08 October 2010

Something More Serious than the Decorated Case of Rape

Tashi Dema's "A romance gone wrong" in Kuensel today digs into a love story which was decorated into rape, and it landed up exposing something beyond rape to worry about. The court had all the time and reason to interfere into a consensual relationship,yet I don't know (seriously don't know) if it was not the Law's responsibility to concern about why the girl's parents denounced their marriage. 

Bhutan has long done away with caste discrimination but it prevails subtly across the country and I am concerned that there is no known measures taken to combat it. This time it came right at the doors of Tsirang court, yet it goes unattended. Don't we have law that cares for such serious social ill?

I have very limited knowledge on this social division called caste and it will be the last thing I would want to know. It seems to be totally based on traditional beliefs; the beliefs that are deep rooted in age of darkness and ignorance. How could god discriminate his own creations? It was men who drew those dark lines between brothers- men who said widows have to be burnt alive with their dead husbands.

The girl's family has conducted the final rites for the girl, accepting her as dead just because she eloped with her low caste lover. For social pride one could go that far to give up ones own child. However the boy's parents, despite the bitter experiences, has housed the girl and I am wondering who is of bigger caste in the eye of god.

All these traditional dirt lingers in the minds of uneducated folks and it is only matter of time until it becomes part of history. Parents can no more pour their poison into their educated children because they have wiser minds.

06 October 2010

Dear students III

When you feel the cold in morning hours, see the greenery fading away and leafs falling from tree what comes to your mind? Don't be philosophical and tell me it reminds you of impermanence of life. As winter sets in you should be better worrying about examination. It is unfair though that an exam decides your course of life but fairer part is that you have the power to choose how you write your exam. Destiny is not written in one day; it is drafted and edited according to choices you make day after day.

Writing your exam is closest to writing your destiny and therefore there is need for serious considerations. Of
course I see a lot of you getting busier by the day but I am concerned still of some important aspects which we take for granted. As a student myself, I would spend enough time on studying the content and I would gamble with certain chapters' probability of coming in exam having read through many past question papers. By the time I set foot on the threshold of exam hall I would be fully ready. But I never really came out with good score. And you see, it doesn't matter how well you know, at the end of the day what counts is how well you scored.

Now the question is what went wrong in my preparation? After this many years I have found the answer. All the while I forgot to physically prepare myself. I realized that until exam time I have never sat in one fixed place for over an hour, I haven't written more than two pages in one go, and I haven't spend hours thinking hard, not ever until exam. No matter how much you know, as you keep sitting for longer duration than you ever did your body denies you proper functioning, then you start losing focus. Your fingers were never used to writing for three hours and therefore even your fingers ask for excuses. And most importantly, your attention level fades away after sometime and you can hardly recall what you know. This is how you come out of exam hall defeated.

I remember telling you in assembly about this thing right in the beginning of the year, and I am hoping you are
doing your regular physical training for your exam. Weekends are the best times, please give yourself three
hours of non-stop sitting and writing, without toilet, water, music, mobile and friends. If you haven't started
yet, you are not late.

I can't assure you great marks because it will also depend on how much you studies but I can at least guarantee that you can bring out everything that you have inside. I am not sad about things I didn't know but about things I knew, which remained unexpressed.
Best wishes

04 October 2010

Dear Students... I studied in Dawakha

Have you heard of Dawakha Pry School? It is in Paro by geography but it could be easily misunderstood for a place in Ha because it falls between Chunzom and Ha. It was a great location for a war movie or horror movie but people chose to construct a school there. Worse, my guardians sent me there. Much later in life I realized that I was sent there on punishment. What was my crime? It is sad to share with you that my crime was nothing more than occupying space in the room and emptying pots in the kitchen. I was rustic, ugly and born to poor mother but I have never demanded for new clothes, not for food my cousins had or for a brighter room than the store I was put in. yes, I confess I hated cleaning their pets shit every time I came home. I was eight yet washed my own clothes and bought my own shoes from money I saved in beer bottles. I washed dishes for them carried water from the well. I still remember how heavy that well bucket was. I didn't deserve to be sent to Dawakha.
As if I didn't have enough already Dawakha was full of hateful people. Captains didn't have to have reason to make us naked and peel our skin, the head master would tie us naked on the volleyball post where the girl could see, and teachers were very choosy about the sticks they use. I don't remember a day I didn't cry in Dawakha. Headmaster was so fond of using WFP supplied Oak hammer to knock us down- it only takes a few minutes to regain consciousness but it takes days to heal the swell, of course it never healed until I passed out from there because before the first one could subside we would be blessed with next. Of all the people there I remember Lopen Dawa fondly for being kind enough to use flat planks which gave louder sound than pain. In his eyes I saw mercy.
Today when I remember the hostel I can only relate it to Nazi Concentration Camp. Thirty students were squeezed into a room, where our beds are made on muddy floor. There were lice on every fiber of our cloth and smell of urine even in our plates. But my biggest pain was hunger. School had WFP supply but I don't know why they couldn't feed us enough, I would be dead if not for the peaches and apples we had in stock from our labor during the weekends. Headmaster's chickens had better amount than us. There were times we were fed only ata boiled in water and worse two small potatoes per meal.
That was the school I studied in and when I look at you today I find no reason why you can't study. You are lucky, the only person who can cause you pain is you. Be kind to yourself and gift yourself a good life.
Your lovingly

30 September 2010

Dear Students,

This is my first letter to you and I want you to know I will be writing to you often over the years. I have many things to tell you but we hardly get time to sit down and talk in school, more over I don't meet many of you at all. I love writing letters but I can't remember when I wrote my last letter; after email and mobile came in I found it cheaper to talk and chat then to spend in stamps.
However I have written enough letters in my life that even if I can't write anymore I have the right to forgive myself. I have made friends across the country through letters, I have kept my friendship alive through letters, I kept my parents informed through letters, and most funnily I wrote to many of my fortunate relatives asking for some clothes, a pair of shoe, or a few hundred Ngultrum, guess what! they were the only people who weren't impressed with my letters. At the end of the day when I do maths I would wish if I had kept the money I had instead of wasting them in stamps and envelops. I would write again though, like gambling, to recover my loss only to lose more.
Over eight years passed since I posted my last letter...and today I finally decided I will write letters again, and this time I will write to you, telling stories from my life, my childhood and my high school to let you all know how lucky you all are today.
This letter is just an introduction and therefore I will not talk on anything. I am just happy that I don't have to find an envelop or buy a stamp. I know you may never read this but I am satisfied that I wrote it.

29 September 2010

Living After Death-II

This article is inspired by Dawa's Live talk show on BBS with three doctors on 27th Sept. I regard the three of them as Angels of Light. 
Transplanted Cornea- Photo Wikipedia
In my "Living after Death" I expressed my willingness to donate my body parts after I die, and I meant it. But I wasn't quite sure about which all organs could be of use then, which is why even lungs and brain are in the list. However I am surprised that even the thin watery tissue (called Cornea) over my eye balls could be a life changing donation. It could help a blind see the light of the world. So dear Dr. Gado, please register me as your donor.
In medical history the first cornea transplant was performed in 1905 by Eduard Zirm, and after 105 year Bhutan is blessed. It is a surgical procedure where a damaged or diseased cornea is replaced by donated corneal tissue.
The tissue has to be removed from a recently deceased individual which make it hard to find donors unlike blood.
Bhutan is going to have an eye bank by next year where the donated cornea will be stored. But as of now we are getting it from Tilganga Eye Hospital in Nepal and we may have to depend on international donations until we could change the mindset of the people . It is said that many Bhutanese feel if their eye is removed after they die they may be born blind in their next life. But I have never seen any woman giving birth to a piece of charcoal, which ought to be since we are reduced to charcoal after we die. His holiness the Je Khenpo boldly denounced the superstitious beliefs and encouraged organ donation (in his statement to Business Bhutan). 
As for myself, I am not worried about being born blind in my next life since the eye bank will be waiting. I am so thankful that I lived a complete life and as I go I want someone to see the beautiful world I saw. Long after I said goodbye I would be seeing the world through my donated eye. I want to live after death. 

P:S: National Health Policy seems to be silent on Organ Donation and transplant for whatever reason...(read Business Bhutan)

27 September 2010

Exam for the Future

This morning I made Nu.300 invigilating Dzongkha Language Proficiency Test in my school. Thank you ECB for the occasional treat, otherwise we teachers hardly get to see anything more than our salary.

I don't know if my translation of the test as DLPT is anywhere close to what it really is but from its objective I can understand just that. In Bajo alone 404 candidates sat for the exam which shall give them the license to run for Local Government leaders' post sometime soon. Of course popularity in their own villages should be a bigger test since it is voting that will decide finally.

It is reported that there are close to 5000 people sitting for the test across the nation today and I am keen to know how many of them knew why they were doing it. In my center here, a few of them where truly surprised when they were asked to read and write. While it was inspiring to discover that one of our students also sat for the test along with her sister and father.

It took us far more time and energy to get the folks into the hall than anticipated, but at least in my hall I was given full cooperation despite occasional jokes from old men, which shook the house with laughter. Today all of them are just another group of dreamers but someday a few of them will be our leaders.

25 September 2010


It was a noisy day among the excited children in the sports fields. I was running after balls and people with my camera, and of all the shots today I loved the butterfly sitting calmly on a flower.
My favorite Shot of the day- photo by PaSsu

20 September 2010

Dear Teachers, whip my son when required

I am a teacher myself and I quite understand your life in school, therefore I grant you the permission to whip my son when required; the law forbidding that is devised by people residing out of school, so ignore it.

Thrash him if he is not serious about his studies when you tell him politely, thrash him if he doesn’t bring his home work on time repeatedly, thrash him if he tries to cheat on you in anyways, and thrash him if he breaks school rules intentionally, but forgive him after that, give him chance to improve.

Like any other parents I will blame you if he fails in your subject but unlike them I will acknowledge you more if he does well. He is your responsibility. He is an intelligent child in search of an inspirational teacher and I hope you will give him the wings.

He has a dream of his own and I urge you not to force your dream onto him, let him understand his dream and let him find his way.

I love my child and I don’t want you to hate him. Tell me in advance if you hate him so that I could change his class for I can’t change the attitude of hateful teacher. While I permit you to beat him I also want you to have objectives attached with each spank and let it not miss on to his vital organs.

And most importantly, don’t not touch my child in anger, for anger is unreasonable and I don’t want my child beaten by a fool, in such case I can be worse.

Love and regards

14 September 2010

Wangdue Tshechu- a time to remember Uma Lengo

Two years ago I wrote an article on Uma Lengo for Bhutan Windows, a magazine that faded away after its first publication. Although I am still unpaid for that work I have no regrets; that assignment gave me opportunity to learn about a personality who lived a mysterious life.

Uma Lengo and Tshomem- an illustration I did for the story

Wangdue Tshechu used to be an event Uma Lengo would look forward to. He would pose himself as Kudu with a leather whip and wander around the courtyard of the dzong. People believe that during this times he must have been escorting the Tshomem, his consort.

The full article will be published here if I can locate it.

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!