19 September 2022

Bhutanese Monarchy and Queen Elizabeth II

When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022, the news touched every corner of the earth, including us, who never had anything to do with the queen. While some grieved the death of the queen they had loved all their lives, others celebrated the profound life of a monarch who ruled for seventy years.

Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Bhutan, are attending the funeral of the Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom. From the short video clips, we could feel the profoundness of the moment, where a young monarch pays his sincere tribute to another monarch on the other side of the planet. We can only imagine the significance of such a gesture. 

Isn't it fascinating that Her Majesty was born in 1926, the same year our First King, Gonsar Ugyen Wangchuck, passed away? It was the same year Second King Jigme Wangchuck ascended the Golden Throne. He ruled for 26 years and passed away in 1952, which coincidentally is the same year Queen Elizabeth began her era. 

So, in 1952, Third Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, ascended the golden throne at the age of 23, while Queen Elizabeth did the same at the age of 26. He was three years younger than her. If he had lived his full life, he would be 93 years old. Unfortunately, he died too soon, in 1972, at the age of 43. 

With the untimely demise of the Third King when the Crown Prince was only sixteen, our country was pushed to the edge of a dark era, but this blessed Kingdom was rescued by the young King in the most historical way. His Majesty, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, ushered Bhutan into an era of unprecedented peace and happiness.  

In 2006, when His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo abdicated the throne at the young age of 51, he surprised the world in more ways than we can ever comprehend. If there was one lesson the world and, for that matter, the late Queen herself could have learned from our Great Fourth, it was the detachment from power and empowering the next generation at the right time. He further engraved his wisdom for eternity by putting the retirement age of 65 for future kings in the Constitution of Bhutan. 

In 2006, when our Beloved Fifth King ascended the Golden Throne, he was coincidentally 26 years old, the same age as the Queen when she took office back in 1952- over half a century ago. The coronation of His Majesty, Jigme Khesar Namgay Wangchuck, was the happiest coronation in the world where the healthy father King crowned the son who was more than ready. The wedding of their majesties and the birth of two princes in the presence of the Great Fourth were events of profound happiness that the Kingdom of Bhutan experienced for the first time.  

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, lived across the era of four Bhutanese Kings- from Second King to the Fifth. It was also within this period that the United States of America saw fourteen Presidents come and go, 13 of whom met the queen.  Her life and death are, therefore, of significance to the world. 

May Our King and Queen be blessed with Queen Elizabeth's longevity. 

May the Queen rest in peace. 

PaSsu Diary is now available in eBook on Amazon


Click on the picture or HERE

15 September 2022

The Bhutanese Front-page from April 2016

While looking for something in my trunk, I found this issue of The Bhutanese Newspaper carefully preserved in a folder. My wife says she treasured it. I am grateful to The Bhutanese newspaper for printing this picture, which is the greatest moment in my life, on the front page of the April 2, 2016 issue. It was during the initial years of Bhutan Toilet Org, that we were making feeble attempts to change the state of Bhutanese public toilets. 

This moment that's captured in this picture is significant because it was there His Majesty the King put his hand on my shoulder and blessed me on this long journey to change toilets in the country. It was this picture which convinced my mother that I was on a mission far more significant than her disappointment in my resignation from the government job. 

27 August 2022

A Good War in 2003

The old saying that 'there never was a good war" was proven wrong in 2003.

No Bhutanese from my generation or older will ever forget the December 2003 war Bhutan had to fight against the Assamese separatist groups along our southern borders. The outlaws had relocated their camps in our territory after the Indian Army conducted operations Rhino and Bajrang in the 1990s. For two decades, they occupied the deep jungles inside our southern borders and wreaked havoc on both sides of the borders. 

The peaceful Kingdom of Bhutan has not known war since 1865. With a small army, we avoided all conflicts, even when the militants were bullying us without a care for our sovereignty. The outlaws would roam freely in our southeastern town with their guns. Our choice for a peaceful resolution weighed heavy on the friendly relationship we shared with India because the militants were launching attacks on India from their bases in Bhutan. India could have easily destroyed those camps by conducting a military operation and air strike, but they respected our sovereignty and refrained from any aggression on our soil. 

His Majesty, the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, firmly believed it could be resolved peacefully and tolerated their aggression for a long time. He would humbly sit down for peace talks with petty militant leaders who would make outrageous demands. When all hopes for peaceful resolutions were shot down by the unreasonable militants, His Majesty the King made the painful decision to take up arms against them.

I had just finished high school and was serving as an apprentice teacher in the isolation of Sombaykha, entirely cut off from all the news and confusion of an impending war. By the time we turned on the radio on the National Day of 2003, the war was over. It was brief, and the victory was ours. All the myths we heard and our fear of the militants were defused. Finally, after two decades of aggression, kidnapping, extortion, murder and lawlessness, we got our gift of peace back. 

The war was significant for many reasons. It's perhaps the only war in modern times where the country's King led his force on the frontline. His Majesty the Fourth King showed the world what it means to be a true leader of a country. His bravery and compassion have no examples in the world.  He even refused to celebrate the victory. He rather conducted big prayer ceremonies for the lives lost on both sides. 

The end of the war brought unprecedented peace to the people of Bhutan and Assam. Today, when we travel from Samdrup Jongkhar to Nganglam or Gelephu or Phuntsholing without a worry, we must be grateful to His Majesty the King and his brave soldiers who brought peace to the region. 

However, beyond the gift of peace and security to the people, the greatest beneficiaries of that war were the wildlife in Manas, both in India and Bhutan. I watched a 2016 Discovery Channel program, Manas: Return of the Giants, where they showed how Manas was destroyed by a two-decade insurgency, resulting in an almost complete loss of wildlife. The militants killed every animal that fetched a good price in the black market to fund their operations. The biggest victims were the Tiger, Elephant, Rhino, and Gaur, among the hundreds of endangered species. The lawlessness led to the illegal felling of trees and the killing of animals for trade and food. 

The award-winning documentary has covered how the end of the insurgency saved Manas from total destruction and how wildlife is slowly reviving from the brink of extinction, but they have failed to acknowledge Bhutan and our King for the 2003 war that ended the insurgency for once and for all. 

Regardless of their admission, I teared up in pride as I watched the return of the magnificent animals to Manas after the war, knowing well that our King led a war that has not only brought peace to people in the region but also saved entire wildlife. That's when I felt there was a good war, and it was led by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. 

29 June 2022

An App for Caring Parents

Dear Parents,

Your children are going to hate me for revealing this secret to you but I am sharing this because much like I love my daughter and I care about her wellbeing, I am sure you feel the same about your children. 

My daughter is among the first generation of children who are mostly babysat by smartphones and tablets. They know how to handle digital device far better than us. We don't even know what they are doing on their phones, do we? What apps they are using? what contents are they accessing? who are they interacting with? How long are they on their phones?

Giving smartphones to your young children is like sending them on a solo trip into an unknown city. There are two ways you could ensure their safety on the journey; 

  1. either your child is well prepared to fend for themselves against the evil forces out there
  2. or you accompany them on the journey and make sure they are safe. 
I wish our children are prepared to fend for themselves in the cyber world but that's not the case. Everything happened too soon too quickly for them to be able to prepare. Therefore, the only option is to accompany them on the journey;

How? Much like literally accompanying your children on a journey, you have an app called Google Family Link that gives you parental control over your children's devices. It allows you to set screen time for your children, approve app downloads, restrict contents from certain websites, monitor their activities and also physically locate their devices using GPS. 

Physical Well-Being 

Children may not like this but it's only for their safety and wellbeing. During the last lockdown, my daughter was using her phone more than her usual time and I was worried. Her eyesight worsened and she even developed a frequent headache. I suspected it was because of her long screen time but she refuted. It was only after I used Google Family Link that we discovered she spent over 12 hours on her phone. It was a revelation for herself too. She didn't know she used phone that much. Then we mutually agreed to budget her screen time. Things improved. 

The excessive time our children spend on their phones have a huge impact on their physical and social wellbeing. I don't have to tell you much on these subjects. Therefore, it's best to budget their screen time using Google Family Link. You will be shocked to see how many hours our children spend on their phones. Do we even know when you children are sleeping? We are literally blinding them and allowing them to become socially awkward beings. 

Mental Well-Being 

The other more dangerous aspect of being out there in the virtual world on their own is their safety and their mental and emotional well-being. Do you know what sort of contents are they exposed to? Do you know who they are interacting with? Internet can be so unkind to our little children who may not be ready to digest some contents or interact with strangers. They may be at risk of being scammed or being fooled into doing things. If only you knew what sort of apps or websites they are visiting then you will be able to monitor, isn't it? Well, with this app you can do just that. You will see if they are really in the Google Classroom or straying on Tiktok; if they are shooting a video and editing it or simply chatting or gaming. 

My daughter agreed to wait till she attains the legal age of 13 to join Facebook and for now her mother and I are managing her Page Ninzi Show. She's also prohibited from joining other social media platform until the approved age, but that's not without an incident. Every now and then, she is on Instagram or Tiktok. She even has a Facebook account. But we agreed to wait and I know for sure that she isn't breeching her terms because if she did I would know from the App. Many parents have allowed their children on social media way before they are 13, including my nieces and nephews. I hope they are safe. To ensure that, at least see how long they spend on each app and if they spend way too long on certain apps then see what they are doing there(by checking their phones physically, because you don't see what they are actually doing)*.

*Google takes into account the privacy of the children and therefore don't allow parents to spy on everything they are typing or looking at. I am sure they have the children's legal rights taken care. The children must be informed of the features. 

If need be I will soon do a demo video to show how to install and use Google Family Link. 

This awareness post on children's wellbeing in the digital world is brought to you be TashiCell. It's a part of their initiative to create a safe environment for children on the internet. 

The Raven Squad- A Film Review

The Raven Squad was trending so much on social media to ignore. My daughter Ninzi Show insisted on watching it. Moreover, it was long due for me to watch a Kinley Rigzin Dorji movie. I love the young man’s character, attitude and maturity but haven’t watched any of his movies yet. Same for Sonam Max Choki Page.

First thing, I didn’t expect the hall to be housefull after so many days. The stairs were filled with young people who are aspiring to become something like the Raven Squad.
The movie is about a doting father who fails to appreciate his little MJ son. He realizes it a little too late. He loses his son but to keep his son’s dreams alive, he brings many broken dreams together to form the Raven Squad of success. He sacrifices everything to keep the squad dancing because for him that’s the process of healing.
The story may not sound quite new, but the characters and their dance talents make all the difference, not to mention the occasional jabs of humor that are so well crafted and timed. The background of each squad member has a story that is meant to connect to every youth out there; you are one of them. The new faces have done a good job in magnifying those roles. Kids are going to love them so much.
It’s a motivational film; it will inspire a lot of youth to pursue their dreams in not just dancing but in every form of expression that’s there; I loved the way the film has turned the profession of dancing and cab driving into something so attractive. Good Job, Sonam Maekay Penjor. You played the father figure well. I am tempted to play that role.
Besides the youths, the cab drivers are going to love this film. There is one song that I foresee every cab playing from this day on. It will spread love and kindness among them.
And Dear Kinley Rigzin Dorji, I am blown by your flare in acting. You are born for stardom. You have it all in you. Your director, Karma jerry has managed to showcase your talent to the max. Now, I know why the young kids are so in love with you. It’s my first film of Sonam Max Choki too. And O’ boy, she is a breath of fresh air. I am going to watch more of her movies now.
Wish you big at the box office!

05 May 2022

Blame Not Your Country. It’s the Committees

I was chatting with a friend who was reprimanded for writing stuff on Twitter, which, according to a 'disciplinary committee', violated the civil service code of conduct. He said the committee has decided to withhold his promotion for a year as an administrative action. 

He said he didn't write anything so out of the ordinary to be punished. He said they scrolled up and down his Twitter feed to see if he had really written anything so wrong to violate the civil service code of conduct. 

I told him to appeal to the committee and ask them to prove their charges because the official letter states he can appeal within 10 working days.

"I don't think that will work. I might land up making it worse. I will rather resign and go to Australia." He said. 

"If that has pushed you to the brink of resignation, then what's the problem in appealing and facing the committee? What could possibly go wrong? Even if things don't work out, you could still resign." I said.

"Awooo, laakha du mena Bhutan na." He said, which shocked me. His statement paints a different picture of Bhutan. It sounds as if it's dangerous to speak up in Bhutan. 

So, I told him, "Man, don't bash your country for the action of the so called committee that is made up of a bunch of pleasers who think they are doing their job with utmost dedication. Your country didn't fail you; the committee failed you. You are not fighting against your country; you are fighting against the committee. Please know the difference and separate the two."

It was easy for me to say this, but for him, holding that letter in his hand, the fear was real. God knows what sort of big words and names they must have dropped when handing the letter to him. Here is my personal request to all those committees, please don't let ordinary citizens bash their country for your actions. You have to own it up. You can't use names and acts and clauses to threaten people and make them shit bricks. You are doing big disfavour to this country. These committees are whittling away at Bhutan's unique democratic culture that the successive kings have painstakingly built over the last decades. 

The best ways around to help civil servants avoid violating clause, Chapter 3 of BCSR 2018 are;

  1. Conduct social media literacy to help them use the platforms productively. 
  2. Create open internal platforms for dialogues with the assurance that they won't be reprimanded.
Otherwise, it will only breed hostile anonymous communities that will go beyond attacking policies into defaming individuals, family members and even their beloved country. That's worse than violating the civil service code of conduct.  

03 May 2022

Do You Help Your Neighbour?

If a loaded truck pulls into the parking lot near your building, you know that a new neighbour is shifting in. You know it from the load in the truck. No matter how you pretend, you know there has been an empty flat in the building since the last occupant left. You even know why they left and where they moved to. So you have been expecting a new neighbour.

But in Thimphu, you somehow don't come out to welcome your new neighbour. You peek through the window but don't even open your door to say hi. You don't think it's your business. 

Having come from a village --where we come together as a community to help each other build houses, harvest crops, celebrate birth, grieve deaths and so on-- when I see a new neighbour, I go out to greet them and help them unload the truck and carry their stuff up the stairs into their new home. On the other hand, my wife will either prepare tea or arrange cold drinks for the newcomers. We extend the same courtesy to outgoing neighbours too. 

If a friend or a relative is shifting their house and I'm aware of it, I go to help them even if it's not anywhere near the neighbourhood. If necessary, I will take my pickup truck along. And my wife will prepare tea or a meal depending on the necessity of the situation.

When I went to help a friend shift his house today, my expectations were low from his neighbours. Sure enough, no one came out of their homes to help us. Neither in his old neighbourhood from where we were moving nor in the new community. Forget about helping us; there were two incidents where we were asked to move our truck so that they could drive into their parking. They could kindly park somewhere else for a while.

My wife offered to make tea for us, but I had to drive all the way back home to pick it up, so I scrapped the idea. But I thought there would be other friends and relatives with all sorts of refreshments and lunch. Guess what, we had to order home delivery food. I lamented how Thimphu has quickly outgrown our beautiful Bhutanese way of life, community ties, and traditional values.

When I pointed that out to my friend and his wife, they said it's still way better than in Australia, where they can't bother their friends, so they hire professional logistics whom they pay by hours. They are grateful that quite a few of us came to help. Someday even this might become a story to tell. 

25 April 2022

The Process of Writing- My Debut Hosting on Bhutan Echoes

I feel honoured to be given this opportunity to host a session on the process of writing, a subject that is close to my heart, a subject that I worked so hard to understand when I co-founded the Writers Association of Bhutan and a subject that's at the heart of what I do with BOOKNESE.

You will see how natural and spontaneous we are during the discussion, not because we rehearsed so much but because the subject was as close to their hearts as mine. My guest Tshering Wangchuk, former CEO of Business Bhutan and BBS, is the author of A Thousand Footprints. My Other guest Utsav Khatiwara is an editor who works as a lecturer at Royal Thimphu College. Within an hour that I spent with the two outstanding personalities, with whom I haven't had so much associations in the past-- especially I met Utsav for the first time on the day of the shoot-- I felt a lot richer in terms of my knowledge on writing and publishing. 

Save all your questions until the end of this show;

21 April 2022

My Floating Bed #DIY Project

You don't need a floating bed to have a good night's sleep, but if you must, please invest in a good mattress instead because that has a considerable effect on the quality of your sleep and, therefore, the quality of your life. I don't have to dig into the science to prove how good sleep influences a good life. 

If it's the mattress that matters, why did I work on a bed? A floating bed, rather? At first, I was into making a headboard for my old bed. I spent a long time reading and writing in my bed, and it was painful not to have a soft and sturdy headboard to lean on. 

I worked on a headboard that I always wanted to have. I had a mental picture of one. The ones I saw in the market were not within the budget I could afford and not quite the kind I wanted. My Headboard came out better than I thought. I went beyond wood and carpentry into foam and cloth. I didn't stop there. 


Why did I even want a headboard in the first place? I wanted to read and write in my bed; that's when I felt the need to have a reading light attached. Now that I have an electrical item attached, I thought, why not add another feature to make life easy; I added a mobile charging station on both ends of the board for my wife and me. No more messy extension cords and chargers on the bedside table at night. 

Initially, it was a standard two-pin plug, but a friend suggested I have a USB charger and remove the need for an external charger. Likewise, I had a reading light that had a small switch that was difficult to locate, especially when I was sleepy and trying to turn off the light; therefore, the same friend suggested I go for a light that would turn on and off by mere touch on any part- and no switch.

Only after I had the magnificent headboard built and attached to my old bed did I realize that I needed a more matching bed. I wasn't so confident about making a bed. But when I saw the floating bed concept, I knew I could do that. I knew I could do better. Thus, I worked on it, and I had the bed done within a few days. I brought it home and coupled it with my headboard. 

Going strictly by the recipe, I even added an LED light underneath the bed to glorify the floating effect. I stole the LED lights from my daughter's room. 

The satisfaction of having done the bed didn't last long because I felt something was missing. The headboard and the bed looked like they were from different planets. 

From my experience of working on a friend's zen bed, I knew I needed to wrap my bed in the same cloth as the headboard. I went back to the fabric store from where I bought the foam and clothes to get an additional cloth. 

There you go! The bed seemed like it had grown out of the headboard. It looked soft and comfy all of a sudden. It came out the way I loved it to be, far better than I thought I was capable of making. It was definitely an accidental success, and I have learned so much from experience. I am willing to share them. 

And finally, I have my floating bed. My daughter has taken away the LED light, but it looks great either way. The concept of having the bed floating is both aesthetic and functional; there are no issues when sweeping the floor around and underneath the bed.  

And yeah, Good Night!