30 September 2013

Shearee Square

Shearee Square is bravely one of the only kind of Shopping Mall in Thimphu and entire Bhutan. When it open a year ago the huge glass structure with automatic door had bigger surprise inside- the elevator  and escalator. Suddenly Bhutan was taken into the future. It seemed like a whole new way of doing business in the capital city of Bhutan.

The Super Shopping Mall

But after a year the big dream failed to wake fully. The glamorous promise remained and reasons are anyone's guess. But surely it has done a huge service to the timid country:
It's now the informal training center for Bhutanese who are due to travelling abroad to practice how to use escalator and it also disney land for Bhutanese to experience escalator and elevator without having to travel outside. 

28 September 2013

Blowin' in the Wind at School Poetry Recitation

My class VIII C will be reciting Bob Dylan's "Blown' in the Wind" today at the Mass poetry recitation in Bajothang. Poetry recitation in my school has become an exciting event since last year after it was made mass event, where the whole class goes on stage. Junior classes love it so much.

My class was hunting for a poem without success, every poem they put their finger on seemed to be taken by another class. Then I suggested "Blowin' in the Wind", which many wouldn't even think of as poem. But eversince it was included in class VIII reading list I confidently regard it as one. But the lyrics in their text is all messed up so I had to download the original and let them listen to Bob Dylan on Sound Cloud.

We have divided the class into three groups for the three stanzas, where each will have three questions to ask and the answer will be given by the whole class:
"The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind."
However, I came to Thimphu on official assignment and my class was left on their own. The class captain updated me on the progress. Yesterday they called me to say they are done, I asked them to get ready and give me a miss call. When I received the signal I called them and listen to them over the phone. They really seemed ready. Today fourth period is the show time. They promised me some dramatization and banners, which I don't want to miss, so I have request a teacher friend to record on his cell phone for me. I will watch it when I get back.

All the best.

25 September 2013

Bloggers Around Bonfire

I extended 'Bloggers Meet in Thimphu' invitation to 1156 members in Blogyul (The Facebook Page for Bhutanese Bloggers), of which I assumed at least 100 to be based in Thimphu. Amazing 40 members said they were coming for the event on 23rd September. I was still in Wangdue when this event was planned but I counted on Riku, Ngawang and Sogyel to work on it and they actually made it precisely the way I romanticized- outdoor with bonfire.

It was unfortunately Monday night but Rima Reyka, Singaporean Blogger who is in love with Bhutan, has always looked forward to this day and I thought passion will surpass the timing. But I was badly betrayed when only eight of us gathered. Mr.JJ, another Singaporean blogger, was my guest to the event and that made two of them from Singapore.
From Left: Riku, Sogyel, Nawang, Rima, PaSsu, Tshering C Dorji, JJ and Dema. Kunzang Thinley(PSN) was Cameraman.
Tshering C Dorji, the writer of 'Shadow Around the Lamp' and 'Living the Bhutanese Way' paid us a surprised visit, all the way from Phuntsholing. He made the evening so much fun ;) and the story related it is exclusive to the attendees.
Dema Yangzom, the youngest among us made it to her debut bloggers meet. Her presence touched me to the depth. We didn't allow her to drink because she was still considered underage ;) but I don't know what happened later...
Kuenzang Thinley (PSN) drove 59 Km from Paro, after office, only to meet us. He is a father of three daughters and still found time and meaning in attending this gathering. I was reminded of the first Blogger Meet I attended in 2010 driving 75 Km from Wangdue. It's all about passion, and I will always cherish Kunzang's presence. 
From Left: Tshering C Dorji, PaSsu, JJ, Dema Yangzom, Sogyel, Kuenzang Thinley(PSN), Rima, Nawang
Photo by Riku
The remaining four of us where the hosts and we have met often in the past and I am sure we will always work together to organize such events- once beaten twice try.

Bloggers Who Attended (Click on the Names to go to their Blogs)
  1. Rima Reyka
  2. Nawang Phuntsho (Penstar)
  3. Sogyel Tobgyel
  4. Riku Dhan Subba
  5. Dema Yangzom
  6. Yee Jenn Jong (JJ)
  7. Tshering C Dorji
  8. Kuenzang Thinley (PSN)
  9. PaSsu

22 September 2013

The Cold Holy Bath

We went on a dry picnic yesterday to Punakha. But of all the days yesterday wasn't a day to joke with the idea of remaining dry in all senses. We took a potable swimming pool for kids to enjoy their holy bath but seriously I didn't expect the pool to take three fathers and 70 buckets of water from Puna Mo Chhu to fill it up.
Our plan was to leave the pool in the sun to warm up before letting the kids in but they won't understand the kindness behind our unkindness. They got into it even before we could fill it up.They had no idea that the river just came from the glaciers and it's ice cold even when it flows down warm valley of Punakha.

The cold water however couldn't stop them. They played in it until they turned pale and their jaws froze. But they still hated the idea of getting out of it. So we have to force dump the water out of the pool before kids suffered hyperthermia in the name of holy bath. The conclusion was two angry kids. They had the thruelbub of their life time.

Three Fathers, 70 Buckets filled this pool

Ninzi and Bobo

Bobo turned pale with cold

And of course we parents had ours best watching them with temptations to jump in with them. At this age it lot more fun to jump in glass than in swimming pool. We parents had our share of stolen moments of romance.

The Thruelbub Moment of Romance ;)

NOTE: If you are in Thimphu Tomorrow Evening (Monday, 23rd Sept.2013) Please care to turn up for Blogger Meet. Place and time will be confirmed on Blogyul Facebook Page.

18 September 2013

Students' Haircut

Few weeks ago a fellow teacher had posted the following picture on Facebook and it suddenly became an issue. He managed to takedown the picture but by then it has become a topic of debate on social media. The matter reached Education Ministry, who later notified on Facebook that they were investigating the case.

Many of the people engaged in the debate on social media then had not seen the picture including myself, yet there were endless comments against the teacher. Many shared their personal stories and of their children who had to suffer similar experiences.

Today, someone uploaded the picture on Facebook with an open letter to the teacher and all of a sudden it went viral. To many it's a breaking news because they didn't know when the issue actually surfaced. The picture is shared on various groups and pages on Facebook and so far it has gathered hundreds of comments, mostly condemning the teacher.
The Picture on the Facebook. 
Just by looking at one picture so many people have dictated the whole biography of the teacher and if there is anyone victimized in this case it's the teacher who in his entire career was never so much appreciated like he is insulted and condemned for one act, which may not be his doing.

The issue on haircut in school has a long controversial history; if your look from outside the school you would strongly argue on the connection between education and hair, but from inside the school we know hair talks about the child, and changing hairstyle is a sign of changing character. However, short hair is not necessarily proper hair, which is therefore a topic of a timeless debate.

But in this issue, the children in the picture are very small and at this age in rural schools they hardly care about their hairstyle- if you have been to such a school you will understand. And often school staff and teachers become barbers and help give kids brush cutting. They aren't wearing school uniform, which suggest it's on a weekend. On weekends rural school usually help clean their children; give them haircut, and cut their nails. Perhaps this picture was taken on one such day before their actual hair cutting session. The barbers must have had fun with these children on Saturday afternoon but after that their hair would be cut to the minimum length appropriate for children to care for. The question of demoralization, trauma, and physiological implication seem far fetched in this case.

Posting the picture on Facebook was something many people felt inappropriate. It's very true in the western context. It's a serious offence there because people mind being publicised without their consent.  But here in Bhutan do we really mind? There are thousands of tourist snapping ugly shots of our people and are published in blogs and magazines but no one seem to mind. How suddenly so many people became so conscious about privacy? Do these children mind being on Facebook? Do they even know there is something called Facebook? If there is anything they are concerned about, it may be a new pair of shoes, a set of notebooks, decent food, and a good life ahead. And if you wish to be a partner in giving them a good life, join the teacher you have condemned and know the job he's doing.

I am not defending a fellow teacher, I have taught in a rural school and lived with such children and I know that sort of fun we have with our children. The picture in the limelight seems very harmless. But my perspective could be driven of my ignorance because I haven't studied or lived outside Bhutan. You could choose to differ but please don't condemn the teacher so badly just by looking at a picture, at least wait to know the story behind the picture.

**The identity of the boys are hidden not because I thought it's important but because some good friends advised me to and I respect their views.

15 September 2013

Incomplete Wangdue Tshechu

In June 2012, We lost Wangdue Dzong in a tragic fire accident but things moved on unexpectedly quick. In just a year the tragedy is forgotten, which is evident from the uneventful first anniversary of the fire. Perhaps it's our extraordinary strength to move on. Even for a person like me who sees the ruins everyday, the heavy feeling has disappeared and I can look at it with no significant emotion now.

But Wangdue Tshechu is a harsh reminder of what we lost. It digs into the cold ashes of the past. It reminds people of the great Dzong we don't have anymore. Some elderly folks take it very emotionally because they had worshipped it for decades. The excitement of Tshechu is no more the same, and I haven't been to both the Tshechus held in Tencholing ground. Without the Dzong the essence of Tshechu is hardly felt, I couldn't straighten my mood to get into my best gho and walk to the festival.

Today, 5th Sept, is the last day of three day Wangdue Tshechu and all of sudden I started wondering how Thongdrel is hung in Tencholing ground. I haven't heard of any structure being built and even if there was one built I wondered how would it withstand the power of Wangdue wind.
The Wangdue Thongdrel (Pic from geo.de)
Not long after, it dawned on me that the gigantic Wangdue Thongdrel too was lost with the dzong and there is no more Thongdrel on the third day of Wangdue tshechu. Not having the Dzong and not having Thongdrel make Wangdue Tshechu painfully incomplete.
Where the Thongdrel used to be (Pic from Kuensel, edited for PaSsuDiary)
Watch the following Youtube video of Wangdue Thongdrel I shot in good times- 2009 Tshechu.

13 September 2013


Today Twitter made a big announcement, they are planning for Stock Market Listing. Who would have imagined that a website which only allows a miser 140 characters would be a big business someday. It's an inspiration for people who are chasing crazy ideas. If you want to hit big, go crazy.
Follow me @PaSsu_Diary

Who would have imagined Twitter would play an important role in a Bhutanese's life? I grew particularly interested in the success of Twitter because apart from all the learning experiences and fun I had, Twitter helped me solve a big problem yesterday. I don't want to present the case here because it won't be appropriate. But trust me without Twitter I won't have known where to begin and how to go about.

I sat on my computer the moment the problem was discovered and after over 20 Direct Messages to a tweeple I never met the problem was resolved in the most appropriate way, of course Facebook helped a bit too in providing photographs. It saved me from rushing to Thimphu and from lot of emotional drainage. Thank you so much @drukpafool for help.

10 September 2013

My Oldest Photograph

Last Sunday a cat has given birth to four kittens in my storeroom. Kezang wanted to feed the exhausted mother but my store is so cramped up that we could hardly get to the cat family. So with all the reluctance I had to invest my weekend in clearing the dusty room. I took out about a truck load of old stuffs until I reached the cats. One kitten was almost dead and I had to rescue it quickly but I needed the approval from the mother. O' She wasn't bad I could easily get the whole family into their new carton box home.

Thanks to this cat family that gave me the chance to dig into my storeroom. I couldn't believe how much priorities have changed in these few years alone. Opening the dusty carton boxes I discovered the things that were considered useless a few years ago are now very essential. There were also things we held on to fondly that are no more of any use. There were clothes and shoes damaged by rats and fungus. One box contained books once I bought with big dreams but over the years I didn't even remember they were there.

And among the old dusty stuff was one picture of mine that I had once considered as just another picture but when I saw it this time I realised that it's the oldest picture I have of myself with me. It was shot by a foreigner in 1997 and sent to me by airmail.
Me and My Friend Tashi Tobgay
It was story of those days when Bhutan had only a countable cameras and foreigners were fond of taking picture of funny things- I was one such thing. They would mail us a copy diligently. Many kids from our generation had one such photo. 

Look at the picture and you can already write a story about my childhood. If you think it was bad, perhaps you haven't known me before that. I didn't get any chance to be a good boy, I didn't see a reason to be one. I am only happy that I survived myself. 

I showed this picture to my friends and Jaggu in particular laughed endlessly. It's on his request I am blogging this picture. My daughter can amazingly identify me in the picture- "When Apa was achu". And just imagine what my wife would have said about this picture...

05 September 2013

Love in Bangkok

If you have been to Bangkok you would understand how wonderful you feel as a Bhutanese in that city. The moment Thais know you are a Bhutanese they shout in excitement, "O' you from Butan? Your king Jigme very handsome. He come here. I love your king Jigme". And every shop in Bangkok seems to love our king, and by the grace of His Majesty Bhutanese are welcomed with open arms. You can literally feel Love in Bangkok.

I was given 50% discount at a barber shop because I showed her my graduation photo with his majesty and an angry cab lady suddenly became very polite after she knew we were Bhutanese. Of all the friendly nations Thailand seems to treat Bhutan like a celebrity.

Now things will be different. The moment they see our passport in the airport they will look at us with suspicion. The Bhutanese passport that once brought us friendly smile will now make us look like potential smuggler. All because of the Bhutanese woman who was arrested at the Suvarnabhumi international airport with 4.9kg of ketamine in her luggage. I just hope that the news didn't go viral in Thailand, but given the amount of drug it must have been the hottest news, burning the trust Thais have on Bhutanese.
Pic from: MCOT Public Company Limited
Similar bad publicity was brought home by a young man from Singapore sometime ago. The man was not only living there illegally but caught for numerous theft cases. For a small nation one person is too many. Therefore, Bhutanese travelling, living, studying or working anywhere in the world must uphold the Bhutanese values show the world who we truly are.

I am very proud, on the other hand, that my friend Karma Yonten the founder of Greener Way is flying to London to receive the prestigious Global Environment Entrepreneur of the Year award from Prince Charles. Thank you Karma for taking our country's name to the world stage. May you inspire generations of our youth.

03 September 2013

Haa Bomb Disposal Tragedy

Who would have imagined so many Bhutanese soldiers being killed by bomb in the peaceful land where not a single bomb was ever dropped in the name of war. Therefore we are all equally unprepared for the devastating news yesterday. It breaks my heart to think of what must be going on among the bereaved families. I join the nation in prayer. May the families find strength to overcome the tragedy.

Injured being Air lifted. Photo by Haa MP Kinley Om.
Bomb disposal operation seems to a very fragile process going by the online archive on the huge number of accidents across the world, including the countries where people know bombs like the back of their palm. Our squad must have dealt with it with utmost caution but it was unfortunate that the accident happened. It was a very expensive lesson for peaceful nation of ours but we must face the reality that bomb is neither good in war nor in peace. I pray may we never have to see another such day.

Long Live the King, Long Live Peace.