29 November 2013

Ninzi Becomes Four

My Daughter becomes four today, and the four years with her seemed like quick vacation. It had its own share of heartbreaks and tears but the joy she brought surpasses everything else.

First Month
Nine Months
One year
Over a year
The Shaved head
Two Years
Three Years

Now She is Four

27 November 2013

Story of Books in Bhutan

Publishing a book in Bhutan is the easiest way to become poor, and if a writer dares to publish their second book then respect them because you have no idea how much they invested in their passion. Everybody wants money from your book. The publisher who gives you their name, the guy who did the layout, the other guy who designed your cover, the press that prints your book, and the bookstore that sells your book, all of them want more profit from your book than you will ever make.
Latest Book in Bhutan: The Night Hunting
Have you bought one yet?
 Once the book is published all your friends want a free copy each, there are several offices that claim five copies each of your book as an official requirement and by the time you finish selling the few hundred copies you had in your hand you will realize that you didnt even recover your printing cost. The worth of your words is an absolute zero. Everybody made profit out of your book except you.
Escapades: Perhaps the Book of the Year
What do you say?
Bhutan is an untold story, million books won't be enough but how many books are written so far? How many will be written? Books are national treasures and there must be national will to build our treasure. Publishing a book should be made easier, let the writer write respectfully, don't let him run from office to another for registration to approval to whatnot. Let there be just one office that will do everything for the writer. Lets not ask money from the writer, instead sponsor half the printing cost because afterall it's national treasure. Initiate annual writers' award to recognize good writers, inspire young writers. Writing is a passion, don't treat it like a business.

And of all the things in the world don't talk about censoring books. If you can't write books it's ok, there are other who can, and if you can't read it's still ok there are others who can and will read. Lets just inspire, that matters a lot.

26 November 2013

VAST: The Art Cafe

It was in junior high school when I was dying to become an artist. I was lucky to meet my art inspiration and English teacher, Karma Wangchuk in Paro, but I never had any formal training from him. I would just look at his work, go back to hostel and play with my colors.

It was about that time VAST opened in Thimphu. By then I was doing well with watercolor and was winning some prizes in school art competitions. I went to Thimphu several times just return from the VAST door, I couldn't dare walk into the studio. I was very insecure. I thought it was for the rich and talented. That mistake cost me heavily. Even though I kept the passion throughout high school I couldn't really do anything significant. I couldn't afford a set of oil paint, and when I finally bought one I couldn't buy a canvas. Today I could afford both but my art has left me.

Still today I dream to visit VAST, I slow my car when I pass by their Chubachu Studio just to see what is inside but a certain feeling of guilt won't allow me to pull over and walk into the studio. I have known and seen the great founder of VAST Asha Karma for years and I have huge admiration for the man. I just wish I had gone to him, I know he would have made me an artist. I wish I had known VAST is for anyone who loves art. Perhaps being an artist was never painted on me.

Asha Karma & VAST
Well that was my story but yours shouldn't be like mine. I have asked VAST artists and lovers about the formalities of visiting VAST and there is none. You can walk in just like that and if you wish you could spend hours painting there under the guidance of professional artists. If you have your art works you could take there and hang them among their works to be sold. It's a haven for artists.

So Dear Readers, if you have an artist in you, among your friends or in your family who wants to take art seriously in life take them to VAST. It keeps its door open to everybody. I am going there in December for sure, I am not too old begin again. 

22 November 2013

iSherig 2018

Today my team presented the final draft of ICT Master Plan 2018, which we branded as iSherig, to the Education minister, Secretary, Directors, and heads of all the relevant organizations including private sector. We have worked on it for the last four months and have scanned throught three round table meetings. The feedback on the final draft will be further discussed and the Report will be published by mid December 2013.

The following is an illustration of what we are hoping to achieve by the end of first five years of implementation of iSherig, i.e. 2018. I hope to share some more details on iSherig in near future.
iSherig 2018

17 November 2013

Salty Story- How Much Salt Do We Need?

If mankind can understand how rumors spread, the world would have the next generation of communication technology, which don't require any infrastructure, power and manpower. It can reach to the end of the world and back, penetrate the thickest of society and has the power to convince regardless of how silly the information is.

That salty evening when Kezang returned from her grocery shopping she came with the news of the salty rumor. I told her that I will believe in anything but salt shortage. By then we could see people running from shop to shop and lucky one loading bags of salt into their car trunk. Both of us didn't bother though the scene in the town was creepy with everybody talking about salt and walking with salt.

Cartoon by Wangchuk, Kuensel
We had a packet of salt at home already, how much more do we need? Before Bhutan opened trade with India salt was a big thing. It took men and horses across the mountain to Tibet just to get salt. But that was before we knew there were seven ocean full of salt. And before buffalo knew that he was living in land of salt and needn't wait for the yak.

It's interesting to note that we Bhutanese can believe in something as silly as salt shortage without a second thought and run to buy salt like the world is going to end with salt. But what is most interestingly disheartening is how we react in such situations. Within an hour every phone started ringing and the next moment we hear that all the salt in the towns across the country was sold out.

Some early birds(hawks) bought loads of salt as if salt shortage was going to affect just their families. They haven't paused for moment to think about what their greed would do on to the rest of the population. Thank god the rumor was false. Let them now have salty meals every day.

Shopkeepers suddenly inflated the price of salt and some were heard being very rude when asked why they were increasing the price. How would they show their face now? Are they going to do this to their customers if something real happens in the future?

Some shopkeepers hid all their salt stock in the store inside and lied to their customers knowing that they will fetch bumper price by the day as people become more desperate. They became not just selfish and greedy but also liers that evening.

That evening showed how salty we Bhutanese truly are, thanks to the rumor we got the opportunity to see the true color of our society. We are so selfish. We now know what will happen if a real crisis occurs. That was so unBhutanese and salty experience yet a good opportunity to reflect on what have become of us.

**BBS did a great job of enlightening the public on the issue that evening.
BBS did a wonderful job of clearifying 

13 November 2013

Lunch for Dr.Lotay and Team

Dr.Lotay's team began their voluntary surgical camp in Bajothang on 4th Nov 2013. The next day my wife underwent the surgery. During my two days in the hospital I have witnessed the finest human qualities and absolute sacrifice. He ran from one end of the hospital to another with bright smile on his face, between two surgeries he sees 10 to 20 patients, still there are people waiting to take chances on his way to the OT. He shows no sign of disgust, he rather walks them to the bench and ask them to wait there until he finishes his next case. This continues from 8 in the morning to late into the night. In the following day the team spent over 18 hrs straight, completing record 32 cases in a day, and calling it a day only at 5AM in the morning.
Dr.Lotay doing his last surgery in Bajothang on 13th Nov.
 I was so proud to see my school mate and adopted sister Nime Chunda in the team. She always had that caring nature in her and this time she has found the right team to work with. She hides her shy smile behind the mask and deals with hundreds of patients with consistent softness. I offered to bring her meals but she declined saying she eats with the team in the hospital itself and that's when I learned that they were eating at the hospital mess. I know the food there isn't so bad but for the team that's doing so much I felt it would be an honour to offer them good meals.

I made a casual post on Facebook about offering lunch to the team and suddenly I received a message from a Bhutanese living in New York. Ugay Wangmo supports various causes in Bhutan and this time she asked me to offer lunch to the team and has sent me Nu.10,000. I was so motivated that I offered to serve them lunch throughout their stay here. Even my school and my friends promised their help. By 10th Nov morning my wife recovered enough to help me and together we worked on menu for 13 member team and over 6 helpers. We ordered the lunch from the best hotel in the town.

It's interesting to observe that the team has no set lunch break, they run for lunch in twos and threes as they get time and rush back. Dr.Lotay himself had less than 20 mins to finish his lunch before the next case was ready. But I love it so much when he looked at his menu and commented: "Someone must have told you that I love fish." Yes he loves fish. He was so pleased to see my wife standing and working. Later in the evening when we went to serve them tea and momo, he took my wife in front of the crowd of anxious people and said, "See, there is nothing to worry about. She had her surgery and now she can even work, she is our cook." She was made to show her healing wounds.

Patients consult Dr.Lotay during the Lunch Break
That night they went on till 5AM in the morning to complete 32 cases. After few hours of rest on 11th Nov they conducted 80 endoscopy and still managed to work on seven surgeries which took them till 2:30 AM, this morning. During the lunch I expected to see everybody exhausted but not surprisingly they were full of energy. They were relaxed and had little more time to spare. They say that jokes keep them awake and give them energy but at the end it's the passion that drives them to extremes.

I got a call from a young entrepreneur, Chencho Dorji who wants to help me in offering lunch to the team and he contributed the additional amount of Nu.2000 for yesterday's lunch. For tomorrow a close friend of mine, and an inspiring young leader has offered his hand. He said said, his is not rich but he can do so much for Dr.Lotay. He will send me Nu.5000. He chose to be unnamed. At the end I may have to contribute only a small amount but experience of doing it is an honour for my family and all thanks to three of you.

The following is a poem that has inspired Dr.Lotay and I hope it does the same to all of us. Thanks Tshewang Rabgay for sharing it.

Do it Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. 
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. 
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. 
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. 
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. 
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. 
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 
Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway.

~Mother Teresa

09 November 2013

Dr. Lotay- The Healing Buddha

Dr.Lotay is known for his extraordinary medical wisdom and pair of divine hands but what makes him the greatest is what he does with them. We have seen him reach out to people through BBS when he was still working for Health Ministry and now that he is free from regular service he is using his freedom to heal people right at their doorsteps.
Dr.Lotay in Thimphu Gyedagom, Photo by Nima Tshering (Seen with Him)
Click on the Pic to read What Nima Tshering wrote in his Facebook journal.
I have heard about him doing voluntary gallstone removal surgery on over 140 people, all at free of cost, in Thimphu Gyedagom in the past month. And now he is in Bajothang working over 12 hours everyday. He runs between operation theatre and chamber no.8 every twenty minutes, and even at 9PM at night walks and talks like it's in the first hour of the day. While his team readies the next patient for surgery he attends to queue of people in chamber no.8. During the whole two days I was attending to my wife in hospital I couldn't help watching this great human being with wonder.

My wife needed this surgery ever since the conception of my daughter but since hers wasn't giving problem we ignored it until we knew that it could cause cancer in long run. We went to Thimphu Hospital some months ago only to get appointment in March 2014. This time the blessing has come to our door, Dr.Lotay's arrival in Bajothang is a blessing to my family and hundred others like us.

Healing Buddha
It was only 11 AM on 5th November when my wife was taken into OT, she was his fourth case for the day already. As he began the surgery it appeared on the screen in the waiting room, I could literally see the inside of my wife. At first I was anxiously shivering but soon I told myself "Come on, it's Dr.Lotay" and all the fear is gone. The procedure is very complicated, having to separate gallbladder from the liver with no room for error but when he does it everything seems easy. In 15 mins a brother came out with the stones and handed over to me. There was more than a palmful of stones in my wife's gallbladder, some as big as marble. The gallbladder was fully swollen and if we hadn't removed then serious problem was waiting.

It was 8PM when Dr. Lotay finished his 13th case for the day. It was on my principal. Before leaving he came around and soothed many patients. He didn't even looked tired. That day hospital was running out of bed and they had to keep at 13. But I heard they have done 15 to 16 every day since. Sometimes it was at 11PM the team leave for night.

Everyday people are pouring in, and some are coming from as far as Bumthang, even some people from Thimphu have followed him here. People come with all sorts of disease. Dr. Lotay has promised that no one will go back unhealed and thus extended his stay in Bajothang. I heard he is going down to Phuntsholing after here.
O' forgot to mention, you don't have to have any connection whatsoever to receive warm smile and best treatment from him. May god take care this compassionate soul.

Update 12 Nov. 2013: The number of patients coming increased by the day and Team Lotay had to extend a day more in Bajothang. In the last few days I have witnessed even greater power in the compassionate doctor and his team. His skills and spirit of volunteerism on one side and his energy on other side makes the man out of the world. His team began the first case of 10th Nov at 10AM and continued across the night till 5AM of Nov 11th to finish 32 surgeries. After few hours of rest they completed 80 endoscopy and seven surgeries that took them till 2:30 AM this morning. They are back in action again at 9AM today. Impossible is nothing for a willing heart!

02 November 2013

Class Picnic

This picnic with my class was long due. They always wanted it but I was never really sure if I wanted to take 29 young kids away from home and school and cook for them and give them a day worth remembering.
A few days back they came to me with the date and shopping list and left me with no choice but to agree on it. We sat down calculated a decent cost and wrote to their parents about today, the place and time.

Because they are very young I was worrying about every little detail, from salt to pots to bus. They were counting on me. I thought for a while and declared that I am going to be their guest and that I am not going to do anything. It's their picnic and should be done their way.
Well that freed me from all the worries and for the first time I enjoyed the idea of going on picnic with my class. This morning when I reached the picnic spot they had the breakfast ready, and were already in preparing for lunch. We had a good laugh over the spoilt breakfast, the fried rice that turned into pizza, which turned out to be tasty.
They have managed over six dishes with our decent collection, god knows how they managed it and the lunch they served today could beat any hotel in Bajothang. This is the best picnic I ever had, that too on the coronation day of his majesty.

The Pose, lead by my friend Tshering Zam, and directed by Jaggu...;D
Moral of the story: If you want to enjoy kids' picnic, let them be in charge.