29 July 2011

School Boy who pays his own fees

Last week we called all our students' parents to mid-term result day. And in the presence of the parents we announced how we mistakenly collected Nu.100 extra from junior classes as school fees and that we were going to give that back. In my class VII C, I have 24 students whose parents came in one after another to sign on mark sheet and to collect the money.
Suddenly there was one father who didn't take the money, and asked me to give it to the boy himself! I insisted him on taking the money, reasoning that the money must go to where it came from, or it may disappear between school and home. The father proudly said that the money belonged to the boy, he paid his own school fee and even helped parents in household shopping from his winter earnings.
I looked at lean Tej Prasad for a long time and admired the man in him. I made the class applaud for him and asked them to get inspired from him. Age should not be an excuse. For the first time I loved the boy who pays his own fees more than the Monk who sold his Ferrari!

So much I saw in Singapore

Another group of excited teachers took off from Paro today. For the past one week they were sleepless just as I was a year and a half ago and they will be sleepless for the next eight nights they are going to spent there. My excitement died two days after I reached there. The culture shock drove me crazy, then the training schedule dragged me from morning till the night and as if we were robots our project manager will eat our nights by her useless meetings. I traveled as far as Singapore only to see some tall buildings around my hotel. I was a zombie by the time I landed in Paro.
We Bhutanese are happy because of the way we are, and I request the world to acknowledge Bhutanese as we are a not force your robotic values into us- we don't do that, learn from us and you will be happy too.
I wish my excited friends enough time to see the wonderful city and time to have enough sleep, so that when they land in Paro there is something good to remember, something to pride upon. For us, that trip still haunts like a nightmare.

My footprints in Singapore:
In Straits Times (News paper)
In Singapore (Magazine)
By Ms Euleen Goh, Chairman of SIF (Speech)

27 July 2011

Tour de Bhutan

268km from Bumthang to Thimphu is unimaginable even when you are in a car but Tour of Dragon is going to test your tolerance by putting you on a mountain bike across the distance, which is longer than any stage in Tour de France. In last year's event,  the first cross country race in Bhutan, 16 out of 30 racers made it to Thimphu- How was it possible? It made me realize how passion can make all the difference.
Mountain biking has become Bhutan's latest passion and in just over a year you can expect explosion in the number of participants and also the number of racers completing the race. September 17 is the day this year.
Following last year's big success, this year Tour of Dragon is going international.
And as it goes international, I think it's already eyeing big dollars and thereby ignoring the passionate home racers who won't be able to come up with Nu.25000 as race entrance fee. As far as I can see, no wife will let her husband cycle 268 km paying Nu.25000 for just Nu.100,000 prize. Prize is not worth the price racers will have to pay.
By keeping people's passion hostage I clearly don't see spirit in the sports. If the fee is not revised I can foresee only few elite Bhutanese bikers this season, thereby leaving hundreds of ordinary Bhutanese upset.

22 July 2011

Google+ and Facebook

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated country with over 750 million active citizens, beating even the United States. It gives me pain to realize the fact that a man younger than me would be ruling that country, yes I am hinting at Mark Zuckerberg. One crazy idea made all the difference!
The King!

But I am not alone in the list of people who envy Zuckerberg. Some countries blocked Facebook, many companies followed, and so many offices tried. But it surprised me when I found even Google was jealous. But I never thought Google will add a “+” and join the war against Facebook. Google+, is nothing new- another surprise, but has acquired over 18 million users even before it opened to public. That is over 30 times the population of Bhutan.
If + could make a difference...
With Facebook blocked in so many places Google+ is going to have party. When I joined Google+ last Sunday I was very lonely, so I told Pema Gyamtsho, who invited me there, that Google+ is a brand new bar with different brands of wine and whisky, but all our friends are still drinking in the old bar called Facebook. It felt very lonely among 18 million people after having spent years with 750 million people. 

15 July 2011

Compassionate Bhutan must accept Abortion now

 June 11, a young lady died in Phuntsholing Hospital after an unsuccessful abortion in Jaigaon. Until the doctors saw bleeding from the victim’s genitals, her friend had lied it was an epileptic attack. Telling the truth could lead to legal actions, but she left the world, free of pains.

Record shows that every year over 200 women suffer similar fate, which could be just the tip of an iceberg. There may be hundreds others who must be crying in the corners with pain, or worse must have died silent deaths.
Our compassionate Buddhist kingdom views abortion as a very sinful act, equivalent to killing a person. But with due respect, I seek to know where is compassion in letting a young woman die along with her baby? Where is compassion in letting an unwanted child see the light of the world, sentencing him to a home where he wasn’t wanted? Where is compassion in letting a young woman give birth to a child, whose father has given up on them?

I find more compassion in abortion; killing a cell for the sake of a woman’s life, and liberating both the mother and the child from depth of mistake. Abortion is not an ice cream that everybody would enjoy if made free, it is but the only option left when everything seems wrong. No woman will go for abortion for pleasure.

If there was a way out, the 23 year old woman wouldn’t have travelled over 400 km straight against her country’s law and pay Nu.9000 to let someone dig into her and take her guts out. In such times no amount of law can stop that. But just because it’s illegal at home, the desperate woman has gone out to Jaigaon, place where nothing seems right- who knows if the man who operated on her was a doctor or a vegetable vendor.

Abortion is not permitted in Bhutan because we are Buddhist, isn’t it more Buddhist to forgive a woman for her mistake and give her a new life instead of letting her die along with child, which we were trying to protect? How many women must die before we rethink our role as a Buddhist?

13 July 2011

Dear Students, summer gift to your parents,

I have been thinking of the divine relationship between parents and children for quite sometime, even before I became a father. And it occurred to me that children are innocently selfish. Every child expects the whole world to revolve around him, and parents make sure that it does. Parents place their hearts in every selfish achievement of their children.
I am mentioning this to you at this time of the year to remind you that it about time to give your parents a gift. Not that sort of a gift where you take money from your parents to buy them one, but something that you have achieved on your own- your exam result.
I don’t know if you would rejoice the pride of your father who comes home with the news of him being appreciated by his boss, or joy of your mother who met her childhood friend after fifteen years (because kids only find joy in things that matter to them), but I can assure you that both your parents will be the happiest if you walk home with your mark sheet filled with very good marks. They will pass your mark sheet to each other for countless times as if it’s a million Ngultrum check. They will talk about your result to anybody who visits your home, and then they will tour their friends’ homes to talk more about it.
If you realize it there is nothing in there to talk so much about (you spent last six months in school just for that)- your marks no matter how high won’t help them pay their house rent, not even the water bill. Your marks help no one other than you yet it brings happiness to your parents, which only means how easy it is to please your parents. Just reflect on how much your parents put in to please you each day ever since you were born, and ask yourselves if you were ever perfectly happy. The answer will most probably be No, and this indicates how hard it is to please you, despite all their sweat and blood. And there you are, just having to bring in a good mark sheet and your parents are flattered.
Knowing this is as simple as this; will you still deprive your parents of a gift this summer?

CC: Jigme, with love!

09 July 2011

Catching up with the Students

With due respect, I was insulting* over fifty senior teacher for the last ten day. The Best thing about being teacher is that it doesn't really matter who saw the light first, they listened to me passionately. I began by tell them what computer is, then we sat together in finding ways to use it in doing our regular works. Then we went on to find out how we us Internet- yes I took them on a joy ride to Facebook.  I couldn't stop myself from telling them how I consider Google as the greatest Rinpochee- I didn't leave them until they changed their faith. They are now more Googlist then Buddhist!
Then I finally reminded them why we are learning what we are learning; we are not trying to learn something great to help us help our students but to Catch up with out students.
One of the cartoons I showed!

*Please, do not consider the literal meaning of the word 'insulting', I mean it in good humor. 

01 July 2011

My First Kiss with Death

Three mornings I woke up thanking god that I am alive. And three nights I spent sleeplessly along with my wife, feverishly fighting the echo of the boulders rumbling down on to my car with dark empty cliff below it. It was hands of god that pulled me across, or I would have dragged along my friends down the cliff never to be found in one piece.
It was the night of 27th June, my team on election duty didn't want to spent another night in Gogona, so we had to pack out bags after the poll was over. It was raining heavy and we were carefully heading home. After meeting other teams at Nobding I was relaxed and moved at my own safe pace. But there is no absolute formula to drive safe when it rains. 
When I entered the huge turn below Nobding, where road widening works are going on during the day, I saw a boulder falling about a foot away followed by rumbling sound of bigger boulder. In fraction of a second I heard several thuds on my car. I don't know what an experienced driver would do- I didn't have time to think anyway. I had a young lady colleague behind me and a young police chumma in passenger seat- their lives were in my hand. 
I could hear the bang, bang of rock and scream of my friend from behind, just then a bounder as big as my head teared through my windshield and landed near my right foot (only god can explain how it didn't hit me at all). Now, I could see nothing in front with the windshield already blurred by cracks. All the while I haven't stopped, I sped across with all my focus on the road, and after I couldn't see anymore from the windshield I opened my window and project my head out to see the road, until we reached a safe place. If I had panicked a little bit, you would have seen me on BBS Headlines. 
The boulder came in through the windshield 

It was dark and raining, we were still within the huge curve, which means we weren't fully safe. So I rushed to remove the broken glass using the sharp boulder which was sitting at my feet- damn, it wasn't that easy. The broken glass had turned elastic. I asked the police's SLR and used the butt of the Rifle to make a hole for me to see through. 

Thank god, other boulders hit the body!
While I drove, my friend contacted our presiding officer who was way ahead of us, only to find his phone was dead. Then we called our Returning Officer to find a lady answering us, who was not in the mood to take anything seriously. Knowing there was no help we could call for we continued on our own for next 40 km home. 
I was freezing in my wet gho with rain hitting my face like a knife, and occasionally my vision blurred. I tried to keep my eyes open but the sharp pain in there won't let me, the two of them can't drive. Only after passing Rajona, the rain stopped and we had a calm three km journey until we reached RO's office.
At midnight I was taken to hospital to clean glass powder from my face and neck, and only then I fearfully realized that I nearly risked my eyesight by driving after the accident. It wasn't rain that pricked my eyes all the while but flying glass pieces. That night they removed three glass pieces from my eyes and asked me to go for further check up, because they didn't have the tech to remove smaller pieces- I am yet to go!
For now I need enough time to thank god. That's my first kiss with death and I must say it taste awful.