Monday, February 28, 2011

My Trip to Tokyo; Part one

Me in (Red gho) during the photography session

As far as I can remember, It was in the fall of January 2007, that I got a nomination letter from my office to participate in my maiden ex-country seminar. The seminar was on "Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement in Asia Pacific region" and it was scheduled to take place in Kashiwa, Chiba in Tokyo city,. The seminar was expected to  last till 16th March starting from 12th of March.

The idea of trip to Tokyo, just after my probation period in civil service was too much to believe. As much as it has been a subject of pride for me, that much has also been the subject of envy and covet for my friends. Viewing things form the perspective of a beginner, it honestly enthralled me; -realizing a trip to my "dream land" was especial in its fullness.

With just one month, there was hardly any time left to be wasted in waiting, so began my pre-departure formalities in rage and earnest. It included included exchanging e-mails on regular basis with the organizers and collecting countless "no objection certificates" from various agencies to get my passport processed.  Apart from those processes, It also included lot of cumbersome papers works at my head office too. By virtue of working away from the Head office, I also had the liberty to travel frequently and  complete the formalities before deadline. I was even entitled to make my travel and allowance claims from my office. I  remember exaggerating my travel claims which enraged my boss. I also remember how my boss nearly ate me up; -raw for this conduct.

In a weeks time, I got the visa for Japan and I was almost through with, so called the pre-departure formalities. The post departure, however haunted me day and night. It brought to me more questions than I could ever answer. Questions like how would the telephone booth in Bangkok look like and where would it be located in the airport ?  How would I get a taxi and how much would they charge me ? How would I catch my flight to Tokyo next morning sort of  things continued to preoccupy my thoughts until I finally got introduced to man from Thailand who works for Thai airways through one of my cousin. We initially met on phone, completely stranger to each other.

I bought my air ticket but on credit from Tashi Tours and Treks. I promised to reimburse the same when I  get back.

With my trip lurking and ever nearing, my state of confusion augmented further. I sent countless e-mails to my counter part with regard to the transportation arrangements. I Googoled every day about the travel tips, particularly relating to Japan and Narita International airport. I made incessant phone calls to my stranger friend in Bangkok and spoke to him about my zero knowledge about international travels. We discussed and  made numerous arrangements so that he could identify me and pick me up. He told me that, he would come in green T-shit to pick me up. I agreed without any qualms. I also called up my head office; -many a time  to make sure that I was well fortified for my upcoming trip.

Finally on 10th of March, I boarded the flight KB 126 at 1015 local time. As I took my seat No. 6F, I could sense the flow of emotion through my central nervous system, The sense of satisfaction was overwhelmingly  immense and that I lacked words to describe. All I could do was sit  aback and  silently thank my parents for the sacrifices they have made for my education.  I Thanked my King and leaders for having created a system of Education that has brought me thus far. I thanked almighty god for having me born as a Bhutanese. I thanked my supervisors for having me nominated for the trip and I also thanked my teachers for the lessons they taught me with all their heart and head. That was it. I have spent more than half of my life in schools and colleges, perhaps to see myself in the position I was in.

Minutes before the actual  take-off, the flight attendants, who were (are) considered as the finest and most good looking ladies in the country, gave us the pre-flight briefing, which included welcoming of passengers on board and  in-flight safety demonstration. It was my genuine but humble privilege to have been served by those beautiful ladies. They served all the passengers in most amicable way. As my fellow passengers got themselves engrossed with tea, coffee. lunch and liquors, I was lost in mesmerizing sights of dazzling clouds, whose splendor held me spellbound. An hour later, our flight landed In Zia International airport in Dhaka to pick up the joining passengers.

From there, it was a long flight. However, we finally landed in Bangkok at around 1330 local time. The  enormity of airport was way beyond my comprehension. There were thousands of passengers scurrying in all the directions. There were also passengers who apparently looked lost and nervous; just like me.

As soon as I got out from the pick-up van, I looked around for the telephone booth but sadly I was directed to the terminal door by the security personnel. I, some how managed to reach the immigration check point by following fellow passengers. Since I was carrying an official passport, I was accorded faster clearance there. I also got through the Customs check and finally I was out of the terminal building. I started looking for my friend, who promised to come in green T-shirt to pick me. To my utter dismay, there were virtually thousands of people in green T-shit whom I believed had the same purpose; -pick up the passengers like me; lost and lonely.  I finally approached a lady, whom I mistakenly took her to be an information desk personnel. I told her that I wanted to use her phone for a while, but she insisted me to buy a new sim card or else use the public phone facilities provided I have some Thai coins.  Later, I availed my request when she finally discovered that I  was a coin-less and sim-less man. She dialed my friend's number and he instantly responded. It was a relief beyond my imagination.

It was even greater relief, when he finally started calling my name "Kusang" for Kuenzang. He kept his words and as promised, he was in green T-shirt. He has even booked taxi for me. We needed no formal introduction because we knew each other well through our telephonic conversations. He was a man in his late 40s. He looked not so tall and not short either. He spoke fluent English in his Thai ascent. He had a look of scholar and face of an aristocrat; (the high society people as referred in Thailand)

We went straight to his residence.We stayed a while in his room discussing things like; my flight timing the next day and the amount of money I have for the trip. He sounded very insecure, when I told him that I have USD 300. He  inquisitively asked me as to whether that amount would suffice my trip.  I told him that I am on official visit and that I have nothing to spend on. With that little chit chat session, It was time for us to go out for a dinner.

Soon two of us joined a group of people. Most of them looked Thai but there were also people from Europe and China. He introduced me to them and all of them approvingly welcomed me to the group. He told me that they were all millionaires; -so called the high society people, and true to his assertiveness, they were all decorated with expensive garments and jeweleries.

Moving to the dinner, it was all about duck; duck skin, duck flesh and duck limb etc.  People talked more and ate less. I thought to myself that, perhaps, that was an aristocrat way of dining.

In hours time, dinner was served and bills were paid, two of us bid them good night and headed out to explore Bangkok city in its full night glamor. He took me to the departmental stores. He also took me to the night club where naked ladies used their female reproductive organ in performing stunts. Stunts that entertained animal-like humans. The gross misuse of those organs shocked me bitterly and I immediately told my friend about my displeasure and that its not a place worthy of spending our precious time. We came back home and went to bed.

From there it has been a  history  and story in making for me. Next morning, my friend dropped me till airport. He also told me to take some money form him, for which I refused. I told him not to worry about me and that I will be back on 17th of March.

I got myself checked in with ease. It was a scheduled flight TG 643 that would take me to Tokyo. I was supposed to take gate No. "G". Obviously I expected to find it after I cross gate "F". I kept on following countless "F" gates and  finally reached to end of  "F" line. But  still couldn't  find gate  "G". I immediately realized that my assumption and hypothesis has gone wrong some where. This called for my immediate reverse move. I almost took an hour to get back to my initial point. Exhausted and almost broken; I got there and  came to know that I missed my gate by a margin. It was still Ok because I did not miss my flight.
30 minutes later, I boarded the flight and I  was  about to begin my longest journey of my life. After enduring long and sleepy flight journey of more than 6 hours, the flight finally landed in Narita International airport. I got through Immigration and Customs swiftly and waited for someone with my name tag to show up in the lobby. I waited for hours and still there was no sign of any one with whom I have discussed about my transportation arrangements.

Inspiration From Venerable Lama Sangay Tenzin

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Architects of me; Makers of Kuenzang Thinley and Thank you words.

As we celebrate "Education day" I would like to take this time and space in remembering all my beloved teachers and thank them.

My Teachers in Ura Primary School

Late Tashi Phuntsho: He was our Head Master. It was through him that I got admitted to school. He made me a decent school going boy out of my rough village lad. He preferred canning students to discipline them  then resorting to "counseling" method, that's because he hailed form a old school of thought. He taught me how to sing our National anthem. He also taught few Bhutanese traditional songs.

Miss Karma Lhamo:She was my class teacher for 3 years (LKG, UKG and Class 1) It was through her that I learned,  that there are 26 alphabets in English; starting form  A stood for apple to Z stood for Zebra. She taught me that Circle and Square are two different shapes and that 1 and 2 are never equal. She also taught me that a ball of cheese will not serve school fee of Nu.10.

Mr. Nidup Tshering: He was my class teacher when I was in Class 2. It was he who  made me the class captain; not because I was "Good Boy" but for the "Good Naughty boy" Character I possessed.

Mrs, Geeta K.K: She was my class teacher in my 3rd grade. She taught me the multiplication table and its subsequent usage thereafter. She also taught me the charm of English words  by introducing me and friends to a "spelling game". From her, I also learned that all fruits contains vitamin C which protects us from catching cold.

Mr. B. Diamary: A man from Assam, India. He was my class teacher in my 4th grade. Apart from reading thermo meter, he also taught me how to measure wind speed and read wind direction.  

Mr. Shaji A.B: He was a man with multi talent. It was from him that I learned the fun side of Mathematics and science. He also taught me that writing story need not always start form "once upon a time" and that English language has many words with same or similar meanings.

Mr. R. Navanethan: He was a man whom Me and my friends referred to as a "Nado la" -the black man. He taught us to be honest and less naughty. (to which we did not give any heed) He disliked our habit of messing our school with white papers (because he is black). He was more of an administrator than a teacher because I remember him managing everything for us; -starting from ration to school maintenance.

Lop. G Tenzin: Let there be school in Ura and there was Lop Tenzin; -also known as "Lopen Gelong Tenzin". He taught Dzongkha all his life and taught it well. Like Lama, he never ran short of nick names for his students. He even had his own descriptions of village under Ura gewog. He later went on to become the Head Master of the School.

For me, He was a man who believed in giving his students not only second chance but third chance; if required. Today I thank him immensely  (Especially) for not terminating me from the school for all my foul acts. As a juvenile, I broke the store windows in want of newer text books, ran away from the school in hope of becoming driver and fought with my peers. In short i was as problematic lad in all aspects.  I was just 15 then. Like R Navanethan Sir, he also understood me in and out. He foresaw my future.

He may be the only person form teaching cadre, who went on to become Councillor in the Royal Advisory Council of Bhutan. His title got changed and his students lovingly called him "dasho Lopen".

My Teachers in Jakar High School 

Mr. Wangchuk Namgay: Principal of the school and I would rather call him the most  dynamic person. Even though he was not involved in my day-to-day academic curriculum, he taught me the importance of so called the "group discussion" and 'Group work. I went on to become a House captain (Red House) and I believe it was through hi recommendation
Mr. Phuntsho Dorji: My Class teacher in my 7th grade. He was a a man of less words who taught us both Bhutan history and world history.

Mrs. Dechen: She taught me Physics in my 10th grade. she was the most humble and humane female teacher I have ever met in my life. I believe she was the person behind, who nominated my candidature to the captaincy that year.

Mr. R. N Bhatacharjee: He often joined Sir Phuntsho in teaching us history lessons but he mostly taught us about the history of British Indians and the Civics of India.

Mr. Bhim: He taught me Chemistry starting from my 7th grade to 10th grade. He never spoke more than what was required. He was my class teacher in my 9th grade

Mr. Chandra: He taught me Biology with ease in my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade. He was also our hostel warden; -good looking and fun loving  hostel warden. He was  "Mr. James Bond" those days because there were many unmarried lady teachers in the school.

Mrs Kezang Choden: She taught me Physics in my 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. She had a very charming personality and her smooth and polished teaching skills kept me all awake even during the sleepy afternoon classes.

Mr. Wangchuk Dorji:  He was my class teacher in my 8th grade. I knew him more as a singer than as a teacher. His silence spoke more than his words in the class. He taught us English in 8th grade.

Mr. L. B Cheetri: He taught us English in 7th grade and taught us well with  all the jokes he created himself. He made us laugh and laugh more. To control our laughter, he sometimes made our friends cry by canning them hard. -what an irony........ha ha ha.

Mr. Karma Tshering: He was a very sincere and serious teacher. He meant only business in the class. That is to do well in geography subject of 9th grade. He frequently checked our notes and reminded us to be up to date with all the lessons taught in the class.

Mr. Tashi Phuntsho: Man of Genius in mathematics. He taught us mathematics in 9th and 10th grade. He was also known for his candidness among students.

Mr. S. K Saha: He taught me Geography in my 7th and 8th grade. He continued teaching us but  not Geography. He taught us Economics. The law of demand and supply, the concept of economics and non economics, balance of payment,  law of marginal utility and diminishing marginal utility were some of the concept he taught us then.

Lop Ugyen Dorji: Apart from the regular Dzongkha lessons of Gyelse laklen, lekshed and da zhung, he was also our mess In-charge. He served us clean and decent meals. With the help of Dzongda, Dasho Pem L. Dorji, he also served us milk tea in the evenings and peeled potato curry every lunch.

Lop Choki Wangchuk: Apart form Dzongkha lessons, he also taught us some of the traditional songs like wangzhey. He was popularly known for his stories with lots of humor and love. He was often called as "Lopen Drukpa Kinley".

Lop. Ngawang Kuenchap: He was our  Driglam Namzha (etiquette) Teacher

My Teachers in Drukgyel High School:

Mr. Mohammed Ahmed Surror: was my Class teacher in my 11th and 12hth grade. He was the person who first introduced me to the concept of "debit and Credit" -the world of Accounting and book keeping. He also introduced me to the reality of commerce and business.

Miss Dr. Ambica: She supplemented my knowledge of Economics by introducing me to the concepts like Micro Economics and Macro Economics. She also taught me that anything I write are right and correct provided I prove it with enough substance.

Mr. Joan T.B: was another Black man I have come across in my life but for a purpose. He taught me new concepts in mathematics like calculus, differentiation and integration.  

Mr. K.C Jose: was a man of grammar and literature in one package. He taught me about the beauty and charm of  poetry. Today his definition of poetry still echoes in my mind and it goes like this "Poetry is a spontaneous over flow of power full feelings taking its origin in emotional tranquility" I drew lot of inspiration form his poetry lessons and wrote few poems as well. One of my class mate even quoted few lines during his assembly speech and it goes like this "nothing lasts forever so do the memories of midnight, when one say where love has gone". the Poetry lesson indeed was a "sight and sound" that often transported me to the "mystic level of experiences"

Mr. B. B Misra: He was a man who took me deep into the Shakespearean age. Truly "there was nothing either good or bad, our thinking made it so". He took me thorough the Shakespearean play; Hamlet, line by line and word by word. At the end of the lesson I couldn't agree more with Ben Jonson, when he went on to write "Shakespeare, you are rare"  on William Shakespeare's tomb as a Epitaph.

Lop. Namgay Phuntsho: was a man most misunderstood, because his care and love for students were interpreted as being strict and rigid by most of the students who availed boarding facilities in the hostel. He liked  honest pupils and he had the magic of detecting lies through their faces.

My Teachers in Sherubtse college:
Mr. Dorji Tshering: was the Principal of the college under whose decision the Sherubtse College functioned. He was known for his softness and stringent in usage of  Government funds. His loyalty to the Tsa-wa-sum is however unquestionable even today.

Dr. Daniel Lazer: was a the most irritating person I have come across because he fancied giving lot of assignments not only in the class but also during our breaks. He taught us Statistics and Financial Accounting in the first year and Taxation policy in the second year. 

 Dr. Rakesh Raman: was/is a man with world authority on Macro and micro economics. He took the classes in such a way that  no individual in the class left out. He had the enviable talent of dictating the notes while he was also  preparing for the next lesson on the board. He was an economic genius on many counts. 

Mr. Benarjee : was the longest foreign national who served in sherubtse in his capacity as the professor of Modern Business Organization (MBO), Business Law and Company law (mercantile Law). He taught me  MBO and Business law  in first year and Company law in my second year

Mr. Anthony Mosses: was a man known more for his qualifications than for his potential as a Teacher. Perhaps his weakness in English was to be blamed. He taught me Statistics in my first year and Business data processing in my second year.

Dr. R.K Visen: was a humble zamindar man who taught me Business Mathematics in my second year. Apart form the new concept like linear programming and magic of matrices, he further took me deep down the world of calculus.

Mr. Prakash: was a genius man in his own ways. He taught me Cot accounting and cost control analysis. He also enlightened me more with the concept like Economic Ordering Quantity (EOQ), Break even point and many more.

Miss. Reecha: well She was an interesting person too. Even though she didn't take nay classes for me, (my class) she was my class teacher when I was in my final year. Coincidentally, I was the class representative that year.  We  never actually  met each other the entire year until I went to collect my Character Certificate, She graded me with B+  I came back wondering whether it was her true assessment about me.(being class representative, I expected higher grade than that, perhaps A+..ha ha ha)

Lop Tenzin: He taught me Sum tak (the grammar) in my first year. He compared his teachings to   that of feeding sweets to the kids. no matter what 40; the pass mark was a thing of guarantee from his side. With as few as 10-12 students in the class, the whole class gets the attendance.

My teachers in Royal Institute of Management

Mr. Pema Wangdi:  He was our course Moderator. He taught us Corporate Finance
Mr. Karma P. Lodey: He taught us Enterprise Development
Mr. Damber Singh: He taught us Research Methodology and application of SPSS for data analysis
Mr. Jit Tshering: Taught us Project Management
Mrs Lungten: She taught us the Commercial Accounting and Costing
Mr. N.P Sharma: Taught us Government Accounting of the Royal Government of Bhutan
Mr. Sangay: He Taught us Tally
Mr. Pema Tenzin: Taught us BAS (Budget and Accounts Systems)
Mr. Kinga: Taught us Basic Computer Operation
Mr. Indraman Chetteri: Taught us Marketing and Human Resource
Mr. Norbu Wangchuk: Taught us Human Behavior and Organization

I would like to Thank all my Teachers from the bottom of my heart for making me who I am today. If seeing golden lungurs on the way was considered luck, fortune and wish fulfilling,  then I believe I have seen  enough of them.(no pun intended)

Thank you  
all and may god bless you all in life and after life.

Note: Since my stay in RIM was little less than a  year, I didn't have the luxury and time study my professors.

Happy Birthday to my King

Happy happy birthday to you. Your Majesty.

31 winters and 31 equal summers bygone,
Dharma prince was born to Dharma king and queen equal.
Promise of Happiness and Peace was born;
Promise of unending and undying smiles;
The road to even happier days was born in "Druk Dewachen gi Zhingkham"

Image from Facebook
With you on the golden throne,
The  golden rays of  the sun will forever shine;
shine and brighten the lives of Bhutanese for eons.
Bhutan will forever be known as a Land of bliss.

With the blessings  Buddha, Dhanrma and Snagha;
and of our protective deities,
Yeshe gyempo and Peldhen Lhamo;
May you and your legacy continue to live like the unending flow of river.

Long live the King,
Long live the King,
Long Live the King,

Peldhen Druk Pa
Peldhen Druk Pa
Peldhen Druk Pa

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reflection of my days in Kanglung: Part Three

Me During my convocation in 2005
Long  brooding days of  my first year and swift passing days of my second year finally gave way for my  final and third year. The year in essence has indeed been a year of reflection its truest sense for me. 

Every evening when Sherubste rested in peace, I took a refuge in my room to  reflect on the days I spent as a careless fun loving lad. I also reflected on days when me and my friends alike went low in academics and high on love, football and laughter. 

I saw my first year elapse. I qualified for my second year with just marginal marks. A job invariably would demand supremacy in academic performance and not realizing the kind of fight I will have to put up later, I closed my first year chapter.

My second year was no different. I continued going low with my academics. If my first year was a disaster then my second year was mega disaster. The results were declared and to my dismay I stood and scored the lowest ever mark in the history of my academic performance. I failed in my computer paper and couldn't clear my Business mathematics. I scored lamenting 5 marks out of 50 in Business mathematics. Interestingly in the middle of this hue and cry, my consolidated mark sheet said different story all together. It said I scored 45 out of 50 and it obviously shocked the entire class. It became news in the college. I broke the college record in the paper. But that story as anticipated and expected didn't have a happy ending. I wrote an inquiry letter to the University through my department head. The University in turn responded with regret. The letter explicitly told me to read my mark as "05 and not as 45". 

With that note, it was not only  reflection of my merrier days but it was also a dawn of realization. with 2 additional paper to clear, the task called for more hard work. More work with my books meant lesser time for leisure.

I frequented study hall, and that time around it was for different reason. I had loads of books to refer and get myself out of the cobweb and dizzy lost days. I talked less and moved around less. I surely had Mountain to climb and thick socks to pull up.  I would  go out occasionally but would come back quick and fast to continue my  preparation for my final show down. In a months time I lost considerable amount of weight and I saw my self being reduced to a skinny young man with lots of bones on body and beards on my face. I was in to a very serious business and I wouldn't miss my class for any reason. I wouldn't even entertain to proxy for any one.  

Being a class representative, I had the liberty to go straight to our professors and request them to call off the classes. But with each passing day, the fantasy of calling off classes diminished. There was in fact need for extra classes!

Mid way through my final year, the tradition of the college took a full swing again. Tradition of endless dates among couples, endless pair ups and endless break ups, frequent birthday parties and frequent reunions swayed the life in Kanglung once again. Few of our friends were  even happily married and surprisingly even had children back home.

I would often go to my  Best friend cum professor's place to spend my weekends with him  either to help him in his household chores or to feed myself. We would spent sleepless nights discussing on various topics and take a week off from the college and visit my parents in the high up valleys of Shingkhar.  One day he asked me what my future plans were. He then went on to remind me  that in months time I would be thrown in the ocean of life's challenges and that I will have to swim on my own to get ashore. Those were indeed golden words form him, because I remember having no plan what so ever. 

If at all Sherubtse meant something, it was all about excellence. Let there be light and there was sherubtse in Bhutan. Intellectual womb of Sherubtse has produced some of the finest think tanks of Bhutan  and it embodied the "autobiography of our hopes". It was then I realized how fortunate I was to be there standing tall yet with attributes that far fell form what it actually demanded. I felt I was a frog without tongue and snake without tail.

The snake and frog like feeling however made me more manly. It gave me strength to fight back and took me back to the track. Finally I rediscovered my self; -a hard working and sincere learner who had unsataible desire for knowledge. Even though the moments lost could not be mended, I believe I could still live and make my remaining days a worth while one. I started to burn my mid night candle with all my heart. 

That year, one of my closest friend was unanimously elected as our Hostel Councillor and two of them moved to the councillor's room on the ground floor. They had the luxury of toilet inside unlike commoners who used common toilets. I stayed back and two of my nomad friends whom i met year ago joined me. (Jigme Thinley, present accounts officer in ECB and Phuntsho Dendup, present labour officer in MoLHR) we had a harmonious existence then. In the evening when we got together, both of them would have their own stories;- mostly love stories that invariably ended with failures.

I was finally in my 8th month of my final year, but I didn't know whether I really deserved to be treated that way. With my 2 second year paper still due meant that I risk being called back for my second year the next year. This created an enormous pressure on me.

The juniors treating the final year people and final year guys delivering their farewell speeches were at its hype. No matter what, I took part if i was invited and I kept a list of people who actually invited me. some 114 people graciously invited me to bid me farewell. Apart from that, first year and second year B.Com people also have the  tradition of  hosting grand farewell dinner for the final year B.Com people. As a senior and in a symbolic gesture of their respect for their elders, we were given a white scarf, which represented purity of thought and purity of action (meaning that all the jeers and nasty comments during their introductory nights were nothing but a tradition) I was touched and I regretted for having jeered during their introductory nites and welcome show. But on the lighter note, it was all about passing tradition and culture down the line, generation after generation. In essence it was about being Bhutanese, I guess.

With all my hard work and preparation, I did my examinations. I thought it went well. It surely did. I got through my back papers. Although it was not officially announced, I even topped in one of the papers of the third and final year. My hard work paid off and it was a sensational feeling of relief and joy. I was awarded  the certificate of B.Com Honors from Delhi University, which I believe was/is one of the best universities in world (because not many students, especially in economics and commerce scored good marks)

That was my life in Sherubtse College.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Version of Gross National Happiness; A try at it

Let me remind all (whoever read this) that  I am not here to reiterate what our Prime Minister (then Home Minister in 2004) talked during my graduate orientation days, -of the four pillars and posts of GNH. I am certainly not here to also reiterate how I have answered questions on GNH during my civil service examinations back then. Therefore I am certainly not here to say whether GNH is a holistic development philosophy or an ideology in itself.

All I know is that, during his coronation in 1972, our beloved Fourth King spoke about the importance of Gross National Happiness as against Gross Domestic Product . If we remove "Gross" then all he spoke was about "National Happiness".  The happiness, -the ultimate human endeavor was his priority. His Majesty didn't care whether we have all the means to achieve it but he vehemently believed Happiness is possible even without positive balance of payments, without huge mineral deposits and virtually with no development infrastructures altogether. He reminded the, Nation that "Unity" and solidarity among our people would take a long way in achieving everything we plan. 

As much as GNH has garnered appreciation and acclamation, It has received equal criticisms too. And as much as there are people admiring it, there are that many  people making mockery out of it. Today there are leaders who are eager to advocate GNH while there are also critics who are skeptical and cynical  about its outcome. 

With so many humdrum of GNH in the air, I believe that this topic even has a profound  impact on my family too. For this matter, my family to me is like a nation where my wife, my 3 daughters and my granny are the subjects. I am the government in myself and so I make policies  and take decisions that  have lasting impact on my family, -the nation. In other words, my family is in itself a micro nation with its ultimate goal as 'happiness'

With what ever limited income I earn, I make sure that they are all well fed three times a day. Breakfast with bread and jam for my daughters and rice with suja and ezay for my wife and granny. There are times when they wanted to go out for lunch and dinner but I convince them that food we cook ourselves and eat at home home are actually tastier than those we get in the market. I also make sure that budget appropriated for a said period lasts enough till  the next appropriation period. 

Mine is but a very frugal family and I bother least about latest fashions and latest arrivals in the departmental stores. Wanting things in the name of fashion and wealth are something that is not included in my procurement manual. Having said that it doesn't mean that I don't buy for my family and wear myself. I do but enough to keep us all  warm and  tidy.  Perhaps that why my family doesn't need a shoe rag and a additional wardrobes.

Occasionally when there are guests coming to my place, I welcome them with utmost Bhutanese hospitality. I offer them a decent food that will satisfy their hunger. I also offer them local alcohol to mark our tradition and  in return if they offer doma, I wouldn't deny even though it messes my dust bin and sometimes my entire room with the spit. I may not have AC rooms with sophisticated restrooms but I offer them enough blankets and mattress keep them warm. 

During cold wintry days, I make sure that bukhari burns enough wood to keep us warm and that the limited wood stock lasts for the entire cold season. I am doing it more in the interest of my cost cutting rather than my concern over natural environment but I presume it has a double impact. In similar manner I only use enough and perhaps limited detergents to wash messy garments of my 3 growing kids to (again) reduce my cost, not out of my love and compassion for aquatic lives but  again .

Back in my office, I do what I am best at,-impose tax, detain goods, impose fines, confiscate goods and make people unhappy (most of the time) and do some blogging in between. Its a place where I meet old friends and make new foes. Its also a place  where I get called for favor or facilitation. Finally its a place from where I go back home, -happy, sad, frustrated, pissed off, satisfied, rewarded, disgraced, elated and contended.

Until it is next morning, GNH for me is all about about preparing dinner for my family, bathing my kids and doing loads of laundry and offering butter lamp in my Choesham.  Its about planning what to cook for my daughter's  pack lunch the next morning. Later, Its also about taking my kids to sleep with my stories -stories that would rather frighten them and keep them awake till midnight. When my TV addicted granny resigns a day to her bed, I too go to my bed with a voluminous book titled 'Gross National Happiness and Development' published by Center for Bhutan Studies, because even in my half sleep, I feel its worthy of learning what gross national happiness is as a Bhutanese man, So that in my dream, I can compare Gross National Happiness to Gross Family Happiness I know of.

Suja means traditional Bhutanese/Tibetan tea prepared out of butter and local tealeaves. It tastes more like soup
Ezay means minced chilli mixed with onion and tomato. sometimes ingredients like ginger and peeper are also added to increase the flavor
Doma is a bittlenut which Bhutanese people eat up along with lime and some kind of leaf (I dont know what that leaf is called in English). the spit looks very red and at times disgusting.
Bukhari is a metal oven in which wood is burnt to keep the room heated and warm
Choesham means a place of worship for Buddhist.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reflection of my days in Kanglung: Part two

During my Graduation day in 2005
If my first year  was a year of freedom misunderstood period, then my second year was surely a transition period for me. Transition period because I finally got introduced to a thing called "computer". Transition period because I started learning about what romance in Kanglung actually meant. Transition period because I realized that I had a mounting expectations form my parents and other well wishers.

Talking about my introduction to the computer and IT world there, I would say that computer thing came as a complete  revelation for me.  It was then I regretted a lot for not caring to learn what this computer was all about. I believe we had computers in our High school. (Drukgyel High School In Paro) But I never cared since it was not included in our syllabus.

There were only 6 computers in the library with an Internet facilities then. As a fresher and and a first yearer (one year ago) I remember those days when I rushed and ran to book one. I even remember sacrificing my breakfast at times to get one computer booked so as to write a short mail to my friends in India. Even though the Internet was dead slow, I remember being patient like a spider. Due to unestablished  Internet connection, the net work in the library often remained offline. But that didn't deter me from visiting the library.  I would visit library for many reasons and visiting for sake of using computer used to be my priority.  Even though the computer to me was confined only to Microsoft office and Internet, every single minute I spent with it brought me immense joy and satisfaction. It was fun and enthralling. It kept me engrossed and I often missed my other classes on this account.

Once we were in the library, our librarian meant only two thing, -silence and discipline. Those two things were often over looked and neglected by me and  most of my friends alike, because the excitement and amusement in using  the computers were too much. Some of my friends would even bounce like a pop corn only to be brought down my Mr. Nakchung's  (the librarian), "come down" that would reverberate the room.

As a matter of coincidence, I also met a junior man who had his own laptop and  digital camera. I don't exactly remember how I got introduced to him but we knew each other quit well and got along well too. He would often take my picture in his camera and show me in his laptop, but he would never let me put my fingers on his keyboard. I would stay late in his room listening to his digital stories and return to my room  late with a feeling of enviousness and remorse. I later came to know  that he is Digital Dorji and so was he. I saw him being called with that name all through his college days.

Talking about romance in Kanglung, (form my perspective) It was all about boys and girls, madly in pursuit of each other. It was about proposing to each other with no middleman. In most cases in a drunken state. when the pair finally consents to each other, it was all about moving out for countless evening walks and countless dinners in the corners of Hotel Palas. For a boy, it was also about inviting his girl to the room for a cup of tea/coffee/water and going back to her room for lunch/dinner. There were also rumors that romance was never complete without lovemaking in bush, in small TV rooms or in the toilets.

As for me, romance was all about liking my good friend -head over heels. I liked her. The obvious reason could be that simple thing called love. May be I fell in love with her. You see, how tender and easy it is for us to fall in love!  We initially met each other in the study room. -Totally stranger to each other. Although it was not in my habit to use study hall for studying purposes, I started visiting it often.

It was there, we discussed things other than the contents of our text books. We talked about our family and past school life. It took us us all through the night. When we got late, I would boldly reach her to her room and return alone frightened, scared and lonely.

I didn't like movies, but with her, I found it was OK to refresh myself occasionally. It was even OK, if i didn't understand anything at all. In our lighter moments, we would sit together and play chess. I still remember how enraged she became when she could not win the game.

I remember inviting her to my room. Probably many time but for coffee and tea. But she never accepted. Not even once. On the other side, I frequently visited her room either for a cup of tea or for a lunch. Her potato curry with cheddar tasted yummy. It still makes my mouth water. It really do.

One thing we never shared to each other was our feeling of intimacy. A feeling which is way deeper and profound.  We were good friends (or did I think we were more than that) but there were things which sadly remained within ourselves (or my own self). Even in my  most drunken state, I fell short of guts to "propose her". Perhaps it was infatuation at its best. My Kanglung romance was anything but a dream I continued dreaming, I call it a beautiful dream.

With this, I was finally half way through with my second year; -the climax. The Business Mathematics, Cost Accounting, Cost Control Analysis, Taxation policy, Company Law, Micro Economics Theory II and Business Data Processing were my main academic subjects that year. The primary subject; -the academic part, which otherwise required primary concern, became a matter of last minute fancy and sadly because of this, not everyone in my class made  to second year.

Talking about the expectations and anticipations of my family, It was simple and plain. They were of the opinion that job for me was thing of 'guarantee'. Mid way through my second year, I even had a call from my father in which he asked whether, I could become Teacher the next year after. For him it was like, I am  completing class 14. I was also told that my toddling nephew wanted to take credit ride on bus, because he thought that the payment could be made later when his uncle gets tolop; 

Apart from these events, life in Kanglung was normal, men played football all week long in the ground which apparently looked like murky paddy field. Occasionally few ladies came to witness either the game or a fight resulting form the game.   We were served  bread  and butter/jam on every Wednesdays and Fridays and zaw and suja every evening. Very often the college baker and mess In-charge (Lop drimpon) would go home enraged by the voraciousness of our friends.

That year, our group broke apart in terms of the hostels we stayed. Few continued to live in DH 4, while me and two others decided to shift to newly created DH5. We lived more independent lives. This at times worried me. Sometimes I would remain  alone in the room listening to 'kabi khushi kabi gham' song all through the night played on my friends panasonic radio. It was solitude, but no bliss. It was during that time, I started living like a nomad; -away from my group, only to be joined by another two nomad-like man. They were a year junior to me and I was like  'big brother' for 2 of them. I called them my  little brothers.

I also met many people with whom I started building strong emotional attachment. One person I still remember is a professor of zoology and botany. He was more of a friend to me than a college professor. (I would love to share this in my next segment)

Finally the exams were over and friends have all left the place. Buzzing and busy college merely looked like an abandoned place with haunted and inhabited houses everywhere. I thought I would be the last person to leave the campus but luckily, there was one person who fell behind like me. ( Dawa Tshering, blogger who currently blogs on We stayed a night together in Kanglung and Trashigang before I finally reached Shingkhar.  I remember enjoying the the best eggplant curry  and basmati rice being cooked by  Dawa. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reflection of my days in Kanglung: Part One

goole images
It was sometime in July 2001 that I journeyed to Sherubtse College, -the so called premier institute of learning and the laurel of the East to continue my studies. After class 12 results were declared by the Bhutan Board of Examinations,  I applied for B. Com Honors course and when the selection results were declared, I saw my name somewhere in the middle of the list. There were 90 of us who qualified for the prestigious course. Having missed so many classes and lessons in the class when i fell sick, it was something that i have least expected.

Our group finally reached Kanglung, where Sherubtse College, -the then only college in the country is located. I remember seeing a banner welcoming us to the college. some of our old school mates came to receive us and they even offered  us the welcome tea  ( to Me, Dorji Dukpa, who is the present accounts officer in High Court, Sherab Wangchuk, who is the current research officer in Ministry of Agriculture and Galey Tenzin, who is the current marketing officer in the Ministry of Agriculture). Initially we are given room in the Degree Hostel One (DH1). We were told that we  will be accommodated in DH1, only if we are a versatile football player. since four of us were like jack of all and master of none  kind of footballer, we were given a room right next to the stinking toilet. The very next day four of us silently moved our beddings to newly created Degree Hostel Four (DH4). Although we had a noisy neighbors, we found life more pleasing in our new room. 

My First year experience
We were called the freshers and so called the freshers were introduced to various college traditions. Some of the traditions were weird and even awful. It began with the so called introductory nite. we the freshers, both male and female were made  to walk to the stage and introduce ourselves with our  names and the schools we have earlier attended.  i have seen Seniors sitting in the front and passing varied opinions. They either told the fresher to have a hair cut or learn to wear gho properly. For a pretty and good looking lady fresher, a male seniors were seen slyly saying "you are good looking, and I welcome you" 

in a weeks time we the freshers were invited for a welcome show by the oldies. the show comprised of few dzongkha dance and few English songs sang by seniors. we were also invited for a welcome dance party.  The dance party in particular was so alien for me and my friends. I wondered that such a thing called  party existed where people called it a party but ate nothing.

With that the ball was in our court.  We the freshers were asked to stage a return show. We were 240 combined so staging a return show wasn't a problem for us. I participated in a Dzongkha welcome dance. 

Then came the blind date. -The most outrageous yet hilarious tradition of the college. Poor fresher boys were seen moving around with the elderly ladies. They were also seen carrying big umbrellas to keep their date dry and clean just in case it rained.  In the evening, as tradition demands, freshers both male and female were seen treating their dates in the restaurants and hotels.  I considered myself lucky, because there was no date fixed for me and it saved me from spending for a stranger. -I thanked my seniors silently.

Those were the days, during which i became reckless in spending time. No morning studies, no evening studies and no lights off signal in the night meant that we can rise and lay down at our own whims. it was a freedom misunderstood period.  

Our class room session used to be very interesting because there were so many amusing characters in our class. To supplement this, our Dzongkha language professor would always have something interesting to share stating from his biography to biography of lam Drukpa Kinley. there were also other professors who would come to our class with full of zeal and humor. The chief ones I remember are the smooth flow of micro economics class, drowsy and sleepy business law class and busy and fast moving statistics and financial accounting classes.

Once we are outside class, we were expected to behave like a juniors. During our evening walks, I would only take a walk on the edge of the road. Many a time i have returned to my room with messy shoes with a crushed dog shit. Every time i went out alone, the phobia of being ragged by group of seniors lingered in my mind. There were times I got very mad (internally) and irritated about the system of ragging. Even though I never got ragged myself, the news of a group of seniors having ragged and slapped on one of my closest friend got to my nerves.

with each passing day, different events kept on unfolding. the events like the inter hostel competitions like football, volleyball, basketball,  drama, dance, singing, quiz, and many more took place. our hostel always came last in most of the events. But surprisingly we came up as winner in inter volleyball competition in which I also took part. 

so the life seemed very busy and fast moving. Even the back breaking bush cutting sessions on weekends didn't seem to bother us. 

I remember joining my friends for a walk every evening towards view point. sometime we would often extend that walk till kissing corner which is in close proximity to suicide corner. we would finally retreat to our room after praying in zangtho pelri lhakhang.  Other times we would remain in confines of our room simply gossiping, singing or doing our assignments.

Then there was one last thing without which  life in Kanglung was considered incomplete,-the arra session. Once the exams were over, we would all go out together for a relaxation. Rongthong side used to be our favorite destination. We would all drink and come back drunk. there are instances, where  beginners puked all over and  fell sick for days.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Loochoe Without Meat (2011)

Loochoe in other word is the annual  day  of offering.  People offer their new harvest to the local guardian deities. -the deities and god whom they believe have protected their crops from the wild vermin and other natural calamities. It is also a day to pay gratitude and tribute to those deities for having kept them healthy, wealthy  and productive for a year.  It officially ends the harvest season and  for many, its also time to reflect upon past success/mistakes and anticipate future progress. 

It is at this time, I take a week off form my office and move to my wife's place along with my family. I also invite my mom and dad to join us. I call it a vacation.  

My mother-in-law would have prepared everything back home including massive brewing of ara and my father-in-law would have shopped everything starting from salt to sugar in Thimphu.

This year, I had one responsibility less. -responsibility of bargaining and buying beef and pork. In the past years, enormous chunk of meat used to be served during our loochoe and I personally felt  that the idea was not right. It involved slaughtering of many animals before hand. At least 1 cow, 1 pig,  4-5 chickens, 7-8 fishes were sacrificed every year just to satisfy our gluttony. For me it was not at all a good offering by any means. I have even debated this topic with my wife with deep sense of regret. Apart from saying it as a "tradition of the valley", she had nothing more to say.

Finally this year, I have heard of people in different communities forming committees among themselves to do away with this weird tradition. In many places, people have decided not to serve any  meat products on sacred  occasions (like loochoe in particular). Thanks to the His Holiness the Je-Khenpo and central monastic body, who happened to the fountain source of this noble initiative.

Even though there were instances of monks refuting the idea, People everywhere seem to embrace the idea. Loochoe without meat means loochoe without sacrificing innocent animals and worthy of being called a Buddhist way of offering. 

No meat was served during our loochoe and I am happy because I found villagers happy being served mushroom curry  and emadatse along with aludam and dal.

I will have no regret going home next year for another loochoe and another vacation

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fire Disaster

My Father is more than Hero 
I have heard of fire out breaks. At first it was disturbing me. It took away my mental peace and marred my sound sleep for many days. It made me feel bad and sad because it not only took away  homes and belongings of our fellow country men but it also claimed lives of our beloved people at regular interval of time.

As the  year progressed, such news kept on coming and going. I thought that, the media in Bhutan are into competition in covering those fiery and quaky incidents. There were times that I took those news nothing more than a cock crowing at regular interval of time in a day.

But in the vie hours of 25th Jan 2011, I woke up to a thundering cock; - the incessant ring from my phone. It was my sister at the other end. She broke the news that broke my heart apart. without any hesitation she told me that there was a fire disaster back home and that every thing in the shed including the 14 precious calves  were burnt to death.

14 yak calves dead in the fire ? That was too much for me to believe. 

The moment later, I found my self speeding to Thimphu to console my mom and dad who at the time were actually on a break with my sister. 

No sooner did I enter the room, then I saw my inconsolable mom and dad grieving at  the lost. I saw their eyes swollen and redden by gushing tears. They even couldn't stand on their own feet. Teary eyes everywhere (in the room) made the atmosphere all the more  dismal and tragic. 

I took a brotherly stand and decided to reach  my mom and dad home so that they can at least see those surviving ones. From there,  It was a the longest and heaviest journey back home. My father never said a word and my mother cried all the way. We finally reached home at1030 pm to be only  greeted by a group of equally grieving siblings. My father could barely walk and had to assist him. That was the first time I saw tears in my father's eyes. 

The next day, I did my own  inspection and found out that there were skeletons of calves and burnt woods scattered everywhere. 4 surviving calves were very well treated by the veterinary doctors of Bumthang. The damages and losses were all recorded and reports were duly submitted to His Majesty's Secretariat's office in Bumthang. Not only that. I also saw the people in village prompt enough in showing their solidarity. They all turned up and consoled my parents. For ordinary people, it was a loss of only animals and not human, but for my parents it was far more than that. For them, it was like loosing 14 loved kids in fire at a time. 

Raising yaks and herding them was my family's ancestral tradition and my aging father has stood firm and strong against any idea of giving up that tradition. We herded yaks only for milk, butter and cheese and not for yaksha. His love for yak knew no bound and he proudly compared each individual yak to his ten children. Sometimes, when he doesn't feel good about his kids, he would say that his yaks are more sensible than his kids. such is the love and care my father  have towards his herd of yak. A small herd was our family' s identity and  pride. Today it can be fittingly called as the "backbone of my family's economy" for many reasons.

As a caring child, I have always envisioned a happy and peace full days for my parents. Even though they resented the idea, I remember luring my parents to sell off all the yaks, not out of my dislike for my family's tradition but herding yaks in the mountains took heavy tool on my parents health. I also remember my parents saying that their yaks are all like their kids, - like us. To them they were like priceless jewels. 

Today I pray for the eternal peace for my 14 siblings who lost their lives in the hellish fire. 

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