30 April 2014

Mountain Echoes 2014

Mountain Echoes, a Festival celebrating Literature, Art and Culture in Bhutan began in 2010. The fifth edition of the festival will happen from 22nd to 24th of May this year in Thimphu. Quite strangely I am
speaking at the festival along with people who have achieved so much in life in the field of art and literature. I don't have any significant contribution whatsoever to earn an audience who would listen to my talk, but I am assured that it's going to be a conversation format and there will be other guests with me mostly from outside Bhutan, therefore I don't have to worry about mocking empty chairs.
My Profile at the Festival
I am already worried about disappointing people because there are many remarkable people who deserves the stage unless we are already done with everybody in last four festivals. There are about fifty people speaking at the festival and I am proud to tell you about twenty are Bhutanese. The full list of speakers can be found on Mountain Echoes website.

I am honoured to be invited at Mountain Echoes, and I am thankful to people who have recommended to the organizers. I have to leave behind my insecurity and fear because there are some good friends out there who wish me well. 

My show is scheduled on 23rd May 2014, 5:00 pm at Taj Tashi

Mountain Echoes Festival is an initiative by the India-Bhutan Foundation and produced by Siyahi.

27 April 2014

The Last Wangdue Bridge

The historic wooden Wangdue bridge gave way to a motorable bridge in 1970s. The new bridge was perhaps a green iron bridge which stood there till 2002, when it was replace by the current concrete bridge.
How did I know the last bridge was green and made of iron? The answer is half submerged in the river (see picture). It is not only an eyesore near a very important site but also not a friendly foreign object in the river biodiversity. 
I am wondering why the rubble was left there. Who was supposed to clear it? Why was it left there? Was it ok to be left there in the river just like that? 

Rubble of the Last Iron Bridge
I can guess that the iron is of very good quality and given the opportunity some people might want to scrap it to pieces and use it for some purpose or simply sell it of. In Bajo town even septic tank covers are lost and a recent news reported that a home lost all its window grills, which suggest that iron is in high demand in scrap market. Then, why isn't that ugly bridge scrap lying there forever? There are at least few good tonnes of solid iron, and instead of letting it rust in the river and remain as an eyesore for ages why don't we let some people take it away for free?

24 April 2014

Rooting Hormones

There are two special plants in my school, a shrub and a tree. Mysteriously they are alone, just one each. While I understood enough of the tree the shrub remained largely mythical until I sought help on Facebook.
The Shrub (Name: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow)
Now I know their names and I know both propagated from cuttings. I have already begun working on multiplying the plants but given my bad track records with plants I knew I was missing on something.
The Tree

I have tried cuttings of hedges before with little success, and this time I am dealing with precious plant. I don’t want to lose this plant. I sort advices from my biologist friend Ugyen Tshering who suggested about rooting hormones that stimulate root growth during plant propagation, something I never heard before yet something that easily clicked on me. It was my environmental engineer friend Sangay Dorji who reminded this computer teacher to go to Google and search on “How to prepare organic rooting hormone” I felt very stupidly enlightened.

What I found on Google was what Sangay Dorji already shared. There are two easy ways to prepare rooting hormone at home besides commercial hormones.
  1. Extraction from willow leaf
  2. Honey

Extraction from Willow Leaf: Collect fresh willow leaves. Pour boiling water on it and leave to brew for 24 hours. Throw away the leaves and there you have the rooting hormone. It can be stored in refrigerator for months. Use the liquid for soaking the tip of your cuttings for a few hours before planting them in polybag.
Honey: Honey is natural rooting hormone. Just dip the tip of the cutting in honey and plant it right away. As simple as that.

But the success of rooting largely depends on how well you nurture them daily. Don’t be stupid like me- they don’t need sunlight as yet so keep the plants in shade to better the chance of their survival.

Rumor: Even Aspirin is said to have the rooting magic in it. Dissolve few tablets in a glass of water and soak the cuttings in it for some hours before planting them in polybag.

18 April 2014

My Mother's Donation to My School Museum

When I was planning my School Museum I called up my mother to help me. She already gave a long list of things she could help me with. But I had to reject some of her offers because I am not after antiques and valuables.

My Mother went home briefly and returned with load of stuffs for my museum. She has asked our village folks to help her son. She was surprised that not much is left in the village now.

If you have rural stuffs Please donate to my school Museum. Even torn and broken stuffs will work, after all it's a museum.

These are from my mother: (Do you want to try the quiz again? Name them)









16 April 2014

Twelve Frames of Inspiration, No Bob Marley

When we were young Bob Marley was just a great singer who sang 'Buffalo Soldier' and 'No Woman, No Cry', Now Bob Marley has suddenly become a god among the already confused generation. The Rastafari Flag, with either Bob himself or with a marijuana leave on it, is all over the place. For someone who died in 1981 to brainwash smart kids of 21st century is so unbelievable. Bravo Bob.

He is on the cap, scarf, shirt, locket, wrist band, pants, shorts, socks, shoes, taxi, truck, and even on the cover of textbooks and notebooks (kids buy three cello-tapes to cover their books in Rastafari Flag colors). If Bob Marley lived to see this day, how proud would he be? I swear he will shoot himself. Of all the things in the world he wouldn't want to be worshipped as the lord of the drugs. Bob Marley is grossly misunderstood by this generation and therefore when you see your child liking him you should start fearing.

Where does your child take inspiration from? If people on television can tell what your child should believe in then you are even closer, you should touch his soul with your strongest finger. If people in the town can influence your child more than you then you should question yourself.

I am a computer teacher, and I don't want my students to worship someone, they believe, who smoked marijuana all his life. That's not, I suppose, why they chose to take up computer. I want them to read about Bill Gates and dream big, I want them to believe in the excellence of Steve Jobs, I want them to be fans of Mark Zuckerberg and aspire to be like him... I want them to pause and reconsider where they want to go in life.

Therefore I want them to look at the Twelve Frames I have hung on the Computer Lab Wall, the twelve pioneers in the world of computer technology, and wonder how they must have done what they have done. Wonder, Appreciate, and Get Inspired.
12 Frames on the Wall

Enlarge the picture and see who all have made it on my list of Twelve. Did I miss out anybody worth featuring on my wall? Let me know.

Wangdue Dzong Across Time

I am growing increasingly interested in old pictures, and often I imagine myself being there in the times captured in them. The nostalgic moments I spend with old pictures add fourth dimension to my life. Cameras made it to Bhutan in 1907, evident from coronation pictures of first King but we hardly have more than few pictures until recently. We had painters as far as history stretches but they have never tried anything other than religious and spiritual symbols.
1783 Wangdue Dzong- only difference visible is the rounded edge of the walls.
But in 1783, Samuel Davis, lieutenant in the Bengal Army, joined Samuel Turner's Mission to Bhutan and Tibet as draftsman and surveyor has done us a great favour. It's only through his painting and journals that we can look back as far as 1783 into our history. And it's of course Michael Aries who gave us the access to these rare picture in his 1982 book "Views of Medieval Bhutan".

Wangdue Dzong by Samuel Davis, 1783
Of all the pictures in the book I am awed by the paintings of 145 year old Wangdue Dzong. In 1783, the dzong Samuel Davis painted was the original Dzong from Zhabdrung's time because in 1837 it was destroyed by fire. And later in 1897 the dzong was again destroyed by a severe earthquake. Thus, the dzong we saw before 2012 fire was not actually from Zhabdrung's time. But from Samuel Davis's painting we could conclude that the Dzong has always maintained its original Zhabdrung architecture despite two big disasters.

Wangdue Zam by Samuel Davis 1783
The tower bridge that was very unique was a big compliment to the magnificence of Wangdue Dzong, any old picture you see of the Dzong would have the bridge in it. It's as if the bridge was part of the Dzong. Wangdue Zam even fascinated the painter Samuel Davis back in 1783 that he went on painting it thrice.

Wangdue Dzong by Samuel Davis 1783
The magnificent Wangdue Zam stood bravely by the dzong until early 1970s. It was said that the bridge maintained it's original beauty and form until it was demolished to give way to motorable bridge.

In 1783 paintings there were two things that weren't not seen during our times, not even in 1970s pictures- the village below the Dzong and the Ta-Dzong. I wonder what must have happened to the village to have completely disappeared, in fact the landscape has changed altogether that small patch of plane where once several houses stood is now the riverbed. 

What is the story of the Ta-Dzong. Paro and Trongsa Ta-Dzongs are intact but what happened to Wangdue Ta-Dzong? It must be located below Rada Lhakhang, where the new Dratshang was constructed. Even the foundation is gone forever now.

1914 by John Claude White

1910 by John Claude White
Last days of Wangdue Zam in 1971 Stamp

Wangdue Dzong as Seen before 2012 Fire.
Wangdue Dzong was undergoing major renovation when the unfortunate fire incident happened on 24 June 2012.

To be continued. I have a picture from 1953 which went missing. 

11 April 2014

School Diary with a Difference

You could sense my fascination for diary just by going through this blog-PaSsu Diary. I have tried pulling as many people around me into blogging; to tell their stories, to archive events in their lifetime and to make differences. Over 20 students started blogging along with me last year and since the same club continues despite not having me on board I hope there will be more this year.

While blogging is not easily possible with every students we have introduced school diary for students since last year. My friend Ugyen Tshering and I worked on it to stress on the importance of letting students know how their character certificates are rated and to record the evidences of their contributions in the school.

Diary 2014 and beyond
That wasn't just enough. School Diaries are generally boring and so was ours. This year I have revised it to make it work like a real diary, that has spaces to put every little thing and that can work like a guide book for living.

Therefore, the diary has more than bio-data; it has a page title "Know Me Deeper and Better" where children can pen down their dreams, their skills, their values, etc that are not written on the face.
The diary has the SUPW rating and Character Certificate rating rubrics to help them work on them. That is followed by six pages of "Record of Conduct", where they can gather evidences of their contributions in school.
The diary has empty event calendar and timetable for them to fill. It's empty so that the diary can be timeless. It can used this year and beyond. It has six pages for "To do list" for students to work on organizing and managing time.
Sample Pages of Content of the Diary
 The Diary has Leave Chart that has space for both parents and teacher to sign so that no child wanders between home and school.
There are ten "Books I read" slots and we are expecting that every child to read at least read and write a short review on ten books.
There are 100 lines to note "One good deed I have done today" and there is no marking for that yet they are made to understand that there are few things in life that need not be rated. Right after that we have twenty pages of prayer, which is the standard school prayer book. There is no need for separate prayer book, and having the prayer in their diary makes the book sacred therefore regarded highly.
Sample pages of different contents 
This is personally my first publication, I worked on it from the first word till it reached the hands of my student, and I wanted the best diary ever. I bargained on the price with the printing press and they supplemented my bargain on the paper quality. I think I will never print with them again.  Today, the diary was launched and I gave a thorough orientation as if it was a novel I wrote.

*I am willing to share the PDF. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

06 April 2014

Bajothang is Becoming a Town Soon

'Bajothang Town' had been a new phrase to describe all the problems in the world. There is limit to failure, Bajothang crossed all lines. It's a town build on problems and it never failed its history. Reconciliation with its failed past was long overdue.
Death Traps
Well now things are happening finally. Looks like we are soon going to have a town around here. I can see people mending the broken pavements and dusting the potholes. I can see thick smoke from the middle of the town where they seem to be mixing blacktopping materials. I can see some roundabouts are resized. I can see some drains reappearing from underneath tonnes of earth. I am happy.

Mending the broken town
Smoke of Hope
There should be strategic planning to make adjustment with irreparable structural errors, because streets cannot be widened now- if every street is allowed for parking there is no room for traffic. With the drains repaired the sewage overflow will find its way and with the roads blacktopped the dust will be gone. This is the town Bajothang deserves to be and I hope the contractor will deliver it, and I hope the municipal will see to it. Because contractors are business people, they will try to make profit from every corner.

Redesigning the errors

I am eager to see how they will go about this!
Work Done so far
The few patches of finished work that are visible aren't so promising but we are optimistic people and we hope the contractor will learn to do better, and that he will leave behind a legacy that he can be proud of rather than endless court orders.

If you are visiting Bajothang these days you will find it too dusty to live but for people who are living here it's the dust of hope and change, it's the last of dust and stink, and we are enjoying it. Wish us best of luck.

02 April 2014

Collection for School Museum

I am sharing these pictures with so much excitement. Two members of my club made my Monday with so many artifacts, this is so much beyond my expectation at this initial time. Guess what, they say they have bigger wooden objects collected over the weekend waiting for transportation. I am going with a pickup truck this saturday.

As you browse down the pictures I want you to try naming the objects and stating their uses. Give yourself 1 point for correct name and another for knowing its purpose. There are nine objects and the total score is out of 18. Send me your score. I am trying this because in my staff room filled with adults from my generation there was nobody who could score 100%. Sad.



I am getting gentle warnings from some concerned people about the danger of spirits following old objects I am collecting but I assured them that I am after things that are of no interest to any spirit. As far as I know spirits follow valuable and conflict objects. Or so I assure myself.

A notable scholar, Dorji Penjor agreed to help me put things in place based on his vast and relevant knowledge. My high school friend Kunga Lhendup promised me his helping hand from across ocean. Here at home some of my teacher colleagues are determined to get me some stuffs though they couldn't do the quiz well. 

Do you have something to offer? Please write to me.