understand that this has to be done one day or the other and it is always better to be done earlier. We were with you undergoing the same pain every minute today, trying to comfort you each time you were frustrated.
Babe, you have to know that you are the only lucky baby in whole of locality who had the luxury to suckling for entire first six months of your life without mixing with a drop of water. Your mother was very insistent on doing this so that you live a very healthy life. You are the storeroom of million surprises babe, for the last one month you constructed many sentences and even had your four new teeth. You have shown craze for technology, which I think I should control and of all the thing today you surprise us by being so nice, which we thought would be very difficult. Now you have climbed one stage up in your life, and thank you for making it so easy for us. Love you.

11 November 2011

11.11.11- Remembering Young Jigme at 17

At 17 I was in high school trying to figure out why my mathematics teacher didn't like me, why the warden had to be so strict, why all the beautiful girls were scared of me, and what was I doing there in school. I had all the time to live my school life day by day. Little short of financial luxury but I had nothing to worry much about, it was a beautiful school and food was sufficient, hostel room was cozy, I only had to wake up in the morning and sleep at night- much of the waking hours went in sleeping and rest hardly mattered.
But at 17 young crown prince Jigme Singye Wangchuck not only lost his father, but also his king. Bhutan turned numb at the news but young Jigme had to wipe off his tears midway down the cheeks and answer to his country's calling. He had to leave his playground too soon. He was born a crown prince but was deprived of all boyhood fun, life didn't give him time to grow one day at a time.

At 17, I was only half worried about my exam, and damn excited about my winter vacation but at 17 young Jigme ascended the golden throne and gave hope to every Bhutanese. At 17 he became the Fourth King of Bhutan and brought back the warmth in Bhutanese hearts, which they feared they lost forever.
At 17, I was trying to make sense of many things in my history textbook. At 17, His Majesty the Fourth King made history by becoming the youngest monarch.

At 17, I finally knew a few tricks to survive in hostel thereby ensuring my happiness, but I was yet to understand what makes my teachers happy, and what it takes to keep my mother happy. But at 17, His Majesty the King Jigme Singye Wangchuk kept aside his broken heart and pronounced his dream of happiness for his country and the people, and ever since, every Bhutanese felt the impact of his dreams in our lives. The dream, which the rest of the world could comprehend only now.

At 17, what were you doing? At 17 what are our kids doing now? Remember at 17, His majesty ensured happiness for all of us till the end of time. The best way to celebrate the life of the Great IV is to leave behind our excuses and start giving our best!

04 November 2011

Singaporeans Believe in Bhutan

Two weeks ago, when Mr Khaw made a conclusion about Bhutan, I was disheartened. I thought he took away a wonderful friend from us because we count on Singapore when it comes to technological development. I knew his beliefs were his own yet I couldn't deny that those words were spoken in the parliament. I just sat down and wrote a letter to him, fully aware that my words won't make it anywhere near him in this vast universe of information. After over ten regular days, my blog stats suddenly started shooting up like a timer and comments flooded in. At first, it brought me immense joy and satisfaction as a blogger, and my message made it through. When the hits shot over 45,000, I began to worry. What have I done?

I only wanted Mr Khaw to know that we are happy, and far beyond my intention, it has gone viral, disturbing the minds of many Singaporeans. Many turned up to apologize on behalf of their minister, and discussions were heated on many forums. In trying to convince him that we were happy, I landed up making him unhappy; while I don't regret my words, I apologize for the unprecedented noise it made.

Our King and Queen just visited Singapore, and perhaps Singapore must have seen the very reflection of our simple happiness in the humility of our King. Over ninety positive Singaporean comments on my blog convinced me that they believe in Bhutan, that they believe in happiness, and that they are sorry about Mr Khaw being cynical. 

I am not used to so many comments on my blog; therefore, I am sorry I can't reply to each one of you, but I am very thankful that so many of you read my blog and took the time to leave your comments. I wish you happiness.

Thanks, Kuenzang Thinley, for the wonderful Award.

21 October 2011

To Mr. Khaw Boon Wan, What did you expect?

(This is in reply to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore on his comments made on our country )

Dear Mr. Khaw,

I was not surprised when you said Bhutan is not the last Shangri-la on Earth, because I had a friend from your country who found Bhutan only "full of mountains and valleys". When you visited Bhutan, what did you expect? Those flying mountains you saw in Avatar? or Every Bhutanese merrily dancing in designer clothes? Well, you must have at least expected fancier cars and taller buildings but we only have taller mountains (not flying ones) and thicker forest (truly natural).

I am not surprised even when you said "Most of the time, I saw unhappy people, toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." because I heard a proverb in school that goes, "Two men looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and other saw the horizon". I am only surprised that you have spend "Most of your time" in Bhutan looking in the fields. I am amazed at your ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them- O' you even knew they were "worried about the next harvest". No wonder you country export human resources.
The Man who didn't find happiness in Bhutan. Source:channelnewsasia 
I visited your wonderful country sometime ago, and it felt like a city from the future. The transportation system held me spell bound, Cleanliness of the street is so much that I didn't find a fragment of dust on my shoes after walking for the hours, Every building and car looks new, and there is no question about the civic sense among the people. Four days after I landed in Bhutan I woke up and started sharing the stories of your wonderful country- yes it took me four days of sleeping to shake of the hangover of many sleepless nights in your 24X7 country. I read the amazing history of your country and thought to myself, if Bhutan's to develop, Singapore can be our vision.

But since you questioned the presence of happiness in Bhutan, let me answer by telling you few things that you overlooked when you visited my country. Those people you saw in the fields weren't unhappy, if you have gone closer you would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives, perhaps you won't understand that. If you have spent a little longer time watching them, you would have seen and a woman with basket on her back and holding arms with several children coming with steaming food- we don't have McDonald or KFC. Then everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing and joking, feeding babies, for over an hour- you wouldn't have had so much time to sit and watch I know, times means money in your country. But we have luxury of time. People don't worry "about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products." In fact, we don't do much commercial farming, we do most of them to keep with the tradition. And when the sun sets, doesn't really matter what time, people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting. Large family because we don't chase away our children when they become 18 or children cast away their parents when they age.

We don't need Health Insurance to survive, nor have to go for Education Loan for educating our children. We don't hang the drug users, we counsel them to hang on to their lives, we don't have to have a job to survive, and when we fall sick even the furthest cousin comes to attend without having to update Facebook status.

If you reread our history you will find that our wise kings have hidden us from the outside world so that we could remain the way we are today. If we start mining our mountains and lumbering our forests, we can become Singapore but no matter what you do you can never become Bhutan. It is far too difficult. We shall be the last breath of oxygen on earth.

Bhutan may not be the Last Shangri-la but we are happy.