Showing posts with label Great wall of China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Great wall of China. Show all posts

29 May 2019

Great Walls of Thimphu

If we organise a competition to select the best compound wall in Thimphu, which organization will win? 

Of course, there will never be a compound wall contest, but I wonder why organizations compete to build extravagant walls. What are they trying to protect? What are they trying to hide?

Isaac Newton once said, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges…” and this is so true about us, in literal sense. In villages, we build compound walls and fences to protect our crops from animals, but here we neither have crops nor animals. And yet we have the strongest and biggest of walls built around our offices! By chance, if the walls are built to keep intruders away, then it’s common sense to know that they can walk through the gate or climb over the wall.

Supreme Wall
Looking at the enormity of the walls that are being built around government offices in Thimphu, it seems like Thimphu is in the state of war, and that each warring office is trying to protect itself from neighboring enemies and invaders. That certainly reminds us of the Great Wall of China protecting Chinese empire, but today even that famous wall is a mere tourist attraction with no defensive function.

But since Thimphu is a peaceful city with no stray cattle, the only thing walls are contributing to is isolating one part of a place from the other, blocking thoroughfares and depriving pedestrians the right of way.

My Neighbourhood 
For example, in my suffocating office neighborhood: ECB is adjacent to ACC but for me to get to ECB I have to take a detour from near Zorig Chusum; RAA is adjacent to RSPN but I have to walk all the way around from MoH gate; same is the case between MoH and NLC; MoE and UN House; MoH and Bhutan Telecom. They are divided by Berlin walls of their own. Pedestrians have no option but to follow the motor road to get from one place to another. No offices have left thoroughfares. And that’s just around my office in Kawajangsa.

So Close, yet so far!
It’s understandable for private property owners to enclose their estate within the four walls and station guard dogs (and put “beware of dogs” sign on the gate), but public offices should be kept as accessible as possible. The leadership of the organizations should think broadly at a national level.
It’s Bhutan on either side of the wall after all, and if offices talk to each other and mutually agree to share parking spaces and make free access, it will only save resources for the country. Building walls between offices only creates differences and distance between offices. I wonder who pays for these walls! I am sure no one can be a bully like Donald Trump to demand Mexico to pay for the wall that he wants along his border.
So much investment to disconnect
Compound walls don’t come cheap and it’s taken from the limited public money. Instead of walls, the money can go into useful infrastructure like roads, toilets and park facilities to name a few.
Highly secure- but from what?
I once asked a friend in Royal Audit Authority how they failed to catch government institutions wasting huge amount of money in walls. She laughed and told me that building wall around office is an official requirement. Baffling! So, on one hand it’s official mandate to waste precious budget on building walls, and on the other hand we hear officials cry about not having budget for replacing a broken tap in the office toilet.
Their roofs are almost touching, but they are completely disconnected
Construction of walls and fences of any sort around public offices should be discouraged, rather a set of CCTV cameras purchased at the cost of tiny fraction of the wall would effectively do the job of securing the area.

As long as the walls remain just as physical barriers it’s fine, but we know things just don’t stop there. The physical walls are either the result of diplomatic differences between the leaders of the organisations, or the cause of it. It is the symbol of mistrust and isolation. Walls, as you see, will never promote goodwill, and we have seen enough bureaucratic walls in Thimphu, one becoming a bottleneck for other and other not failing to take revenge. The whole little territorial dramas finally hits the general public the hardest; having to visit five different offices across their walls to get approval for a single work, when ideally one office could easily get across to other four offices online and get the work done on one table. 

Walls, therefore, is injurious to our harmony and our efficiency. 

“In the recent past, it has become evident that institutions in our country are all asserting “independence” and seeking greater “autonomy” at the expense of overall harmony. There is limited communication and coordination among agencies and this invariably leads to a lack of coherence.”- His Majesty the King, 17 Dec, 2013

08 August 2012

The Great Wall of China in Wangdue

It's still hard to digest the fact that we have lost Wangdue Dzong during our time; the time when we have roads, mobile phones, fire engines and the time when we pride in having modern education and computer technology. Harder still is the fact that the Dzong withstood nearly 400 years in the hands of people who didn't wear shoes.
Photo by Yeshey Dorji
Many fingers were pointed at this and that but everybody looked helpless in their own rightful corners. One fine day it dawn on me that perhaps we were really helpless. It wasn't in our humanly hand anymore. Now we have walked too long in shoes and too far from our shoe-less ancestors to fully understand where we went wrong.

A Dzong is not just one huge structure a spark of fire could burn down. It's the living history, it's divine artwork, it's the storeroom of Bhutanese faith, and it's home to gods and deities. How could something like fire destroy something as great as Dzong? But when it does happen, when a spark of fire brings a dzong down, there are reasons beyond fire and accident. It's a sign!
The sign could be interpreted in many ways depending on the depth of ones mind; Some might see it as a sign of something or so many things that already happened, while some will look at it as a sign of something that is going to happen. All interpretations are based on believes and therefore won't have solid evidences.
A segment of The Great Wall of China
From where I am, with my ordinary eyes and ordinary depth of mind and without any solid evidences, the ruins of Wangdue Dzong looks to me like a small segment of The Great Wall of China. The more I tried to ignore the more it resembled that wall. What has China got to do with our Dzong the ruin of our Dzong? The only connection I saw was that our prime minister was in Rio, Brazil shaking hands with the Chinese prime minster when the Dzong was destroyed. Was that handshake so significant? Could the fire be a sign related to our friendship with China? Could it be reminding us of the Tibetan History? or Perhaps more importantly warning about our own future?