Showing posts with label News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label News. Show all posts

22 May 2014

Homeless Within Hours

I was on leave from school today, packing my bags for Mountains Echoes in Thimphu when an explosion drove me out of my house. It was fire right near our school gate, houses were burning like match boxes. I know every soul living there. I would always admire a peaceful man on wheelchair sitting on the balcony of his newly constructed home facing the morning sun when I walk to school every morning, and now his home was up in flames. When I reached closer I could see the metallic skeleton of his wheelchair glowing in fire.
I took out my phone to take a shot of the fire when the second explosion went off. By then it seemed like the fire was going to be very bad. Two tradition houses located very close to the burning cottages were beginning to smoke and catch sparks of flame. If the fire couldn't be contained the fate of many house that lie behind those houses will be ashes in hours. There was just a thin line of hope. If everybody present there threw a ball of mud each perhaps a difference could be made but despite my request many people behind me chose to enjoy the show and shoot movies.
Wooden Cottages burning like match boxes
By then our school boys have joined team. They were untrained and inexperienced yet they have braved to join the fight. They transported hundreds of buckets of water. On the other end huge group of boys were lined up and were salvaging belongs of eight families whose houses were almost catching fire. The rooms were filling up with smoke and ladder was very narrow but despite that every little item from those houses were transported to the paddy fields where we handed over to the owners. 
Teachers were anxiously running around to make sure that no student was endangering themselves. After few hours battalion of young soldiers marched at the scene, then we withdrew our students hoping the soldiers would do better job.
I found that one of my slippers was not on my foot. When I was looking for my lost slipper it broke my heart to see shoes and clothes scattered all over the ground with children's toys and family photographs- all those small things that holds years of memory, that that have changed many places and homes and traveled with family. We randomly collected all those pieces of memories and took them to the paddy fields where rescued things were piled up, to be segregated in better times. 
I couldn't really look straight at the family members who were made homeless within hours and screaming at heavens now. Though rescued they furniture were all over the place, some broken and some taken into wrong places. Their cloths and cookeries were scattered like seeds sown in the field. Some didn't know where their children were taken... they were shattered. I found a pair of rubber slippers in the mud, I wore them and walked home. 
By 2 pm fire fighter from Police and PHPA projects have brought the fire under control with the support of hundreds of office goers. The two houses that narrowly escaped were partially damaged by fire and water. Many families were homeless. Among them were eleven of our students.
School administration gave Nu.5000 each to our students as emergency relieve and further support was mobilized. Dzongkhag administration and school arranged relief shelter for the affected families in our empty classrooms until better shelter could be given.

**During the four hours I was at the scene I couldn't dare take out my phone to take a picture, in such times it seemed to me very disrespectful to resort to luxury of taking pictures. Because there are better thing you could do. The picture I posted was taken the moment I came out of my house. It reminds me of many pictures of Wangdue Dzong fire I took, but those were taken when all hope was lost and when you can do nothing at all.

26 April 2013

Election and Social Media in Bhutan

On 23 April 2013, when Bhutan voted for National Council election for the second time in the history of the newly democratic country, another history was made on an equally new platform. For the first so much information was generated by Bhutanese on Social Media, that when I return from short toilet breaks I could see over hundred updates on Twitter and Facebook- and yes everything related to election.
I wish I have the resources to count and analyze how much data was generated exactly but Bhutan telecom must have enjoyed maximum business. Twitter accounts of Kuensel and BBS were on fire that day- another record breaker! When BBS TV viewer were jumping in excitement with the result of fourth Dzongkhag we on Twitter were done with all 20 Dzongkhags results via two government media tweets.
However, National Council Election for some reason is taken lightly by people, at least on social media, and also among the 67 candidates who took part only about 10 of them were active on Facebook and just 3 on Twitter.
Come National Assembly Election and we will see the real revolution of social media. There are several groups on Facebook that are seriously discussing Bhutanese democracy and not to mention the so many anonymous intellects and analysts on Tweeter who have million questions to ask. Bhutanomics has made itself available to Bhutanese via Facebook (though its actual website is blocked) and has made a comeback.
Feeling the need of the time all five political parties have established themselves on the major platforms of social media and are actively interacting with Bhutanese netizens. And interestingly many cabinet ministers have joined Facebook recently, and most of the new members of political parties have begun their introduction from Facebook. Some former members are already seeded player on Social media with amazing fan followers.
If you happen to see a party's page or a member's profile on your Facebook sidebar, that's because they have advertised with Facebook, which is another new thing in Bhutan.

Following table shows the presence of Political parties on Social media: (Click on the pictures to Follow them on Twitter or Like their Facebook Fan Page)

Now Imagine the amount of data Bhutan will generate, and imagine the dimension of debates and their influences on the minds of voters- even those of who are offline!

27 February 2013

Loop Hole in Bajothang Infrastructures Kills a Man

I am writing about every corner of Bajothang because I love this place and I am living the best part of my life here. The loop hole I am going to write about is not that of 3G network which is not working yet- I know it just a rough sail in new place.
It's with heavy heart I am breaking the news that was not covered in any news media yet: Yesterday morning a man fell from the third floor of the building he was living in in Bajothang town, and was declared dead upon reaching hospital.
Let me present to you a brief background of how buildings are in Bajothang: All structures have attic on the third floor, which has a controversial background of its own. Attics are restricted to certain height and are not allowed to have verandas. Now, you may wonder how the man fell at all. The restriction on veranda was well imposed but the house owners have created a platform across the third floor which can be accessed through either a door or a big window. All commercial apartments have similar features and I am sure authorities have seen it but since it didn't look like veranda no action was taken against it. Therefore you could see people drying clothes outside the windows of third floor without any safety railings.
look at the attic!
The accidents such as this were easily predictable, it was only by the grace of god that we saw only one so far. He was drying clothes when he stumbled and without anything to hold on he landed up losing his life. Unlike in the rest of the world here we blame on our fate and luck instead of blaming on the structural safety and holding people responsible. It doesn't take too much brain to analyze that if there was railing the man wouldn't have died by falling off the building, and if at all verandas are not allowed then access to outside of the third floor should be made illegal.
I wish to see some news media come and not just report the news but also make people answer a few questions on the safety of the attic dwellers.