21 January 2012

Hotel California in Punakha

Tea Break
I only heard of it like a story from a far off place, though I am into teaching for five years now, that it's such a fun at the winter correction camp in Punakha High School. They say it's like hotel California- "You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave."
I am in Punakha School as well but on a different mission. I am training teachers of Punakha and Gasa under Chigphen Rigphel Project. And this is the closest I ever came to the place from where my fate was decided years ago, from where fates of thousands were decided every year, and from where fates of many teachers are changed year after year- yes teachers make big money here, I only heard of it like a story you know.

What Makes it Hotel California? 

  1. All your lost friends suddenly reemerge from their isolation and it becomes the best vacation down the memory lane.
  2. Meeting old friends helps you forget your age, and this is exactly what happens in Punakha. Weeks in Punakha helps you fight aging and wrinkles better than Ponds Age Miracle. 
  3. The amount of money you make and the relationship you build here in the camp makes you feel like you belong to the place forever. Therefore most of the teachers in the camp are almost permanent staff, having booked their place for eternity, which so much connects with hotel California's closing line: "but you can never leave."
One Teacher One Car
Over hundred teachers gathered here to check class ten papers, and I am surprised to see so many familiar faces. They were surprised to see me as well- a new face among them in Punakha, but I confirmed them that I wasn't with them.

19 January 2012

Girl Who Found Her Way

These few months the news of youth going wrong never stopped taking the headlines. My month long stay in Phuntsholing gave me all the reason to worry about next generation of Bhutanese we are bringing up. From robbery to gang fights, drugs abuse to stabbing, lost of obedience to as far as homosexuality- they are leaving behind no bad stone unturned. I almost gave up all my hopes on them and just then I saw this 16 year old Yeshey Choden on Youtube, which gave me an insight into what is there beyond our eye and beyond the interest of Bhutanese media. Her magical voice and her very own lyrics held me stunned for a while. As I watch her fingers dance smoothly over the strings of her guitar I realized how guilty I was of those many assumptions.
While there are hundreds of kids who didn't find their purpose in life, and hundreds others who lost their purposes in the midst of influences but on the brighter side there are hundreds who found their way in life like Yeshey Choden. We just don't know about them because they are not put on the stage.

Update (2 Feb 2012): Yeshey Choden received an offer to sing for Yarkey Flim, on the recommendation of Bhutan Street Fashion.

17 January 2012

Why Everything Happens in Thimphu?

Night in Thimphu,   From  bhutanmajestictravel.com   
"Why everything happens in Thimphu?" was the question I often asked, sometimes in desperation, often in frustration and at times in sadness. Wherever our works begin it has to end in Thimphu, and without going there for umpteen times nothing gets done. From wherever the buses travel the road must end in Thimphu. Every taxi seems to head to Thimphu. All the offices operates from switches in Thimphu. Businesses find Thimphu favorable. All Jobs are in Thimphu. And therefore people move to Thimphu.
At one time we were scared of Thimphu, believing that the city spoils our children but now we know that Thimphu is scared of us because our kids are spoiling the city. Everybody wants to live in the city and nobody seems to take ownership of it, nobody cares about it. It's only now that I understand Thimphu is just an innocent little town who wants its dwellers to own her as their own. But the tragedy is that everybody just wants to use it.
So many stabbings, so many robbery, so many arrests, where are we taking Thimphu? It's amazing how much money is put on helping the youth, but the most amazing of all is the amount of effort kids put in running away from the helping hands. It's natural to be naughty at certain age but our kids have gone far beyond. They have lost their respect for humanity, they are out for kill and that was the last thing we were expecting from Bhutanese youth. There are more parents in Thimphu than Police, if every parent takes care of their child the problem won't be as grave. We have to be social police.
Why are these happening in Thimphu? The answer is in the question, because everything happens in Thimphu. It's time we realize that Thimphu is not the center of the earth, let there be limit to how much it can hold. Don't we have any other place for the IT Park? Are we still going ahead with the Medical College in Thimphu?
Thank god we don't have enough space in Thimphu, otherwise someday we might consider bringing all the Dzongs to Thimphu and make a Heritage Park there. Don't just Think from Thimphu, Think for Thimphu!

10 January 2012

The Other Gender

When you sign up for an account on internet you have to fill in a form, and I bet you must have wondered what that "Other" below "Male" and "Female" meant. I always thought Bhutan will never have to worry about it but looks like the time has come.
Funny No More
All brows in Wandue went up when Dechen first came there from Paro. She was the boy who appeared in headlines following an issue with her school not letting her be a girl. She set herself free by dropping out. Now she runs a BEauty Palour in Wangdue, where she is accepted as she is and doing good business. My wife wasn't very comfortable when I took her to Dechen's saloon for the first time, but later admitted that Dechen had the softest hand. I didn't see the other man people were talking about in Wangdue. He seems to be a taxi driver. who often dresses himself in kira.
While some people find it strange and unacceptable- denial of God's creation, I had to explain to many that they were born with woman's soul and they are NOT pretending to be what they are not. 
Bhutan government has already realized the change that is happening and discussed on the issue sometime last year. I don't know about the content of the talk though but I am happy that things are put into perceptive on time. Because after what I saw around me these days I am seriously worried. Dechen in Wangdue was just the tip of an iceberg.
During our lunch breaks we rest under the tree watching over two hundred girls practice football in Phuntsholing School ground, and the point of worry is that almost half of the girls have denied themselves as girls- from the way they keep their hair, way type of language they use, to the names they kept for themselves.  If it were a few of them I might sympathize with them just like I did with Dechen but here is the case of peer influence or a fashion of sort. Or is it the effect of Football on them? 
I wouldn't want to wake up one day and suddenly find my daughter wanting to be a boy just because it's a fashion. And I don't think the parents of these girls will want that either!