28 December 2010

Beautiful Sunset in Samtse

Sunset in Samtse: Forgive my friend's Antique Camera
After the exams were over I sat down with my wife and planned our vacation. We subtracted the day I will be occupied in workshops and also the days that will go in making the journey to and fro the stations. Finally when all the obligations were slashed off, what was left on the calendar wasn’t enough to reignite the excitement we had long stored.

To make the mood worse, 18 Bhutanese perished in plane crash for the first time. As the list of the victims appeared on TV my heart ached, it ached worse when I realized they were families on divine vacation; vacation from which no one returned. How chillingly it made me realize that everyday we are together with our family is a vacation in itself, every journey, every meal, every joke, everyday… it was harsh but a bold reminder that every date on the calendar needs to be counted.

And thus our plan for this winter changed altogether. We packed our bags and started our vacation; I am on paid vacation with my family to Samtse. The journey was boring from Wangdue to Thimphu because I have always driven that road. But now when I look back, it gives me cold feet; a bus accident killed nine people. That driver must have taken that road hundred times more than me and yet he faced the worst nightmare, can I afford to take that road for granted? One girl from my school lost her life, a boy suffered broken spine and a teacher colleague suffered two broken ribs.

Breakfast in Dantak canteen near Babesa was cheap and satisfying. All my life I travelled in buses and had lunches where drivers loved or the owners demanded. But this time I stopped where we got yummy, clean and fresh food. I waved hard on Bhutanese restaurants on the road in revenge and headed straight for Taktikhoti. We Bhutanese need to learn the basics of business.

But the road from Tsimasham to my lunch place tested my patience, driving skill and eye sight. Thimphu Phuntsholing highway has always been under construction- rough reminder of a country in the permanent state of development.

I always loved Phuntsholing, here is where I first met my wife some five years ago. Weather is pleasant at this time of the year. Street are filled with people, I mean the Jaigong streets, where every Bhutanese empty their purse. Of course, Phuntsholing is no different from Jaigong, after all most of the businessmen are Indians. Who would want to pay a bigger price when on the other side of the wall you get it so cheap?

I honked the honk of my life, and perhaps my car must have thought I have gone crazy, on the road to Samtse. It was worth it; here I watch the last sunset of 2010 with my family and I must admit the sunset in Samtse is so beautiful!

16 December 2010

National Tragedy- Nepal Plane Crash

This day will remain in the minds of every Bhutanese and on the face of time like a never-healing wound. To me personally, I got the shock of my life. I was getting ready for my school when I saw the breaking new marque on BBS. Tomorrow we are going to celebrate our National Day and here we are shaken by the loss of so many Bhutanese. I pray to god with whole my heart to bless the bereaved families with boundless strength to overcome the great loss they are suffering.
In Kuensel- Before the crash was confirmed

and In Bhutan Today

Story Unfolding in Kuensel Online and BBS



However I am deeply touched by our King's and PM's Fatherly involvement in dealing with the loss. I hope this divine touch will go on to heal the deep wounds of those loved ones left behind. Thank you.

14 December 2010

Country of many Bans

One question that kept bothering me: why did Bhutan ban tobacco? A smoking man doesn't sleep on the road. A smoking man doesn't assault his wife and children. A smoking man doesn't shout in the crowd and pee in his pants. A drunken man does. Why alcohol is not banned? Is it because we are a Buddhist county? Perhaps! But didn't we agree that our politics will be free of religious influence?

BBS Picture of Burning 2.4 M worth of Tobacco
World would be amazed to know that Bhutan has burnt million worth of tobacco. Some tourist would think Bhutan is so rich but many know that Bhutan survives on countless foreign loans and grants. Then they would wonder why we are acting foolish, Bhutan has banned tobacco but India didn't, it all came from India and we could easily sell it back and generate some funds to put some street lamps along Lungtenzampa Bridge.

Business Bhutan Picture 
National assembly wants to create the record of one ban each year and this time it's drayang. Social disharmony is taken hostage. The problem is not with the drayangs, it is with indecent men. And for such men it need not necessarily be drayang, they do it onto waitress in the hotels, doma sellers in bus stations, office colleagues and assistances, vegetable sellers, passengers sitting on the side and any girls walking along. Should we then go on banning Hotels, Offices, Vegetable Markets, Taxis and Buses? Or the better alternative is to ban women from coming out in public.

And the funniest part is Labour Minister's Promise of employing the girls. What about the boys? What about the fate of the businessmen who had invested everything on this business. Perhaps he should have given a minister's thought before making his first parliament promise, now he has hundreds of questions to answer on various forums and blogs as to what are his promises for the thousands of jobless youth.

13 December 2010

Dear Students- V

Exams are over and papers are in your hand. Some of you have scored high enough to fulfill your purpose of coming to school, doing us proud and bringing joy into to the lives of your parents who want nothing but your prosperity. While there are many of you whose performances insult the teachers, sadden your parents and yet amuse yourselves. If you care you would regret, and if you regret you are on the right path. You should know Rome was not built in a day.

I wish success to all who deserve it. However, your results do not summarize who you really are. At the end of the day you are what you do- what you do when you have everything, what you do when you have nothing to lose, and what you do when no one is watching; your character and your attitude are your wings on the flight of your life.

You don’t prove your courage by not respecting the school rules no matter what time of the year it may be. True courage is in resisting those temptations to cross the lines. We have come to the end of year and you have strived through while some among us had to give up on their ways and go the wrong way dragging our reputation along. Your journey to the end of the year wasn’t by mere chance, you have made choices each day to bring you here and you have to make choices here which will take you forward. But when your choices go wrong we intervene and if you agree perhaps you will see your dreams sooner but if you feel we are failing to bridge the generation gap then I am sorry to inform you that you may have to go to a place where you best fit. We had the worst of years and we have learnt our lessons.

It was an embarrassing year for us having to see the extremes of indiscipline that degraded our school’s reputation, reputation that took years to build. It may take us years again, but together we must rebuild our school into a place where best of students desire to study, a place where people look up in respect and you feel proud to call it yours.

This year is over now and when you come back next year make sure you come with feeling of belongingness to this place. This is your school and you are the owner of this school. Nobody stays here forever, not the teachers, not the principal, not you and not even the caretaker  but that should not stop anyone of us to ignore the fact that glory of Bajo is glory of us all.

Happy Vacation!

09 December 2010

My Dream of Lungtenzampa Bridge

A bridge is a symbol of art, landmark of the city, an icon of development of a country. But what is Lungtenzampa Bridge? In the heart of Bhutan's capital city, where it should have been a beautiful bridge that could live up to the legend of the bridge of destiny lies a dumb-looking engineering blunder. 

It is not pleasing to look at, shapelessly huge and rough, giving an outline of a sleeping elephant seal. It is not friendly for pedestrians to cross and worse is when the summer rain dams up in its enormous depression right in the centre of the bridge. If Phajo Drogom Zhipo and Khandro Sonam Palden had this bridge between them then, they would have gone back rather.

Lungtenzampa- photo by Ugyen

18 Century Wangdue Bridge
Bhutan had built beautiful bridges way before London had the Tower Bridge (1894) or San Francisco had their Golden Gate (1937). We had built them without a piece of iron or a spade of cement.  Without even a drawing. We have history. But history only. Today France has Millau Bridge, South Korea has Banpo Bridge, Singapore has Henderson Waves, China has Hangzhou Bay Bridge, Brazil has Oliveira Bridge, Germany has Magdeburg Water Bridge… all masterpieces of their country's architects and all landmarks of their countries. But what do we have? Lungtenzampa Bridge? If Zhabdrung came back he would die of shame.

I dream to see a Bhutanese masterpiece stretch over the Wang chu one day, that is so beautiful that we are proud to step out of our car and walk over it in the evening, that is so unique that when the world sees it on TV or internet they know that it is in Bhutan, that is so intelligently built that there is way out for the rainwater and way across for people, that is so iconic that it changes the face of Thimphu.

03 December 2010

How to answer wrong questions correctly?

Don’t go deep into my topic, it is not some ‘how to’ tips on answering wrong questions correctly. It is rather a plight of an ordinary man who finds difficulty in answering straightforward questions. I am disturbed by some questions in computer studies practical paper and computer application practical paper from 26th and 27th November 2010.

In class XII Computer Studies practical paper: HTML Form elements such as Text box, Radio button, and Text Area were invisible. The question stated that the webpage should look like the screenshot given below (in page 4 and 7), and if students did exactly the same they are in trouble, their 50 marks in JavaScript section will remain a dream.

In class X Computer Application paper: Question 1, sub part 4 had come out of the blue. Students were asked to design a Database Form based on the Table called ‘Marks’, while there was no such table in the entire question- question was on Student’s Health record.

Further, Question 2, which was to prepare PowerPoint presentation on the working of ‘StdResult’ in question 1, but question 1 was on ‘Student’s Health Record’, thus the confidence in whole 15 marks question is lost.
I just hope students figured out the errors and wrote the answers as expected- students are smart. However, these errors were easily avoidable if BBE had reread the question just once before it was printed.

For wrong answers students are punished, whom to punish for wrong questions? 

29 November 2010

Dear Daughter- On Your First Birthday

Today is your first birthday. I can’t believe a year has swiftly passed by amidst smiles and laughter. Last year this day your mother and I drove to Sunday market in the morning. She already knew you would be coming today so she did a quick shopping. She cooked lunch herself and asked me to drive her to the hospital. The doctor informed us that you were already on your way. We were asked to get admitted by 8PM and expect you by midnight but you were quicker. We ran back to hospital at 6 PM and waited for you in joyful agony. Your grandmother was with your mother and I was sent out to make bed in the ward for your mother and you. I paced in and out of the ward for two longest hours of my life and then at 9:09 PM I heard your first cry. Everybody in the ward looked at me and I felt like a celebrity; I simply said that’s my babe.

You continued crying but the door never opened. I was right outside the door waiting to look at you. A Nurse came out and closed the door behind her. She asked me to guess your gender. I told her it didn't matter. She insisted me to choose and I chose ‘a girl’ because your mother always wanted one. The nurse beamed at me and said, ‘Your wish is fulfilled’. The door opened and I was asked to come in. I couldn’t imagine how your mother would be but to my surprise she was smiling at me when I saw her. You were on a small bed suckling your thumb,one eye was wide open and the other was yet to open. You looked very funny and cute and I couldn’t help kissing you. That night three of us slept in the ward and your mother was shocked that I slept well while two of you remained awake.

Throughout this one year, it was always your mother who sacrificed her sleep while I enjoyed the luxury of not having a breast. However I always slept by your side and patted on your chest except for 15 unavoidable days I was out on duty. When I returned you didn’t forgive me for one whole night but next morning you crawled over me again and from that day on, I promised never to leave you.

As your birthday approached you showed us how strong you are; you started walking on your own and even your teeth are showing finally. But, by the day you are becoming naughtier, louder and faster; my face and your mother’s chest are full of scratches from your nails. In crowd, you embarrass us with your big farts, people think it’s us. Every day is fun with you among us and can’t believe I have lived without you until last year. Only today I truly understood the meaning of ‘many many happy returns of the day’. Happy birthday darling, may you grow into a wise respectable lady.

25 November 2010

Yangthang behind the bars

Next year when governments implements the tobacco law, which roughly says that any tobacco user without the permit will be sentenced to jail, my village Yangthang will be behind the bars. Since any jail will be small to fit in over 50 households I think it would be wise to construct walls around my village because only in one of the homes tobacco is not used.

I tried to figure out how my entire village got addicted to tobacco; my theory was that it could have been influenced by Indian army base in Ha but old folks told me that tobacco was there even before IMTART came in. While it has a long history, today tobacco play an important role in the performance of my village workforce. They claim that they can't work without it. Some say they lose temper very quickly when they run short of stock. There are some who lose their mind without it.

The recent ban on tobacco has changed nothing in my village, they only had to pay higher but they are supplied somehow. And in my opinion these people, if not helped, will suffer if the law comes into act. Their income may not be enough to buy them the taxed tobacco and therefore resort to black marketing which will land the entire village behind the bar.

22 November 2010

Water Bill- Let Every River Count

Today National Council discussed on Water Bill. I am unsure of what all comes under Water Bill and what they discussed in the house but as much as I could grab from BBS news they were trying to create a separate commission for water. However, the house failed to come out with a resolution since many thought it was too early for the move. Had I been there I would say it's quite LATE to think of this but we could make up if we do it now.

Isn't it a matter of grave concern and shame that many homes are deprived of decent supply of water in a country where fresh water rivers flow through every valley? Many wetlands run dry and barren due to water scarcity. From Thimphu to Tashigang, there is no place in Bhutan where water isn't the problem. It isn't lack of effort from the government, it's but lack of enough effort. It is lack of focused action. Environment Commission has lots of things to worry about and thus water issue receives divided attention, which is just not enough.

Dam up the river: ultimate source of water.
It is not too late to acknowledge the seriousness of the matter; water is not just water anymore, it is livelihood, it is health, it is happiness. It's not too late to appreciate the call of rivers. Across the world sea water is harvested, sewage is recycled, deserts are dug... here in Bhutan fresh water is waiting to be dammed up and treated- as easy as this. It's going to be one time investment for sustainable supply of water both for drinking and irrigation. How can we claim 'every drop counts' when rivers are left to flow down to sea unused. Let every river count too.

19 November 2010

My Brother's Shoe

My brothers: Tenzin & Samtey
Both my little brothers outgrew my height. I feel secure walking with them. Can't believe I carried them on my back once, fought for them, and thrashed them often. I am happy they grew into gentlemen I could be proud of. But I never thought their feet will outgrow the shoes in market, especially Samten's.

He had to leave school for about a month when he was in class eight just because we couldn't get him a shoe of his size. Despite the help of all our relatives in Thimphu we couldn't get one there. Finally I had to go to Phuntsholing to try my luck. I got one, ugly and shapeless but big enough to room his feet. If it continued that way I thought my brother could never complete his studies, he still had many more years to grow. Luckily, Origin shoes arrived in gigantic sizes and we never had problems.

Smaller on is mine and I wear no.8, Guess his size?
But now, days of wearing Origin shoes are gone for him and no shoe stores in Wangdue, Punakha and Thimphu sell formal shoes bigger than number 8. I didn't realized it until I went looking for it in Thimphu. I went to every shop that sold shoes and they all tell me the same story.

Today is my lucky day, I got one for him finally... style, color, and quality do not matter as long as it fits him and it did. So this article is to celebrate the occasion along with my wife's Birthday. She is happy too that I got a shoe for him and she wants no gift more than this.