11 December 2013

A Boto to Remember 11.12.13

People say 11.12.13 is a special date and I don't let go such dates pass by without doing something special to mark it. But today I wasn't able to do anything different because I was deployed on exam duty to Punakha. However, when I reached home by afternoon I heard my daughter crying from inside. I froze there for a while, I have this biological inability to react quickly. She has fallen off our bed, she seemed to have jumped in excitement when she heard me coming and landed on her forehead. This is not the first time she fell but the swelling of that size was new to her. She cried badly, and cried worst when we tried to apply ice pack. She always hated ice pack. She only loves ice in her mouth in the form of ice cream.
Ninzi with Boto
I took her to the mirror and showed her new face with the boto and she laughed. We laughed for quite sometime and it helped in healing my broken heart. Now I know why parents age sooner. Children fall and rise but every time they fall a piece of parents' heart is broken.

She asked, "Apa, will this boto go away?" almost crying.

10 December 2013

Celebrities to Visit Bhutan

Bhutan is a nice place to visit for celebrities who are sick of attention because Bhutanese don't really celebrate celebrities. Our own actors, singers, writers, journalists, TV hosts, DJs, etc walk among us on the street and nobody cares to say, "Wow, hi, I am your fan" even when they are. Instead we let them pass and watch them from the corner of our eyes.

The Cricket God Coming to Bhutan
Date: Not Decided
 The younger generation who were born near the TV set are a little different, they have the honesty to express their admiration openly but the two celebrities who, I heard, are coming to Bhutan are Bryan Adams and Sachin Tendulkar and therefore the honest kids won't be so excited.

Bryan Adams Coming to Bhutan in 2014
Date: 23rd April
Venue: RTA,Thimphu
Bryan Adams is a musical legend for our generation and older. Our children hardly know about him. His songs are seldom heard anywhere these days, but when we hear one our world stops for a while. Sachin may be cricket god but Bhutan loves football, when Baichung Bhutia couldn't impress our kids so much Sachin can freely walk our streets. Of course Sachin will be coming here as UNICEF Ambassador. 

But personally I am very excited about seeing them live in Bhutan and I know thousand others will be. And interestingly many Bhutanese will wear a different attitude when it comes to seeing international celebrities. Many will show their childish honesty and openly scream "I love you Bryan..." "I am you big fan Sachin..." and our own celebrities will think "Wow, our people are capable that."

Bryan will sing some songs and leave, sachin will hold a bat perhaps and say, "Wash your hand" and go away. In few days dust will settle on normal life. Nothing will be changed. I wish and pray for someone who could change our nation to visit us, inspire us, and leave his footprint in Bhutan forever. And the person on my mind is Mr. Bill Gates. Wait, wait, I am not eyeing his money and his 'World's Richest Man' status, he comes to my mind because of his Microsoft company, Gates Foundation and the countless lives he changed in the developing countries. I have a feeling that he can transform the rural schools over night. For now I only pray that he comes here once. I hope someday he will read the invitation tweets I sent him...(seriously).
Bill Gates, Please come to Bhutan 

07 December 2013

Nelson Mandela and Zhabdrung Rinpoche

This morning we woke up in the world without Nelson Mandela. The entire world felt the pain of losing him, and perhaps the entire universe must have known that someone so dear has passed away on earth. This is a life well lived. This is how we must strive to live.

While the world today celebrates Mandela's life and remembers him in million different ways, I, a Bhutanese pay tribute to his great life by comparing him to Zhabdrung Rinpoche. Zhabdrung lived four hundred years before Mandela yet there is something so common between the two- Zhabdrung unified Bhutan as a nation state while Mandela unified different races to make South Africa one strong nation. Zhabdrung fled to Bhutan to escape arrest in Tibet where he was supposed to be the rightful leader. But after he became powerful in Bhutan he never sought vengeance against people in Tibet who wronged him, just as Mandela reconciled with people who imprisoned him 27 years.

Today, when Mandela dies I am reminded of Zhabdrung's death. He died in 1651 but his death had to be kept secret for 54 years fearing his absence might disrupt the unity of Bhutan. He was the unifier and things were in place because of his presence. Country saw numerous civil wars and assassinations of leaders after that until monarchy system was established in 1907. Zhabdrung couldn't be immortal and therefore the unity and peace he brought were threatened after his death.

Mandela RIP
Mandela too is mortal, and in the age of TV, Facebook and Twitter his death cannot be kept a secret, in fact world knew he passed away the moment he did. Now the question is, will his absence affect South Africa? He was 95 and sick, every moment he was kept alive was in deed torturing him. It's best to let him rest in peace after the Long Walk to Freedom. He needs to be freed from his aged body. And if South Africans truly wants to honour him live the freedom he fought for, keep the torch of his legacy burning. Let him live forever in the hearts.

05 December 2013

10 Businesses that flourished and perished in 90s Bhutan

Everyday I set up a new business in my head. To me it’s so real that I would have visualized that font on the signboard to the color on the wall. When it’s all set I travel in time to see how far it goes but as always I am too romantic even with business, which makes me a bad businessman even in my imagination.

I have thought about enough business ideas that would work in Bhutan to fill up a book, some very crazy and original, and many adapted from outside. The book will be published some day if I fail to translate the ideas into real businesses myself. Let them remain business secrets for now.

While considering certain ideas I couldn’t help travelling back in time to see the good and bad businesses of the past. And not surprisingly you don't have to go so much in the Bhutanese past to find out because there is nothing much beyond few decades.

Surprisingly, within the last fifteen years so much has changed. The hottest businesses in late 90s are now
no more. They flourished and perished without warnings.

Following are the 10 Flourishing Businesses of 90s that have perished now:

  1. Video Cassette Shops: Every town had several Video Cassette shops that would hire a movie for Nu.20 per day. These shops used to be full of posters and the countless shelves were filled with movies from across the world. I used to wonder where they got so many movies from, but now I wonder what they did with all the cassettes. Perhaps woven bags out of the reel.
    If you have seen this, you have lived it!

  2. Video Halls: Those days if you had a Video Screen and a Deck you would be considered rich. Many owners found it very lucrative to turn their video set into a money making machine. Just put the video set in an empty room with any movie in it and people will rush in with Nu.10. There were video halls in every third building in any town.
  3. Music Cassette Shops: These shops were very noisy, they will play the latest Bollywood song at top volume and the setting was quite like the video cassette shops but here we can’t hire music we have to buy.
    I feel nostalgic...
  4. Music CD Writing Shops: In the last days of Music cassettes there came a new business, the business of writing music onto a CD disk. Back then one CD could only hold 8 songs and it would cost Nu.150. This business died even before people knew it existed.
  5.  Telephone Booths: Telephone booths became rampant in every town. Tiny glass booths were squeezed into many shops, and hotels. Some had electronic billing system and other would charge us as they wished. There were terms like local calls and trunk calls. Making trunk calls, calling inter-Dzongkhag, were more expensive than calling SAARC countries today.
  6. Wishing Card shops: Exam Wishing Cards, Love Cards, Valentines Cards, New Years Cards, Birthday Cards, Friendship cards,… so many different types of cards that could fill up a whole shop, and people would flood in during occasions like now you see at meat shops before the holy months.
  7. Bollywood Post Cards: Before I watched any Bollywood movie I knew most of the actors through the post cards. Post cards were a stand alone business but it was like doma, every shop sells it and every child buys it. It cost Nu.1. At the back of the card there used to be a box for pasting stamp but we used it for writing “For Get Me Not”- each word on the four corners of the box.
  8. Photo Studios: This was a big business. Photography was very expensive. A roll of film cost Nu.100. Developing the film into negative cost Nu.50 and each photo cost Nu.10. Interestingly the photo studios will give two copies of each photo, regardless of how the picture came out. We can have our photos taken in the studio too with amazing backgrounds- I bet everybody from my generation and older had such a picture taken.
    Do you have one such picture?
  9. Commercial Photographers: Anybody who had a camera was a businessman. The business was so lucrative that even a school boy does that. We would go requesting for certain number of reel and even the place and time. And wait for ages to get our picture, which has to come from Phuntsholing. Each picture cost Nu.10.
  10. Torch Battery: This is not a business on its own but it was one commodity that sold like salt because it was used in torch, radio, and tape-recorded. Though pencil battery still exist the big brother of our time is gone forever.
    Where are you now?
Anybody from my generation could relate to these stories but if you are born in 90s perhaps this will be like a history note for you, because when you were born they were gone.

04 December 2013

Made in Bhutan Apps (BHUTANews)

It's so shameful to discover that Bhutan couldn't produce one person capable of programming a simple computer software that we could proudly talk about in the world. Forget about a full scale software we haven't developed a mobile phone application so far. Somewhere I read that an 11 year old has developed an application for iPhone. I personally have lots of guilt because I entered computer lab back in 1999 and ever since I have been in touch with computer but still today I am dealing with Microsoft Office. I was never prepared for that. Exam was our only concern.

But wait, what have we here? An Android App made in Bhutan! The makers of Sherig Collection has pioneered an android app called BHUTANews. It's the first of its kind in the country and perhaps the alarm clock to us all. The app, which for now is available only on android devices, is capable of giving up-to-date news compiled from Bhutan's major newspapers, magazines and blogs. It's a one stop shop for news in Bhutan, and if you don't want to miss anything you should get it. It's free! Apple device users should have to wait.
Download it for free!
Like their Facebook Page to Ask Questions and Post Feedback

While I and my generation failed to make any significant impact on Bhutan's IT history, I have great hope in some of my students. They will do what I couldn't and when that day comes you will read about it here on this blog. You already read how much they have done during the School Club Exhibition.

Also some massive changes are coming the IT education in Bhutan, which has the potential to produce first generation of Computer programmers in Bhutan. I will write about this later. For now you download the app.

03 December 2013

Born in November

My Daughter Ninzi is born in November, yes right at the end of November, which makes her one of the youngest four year old this year. November is a special month for Bhutanese because of November Eleven, birth month of a great king in our history. End of November is even more special because it's the beginning of long holiday and when my daughter entered this world at this time in 2009, by right I would have only five official days of paternity leave to dedicate to my newborn but because there was nothing important to do in the school her father got all the time in the world to spend with her. That was the good part of being born in November.
Now, the bad part of being born at the end of the year is that you get your age only at the end of the year, which makes your younger than everybody born in the same year. Being younger or older shouldn't be a problem if it wasn't for the school admission policy. Admission in PP requires the child to be 6 years of age which means a child born in 2009 should be going to school in 2015, but my daughter will be eligible only in 2016.

I know one year night not make a difference, but if you have noticed, kids of this generation are unusually brilliant. My daughter, like many children of her age, is already ready for school. In fact if you give them the standard PP test they will easily pass it. Then what's the logic in holding them back till 6? What will my daughter do for the next three years at home?

Can something be done with school admission policy? Because things have changed so much over the years. Or should I, like many parents, do something with my daughter birth certificate? In my school, I have noticed that most of the students in class ten are between 14 to 16, which means they began school at 3 to 5. How did they do that?

My friend Ugyen Gyeltshen once confronted with a similar situation said, "I don't want to begin my child's education with a fake document", and I don't think I want to do that either.

02 December 2013

Thank You BCSEA for the colorful Paper

In December 2010 I posted an article following a visibility issue with computer studies practical question paper.  As a subject teacher I grow equally excited about exams when my students sit for exam on my subject, but when they come out with teary eyes it pains a lot. That year my students who went into the exam hall with so much confidence came out like beaten dogs. It wasn't their problem, not mine either. The paper was supposed to have several picture of webpages but because it was printed in black and white the picture were invisible altogether. Students had to see the pictures in order to program something like that but since they couldn't see a thing they were shattered, so was I.
The Colorful 2013 paper

But this time to my pleasant surprise the pictures were printed in color, for that I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to BCSEA. It's not my childish fancy for color that I am thanking, color rather brings out the clarity in the pictures that are intended to be colorful, thus making the question very vivid. Now if students still can't answer the questions then the fault lies either with themselves or we the teachers who taught them.

Therefore, thank you for the colorful paper!