Showing posts with label Destruction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Destruction. Show all posts

21 September 2012

Our Outdated Towns

BBC was showing a video of a street in London shot over hundred years ago and they were amazed at the architectural farsighted of their ancestors, that even after hundred years they didn't have to change a slightest bit to accommodate modern metropolitan city.
London in 1902
Here in our country, where modern towns are only a few decades old, every now and then we have to demolish structures to widen streets and bring in better infrastructures, only to discover that it needs to be changed again. In last few years Thimphu saw many breakings and makings, yet streets are flooded with rain water every monsoon season, and often we get to smell the overflowing sewage. Thimphu needs to be changed every day and I don't think I will see a finished city ever in my life. Our designers didn't even see what would happen in 10 years time. 
Phuntsholing comes to a standstill every morning and there is nothing anybody can do to solve this problem. The problem is not with the population, not even the number of vehicles because these are expected with the change in time. This change in time had to be seen by our designers and planners.
Lets forgive them now because those days they walked straight out of their villages and saw lesser world to make any significant difference- or so I assume.
Now we have planners and designers who went to the best universities in the world and some of whom have multiple qualifications, they have seen the world and they have better resources in their hand. Therefore what we could least expect is to see our planners and designers build a town as good as the ones westerners did in early 1900.
And what came up in Khuruthang and Bajothang shattered all our hopes. Let alone standing and serving for centuries these two town failed in their own times. Even before completion they have become outdated in their structural designs and efficiency against the growing traffic. Each building accommodates over six families excluding the business operators on the ground floor and visibly there is parking space for only three cars. The parking space takes up half the width of the road.
Bajothang town from a Distance because that's the only way it looks good
Even before we had the buildings we had blacktopped roads, we had even pavements, we had drains, and sewage line. Now we have buildings, rough roads, risky pavements, hidden drains and blocked sewage. Everything that was built before was lost and it seems to take forever to get them back. Some constructions are frozen in time, and the construction material for a three storied house disables 300 meters of public land around it yet they are calm. I saw a construction of 40 storied building in Bangkok that didn't even throw a piece of scrap on the road that runs a few meters along it. Then I knew we Bhutanese are a big show off. Government structures here are like huts- be it Municipal office or the telecom office, perhaps to save cost, but what we don't realize is that we will have to rebuild them in next five years. The cost saving will cost heavily then. Children park and civic hall are like stories from dreams- the big space could be turned into parking lot instead of letting a jungle grow in the town. It's worse in Khuruthang though it is much older than Bajothang.
Bajothang and Khuruthang are repeating the mistakes made by Thimphu and Phuntsholing and the upcoming town could easily copy the trend but what would make the difference is to think differently and plan smartly, after all it is not everyday that we design towns. Hundred years from now when our children look at the pictures from our time they should not feel like they have reached a different world. We should leave behind what will last long than us.

11 September 2010

9/11- Burn a Quran Day

9/11/2001- seconds before the second plane hit
On this day 9 years ago four American Airlines jet hijacked by terrorist group masterminded by Bin Laden suicide-attacked the US. Two of the four hit on the World Trade Center twin towers, one hit the Pentagon and the last which was headed for White House crashed in a field. Today is a day to remember ...but...

One lone voice of some Pastor Jones of a small congregation in Florida with only about 50 followers disturbed the minds of million in the world. This man wanted to remember 9/11 victims by burning copies of Quran today. Quran or Koran is the holy book of Islam.

To Pastor Jones and his followers:

Pastor Jones- the man with bad idea
Why are you burning Quran? Quran is not Bin Laden’s Diary or his preaching. Quran is the holy book of Islam and Islam wasn't responsible for 9/11. Terrorists were Muslims but all Muslims are not terrorists. You can’t hate all the mothers in the world just because your mother ill-treated you. If you really want to burn it do it in the corner of your house and stop creating unrest in the world. You are a bad man. You are not different from terrorists; they misunderstood Islam and your misunderstood Christianity.

To Muslim who were disturbed by the plan:

Muiz Nasrallah wrote in Facebook, "You may burn thousands, millions of Koran, but you cannot burn our religion." and I say yes, Quran is just a book, faith is all that matters. Why make big issue out of a crazy man’s plan. It is all about being hyper-reactive; we don’t tickle a person on the forehead, we do under his arms because that part reacts. It’s a good chance to show to the world that Islam is not what they think, Islam is tolerant and Islam loves peace too. People have burnt Buddhist temples and bombed Buddha’s statues but nothing happened, so they were bored and they bombed no more.

To Media:

Media is responsible for the unrest. Otherwise what difference would one man with 50 followers matter in the world so big? Why did they make his crazy plan hot news? If it was not broadcast, no one would know and nothing would happen.

I was in Drukgyel High School when the Twin Tower came crumbling down, which triggered the war in Afghanistan; nine years on today so many people were killed and what have we got? There should be a better way to remember 9/11!

P:S: Today is the last day of the holy month of Muslims. Muslims labour working in Bajo Construction took our school's big speak for their prayer ceremony. Wish them good day!

24 June 2010

The Farm Road that became Riverbed

The Farm Road During rainfall. It could be worse!
The farm road above our residence, climbing steeply towards Bajo Lhakhang, and now even extending as far as Matalungchu is a big threat to natural environment. Ever since it was built a few years ago it never saw water drainage along its sides. The road itself served as riverbed during the monsoon. Worse, farmers use it as their irrigation cannel in times of cultivations, paving deep drains at different sections and blocking the road. They would justify that there were these provisions even before the road was thought of.
The road is speeding the process of land degradation at an alarming rate; Bajothang School has so far diverted enough energy on removing tones and tones of sand from hostel and football ground, and now the building which has unfortunately become school staff quarter. However we have never had time enough to bother beyond our school campus. The massive amount of sand degraded so far comes from the hill above would have taken hundred years in its natural process.
Bajo School Football ground in 2009
School being an organization responsible for educating children has no authority, capacity or experience in addressing this issue. The most we could do and have done so far is clearing the sand and reclaim our property. Having faced several bad experiences we have devised a huge drain to withstand and route out the heavy flooding. We have plans to build wall below the highway, the point between the end of farm road and the school campus to defend our school but the bigger issue is at large.
The Grand Canyon (

The farm road needs well designed drainage or may be the road itself needs redesign in accordance with the topography of the landscape. The last option may be to shutdown the road, after all it is more used by water than vehicles. Otherwise, in few years time we may get to see something like the Grand Canyon and by then Bajo Lhakhang and Bajo School would be history.

08 November 2009

Earthquake Raining Down on us...

The 21st September Earthquake was my first Ap Naka-experience. I was teaching in class nine when I felt the floor shaking underneath my feet. I looked around at my students to confirm my suspicion and they all gave me the stare of approval. I couldn't say anything, I was just too happy to have experienced the first earthquake of my life- I have missed that big one in December 2002. I made several calls here and there to share my excitement.
That evening BBS broadcasted the worst news from the eastern part of our country. It was the worst earthquake that ever hit Bhutan in our time. Thousands of homes were destroyed. Faith couldn’t keep the temples and chortens from falling; how helpless!
My joy eventually faded into subtle sorrow and then fear. Earthquake after earthquake, as if to say now it’s our turn in the world. Each tremor made me make several calls east and west; not to share my joy but to ask if our walls are still standing!
This morning at about 5am my wife shook me awake to yet another deadly earthquake. It’s no more exciting, I am just hoping this time there is nothing more than the playful shake. I am waiting with my fingers crossed for the 6pm news on BBS, prayerfully hoping it has nothing bad it say.

Picture Source: 

16 October 2009

Are we ready for the Coldest Winter ever?

I know anybody would ask, “Who said this winter will be the coldest?” The simple answer is who said the whole country would be flooded last summer? Who said country would be hit by a destructive earthquake ever? Who said it would be followed by windstorm?

Nobody has to say anything on this matter. This chain of things will keep happening now. It’s called the weather change, and our country can do nothing about it, we can just wait and suffer the different blows from nature. If all the countries in the world have been simple like ours then perhaps we would not have to face this natural calamities now. But the big countries with big desires provoke the instinct of the wild nature. Those countries are suffering year after year but why us? Whom to question at?

We better prepare to face different calamities now. Imagine heavy snowfall in Phuntsholing; are we ready to face it? Imagine months of road block due to snowfall; do we have enough food in stock? Imagine an avalanche from Sangaygang do we have a rescue team yet?

A slap on the right cheek means that we should take care of the left cheek, unless you want to be someone like Gandhiji. The September 21 Earthquake cost Bhutan over 2000 million. With this much money we could have built a shield against all earthquakes ever.

The question I put was funny, I know, and more funny question is do we still want to continue offering butter lamp, and relieve works once everything is over or are we going to do something before the disaster strikes so that there won't be a need to light butter lamp at all? was it a question? It seemed like an answer.

14 June 2009

Attempt to Burn us Down

My family rent a cozy apartment in Bajothang, little beyond our income, but where else to go?; Bajo is next Bombay with Punatshangchhu Project coming up. Of late we are spending sleepless nights, not because the rent is soaring but because there were several attempts on burning down the building we live in.
Attempt one; Fire was set underneath our staircase, burning down the electric line and some belongings of tenants stored there. We took it for a careless accident.
Attempt two; There was a pile of wood staked up by the side of our building. June 6 (O it was my birthday and we were out) the woodpile was set on fire. The tenants rushed out to put down the fire before it could catch on to the building.
Attempt three: The same woodpile was set on fire again a week after (13Th June). This time the fire was set close to the building and by the time we were alerted the fire was kissing the window of the third floor. The tenants were always united and we could manage to put down the fire again. But we are now sleepless more than ever. The suspect is at large. This is unlike Bhutan. the innocence of the Bhutanese is lost. There are nine families living in the building who have nothing to do with anybody in the community and if the fire burns down the building we are all gone. Call 113 from Wangdue and see...Punakha police responds and says call Wangdue police, We are helpless and waiting for the next attempt without a peaceful sleep. Funny part of all is that we use lot of water on putting out the fire when Bajothang has water shortage.

10 June 2009

Calling the Media

Media across the world go in search of news but in Bhutan News go in search of Media. Last night I was watching BBS reporting on the road damage caused by rain below Bajo Lhakhang; stating how it has affected the villagers. It was not a farm road over a cliff, it was actually a path among the field and there are hundred other ways for the villager. However since our media goes where they are called there is nothing else we could expect. If the Media is little more sensitive just on their way to that road block lies our school, Bajothang school, where the entire sand from valley above flooded our girls hostel. But it was hardly noticed. That night the whole school didn’t sleep keeping the sandy water from getting into the rooms…the picture will tell more.

29 May 2009

Fire, Water and My Village Yangthang

Yangthang, like phoenix rose from the ashes. Royal Kidu gave us strength and hope to rebuild our homes after the 2002 fire, which burnt down twenty five houses. We lost more than houses in the fire; history and memories. We dread fire, eight years of moving forward we still dread fire.
When my house was burnt down to ashes I was in Gyelposhing, crying over an imaginary picture of my-village-on-fire. Now I am in Wangdue, still having to imagine a picture of my-village-in-flood.
Punatshangchhu grew wild on 26th May, hundreds of logs thundering downstream, touching the heights it never did, and threatening the bold Wangdue Bridge. When the river encroached into our school campus I remembered my village. It lies on bank of the Ha chhu. I called my mother; she was giving me chilling details of the flood. She was planning to take our cow and move to the hills. The rivers, she said, had split into two, forming new course through our fields, washing away Tshering’s sawmill and Lam Dorji’s house.
“The village of Yangthang (52 households) had been cut off from the rest of Haa as, during the flash floods, the river had breached its banks and created a new course between the village and the highway.” Tobgay, T. from(
I saw the first picture in our Opposition Leader, Tshering Tobgay’s blog, who has visited my village after the disaster. It made me sad, and then made me happy. What if the river has gone the other side? The village still stands and against all geographical justifications we are grateful to Ap Chundu for saving our village.
“Yangthang’s New Bridge” in OL Tshering Tobgay’s blog touched my heart in different corners; People standing in unity against adversity, Dzongkhag’s helping hands, and most significantly Building a Bridge together, which made all the difference. It shall remain in our village history.
“Civil servants. When the dzongkhag staff heard about the efforts of the farmers, they, led by the new Dasho Dzongdag, quickly made their way to Yangthang, and took up their position on the bank opposite the stranded villagers. With farmers working on one side of the river and civil servants on the other, it didn’t take long for the river to be bridged.” Tobgay, T from (
Photo Courtesy: Tshering Tobgay

26 May 2009

Flooding Bhutan!

Heaven started tearing down on us for three days now and it felt very good until today. Rivers started to grow wilder and heaven seems to have more of it still. BBS announces the damages across the country, revealing the chilling picture of raging water touching the heights it never touched before.

My school resides on the bank of Punatshangchhu, the mysteriously silent river which has the history of deadly flood. A few weeks ago we had to panic when the announcement was made of a potential GLOF from Lunana, that created fear and nothing more. But logically we know that the fate of our school lies by the bank of the river.

However this time it is very unexpected! We casually watched the river change its color. By midday it swelled and between the clicks of camera apparent raise in water level was seen. As hundreds of logs came thundering downstream all eyes opened wide in fear. The school fencing which stood about four meters above the river level submerged and we soon lost the fishery to the river.

Up the road bajo thango the whole plain was submerged and the huge houses looked like boats with people already evacuated. Office-goers were still in gho and kira with their cars parked on safer ground. They watched the black top road disappearing under water.
Huge streams formed out of rough roads and cars are parked all along the road, not make their way to their usual parking.

The strong Wangdue bridge was shivering with ravaging water kissing its belly, threatening its strength. Official were keeping close watch over the water level and I was wondering, what they could do if at all the bridge fell?

So far the Punatshangchhu seems to have done no great harm to lives and property, but the rain is still falling... One night more will cross the line, If tonight the rain keeps falling I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning to see what the river has done.