15 November 2010

Beggars in Wangdue

When my mother and I visited Phuntsholing about a decade ago I was shocked by the number of people walking on the dusty street of Jaigong. It was my first time seeing so many people at a time. Adventure began as soon as our bus entered the parking- four or five Indian men climbed our bus even before it came to complete halt. I thought some bandits attacked us. My mother calmed me down and told me they were coolies.
Once on the street, baggers started bothering us. I was amused while my mother ignored them. She told me that if we start giving money to each bagger we would have to become bagger ourselves by the time we reach the end of the street.  She was right; there were many of them to count. However, my mother made exceptions with crippled and blind. She justified, “these are helpless people. They have to beg because they can’t work.” These words became a part of me during all my countless visits to Phuntsholing. Later I was amazed to learn even my wife shared almost the same philosophy. She pitied the man with thin twisted leg at the gate, while she shoo away the able baggers who come chasing us.
Who would expect any bagger in so prosperous place like Wangdue? Worse they come knocking at our doors. Something common in all of them is their mode of begging- all of them have taken religion hostage. They fake themselves into goemchens knowing our weakness for disciples of god. Three years ago I would be kind to them, inviting them in for tea. As a child I have learnt that you should never turn away a person who comes asking at your door. And now that I know who they really are, it leaves me with no good reason to be kind to them.
They are ordinary villagers who come on business trips. While they are around they just take out their dirty maroon kabney and start going from door to door. The prayers they say contain no word, it’s all murmuring sound. In their hand they will show their collection wrapped inside hundred ngultrum note- look what they are after? From some we can smell alcohol at a distance. And towards evening you would see what your money has done to these men- they will be sleeping on the road with flies all over their faces.
 They are strong able men and they can work for their food. But how can we deny them alms when they come at our doors. But despite our complacence some of them are way too demanding, leaving us regretful of what we gave and fearing that they might curse us.
“Paow, only Nu.10? You are a civil servant and you should be better of than this.” Demanded one gomchen at my door.
And I told him, “You should be happy I gave you so much. Why don’t you earn for yourself?”
He turned furious and replied, “How could you scold me for Nu.10? How do you suppose you will gather merit by that?” which is when I asked, “How much do I have to pay to gather merit? Is there a fixed rate? Am I asking for discount?”
He left shouting, “pa pa pa…” That was his third visit in half a year and perhaps the last because next time he comes I am going to slam the door at his face, I know god will forgive me. In Phuntsholing, even a coin means a lot to a bagger and here baggers are beginning to claim their share out of my salary.

11 November 2010

November Eleven, the Date that is writ in Heart

If you ask a person of my age in Bhutan: What day is the most auspicious in a Bhutanese year? The answer is November Eleven. Early on, we loved that day because it was time for celebration, it was a beginning of a three day holiday, it was the last holiday before the exam, and it was the day we had school picnic. But as we grew up we realized it was more than just that; it was the day our king was born. 

The king who had to leave his playground at 16 to lead our country, the king who put lots of importance on children, the king who put people's happiness before country's wealth, the king who gave the people to rule the country, the king who so happily stepped down the throne...the king who so much manifests god himself.

November Eleven became a phrase among us that described the best holiday of the year. There were people who claimed to be born on the day, some who changed their birthdays, anyway we envied them a lot. I prayed for my baby to be born on eleventh of November, she delayed by 18 days. 

It breaks my heart when we no more march to the beat of the drum on November 11 but yet the feeling never changed: November Eleven is writ in Heart. How great it feels not to be gifted with a new king and Twenty First February to celebrate.

Happy Birthday my king.

I couldn't locate the authentic source of the great photograph I have used here, however I am grateful.

How to Show Folder hidden by Virus

This evening, out of the blue two students visited me with intention to learn JavaScript. They were with their laptop. They told me that they could not find their files on their thumb drive. I thought files were hidden and decided to locate them but I could not find them. Since I had many JavaScript solved examples on my drive I inserted my drive into their laptop only to find that all my files are gone too. Only unobtainable shortcuts are left. I took back my drive and scanned it immediately on my laptop. A virus called zouwoo.exe was detected. Even after it was removed my folders were missing. I nearly kicked of the two boys. They left without a cup of tea.

I tried hundred ways to retrieve my folders only to find myself defeated and fearing the worst. But deep in my mind I was praying to Google. I knew Google Rimpochee will have a solution. And yes, after three or four tries I landed up with the following solution that WORKED.

Provided by: jack4rall on Aug 14, 2010

Over 9000 Files- Lost and Found!
If you did not format your flash drive, then check whether the files are not in 
hidden mode. 

Click on "Start" -->Run-->type cmd and click on OK. 
Here I assume your pendrive as

Enter this command. 

attrib -h -r -s /s /d g:\*.* 

Note : Replace the letter g with your flash drive letter. 
Now check for your files in Pen Drive. 

Source: Kioskea.net
To all your life's problems there is Google Rimpochee!

09 November 2010

Uneconomical Worship

I heard tearing or burning or for that matter any action resulting in making a currency note unusable affects the country's economy. But my love for computer subject since class nine deprived me of studying economics and thus understanding that fact or any other issue related to business and economy.

However I at least understand that a country cannot print as much money as it likes, it has to go by its gold deposit. I have no idea where the gold has to be deposited and how much money Bhutan can print. But every note we destroy counts down the national money. Every single note is expect to go around, hand to hand, buying things, making profit, ...and being useful and therefore one note destroyed means the end to its long useful journey.
Kids envying the floating money!

Even as an educated adult I can't quite comprehend it wisely let alone the illiterates and kids. The picture shows a beautiful pond with a statue of Khandrom pouring water into the pond from her Bumpa. And what is shocking is that the pond was filling up with money that day I visited. I could see lots of Nu.20 and Nu.10 notes aging at the bottom of the pond, soon to be joined by hundreds of fresh notes floating on the surface. I nearly jumped to collect the money, seriously it was lot of money being destroyed if not rescued soon. There should be a signboard: "This is not wish fulfilling pond, please don't throw your money."

02 November 2010

My Daughter is not teething

Many of you have seen my baby grow through my blog and you would agree that she is a very healthy girl. She is far more intelligent than any baby I ever saw, not to mention her physical strength and sound making ability. She can already tease us and make us laugh just when she wants. Just five days ago she was gliding over the floor on her belly and as if to mark her 11th month she crawled that evening. She is 11 months 4 days today and can walk on her feet with little support from things around her. By all this my daughter is an illustration of perfect healthy baby... if only she had some teeth in her little mouth. My daughter doesn't have her first pair of teeth yet.
29th Oct 2010- 11 months old and toothless angel of mine

Dear readers (senior parents, doctors and anybody who knows about it), is it something I should be worrying about? Should I just wait or rush to hospital for some sort of medication, if any? I am writing to parenting@bbs.com.bt though but it would be nice if you could give me your piece of mind.

01 November 2010

Coronation Day- the moment that stopped the world

November 6, 2008: Thimphu was filled to the neck, so we decided to enjoy ourselves in the school. We had our school picnic to make the day memorable. The ceremony in Thimphu was telecast live on BBS. I quickly Googled a way to project the TV on wall and made it possible before they could boil the morning tea. Now, school hall gathered huge crowd. I was proudly waiting for the crowning ceremony; didn't have a clue how it would happen- father king crowning his son. Never saw one before- none would have possibly seen in the entire history of mankind.

Crowning Glory- the moment that stopped the world
I was shivering with excitement. Picture of fifth king with crown was already publicized but still the thrill of seeing His Majesty wearing the raven crown on TV was killing me. Everything seem to happen in slow motion- Je Khenpo lifted the crown (I thought it would be heavy but it wasn't) and offered to our fourth king. My eyes were gathering tears suddenly, I didn't know why. My heart raced and then it stopped all together when our new king bowed to his father and received the raven crown. The hall went dead silent and world stopped moving. Then came the loud cheering and clapping and shaking hands and hugging. World just witnessed the magic of the millennium.

Today we celebrate the 2nd coronation day and I wish my king immortality and perfect happiness. 

His majesty is celebrating his coronation with the victims of Chamkhar Fire today. 

For the Record: November 1st is observed as the coronation because that was when the ceremony began from sacred chamber (Marchen) of Punakha Dzong. 

Picture Source: http://cache.boston.com

29 October 2010

Close to Heaven

Fountain at the gate
Today, the descending day of Buddha, was a nice day for family outing. Jigme had planned his day with his classmates and Samten wanted to remain in our shop. So it was just the three of us. Our best friends Ugyen and Pema joined us. We visited the new monastery in Punakha on the way to Talo. It looked impressive on TV, which pulled us there.

On reaching there I realized it was the best place I could choose on this auspicious day. Today was the day Buddha descended from heaven and for me it would be the day I ascended to heaven. What more could heaven be? The place overlooks the entire valley, right from Thinleygang on west to Khuruthang and Punakha towards north through Wangdue down below to south. I wish I could just sit there watching the sun rise and set over the valleys.

Golden serto of the Jangchub Chorten
Apart from the spellbinding view the monastery itself is one masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture I ever saw. Every pillar has art carved on it, the doors have more of them and wall paintings are just stunning. Even floor didn’t miss the designer’s touch, nor did they leave the gutter. The Jangchub chorten has the entire history of Drupthobs immortalized into statues around it. The magnificent golden statues in the main temple are housed within gigantic dragon carved alter and the state of art lighting adds soul to them.

Thousands of people rushed there today and everybody I talked to has only one word to say, “Wow”. Amidst my bliss I missed my mother so much. I always wanted to take her to Bodhgaya and today I found a better place. I called her right away and shared my excitement.

Apa and Bumo, so close to heaven
A piece of heaven has been brought here on earth by Jab Ugyen Dorji and there can’t be a better pilgrimage for your parents, that too right at home; closer, cheaper, peaceful and so close to heaven.

Khuru and Women

Women playing khuru has become a hot topic on Kuensel forum. The cultural shift has received as much praise as it’s been mocked. There are ones who appreciate the participation of women in keeping the spirit of the traditional game while others consider it gross and even ominous. There are ones who think women are finally seeing life beyond their kitchens while others think they are creating mockery of the game.

And there are a few people, including khuru players themselves, who declared (on BBS) playing khuru is a sign that women are equal to men and that they can do what men can do, which is when I started laughing and even doubting the intention.

If ladies truly enjoy playing the game then they must play. It boosts social interaction and physically fitness. It kills boredom and punctures daily frustration, and yes even let their husbands know how it feels like to be left alone on weekends and losars, ha ha ha. But if it is done to prove their equality with men then I wish to tell them how wrong they are. It is a gross misunderstanding of the principle of gender equality. In that case wearing gho instead of kira would speak louder than just torturing themselves under scorching sun playing khuru.

Woman playing khuru. Graceful?  ( From Nopkin.com)
There are a thousand ways women could justify their strength; there is no short of inspiration, motivation and right. Khuru is a wild game; throwing khuru and hitting target is one thing while screaming and dancing like crazy is another. Women are icon of beauty and grace but watching them play khuru on TV really freaked me. Khuru was a wrong choice. It’s like selling your hair to buy a comb.

Khuru: a traditional Bhutanese dart game, played usually by men.
Losar: new year day, but now it refers to any special holiday.
Gho: National dress for men
Kira: national dress for women.

26 October 2010

Biggest Fire Disaster in Bhutan- Chamkhar Fire

Bhutanese architecture is known for its lavish woodwork. Until recently even nails were shaped from wood. It is the wood that gives beauty to country’s various infrastructures. The rich forest provides easy supply of cheap timber for construction. However this very material that we pride in is the greatest weakness of our architecture.

Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. Destroyed by fire in 1950s
Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and Singye Dzong in Mongar are chilling reminder of how vulnerable our structures are against fire. Thimphu Tashichodzong and Paro Rimpung Dzong had to be reconstructed after major fire disasters.

Every year several families are made homeless across country. In 2002 February my village lost twenty five houses to fire. I was then in Monger working in construction of Kurizampa. When I returned home, it was gone. Hundreds of years of family memories are smoked into the frozen sky. Those were the hard times in our life; sleeping in tents with icy ground underneath. My baby sister was only two days old and had to spend her tender days in the open winter air.

When I heard of the biggest fire disaster in Bumthang Chamkhar this morning it broke my heart, because I truly know the pain of being homeless at the face of approaching winter. It is sad to share that disaster has just begun for them, what follows after today will devastate many families. In building my village back we saw lots of deaths, which were the aftermath of the fire. It became impossible to get manpower and cost of material and labor shot record high. It took us over five years to get back into the warmth of our homes despite the generous help from the throne. And just when we had our home back my tired stepfather gave up on his life. Eight years on, we still have a few families hoping to get their house roofed.
Photo by Kesang Tshering, Kuensel.

With already high demand for construction labor across the country I can’t imagine how long it would take for the many victims to have their homes back. For now it is very inspiring to see how quickly government reacted in dealing with the disaster. In few years time they will have new homes but what they lost today would go on to change the course of their lives. I only wish them hope and courage to go on.

24 October 2010

3 Idiots- The movie that taught me more than my schools

If you haven’t watched 3 idiots yet you are the idiot of the century. Surprisingly nobody minds being called idiot after that movie. Everybody wants to be the 4th idiot. I am sure there won’t be anyone who didn’t watch it over three times.

3 idiots- the movie that touched my heart!

The movie must have made fortune enough to forgive me for downloading it from The Piratebay. I regret it but if I haven’t done that I would have to wait until it comes on TV. After having watched it over ten times now I feel like I have to pay for it. It has taught me more than I have ever learnt from school. I would like to say thank you to everybody who came together to make 3 idiots and enlighten the world.

I, being a student once and now a teacher, got the most out of the movie. Every character seems to have something to teach me in becoming a good learner and a better teacher.

Rancho comes to college to learn engineering for the love of doing it and not to get the certificate. He gives Millimeter money to buy a school uniform and join any school the kid likes. If he is caught ‘uniform change, school change’. Going to school is not about passing the exam, getting the certificate and going to next level and finally landing up in a job. It is about learning. Rancho himself gets kicked off from class often but he gets into another class. This is something I want my students to seriously reflect on.

My favourite scene in the movie is when Rancho was asked, “What is Machine?” Despite his excellent answer, he gets kicked out. This happens in most of our schools. But what doesn’t happen here is what Rancho does when he returns for his book. The message goes out to students who are fond of mugging up books and most of all to teachers who fail to understand the depth of students’ mind.

I cried when Farahan’s father finally asks him to return the laptop and to get himself a professional camera. Life is not about what people would say, as is in our society too, it’s about what makes you happy. Farahan says, “If I become a photographer I may earn lesser, but for the rest of my life, every day I wake up I will happy”.

Failing to understand this costs ViruS his own son. The son never appears in the movie but plays a major role in shaping the theme. He wanted to become a writer but his father forced his dream of engineering onto his son’s life and he has jumped from the train.

Joy Lobo has invented a helicopter with the camera (Now known as a drone) but ViruS declares it ‘unrealistic’ just because Lobo fails to submit the assignment on time and worse ViruS calls up Lobo’s father to tell that the boy will not graduate this year, which forces the bright boy to take his own life, leaving a message, ‘give me another chance’. That song is my favourite.  It calls for us teachers to be sensitive, tolerant, and appreciative of students’ creativity and not mere name-sake deadlines.

Telling ourselves “Aal is well” even when things are not so well does not solve the problem but worrying about it only makes it worse and gives us exaggerated pain. Raju is a victim of countless worries and therefore leaving himself with lesser energy to focus. After his suicide attempt he realizes Rancho’s ‘Aal is well’ wisdom. And his job interview shows us the magic of honesty and faith in one's self. When his two friends bring him the stolen paper, he throws it away and says, “I will pass if I can and fail if I must but do it honourably”.

“Go for excellence, success will follow you”, is the biggest message of the movie. Such abstract nouns are hard to explain, however, the movie has boldly personified the two; Rancho illustrates 'excellence' and Chature is 'success'. The movie goes on to illustrate success running after excellence at the end.

ViruS’s college is just like any school in Bhutan and the movie questions the way things are going. It questions the system, questions the teachers and parents and it even questions the students. It’s one movie all of us must watch and for those of us who have come to love the movie, it is an indication that we are heading in the right direction.