Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

02 February 2014

Friends across Border

After a month long vacation in Gelephu, I am left with no more appetite for fun in Phuntsholing. It's time to relax and retune my mood back to normal mode because in few days I will be back in school. It's already my fourth day in Phuntsholing but I haven't seen anything here yet, perhaps I don't want to go out like I used to do. I wouldn't even be stopping here for so long if Friday wasn't a holiday. It cost me three more days to wait for Monday to visit one office here.

Waiting seems to make days last longer. Thank god we are offered a nice suite room to complete our holiday in south. So in between endless sleeping and television shows I am working on the wonderful host's design works, from logo to signboard, website to Facebook Page for the hotel.

And like an annual ritual I visited my friend Bikash in supermarket. We met some seven years ago. On the first day of his clothing business we met and the following year when I went to meet him he was more than happy to see me. He said his business is booming, he already owned two shops and supplied to other shops as well. He said we were his lucky charm. So this lucky charm goes to meet him every year.
Bikash- Seven Years of Friendship
Another friend I made over the years was Amit Kumar. I know him for five years now. He brought Gola to Jaigoan from Mumbai. He would always ask about my family and send us message through common friends. He has hundreds of Bhutanese friends but when I meet him he will always make me feel like I am his best friend. He and other momo guys are moved from their regular location and are currently operating near Hanuman temple. They are fighting to come back.
I suggested him to visit Thimphu and other places across Bhutan during festivals and he liked the idea.

Ninzi with Amit's Gola, and Amit is Standing behind her!

04 January 2014

Wang in Phuntsholing, Blessing in Jaigaon

Merchants in Jaigaon have developed a special liking for Buddhism ever since the Wang in Phuntsholing began a few years ago. They say they feel liberated at the very news of Wang in Phuntsholing. They agree that buddhism is the greatest religion because it's the only religion that could bring so many people to Phuntsholing even when country is suffering of rupee shortage.

Photo by Nawang
The pirated CD bhai near Bhutan Gate says that Bhutanese devotee are very dedicated to their religion, they have not only come from different corners of the country but every evening they come on religious walk across the border and return with bags of blessings. He says that pronography CD sells very well.

The pani puri sellers also acknowledge that their health improved drastically ever since the Wang began because they get to do nonstop physical exercise. Their claim is evident from the huge biceps and the whitish fingers. They say that they don't even get time to wash their hands after peeing.

Beggar community however complains to the authority that they need breathing and sitting space. The Bhutanese crowd in Jaigaon during the Wang pose threat to the health of hygiene of the beggars on the street. The authority persuaded them to withdraw their complaint letter with the condition that they will write to Wang organisers to ask the devotees to pay the beggars in rupee.

Bhutanese taxi drivers are in the process of writing a proposal letter to RSTA to allow them to carry at least 20 passengers so that they could compete with the Indian counterparts. But RSTA rejected their proposal. The road safety authority states that only Indian drivers have the religious rights to send Bhutanese devotees to heaven.

Bhutanese Businessmen in Phuntsholing who are not benefiting so much from huge accumulation of people agree that their business is not very good as expected because people choose to visit the Indian side even to buy the things that are sold in Bhutan because the air is warmer on the other side of the border and also everybody knows that Buddha is born in India.

Banks in Phuntsholing have kept several ATMs on standby. They are happy that the machines are put to maximum use. They also have plans to load rupee in the ATMs for the convenience of Bhutanese devotees who otherwise have to stand in long queue at the ATMs in Jaigaon and Birpara to withdraw rupees.

Merchant association of Jaigaon in their press release stated in bold that they are truly blessed by the Wang and they taken the vow do whatever is possible within their means to support the Wang in Phuntsholing. It's also rumored that they are going to sponsor the next Wang to accumulate good karma and to spend their excess Nugltrum.

Bhutan's economic minister expressed his appreciation in Times of India, where he mentioned that Bhutan is a land of Happiness and commended the organisers for taking the goodwill of spreading happiness in Jaigaon beyond mere rupee issue. In reply to that Prime Minister of India, Manmohan Singh said nothing, he usually says nothing.

P:S: I hope you didn't take it seriously.

27 August 2013

Anderson Silva Influenced 2013 Election

Our 2013 Election gave birth to many schools of thought. The political pundits blamed India, China, Times of India to something as volatile as gas. But nobody blamed Anderson Silva for losing the championship six days before our general election. We are Bhutanese and we believe in signs and that fight was a clear sign that a champion will be knocked out.

There goes the Champion 
When whole country was anxious about the 13th July I was looking forward to Anderson's fight on July 7. I have never seen this man lose a fight ever since I became UFC fan. I had a thoroughly mixed feeling for the champion, I loved the guy so much but for once I wanted to see him being beaten, and again deep inside I had the strong feeling that he is invincible. If you have watched that fateful fight you will know how the invincible clowned with his opponent and paid the price that cannot be forgotten in seven lives.

The political champion in Bhutan, DPT was believed to be invincible too. It was the party with strong leadership pack and strongest of supporters at grassroot and among business class. But during the campaign period they chose Anderson Silva tactics of making fun of the opponent. They wasted huge energy in insulting PDP's helicopter and power tiller...

But in my most generous calculation I could only forecast 17 seats for PDP which was supposed to be 850% better than their 2008 result. Just as the election makes ordinary people political pundits it also makes many people astrologers too. I heard people having dreamt about having chicken curry and others riding horse downstream. I said I saw Anderson Silva not taking the fight seriously and getting knocked out in the second round, I saw a sure winner losing. And what happened on 7th and 13th July both shocked me.

Signs are shown in different shapes and sizes and for a UFC fan the sign was seen in a UFC Fight and the analysis is to be taken seriously as a joke.

06 July 2013

Politics in the Kitchen

Politics is the last topic I want to discuss during the election time, not because I-am-supposed-to-be apolitical but because I can never do justice to the subject. Whatever I write can offend as many as I can please, and I so far didn't see something called political middle path. Truth, like gold, maintains its property but can be molded into different shapes under the political hammer.
Food taste good on such oven
Spending endless hours reading everything political figures, supporters, critics, and parties write on social media I realized Bhutan is full of Political Pundits. It's hard to digest that we are citizens of the youngest democracy in the world.
This time, Critics have pushed politics right into the kitchen. I don't know if there is anything political about the Cooking gas subsidy withdrawal but the timing was shockingly suspicious. Just a week ahead of poll what else can be more damaging. Kitchen is the heart of a home, mood of a family is cooked in the kitchen and when politics comes into the kitchen every member of the family will have to taste the salty political food.
Big lesson to learn: next time you want to hurt a nation, remember to hit the kitchen ;)
I, personally have two months at my disposal before I begin to think about what next to do because I have two filled cylinders in my kitchen, which is why I sound so cool. By then I am hoping subsidy will be back in place, but if it's not I seriously can't afford another refill. I am not going to pay so much for stinking gas. I would rather sell my two empty cylinders and buy a nice electrical stove. For once I want to make myself believe that we are rich in electricity. Now, don't joke about increasing power tariff- that would be a national insult.
I am now starting to wonder how much a plate of momo will cost by next month because I remember cab drivers increasing the fare by Nu.50 when petrol price inflates by Nu.1. I think we should order for momo cooked on electric stove.
If subsidy withdrawal sustains then scrap dealers will make good money out of metal cylinders because Nu.1200 is still big in rural Bhutan. They will surely go back to forest and collect firewood, after all food taste good on mud oven.

25 May 2013

Mob in Bajothang- iWitness

I heard of mob attack in Jaigoan, and saw in Indian movies but this afternoon it happened in my school. The school was over and I was with my colleagues shaking hands with movie director Tshering Wangyel who has come to screen his production "Sorry Wai" here. Suddenly we heard our noisy neighbours shouting louder than they usually did. We have over 20 Bengali  labourers working for a construction site in our school. They were chasing something with various weapons in their hand.
We said "Sorry Wai" to Tshering Wangyel and ran to the site to find that they were after the Bhutanese site supervisor who is responsible for looking after the work on behalf of the funder. Stones were flying in his direction, narrowly missing him. We stopped the mob, who were carrying bamboo, iron rod, stone, spade and going 'maro maro' after him. While I appreciate their unity I hated their action and intention.
Instinctively I picked up a bamboo too and pointed at those who were trying to cross beyond where we were standing, I only realized there was bamboo in my hand when my principal called on me to throw it.
"He hit our friend, we have to 'maro' him" They shouted.
"Are you police? Who are you to render justice this way? This cannot be done here. Call you proprietor and solve it with police." My principal sent them back.

Then their theakhadar said something to them which instigated the mob again. They wanted to drag him back and do justice. They began "maro maro' again and came running. We intercepted them and suggested, "How would you like to have it the other way, where we call 50 Bhutanese and thrash your heads with your weapons." By then there were people watching from all directions. The mob retreated silently.
Our principal called the theakhadar and warned him to total silence.

After a while the escapee returned with chief security officer of his company and police. The labours were called and the case was dug. From their conversation I could see that the supervisor had tried to stop a work which was not approved by the company, while the head labourer shouted at his workers to continue. The s supervisor became furious and dug out their finished work when a labourer punched him. He picked up a bamboo and knocked that man down and ran away.

Police after hearing stories from both sides said both of them must go to the office, and even asked the theakhadar to go. That's when I said "what about the mob that came with all sort of weapon?" and my colleagues supported me. Then the whole 'maro maro' gang was loaded behind police pickup and taken to police station. I hope their are not kept in the cell overnight though they deserved it.

23 March 2013

Poetry Marathon in Agra Lite Festival

If you find me writing too much about my Agra journey, you must forgive and understand that it was my first time attending a Literature Festival. But I was prepared by Tshering C Dorji not to expect too much and to enjoy the places and traveling experience. He told me that Writers are strange species of people who wouldn't listen to your story without finishing theirs- and each has a story that will last a life time, which means no one would be interested in listening to us.
Once upon a poetry stage- 11/3/2013
On the second night we finally got our share on the stage to read our poetry in Poetry Marathon, but unfortunately both of us weren't poets for quite some time. Tshering chose to tell a story from his life and I thought I would speak of Blogging in Bhutan. However, I noticed that we cannot speak peacefully if we run longer than a few minutes therefore I readied an old poem from my poetry blog. Tshering found it interesting and encouraged me to go ahead with the poem. And I did!

Shut Up Grandma
Shut Up Grandma,
Your stories are lies.
Sing us a song instead,
But do you even remember the tune?

I’m old enough, grandma,
I have found my own tune.
Forgive me if it hurts you,
Because I've always forgiven you.

Thank you, grandma,
For the life you chose for me,
But sorry again, I rewrote my destiny,
To walked my own free road.

Whose blood runs in me, Grandma?
It feel so cold in my heart.
There is dirt in that, grandma,
I have bled all of it.

There is a question I feared ask, Grandma,
Because I have always felt your answer.
But it doesn’t matter anymore,
So tell me grandma, did you ever love me?
 This was written many years ago when I was a high school boy and I don't know what I meant in these lines. I chose to read it because it sounded very naughty, and also it was short enough to please the writer audience who were waiting to read their poems.

21 March 2013

Taj Mahal and The Guide

After seeing Taj Mahal for myself I was convinced that no one can fully express the beauty of the ancient wonder to you. The so many stories, descriptions and poems I saw on TV, read in books and heard from people are nothing compared to what stands there in Agra. Every piece of stone has a story to tell, no wonder it took 22 years to build.
At Taj with Prakash Subedi of Nepal

I can't do justice and therefore I won't dare attempt to describe Taj Mahal but I must tell you this is something you must see in your life time. Thanks to Ajeet Cour and Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) team for taking me to the greatest art of human civilization.

On the other hand, If you have watched Slumdog Millionaire you would remember the little tourist guide at Taj Mahal, which of course is fictional but our guide to Taj was even more entertaining, he has every detail of Taj Mahal by heart and delivers it like a robot in English language of his own. His name is Raj, and he calls himself "Raj by the Taj". Watch my YouTube of the Guide.
And Raj explaining the optical illusion -

11 October 2012

Congress Grass and Bad Nose

Sinusitis is a very common disease among Bhutanese and most common among people living in Wangdue. This is based on no formal research but every other person around me has the infection, including myself. The local medical pharmacy tells me that thousands have come to him with the problem because he is known for his ability to treat this disease with his own combination of medicine. People trust him more than they trust hospitals.
Depending on the severity of the infection people go to extremes to free themselves from the suffocation disease, and like a myth this disease has strange treatments; Smelling the stinking waters in Gasa Hotspring, smoking cigarette filled with fragments of samba deer's horn, inhaling smoking from burning human body at the cremation ground, and of course the regular medical treatments at hospitals and indigenous hospitals.
People have come up with various causes of the disease in the region, (of course we can't expect our hospitals to do this out of their box), some say it's because of our water source that carries dirt from several villages from Samtengang to Boelangda, while others say it's the strong wind that carries all sorts of dust in the air we breath in daily. However, the water and wind story prevails across the country and attributing Wangdue's mass infection to it comes with little logic, that's when I heard and discovered the story of a toxic grass.
Santa Maria Feverfew or Whitetop Weed is originally from American tropics. It became widespread in Asia through contaminated wheat that the Congress Party of India imported from the US, which is why now the plant is known as Congress grass. It doesn't take much intelligence to find out how the grass made it to Wangdue. The grass is invasive and can spread at epidemic proportions triggering pollen allergy in human and even livestock. Due to toxic parthenin it contains it causes dermatitis and respiratory malfunction in humans, which explains why so many of us are struggling with out nose every day. 
The Political Grass- Imported from India

31 May 2012

Life Changing Show: Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate

My Singaporean friends were surprised at my fluent Hindi, I surprised them most when I told them that majority of urban dwellers could speak better than me. Who wouldn't doubt we were immigrants from India but I explained that our homes were invaded by Indian TV Soaps, and even before we had TV the only cinema we knew was Bollywood.
Indian shows on TV are part of our lives and our choice of show defines our lives, and most importantly the lives of our children upon whom we enforce our choices. My cousins grew up watching my aunt's choice of family drama and I am not surprised by how their personalities are driven by those on screen.
Now is the time to switch our channel to something that will change our lives for better, and inspire dreams in our children rather than letting them learn how to fight their mother in-laws. If you were a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show then you already have the best taste, and perhaps you must have been watching the show I am going to talk about.
Aamir Kham's Show on Star TV has a very difficult name- Satyamev Jayate but it's worth practicing because no one can help telling about the show to friends and family once you watch it. It's telecast at 11 AM (11:30 BST) every Sunday on Star World and Star Plus. The show has the power to change an individual, better a family, transform a culture, improve a system, and uplift a nation.
It makes me cry, it inspires me to be part of change, it motivates me to fight for good, it's the best show India has ever created. And the Magician Aamir Khan add five stars to the show. If Indian shows have entertained us so far, it's now time to get inspired and think of a better world.
Only four episodes have been shown so far (Click on the links to get the whole picture):

  1. Daughters Are Precious
  2. Break the Silence (About Sexual Abuse of Children)
  3. Marriage or Market Place
  4. Every Life is Precious ( About Health Care)
Dying to see what Aamir is going to bring up in the Fifth Issue, which will be on Sunday 3rd June at 11 AM (11:30 BST). Every episode ends with a heart breaking song and long after you walk away from the TV, the song echos in our soul. If this show doesn't change us then nothing else can.
If you are using iPhone (Click Here) and iPad (Click Here) you could download the StarPlus App from App Store and Watch the show live.

20 April 2012

Trade Fair in Bajothang- Irresponsibly Bhutanese

The Trade Fair in Bajothang ended yesterday, which began on 13 April. There were over forty Indian stalls with skilled salespersons, who won't get tired of demonstrating how their product works like 'magic'. But by the last second day these Indians were swearing they will never come in Wangdue again because the business wasn't good. They even started giving heavy discounts, yet the turnout was poor. On the other hand, Bhutanese were all waiting for the last day to come, they heard the story from Thimphu trade fair that Indians give heavy discount on the last day. 
Traffic Jam in my Parking
The final day saw the biggest crowd gathering in Bajothang, which surprised even the Indians. They were desperate for last few days and they knew their chance has come to hit hard. There was a sudden price hike and Bhutanese paid more for their foolishness. By the evening yesterday Bhutanese were more desperate to get the 'last piece' than to bargain, and I am sure it was bumper sale.
By today evening these Indians will leave the country and I don't think they will walk out with Ngultrum. If our country was suffering from rupee crisis then from today we will suffer little more. As if the economy draining in border towns weren't enough, Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) created a big leak in Bajothang to drain our Bhutanese money. It was a strange insult to rupee injury by an organization who should have been more responsible than the rest of us in such times.
Before the trade fair the business in Bajothang town was good enough to sustain itself but now things have changed. The trade fair diverted costumer from every corner to the Bajothang school football ground and therefore leaving the town empty. Business was already shaky in the town and now it will sure break because most of the people have already spent more they have earned in the fair. It was a great betrayal by BCCI who was supposed to work "toward 'Bhutanese' private sector development" landed up developing Indian private businessman. 
And Before the trade fair people were content with what they had at home and all they had to spend on were grocery items but now people have defied the words of our Prime Minister who had said, “We have to remember the lessons we have learned and work towards it; hopefully we will now change our habits of spending unnecessarily.” In fact the trade fair fairly changed our habits of spending; people bought new gas stove when they already have one, they bought big sofa for their small rooms, they bought more carpets than they have rooms, they bought chopping machines when they don't have enough to chop with their knife, they bought plenty of unbreakable buckets as if they are going to fight with buckets, they have bought blankets for next winter, they bought shaver when nobody shaves at home, they were feasting on chicken drumstick at a price which could buy a whole chicken,... would all these happen if BCCI didn't bring these Indians here? What positive changes did it bring to people who have already emptied their bank accounts on things they may not need at all? How would BCCI justify trade fair to our Prime Minister who was urging people to "change the habits of spending unnecessarily"?
Just a few days back The Bhutanese reported that "BCCI study shows that government spending is main cause of rupee crisis" which was contradicting the findings by the government task force. PaSsu Diary on the other hands finds the BCCI and their numerous trade fairs responsible for the leakage of excessive Bhutanese money into Indian pockets and that too unnecessarily.

12 March 2012

My Rupee Worries

Even without any knowledge on commerce and economy I always saw this problem coming, I am not bluffing, and I am surprised some are only waking up now. I was in Phuntsholing last winter and had the misfortune of seeing how those four ATMs ran out of cash every hour. Our money was going to India as if Bhutanese economy was suffering from shooting diarrhea.
RMA's sudden measure to curb rupee crunch send panic waves across the country; Import business are threatened, constructions sectors are stunned, industries are shocked... and for once I thought out central bank is trying to cut off the neck that pains instead of healing it. Only today, after Dawa's show on BBS I saw the light, the light that should have been shown long ago. But now is not a bad time either.
However, this temporary measure, I fear, might cause permanent damage to our trade relation with people in Jaigoan. With Indian businessmen already shying away from Ngultrum I foresee sudden inflation in daily commodities in few days time. I have to gamble on weather I should already fill my kitchen with cartons of milk powder and cooking oil. I have already fueled my car -as if the problem would be solved before I run out of fuel again, and that sort of shortsightedness is prevalent among us Bhutanese. And even the central bank.
During the discussion, I didn't hear them talk anything about dollar. But some of us on twitter did a little talk of our own, where we mentioned why not use dollar to buy rupee. The problem is with rupee and we are supposed to have earned good amount of dollar through tourism, why can't we use it?
Without taking long term measures the economy diarrhea will never stop, and the current measure is just a radish corked in the bottom, only to build the pressure of outflow after it's been removed. We may have to look at agriculture seriously so that we don't land up importing what we could grow at home. We should revisit our tourism policy and bring some wise reforms. Our daily tariff of $250 scares many potential tourist from coming and spending in our country.
Of all the things we pride in so much, hydro power puts me to shame. We counted on it to rain rupee on us but the funny export agreements for 30 years with outrageously low tariff would making any difference to our economy during our time. By the time we have full ownership the walls of the dam may fall apart and new projects may have to begin again- followed by new agreements. Last winter's news of importing power from India shocked me 440 volts full.
The only two options we could play with are agriculture and tourism: Agriculture for controlling import and tourism for building economy.