Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest post: By Dr Karma Phuntsho, In response to Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche

14 May 2010:The recent article in Kuensel by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse contains a refreshing perspective and no doubt comes from one of the most influential and intelligent minds in our country. We must be thankful to Rinpoche for indeed only a few of our religious leaders embodying traditional knowledge and values are able to discuss social issues in a popular idiom. However, does the article provide us truly constructive suggestions? Can we imbibe inspiration from it beyond what is merely granted by religious reverence? I agree with many things Rinpoche has to say and they need no reiteration. However, despite providing a compelling piece to read, the article seems to paint a dismal picture of Bhutan. Is there really such a cultural stagnation? Some of the ideas the article implicitly advances may even prove to be harmful for Bhutan in the long run.

The issue of greed and laidback attitude is a good one to begin with. While I fully support Rinpoche’s campaign against greed, I beg to differ in talking about greed and ambition in ambiguous terms. There is a fine line between the two, as we all know in theory. Ambition should not be mistaken for greed, just as love should not be mistaken for attachment. There is, as it were, already too much laidback culture in the Bhutanese society. It is mainly due to such laidback attitude, often mistaken for contentment, that our public services are poor and institutions such as the civil service thrives on the basis of a power structure rather than efficiency. It is primarily responsible for the mediocre performance in the arts and crafts industry, of which Rinpoche has many examples to quote. It stifles our economy. Bhutanese must work hard and even harder if we are to excel and prosper.

At the core of our progress is education – the right kind of education. I personally do not buy the Laotian saying that too much education makes one unhappy, which Rinpoche cites to begin his piece. Ignorance may be bliss temporarily but not in the long run. In the true spirit of Buddhist pursuit of omniscience and ultimate happiness, Bhutanese should set no limit to their educational pursuit and personal development. For a small country with limited resources, our best future is perhaps in building a knowledge based industry.

The problem of dignity of labour, which Rinpoche raises, is certainly a pressing one. This is partly to be blamed for the problem of unemployment we face. Yet, it is not just a structural problem arising from the hierarchy in the civil service. It is deeply ingrained in the Bhutanese mentality. There is no doubt that some high offices of the state make excessive use of the symbols of hierarchy. But we must also remember that most of these ideas and insignias of hierarchy originate in religious institutions and are still reinforced by them. The hierarchical settings in the religious institutions themselves are appalling and ordinary people, especially women, cannot even question them. Positions are marked by birth and insignias and rarely by inner merits, which Buddhism is supposed to be all about.

Given this situation, perhaps the first step and best way to challenge and start deconstructing the hierarchical mentality is for the religious figures to set examples. Rinpoche, we know, is at the forefront of reforming some of the religious practices and we hope his works will lead to some systemic changes.

This leads to the discussion of creativity in cultural transformation. While we all seem to agree that some cultural practices will have to go, it is difficult to agree on what exactly should go or stay. Should the gho and kira go because many find them inconvenient? Should the zhugdrel ceremony go because it is purely a ritual? If so, what would be left behind to make us truly Bhutanese? It is no easy decision to make but so far Bhutan has done very well in balancing modernity with tradition.

There is a dire need for the subtle discrimination, as Rinpoche points out, in making our choices. Unfortunately, the Bhutanese populace in general  do not have the exposure to appreciate the finesse of Zen style or the wealth to incorporate sanitary facilities in rammed mud houses like Aman does (to use his examples). While this remains, the state is obliged to make certain choices sometimes obstructing the choices of individuals. To give in to the sway of passing popular taste is being short sighted. So, the argument to change with time is not always pertinent or persuasive. History is not always about dancing to the tune of time. Bhutan must design its own future and hold its ground firmly and not resign to the pressure of time or external forces. Today, many people in the world are looking up to Bhutan for inspiration to find a new order of life without losing the old. It will be a shame for us to let the old erode so easily.

The suggestion for replacing Dzongkha by English as lingua franca may come as a timely argument for many. It would certainly strike a chord with some elites and youth who increasingly prefer to use English as their medium of communication. But what does such a suggestion portend for Bhutan’s future? Bhutanese languages are declining fast as they are. Some are already on the brink of extinction. The only sensible call would be for any support to preserve them as long as we can. I am not myself a fan or native speaker of Dzongkha but having English in place of Dzongkha is not going to leave us in any better situation. As a new literary language, Dzongkha has made remarkable progress despite the reluctance on the part of most people to invest even a tenth of the time they devote to English.

The Indian case, which Rinpoche uses, is a good one to illustrate the linguistic disaster we will go through, if English is made the common language. Ever since English became a common language in India, literary activity in local languages such as Tamil, Kannada, Telephu, Maratha and even Hindi and Urdu dropped drastically and the related cultures are ebbing away. Many people have native tongues which they cannot even speak well and most youth have no first language, a scenario we see in Thimphu too. NDTV is a good example of linguistic adulteration. In comparison, our languages are spoken by a very small number of people. Like it or not, English will be the weed to kill our linguistic flora.

The death of a language is the demise of a culture and we will be one culture poorer with the death of each language. While the adoption of all major Bhutanese languages as Constitutional languages is a fair and sensible suggestion, should English really become the unifying language as proposed? Instead of India, we may do better following the example of European countries such as Germany, where people proudly use their own tongue and also speak English fluently. It is a sign of weakness to resign to an easy and popular choice. Similarly, time and resources are not an issue unless we make them one. If it all, it is pressing that we reenergize our heritage and not leave it to its slow death. All conditions are favourable for Bhutan today to boost our economy, environment, culture and language and work towards GNH. Eventually, it will be our own heritage which will remain the defining strength and mark of our sovereignty as the fourth King noted. Short of our ethno-linguistic distinction, what will make us true Bhutanese?

Lastly, are these topics really ’sacred cows’? As far as I know, they are being debated constantly and Bhutan is not as closed as it may seem.

Guest post. By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche

Many Questions, Few answers.
PERSPECTIVES 9 May, 2010 - In Laos there is a saying that too much education makes you unhappy. This proverb is contrary to everything you hear these days — namely that education is the key to everything.

But this kind of folk proverb has a lot of wisdom, in part because we often only identify issues as problems when we have knowledge and information about them. So we don’t really know whether our peace and happiness are due simply to ignorance or to our ability to make ourselves truly happy even when we have knowledge.

But there is more wisdom in that Laotian proverb, because education sometimes seems to make us so greedy and stressed. Many of my friends, particularly in Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong, are pushed relentlessly from a very young age to study so hard, get A’s, go to university, be competitive, get bank jobs, work around the clock, and live totally scheduled lives. They don’t have a life; they are stressed; and they aren’t very happy.

By contrast, Laotians still manage to smile and be friendly despite having been bombed more than any other country for a mistake they didn’t even make. From my own experience there, I think it may have something to do with Laotians being very laid back and seemingly not very ambitious or greedy.

Educating for GNH
S o what does Educating for Gross National Happiness mean? For Buddhists, I don’t think GNH is anything new, and in fact was taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago when he said that where there is greed, there is no happiness.

Thus, for a trained Buddhist ear, people’s lament about the recession last year was simply their complaint that they could no longer satisfy their greed. And globalization really means multiplying our individual greed globally.

Considering some statistics that show the average American presently consumes 30 times the resources of one Indian, it is frightening to think what will happen when the Indians and Chinese become as rich as they want, or even to half the level of Americans – and (perhaps unfortunately) they are becoming rich. For a start, there won’t be many trees left and we are already nervous about the climate change impacts of growing energy use in India and China.

So if GNH means anything, and if it has to do with protecting the natural world, then it must also be about not letting greed be the driver. But how do we teach that, and how do we implement that in practice in Bhutan? These are questions not just for the Royal Government of Bhutan, but for all Bhutanese.

Sovereignty and independence require that we don’t owe too much to others, which in turn requires economic development so that we can achieve greater self-reliance. But can we do that without encouraging greed?

Educating creatively
S o genuinely educating for GNH in Bhutan must somehow meet the challenge of the modern world, including preserving and strengthening precious sovereignty and developing economically and materially, while at the same time preserving our most vital, core traditional values and not giving in to greed. I believe that fine balance is the essence of the Fourth King’s great pronouncement that GNH is more important than GNP.
That fine balance means not simply preserving – just for their own sake – traditions that have become counter-productive but allowing them to evolve creatively.

So educating genuinely for GNH will require greater clarity and understanding and then some tough decisions made with real courage and honesty to redefine our priorities and values, and to change deeply ingrained habits that no longer work.

To find the right balance between tradition and innovation, we have to be truly creative. Culture cannot be preserved genuinely and joyfully through imposition or obligation. Rather we have to find ways to practice elements of our ancient culture in ways that are relevant, vibrant, alive, dynamic, inspiring, modern, and even ‘fashionable’. A good example is the current popularity of “Zen simplicity” in clothing fashions and home decorations, so that it is a compliment to call someone’s taste “so Zen!”

Meeting these challenges is urgent. Major social problems are beginning to emerge – like drug abuse, youth unemployment, and alienation. These are growing at least as fast if not much faster than our commitment to GNH, and will not be solved simply by adhering rigidly or blindly to old habits and traditions. Because the stakes are high, and because GNH – as our professed guide for development and change – requires honest discourse, I will focus on some of our most sacred cows in the examples that follow.

1. Rethinking jobs
S ome of the causes of drug abuse, youth problems and alienation are certainly in the growing wealth, consumption, and affluence that young people now see and take as their own goals, and in trends that come with urbanization.

But, given our traditional hierarchical society, some likely stem from things like the status we still accord civil service positions compared with other jobs. I remember when I was young how much pride our village families took when a family member got even a low-level civil service job in the capital. In a traditional society like Bhutan that values status highly, even small symbols like having the white lagye (sleeve), were such a big deal.

Sadly, these outmoded values are still nurtured by the many perks and privileges given to higher-level civil servants with desk jobs. They are perceived to be the ones with titles, the biggest houses and cars, salary raises, overseas study and travel opportunities, and special robes – still one of our country’s biggest obsessions now joined by special number plates for cars. And of course, they have the greatest job security and perhaps the illusion of power.

Not surprisingly I hear of young people who won’t tell their parents they work as restaurant waiters, and simply say they work “in Thimphu,” so that rural relatives will believe they have some important job.

At a time when the government can’t provide enough civil service positions for our young, and promotes a policy to grow the private sector and encourage young Bhutanese to stand on their own feet, we must have the courage to change this old value system that no longer serves our country’s needs. That’s difficult for strong traditional cultures like India and Bhutan, but we must do it – in our educational system, in the media, through awards and recognition, and in how we assign privilege, security and opportunity.

It’s not as if Bhutanese are not adaptable. I’ve seen even high-ranking Bhutanese in Jackson Heights, New York, flip hamburgers, make sushi, and do all kinds of so-called menial jobs, and they are proud to be able to send money to their relatives back home.

Dignity of all labour seems to have a little more meaning there than in Bhutan. We need to respect and value all kinds of work in Bhutan as well, not just desk jobs in the civil service.

One example of how we could tackle these issues is to reduce our obsession with traditional symbols that no longer serve us, including robes and scarves. As we Bhutanese well know, symbols matter. We might say that sweeping the office floor is an important and dignified job. But if the one working in the office wears a special robe laden with meaning and the sweeper doesn’t, the visible differences can undermine all talk of job dignity. Perhaps we could learn from some of the world’s most powerful leaders, like the British Prime Minister, whose dress is exactly like any other professional Englishman going to work.

So if we are not yet quite ready to equalize some of the actual perks and privileges that are now the almost exclusive domain of civil servants, we could begin with symbols. One way or the other, we have to start respecting all kinds of productive labour if we are to move ahead as a society.

This is even more important in our new and supposedly egalitarian democracy. By contrast, our traditional dress codes are a residue of a very hierarchical system that was a brilliantly appropriate method at the time the Zhabdrung, in his wisdom, needed to overcome tribal divisions and unify the country. Equality was not a core societal value at that time. But now, when our democracy values equality, these hierarchical dress codes are a form of divisiveness, which is actually contrary to the Zhabdrung’s unifying vision for Bhutan.

One person driving the latest Land Cruiser while another has to settle for a Maruti and most cannot afford cars at all seems contrary to the “equitable” economic development that is one of the key pillars of GNH. In any case, civil servants generally have enough power through their positions that they do not also need to flaunt decorations and visible symbols of elitism.

In all my remarks about the civil service, needless to say, I am not talking about front-line workers like teachers, nurses, and police, who do some of the hardest and most challenging work, often for very modest pay. Elsewhere in the world, as well as here, these front-line workers need more, rather than less, support and care.

2. Rethinking culture
O f course, one of the core pillars of GNH is culture, which is obviously very important for the identity and sovereignty of a nation. But keeping a rich tradition and culture vibrant and alive does not mean pushing people to do exactly what their ancestors did 50 or 100 years ago. If we try to do that, we will not only ruin the creativity and critical intellect of the young by teaching them to mimic rather than create, but we won’t even keep our culture alive or survive as a nation in the modern world.

Resisting change might serve a supposed purpose of GNH by encouraging people to be happy with what they have. But unwisely insisting on the mimicking of old habits also stifles avant-garde activity and innovation, fails to value excellence, and ends up settling for mediocrity. And in the end, that approach undermines rather than enhances GNH by making our culture static rather than dynamic.

For example, the handicraft skills, about which we often brag, have become stagnant, lack innovation, and in fact are fast eroding in Bhutan. It’s far more expensive to make a traditional clay Buddha statue in Bhutan, even of mediocre quality, than to buy a bronze one of much better quality in Kathmandu.

We are proud of our basket weaving, but the Indonesians put us to shame in quality and innovation, let alone price. Our silver-smithing, wood-carving, and thangka painting are generally mediocre at best, lacking in innovation, effort, and attention to detail, and with poor workmanship and many imperfections.

And aside from the extremely expensive kiras and textiles that only the richest Bhutanese can afford to wear, we have to admit that Lao, Cambodian, and Thai weaving, textiles and arts are often far superior in quality to our own. In fact, if the truth be told, there is very little hand-made coming out of Bhutan that is exceptionally good in quality.
We just have to hope that tourists will still buy Bhutanese crafts just because they are Bhutanese, and that Bhutanese will buy them out of patriotism! But sooner or later people will find out that our handicrafts are mostly both mediocre and expensive, and that really doesn’t work in this competitive age.

Of course, there are talented individual craftsmen working away quietly with excellent motivation, who should really be helped and supported to create first-rate products of which we can be truly proud. But sadly, our crafts people rarely get to compare their own work or learn from other cultures, because civil servants (not craftsmen) are the ones who take most of the funded study tours to see industries in other countries.

Actually, many so-called traditions are little more than habits that we have no choice but to change for our own sakes, such as our health. After all, our lifestyles have changed drastically. For example, even though we still eat the same amount of rice, cheese, and fat as a hundred years ago, many of us now drive and sit behind computers rather than walk and work manually. For health reasons alone, we need to change our diets.

Of course, some traditional forms can serve us well in the modern world, like the traditional rammed earth buildings that are not only economically sound and aesthetically pleasing but also ecologically responsible. But even here, it is embarrassing that it took a billion dollar modern corporate hotelier like Aman to show us Bhutanese that rammed earth design can be extremely elegant rather than low-class and backward. We should be taking the lead in such innovations.

And while we are on architecture, there is nothing traditional about the ugly corrugated tin roofs that now deprive Thimphu of architectural elegance. Of course, traditional wooden shingles are both expensive and ecologically unsound given our Constitution’s commitment to 60% forest cover. But a creative and innovative solution would be to design the new roofs so that they at least look a little more like the elegant traditional wooden roofs that are more aesthetically pleasing. For example, even though slate is mined in Bhutan, the technology has not been developed.

Such innovations would be much better investments, for example, than the endless paintings and carvings that are overly elaborate, expensive, difficult to maintain, and not particularly creative since they look like they are mostly made in the same mould. My point here is simply that – as we talk about preserving our culture and traditions – we need to be much more discriminating and precise in our choices. In particular:
• What are the true core values and principles in our ancient traditions that are timeless and genuinely contribute to our wellbeing?
• What forms, traditions, and practices do we cling to rigidly that no longer serve us, and that can be easily discarded, adapted, or changed in ways that are far more appropriate to our current needs? And which ones are truly valuable, aesthetically pleasing, and relevant to the modern world?

• And when we adapt, we need to choose our models carefully and with discrimination. For example, I’ve noticed a growing tendency for affluent Bhutanese to send their children to study in Bangkok rather than in India. Yet Thailand, while it has a reputation in other areas, is not particularly well known for its educational excellence. In fact, some of what we learn from Thailand may teach us what not to do here in Bhutan.

By contrast, India, which also provides 70% of our foreign aid, produces some of the world’s most highly educated people and has some of the best innovative educational models available. As well, Bhutan and India share centuries of thought, philosophy, and understanding, particularly since Bhutan’s two major religious traditions originate in India.

3. Rethinking language
I want to say a few words now about the most sacred cow of all – language. Quite frankly, there is a problem in every discussion of Dzongkha being regarded as so highly “sensitive”. Surely the issue of the national language is no clandestine project and should be squarely in the public domain.

Despite all the government encouragement and enforcement, most Bhutanese still don’t speak Dzongkha, and most of those who do, speak it poorly with even poorer reading and writing skills. I hear it is many students’ least favourite subject and that there are not enough fluent Dzongkha speaking teachers to teach it well. And even if you are a Dzongkha master, there is hardly any literature to read except newspapers that are easier to understand in English.

I have even heard complaints that use of Dzongkha in Parliament disadvantages and disempowers MPs from other areas, and that native Dzongkha-speaking MPs sometimes rely on their eloquence rather than on the content of their arguments. And the many Bhutanese who still don’t understand Dzongkha, despite all the government’s efforts, cannot even follow what is going on in the very forum that supposedly represents them.
Dzongkha doesn’t even preserve our precious wisdom heritage, culture, and buddhadharma, which has been carried through Choekey, not Dzongkha. In fact Dzongkha doesn’t do much to preserve our history, prayers, poetry, dance, songs, philosophy, and more, since there are so few Dzongkha books, and since our ancient texts like the Kangyur and Tengyur aren’t in Dzongkha. The few Dzongkha books in existence are mostly very recent, and generally do not represent our ancient heritage.

Even our monks often don’t understand what they are chanting, since all the prayers recited in Bhutan are in Choekey, not in Dzongkha, and Chokey is not native to anyone in Bhutan. So the Buddhist liturgies are simply parroted meaninglessly rather than understood.

In fact Bhutanese will soon have to learn English to study and practice the dharma, since there is already more dharma translated into English than into Dzongkha. I know these are extremely touchy subjects. But in the process of building a nation, tough questions have to be asked, and indeed, our new democracy requires us to have the courage to debate these issues openly and without fear.

The biggest concern about promoting Dzongkha actually has to do with time management, since time is an increasingly rare resource in the modern world. If you think of all our 178,000 Bhutanese students, then millions of hours are spent each year studying Dzongkha. You cannot undertake any tertiary studies in science, mathematics, philosophy, psychology or geography in Dzongkha, which doesn’t even have the vocabulary really to discuss such disciplines properly. And by the time any university text is translated into Dzongkha, it will likely be outdated, or the Dzongkha will need to be updated.

Building a new national language is extremely difficult, and we have to ask whether it is worth the huge effort required, and whether it’s the best use of our very limited time and resources. I read that time and human resources are the most precious resources we have in our modern economy. I would ask – if only to provoke debate – that, if that is so, then aren’t we wasting a whole generation’s precious time in forcing them to spend hours each week and year learning a language they will hardly use – time that could be spent in much more productive ways to build our nation?

I fully appreciate our leaders’ wish to have a unifying language as a symbol of our sovereignty. But what is the experience of other nations in our region in that regard? India is one of the most culturally rich countries in the world, with hundreds of dialects and many major languages, each with its own ancient literature. Attempts to promote Hindi as the national language have not been successful, except in the popularity it enjoys in Bollywood, and English still serves as a unifying language. At the same time India celebrates its diversity by recognizing 18 official languages in its Constitution, and giving citizens the right to communicate in the language of their own state and choice. Similarly diversity could be a source of pride in Bhutan.

And if we do want to render our spoken languages into written form, then we might learn from the Malays and Indonesians, who have adopted the Roman alphabet for their own languages. Do we Bhutanese really want to expend so much precious time and resources learning a written Dzongkha with its own distinct script?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with teaching Dzongkha or Tshangla as language studies, and even encouraging some translation to preserve certain cultural traditions. It’s the balance between Dzongkha’s contribution to our national identity and the huge expenditure of time and resources on cultivating Dzongkha as the first national language that I am questioning.

And I am asking whether – given our very limited time and resources – strong Dzongkha emphasis may actually undermine and diminish, rather than enhance, our sovereignty and potential contribution to the world. Could we achieve those goals more effectively, as India has done, by relying on English as our unifying language without compromising (and indeed celebrating) our rich linguistic and cultural diversity?

Seeking Answers
T o be loyal is not necessarily to be a sycophant. Often, saying what you think can at least encourage some productive contemplation.

But I also know that we don’t have much time to find solutions to questions like those above and that we need to act while parts of our ancient culture remain resilient. For example, I am so moved that – in an era when the entertainment industry is continuously seeking new and more dazzling ways to satisfy the seemingly insatiable appetites of their television and other audiences – Bhutanese continue to attend tshechus where each year’s offerings are basically the same as the last. But will that commitment last?

I don’t know whether we can preserve our precious heritage in this fast-changing and greedy materialist world. But I do know that if we are to have any chance at all, we must at least have the courage to raise tough questions, to abandon outworn practices, symbols, and traditions that no longer serve us, to identify what is most genuine, wise, and lasting in our heritage, and to adapt creatively and with integrity and innovation to this modern world. Attaining that fine balance is the real challenge of a GNH-based education system.

It is too idealistic to think that greed will disappear altogether. But in some pockets of the world, like Bhutan, we might at least introduce a more monitored and sober greed. After all, one great thing about the human mind is that it can be influenced and that greed can therefore at least be ameliorated.
I am sure there will be a lot of interpretation of what I am saying here, and I expect that. Some may accept it blindly just because a Rinpoche said it, others might edit it in their minds or take it out of context, while still others might get completely upset. But it’s not really my concern whether people’s reactions are positive or negative. The questions I’ve raised are simply ones I’d like to see discussed by all Bhutanese and to which I, for one, am seeking answers.

In fact, no blame is intended in anything I’ve said. As I mentioned at the start, responsibility does not rest with the Royal Government of Bhutan alone. In a democracy, all Bhutanese are responsible for our country’s development, for debating the tough issues, and for making choices.

I am not pretending either to know those answers or to imply that those of us in the spiritual and monastic traditions are free of responsibility. On the contrary, we too can no longer simply closet ourselves in monasteries, but need to find new ways to contribute to the modern Bhutan. For example, I’d like to see our monks help those schools that are now introducing meditation and educate communities about preventing forest fires and alcohol abuse.

I could also be totally wrong even in the questions I am raising. But I would rather say all this up front than just hear grumbling in the background. After all, a new democracy requires that we identify the toughest challenges and chew the most bitter truths if we really want to build a good nation in this day and age.

By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Day I Took my Family to Sunday Market.

Yesterday was sunday (29/05/2011) and fittingly it appared to be a very beautiful day for people who need rest.. The bright sunny day with light occassional drizzle in between to cool off the heat, it was a perfect outing day for a family too. so I decided to take my family (including my father, who is recovering from his sickness and mother who is looking after him) to non other than to Thimphu vegetable market, also known as Sunday market. Of the two market (one that sold vegetables and other that sold handicrafts and garments) we decided to go to the latter first 

All my family shopped crazily like they have never been in the market before. As for me, with my little daughter clinging on to me like an infant monkey. there was little I could other than to watch them buy different stuffs.

My mother had her own shopping list. -Starting from sickle to dry fruits and kira to tego. She also bought many  items which were in fact not included in her list. She bought trousers for the kids of my sister who is currently looking after our ancestral house in Shingkhar. she also bought a bundle of broom!

Like my mother, my father had his own idea of shopping too. He said he wanted to buy a pair of drum (nga) only to be surprised by the enormity of the price tag (Nu 3500 per piece). Apart form that, he insisted that he wanted to buy a  plastic sheet, large enough to pitch a tent for his remaining yak calves (out of 19 yak calves he had, 15 were killed in a fire disaster in the month of January 2011)

Like their grandfather and grandmother, two of my elder daughters had their idea shopping as well. My elder daughter dyingly  wanted to buy a gown (she calls it Cinderella gown) when her younger sister actually wanted to buy a multi colored balloon with a rubber handle. When their demand was turned down by their mom, I saw them shedding tears of anger under the shade of gown and balloon respectively.

After spending nearly an hour there, we finally decided to heed back. As we slowly approached the traditional bridge that separated the two markets. There were tow beggars who said payers aloud (Jimba Tobgay) at the entrance. There were also few others who demanded public sympathy by begging. few looked healthy while most who begged were old and wretched ones. Few were dumb and few even blinds! we gave what ever little money we had to all of them and came back to the parking lot came back home.

Death penalty for the three hard core criminals.

Three hard core criminals were finally arrested and were finally trailed for their crimes. Criminals were sent to gallows to face their ultimate fate –death.

To their good fortune, the judge who presided over the proceedings at the court finally made up his mind to punish the defendants as per the choice they make. They were given the choice to face their death either by hanging, by electrocution or by getting themselves injected deadly with HIV virus.
 Considering the shortest time it takes to kill a man, the first defendant said he would like to face his death by electrocution.
Second defendant said he would rather face his death by way of tradition that has passed down from generation to generation from his forefathers.-by hanging.
The third defendant however had other ideas in his mind. He thought to himself that even with deadly HIV virus in his body he can at least survive to see this world for few more years. 
On their final judgment day, when they were about to face their fate with the respective choices they have made, the two friends who chose death by electrocution and by hanging asked their friend who chose to be injected with HIV virus for making his choice.
To explain about his choice, he went close to his friends and whispered in their ears “please don’t tell anyone because today I am using condom to stop that virus form entering into my body”
It’s a joke please do not take it seriously…….but thanks for reading with intense curiosity.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just My Random Thoughts

Picture Courtesy: Facebook

As a Bhutanese, we were in a democratic institution as early as 1953. His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck introduced us to the concept of National Assembly, - the democratic way of governance. The process gained momentum when His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, further strengthened the system by establishing Gewog Yargye Tsogchung (GYT) and Dzongkhag Yargye Tsogkhung (DYT) respectively. The noble intention from the throne was to promote people's participation at all levels of decision making including the law making.

However with the 2008 general election of both National Assembly and National Council Members, there was a widespread notion among the folks that democracy was new in its entirety. For this we also had the tendency of considering ours as an infant democratic set up.Those who contested the election argued that everyone was equally inexperienced at it. 

This may not be the right thing because we were in a democratic society for more than five decades already. The idea of being in experienced should not have arisen. 

In, what is being considered as an "unprecedented election of the Democratic Bhutan" we not only saw few of the groomed leaders, including the Prime Minister himself, win the election but we also saw many young and energetic aspiring youths equally sharing the center stage.

Even though some are too young for the title, they are lavishly referred to as Dashos and Aums. From an ordinary common man, they are now in a most respectable position. Luxurious display; such as customized number plates with 'National Emblem' and 'MP' displayed prominently are the living example. Personally, I find this very undemocratic. It is confusing too. Because on one hand we are claiming to promote democracy, while on the other hand we have this different colours, swords and number plates that is creating a distinction between the commoners. For most, this sends message of power and ego which is not enshrined in the principles of democracy.

By watching live session of the parliament, our law making looks more like talkers show. Some esteemed law makers just attend the session for the sake of attendance! Some were even found sleeping !. And the out come we have are the laws enacted that brought more confusion than clarity.

Recent Tobacco Control Act enacted by our parliament is the living testimony. While we have some wise who says, “Law making a collective process” there are also some who howls like a dog that howls without even knowing the apparent reason. Interestingly there are some, who are of the strong opinion that Law should be something which should not only scare people but should also instill fear. What makes matter more interesting is that there are some who howls after that too! (And others can do nothing but smile)

If the intention of law making is to only punish the guilty all the time then, the process of law making in it self requires a serious rethinking. Besides upholding justice and equity, we make laws to not only punish those guilty all the time, but we also make laws to promote social harmony, correct the wrongs and instill realization, 

A study worldwide revealed that the most people who commit crime, big or small are the ones with distorted mental state. If true, these mentally distorted people do not deserved to be dealt with “iron fist” but rather they deserved to be treated with care and dignity. Their needs deserves addressing. 

We are all a humble citizen of unique country, who have high regards for peace and dharma. But strangely, we seem to have reached a stage where we are fast losing faith in some of our representatives who are making laws for us on trial and error basis. The Experimentation is costly; people have been jailed. Laws can neither be enacted based on assumptions and hypothesis, because we are not in an Orwellian animal farm. And had it not been for our beloved Third King, the Capital punishment may very well have been introduced looking at the recent law making trends.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dilemma of a Middle Class Man

Picture courtesy: Google
Technically speaking, I survive just above poverty line by a very thin line. But befitting to the small and humble income I draw from my job, I take my own liberty of considering myself in the most sought after middle class.  Everybody who followed me thus far knows well that this is not my first affirmation, but here I am, still considering myself nothing less and nothing more, but middle class man only.

I don’t know why, but the idea of middle class appears very eye-catching to me. Having survived the harsh realities of life below poverty line for so many years, the feeling of having come thus far in itself gives me a delight like no other.

But sadly, the ground realities of life in middle class are fast changing. With the wind of globalization and market integration sweeping across the globe, the rosier sides of middle class comfort are fast fading away.

To give you micro perspectives of this account, just look at me. You will understand it all. Firstly I am a son and I have my aging parents who often falls sick and nags like a child. They demand lot of medical, emotional and economic wellbeing and care. And as a son, I have my filial obligation to serve them with all love, care, trust and dignity. Apart from that, I am brother and I have 9 siblings whose welfare, I have to bother most of the time.

Secondly, I have a wife, (meaning I am a very responsible son-in-law) who equally has her aging parents and grandparents. If not more, they too deserve treatment with all possible affection.

Thirdly, I am a very responsible father. Apart from the traditional business of attending to parents’ needs and aspiration with that of my office and society at large, I have a more business in hand to look after. With my kinds fast growing, I have a far deeper obligation to meet. The obligations include providing them quality food (balanced diet) quality education, quality cloths and quality living apartment. Since I have a wife who is equally working like me, I have to also find a quality maid who is legally eligible to work as one in helping me out.

 But then, these are all easier said than done stuffs. And as an average middle class man (as I have proclaimed it) it’s all a real steep and sleeper climb. With income remaining constant and inflation rising ever higher over a period of time, making ends meet and livelihood are even becoming more and more desperate. Those things when combined with the current laws, policies, rules and regulations, things are even becoming tougher.

I am not an economist and therefore I cannot comment on how we combat the inflation. But being common man, I am competent about how we fight other odds that we are today confronted with. To do that we only need a slight help from our policy makers. 

My wife and I are from a farming family alike. And given a chance we would like to also work in the field to supplement our monthly pay. This doesn’t mean that we are intending to create a conflict of interest here. The reason why I say this is because, with the ever declining work force in our villages, our ancestral lands either risk being left fallow or engulfed by the ever booming construction industry. It’s a peak paddy plantation period and I am running from pillar to post to find someone who can work in our field. I am not only willing to serve 5 meals in a day but also willing to pay an extra handsome sum of Nu. 50 above the normal rate. To my dismay, nobody sees my offer as an advantage.  So to address this issue, why can’t we have few days as plantation holiday and harvesting holiday depending upon the needs of different local communities?

Thanks to the farsighted vision of our benevolent kings, my kids can enjoy free education so long as they are happy with it. But meeting the quality of cloths for my family is as tricky as it is finding an apartment worthy of my middle class status. Going by today’s definition, apartments are as scarce as the day laborers. One would be considered lucky, if found one, but for half the months pay (or even more). The interesting and painful trick we never understand is that, unlike in other countries, Bhutanese middle class people are house seekers and not house owners! As a matter of fact, middle class people are the one who actually pay for all the construction loan and interest thereof. What have our policy done (till date) to protect us? tenancy Act is as silence as whatever.

Now the last thing I need is a maid. But my definition of maid is something different. I am not looking for someone who can do laundry like washing machine and clean kitchen utensils like dish washing machine, but rather someone who can play and eat with my kids, when I and my wife are gone to serve our tsa-wa-sum. But sadly we have a trouble finding one because there are so many human right activists who are watching us closely.

It is very commendable job they are doing and I applaud them for their initiatives. But it’s also equally frustrating when we have to see our maids leave, whom we have not only regarded as our family member but have also committed our 8%-9% of our month’s pay for them. Their unrelenting campaign to apparently save those maids is nothing but a big joke. Now tell me what other opportunities do we (the middle class) have to raise our kids, while we are also serving our nation like the any other people?  It is all the more surprising, that  some people have not only maids for themselves, but some have even maids to look after their dogs!

With few predicaments still untouched, I would like to stop here by wishing all those self proclaimed middle class people, the good luck and happier days in times to come. I would also like to reaffirm that despite all those odds before us, we still the most powerful player in our society. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Passing my bloggerly love to all who inspired me into this blogging (writing) world.

  1. Passang Tshering http://www.passudiary.com/
  2. Kinga Choden http://kingachoden.blogspot.com/
  3. Dawa Tshering http://www.cholachorus.com/
  4. Yeshi Dorji http://yesheydorji.blogspot.com/
  5. H.E Lyonpo Tshering Tobgay http://www.tsheringtobgay.com/
  6. Dorji Wangchuk http://dorjiwangchuk.blogspot.com/
  7. Namgay Wangchuk http://namdrup2009.blogspot.com/
  8. Lethro http://leythro-darlo.blogspot.com/
  9. http://wordsworthmillions.wordpress.com/
  10. Sogyel Tobgyel http://sogyeltobgyel.blogspot.com/
  11. My Boss, Mr. Yonten Namgyel, Regional Director, RRCO, Paro
  12. Jurmi Chhowing http://iamdrukpa.blogspot.com
 With all the inspiration I drew form you all, today I have in my credit some 67 odd articles authored by me. some even got published in papers like Journalists and Bhutan Times. (Free of cost). I thank you all for inspiring me to also write.  Thanks you all once again..

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How a Commoner sees and thinks about common things.

Think and Rethink, you will feel the difference
I am an ordinary man. So I think like one and act like one. I am neither born maestro nor made master. Therefore my thinkings and perspectives are always mundane and are at times, unintelligible. Having said that, I wouldn't want to keep my feelings for myself alone, so here I am to share all my mundanely feelings with all my readers. 

For easy reference, let us now look at some of the things at are visible to our naked eyes and those that  doesn't require any statistical findings and mathematical calculations to prove it. But I warn you, that this is not a detailed report though!

We are all a proud citizen of Bhutan. (and even more proud, because we are developing country) Over a period of time, there has been a rampant urbanization process taking place all over the country. This process has really come as a boon for those few who have the luxury of either inheriting or the means to acquire, an ever appreciating and scarce natural resource called the Land. 

With this, let us not forget that our world at large is not only being faced with a problem of food insecurity, drought and inflation but we are also equally being challenged by our newly invented problems like balanced diets and recipe of a healthy life stuffs .

Today if we look carefully, almost all our cultivable land are either being converted to industrial estate or a construction hub when our policy makers are all busy talking about self reliance in terms of cereals and other oil crops (by 2008). With the current phase of urbanization, we will only take few more years before we could see all our cultivable land being engulfed either for the construction of house or for roads. 

Then, with our representatives at the helm of their power has given us a Law, -which mjority thinks is the most controversial law in the history of our civilization ("Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan 2010") of which scholars and lay man have equally  voiced their concerns. There were many who supported it but more many who opposed it vehemently. Few of the act chauvinist deemed it necessary because they felt the smokers and tobacco consumers are polluting the clean environment and are being anti Buddhist. The idea seems not Bad!

But what about the doma munchers? We sincerely think that, as much as nonsmokers deserve clean air, (free of tobacco smoke) I think the tobacco consumers also deserve that mush clean wall,  clean dustbin, clean pillars, clean posts, clean window panes, clean corner and to the extent possible clean streets.   

 More so, in more equal and more democratic manner, what about the boozers? As much as the tobacco smokers and doma munchers are deemed havoc, boozers in reality are double the havoc in comparison. Apart form distorting the social harmony in numerous ways, boozers are shameless animals at their worst. Thier uncontrolled action in public often makes me think that  they deserve to be  trailed for public indecency.

Sadly, there are some who fortunately or unfortunately does not fall in any of the category mentioned above. Can they be called as a middle class freaks? They are not munchers, not puffers and not boozers but they are the real silent middle class commoners. They are the dreamers and they are the builders of castle in the air. They are the ones who define the terminology of luxury and necessities in general. 

Of late, with public transportation services still in their dusty infancy, if not for jazzy land cruisers and showy Prado, owning a thing of Alto car, Ford Figo, i10, i20 etc have become their fancy. But how sad, their mouths are soon planked by the revision of car tax (although it stands null now). They were denied their right to pollute their per capita of clean air, clean surroundings and clean atmosphere altogether!

So the bottom line here is, before we can have a another set of funny and punkier rules and regulation, (like P/ling Thrompon and his plan of making people wear gho and kira mandatory in sweating and dusty town, if true) why can't we all do some serious rethinking, redefining, researching, re-looking so that we as a commoner at least realize that the common sense is something that we as a commoner sometimes tend to over look.

What do you say? "Now, If you Have it, then pen it "

Saturday, May 21, 2011

"I wanted my students to become the light house in Bhutan" says Sadhu.

Me and my Colleague Shaji (in white Jcket) in 1992 sports day
Bhutan being small, developing and land locked country had this problem called the "shortage of teacher" ever since it started it's plan development activities in early 1960s. In order to bridge those gaps, many expatriate teachers were hired from India,  Canada, England and US by the Royal Government of Bhutan.

As a young, energetic and most of all as a bachelor man, I decided to practice my profession away from home (Tamil Nadu, India). When the Royal Government of Bhutan consented to my application, I immediately decided to come to Bhutan to play my part in transforming the education system then.

 Finally I reached Bhutan in my early 1990s and initially I began my teaching career in southern Bhutan.The place was worthy of being called as the Land of Thunder Dragon. The calmness in the surroundings and greenery in the far off wild enchanted me beyond words. I fell in love and it was love at first sight. 

What that, in 1991, I got transferred far north in a place called Ura, in Bumthang. The place looked barren like the Tibetan plateau I saw in National geographic program. The temperatures plunged below freezing point, both during day and night. There were times, when I would go without washing my face for weeks and that my house owner would come and offer me a bowl of warm water, which would soon loose its warmth. With the freezing cold wind blowing relentlessly across the valley, the place at first appeared miserable. 

Then came the March month. It was our show time! Students of the school came back to resume their school life. Surprisingly they were mostly form the same locality except few who came as far as Tang, Chumey, and Chamkhar village. We had classes starting from Pre Primary to class 4, therefore the pupils looked very young, small and at times tiny. They all wore thick woolen garments to combat the cold weather. Due to their over exposure to the harsh climatic condition, they all had a red cheek and rumpling yellowish hair.

As the days passed by, I started enjoying my time with my pupils. By nature, they were all very well mannered kids. They greeted any person in clean attire with their 'lavish good morning sir'. As any other kids, they enjoyed playing and felt that learning this was a taxing thing.

In 2 years time, I became the warden not only for the boys but also for for girls. As a warden I was expected to play a very key role in the day-to-day functioning of the school. I was mandated to look after kids not only during the school hours but also during the weekends and off-hours hours as well. Besides that, I also looked after the school mess. Those days were the most interesting and memorable days in my life.

We had large hall as a dormitory where all my pupils, who availed boarding facilities slept in rows. They were very humble indeed and few did't even have a mattress and blankets to sleep. Most wore rubber gumboots, while there were very few who enjoyed the prosperity of wearing Chinese campus shoes. Almost 90% went hungry all the time and had few options to over come that. Few ran away home in the middle of the night where as few, lingered in apple orchards in search of something to feed. There were also few brave, but innocent pupils who fancied  stealing live chickens to supplement their bulgar diet!. There were also incidents, when a person whom I have sent to pick up something from my quarter quietly stole my freshly baked cake like a frightened mouse from the bottom. (surprisingly the cake looked untouched) 

To my students, I was a very strict disciplinarian. Therefore, I preferred teaching mannerism and social values, besides the things in text books. But sadly, there were only few who really understood my intentions. to give you an example, I would often, on my evening inspection, see some of my pupils displaying their acrobatic skills by jumping over the stacked wooden box, not actually realizing the risk of breaking their fragile limbs  and necks.  There were also pupils who preferred swimming in the swollen stream along with the maggots that got washed away from the school latrine. I shouted at them and my appearance did the rest; -my black angry face frightened them! Most hated me or even cursed me for being rude and shouting machine.

When ever I went missing from my school (for some official and personal errand), my pupils would often celebrate my absence by not doing their regular social work, home work and cleaning their campus and dormitory. They would scamper, scream and play like monkeys in the lawless jungle. But then the sound of my motor cycle was a signal, good enough to bring back to order.

At times some of my pupils became way too naughty that few of my colleagues even recommended a Police intervention. Some recommended a severe penalty like suspension and termination for an acts of those innocent and ignorant pupils. But I choose my way of dealing with my pupils and I have always believed in  giving them a chance after chance to prove their worthiness.

Today, I have become old physically but the very fact that I have spent half of my life with all those vibrant  and amusing pupils, I still feel young at heart. I meet most of them and they all greet me with their heart and thank me for being rude and shouting machine! They often leave lot of messages on my Facebook that make me emotional and sensual. After nearly two decades or so, those glorious moments still lingers in my mind like the events of a distant yesterday.
Me with K4 in 1992

 When I  initially became teacher and started teaching in Bhutan, I just had one wish;  i.e, one day I wanted to see my students become the light house in Bhutan.  Today few of them have already become one indeed because I see them all in various positions holding important posts.

So I thank the 4ht King of Bhutan (whom I met in 1992) and all my Bhutanese colleagues for allowing me to contribute in your nation building, in making of the  peaceful and prosperous GNH Bhutan. Thank you all and Tashi Delek. 

Note: The boy who displayed acrobatic skills was the author himself, Kuenzang Thinley, Current Asst. Collector of Customs in Paro airport.
The Boys who preferred swimming in the swollen river are Tshetim, the current Drukair IT officer and Dorji, who is Teacher in Chhukha. 

The boys who stole live chickens for food were Jamba Tshering, Current livestock officer, Tserang, In Raj Rai, Minjur Tshering, Jigme Chhogyel, Current Officer in Department of Disaster Management, Thimphu. 

The boy who stole sir's cake was Ugyen Namdrol, the current Tour manager, Etho Metho tours and treks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Our King to Wed our future Queen!

Picture form His Majesty's Facebook page.

First of all, my whole hearted congratulation to our beloved King and Ashi for their up coming Royal wedding.

I checked my Facebook and came across a news that has gone viral. It was about the announcement of our Royal wedding in coming October. It was by far the most awaited news. The excitement in the air knew no bound. There was jubilation all around. His Majesty finally announced his Royal intention to wed Ashi Jetsun Pema! Long live the King and the Queen!

Born in the same year, I took up His Majesty as my idol. I drew many inspiration form him and I tried my best to also measure my maturity with his. (even though I failed miserably) 

When I graduated in 2003, I remember making a secret promise to myself; -I promised to myself, that I will marry the same year when his Majesty weds our future queen. His majesty has just announced his wedding but here I am, already fathering 3 daughters,  Your Majesty....I beat you here !

With this, I pledge to serve you; My King and Queen with all my dedication, sincerity and respect. May God Bless bless us all. Long Live the King and Queen. 

Tashi Delek

Of archery and the best player(s) in Bhutan.

Mr. Karma Tashi, the player of the year 2009-2010
Just like our national dress, our national game has also indeed evolved a great deal. So called the national game of Bhutan was once played using a humble materials like Bamboo, a birds feather and locally available bow strings. Today those things are fast starting to become yet another myth. In years to come, a thing bamboo bow and bamboo arrow will just become a thing past gone forever.

Having said that, I have my own story to tell as an archer, The last game I played was in the fall of 1995. Believe me. I was a sharp shooter then,(like Karma Tashi). I have even recorded hitting dobjis (I am serious). But sadly that zeal did not last long.  During our three day game, one of my friend, with whom I shared my bow, broke it off on the very first day by over pulling. It took my father, a week to give it a final touch and it was just a matter of second before it was damaged beyond repair! I lacked words to shun him for his outrageous action.

 It was by far, one of the most painful moments in my life. In following days, I could neither hit the target nor shoot my arrows properly.Those were the 2 most embarrassing days in my life because I was not only considered jazee, (person who failed to hit even once) but also lost interest in the game worthy of being called a gentlemen' game. I promised to myself that I will never ever play the game again in my life.

True to my words and promise, Today I am neither an archery protagonist nor an archery antagonist. I prefer watching someone play than playing myself. I have many other reasons to restrict myself from the game too. The obvious one is the cost factor that is followed by a huge post acquisition cost. The second reason may sound naive but my wife doesn't fancy man playing archery. (ask her the reasons)

Of course, things have changed. People today have the option and luxury of going for an unbreakable bows like shoot through, defender, reflex, ultra elite, contender elite, carbon matrix, mathew and Bow-tech along with high quality aluminum arrows like super slim, black arrow and camo arrow. You name it and the market has it for you.

Yesterday morning, I caught up with my friend, (Karma Tashi in the picture) who is currently the best and most sought after archer in our country. When I asked him about his feelings for the game, he had no words to describe and went blank. After carefully examining my words he smiled  at me and said its not only fun but can actually be used as a important social tool too. He said the game has given him everything, including society, friendship and love. "What more can i expect form it?" he said.

With this he also shared his concern to me. He said that, there are so many people buying those expensive bows and arrows. "If not properly handled and regulated, those are as dangerous as fire arms. It can be used in many ways" he said.  Karma also told me that, with ever increasing number of poachers and wild life poaching in our country, this is his great concern, because in the west people use those for hunting down animals. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lhalung Thuksey Rimpoche

When I first met with the Rimpoche, I was a little boy then. We initially met in the early 1990s when he came to perform the last rites for my late paternal grand father, who was him self a clergy man. 

Personally, I have a great affinity for the clergy people. The very sights and sounds of rituals invariably elated me and draws my attention. So during the 21st day ritual of my late grand father, it was an opportunity for me to sulk myself into the presence of  Rimpoche.

Especially during the lunch breaks, I would often go to Rimpoche's resting place (under the pine tree, just below Shingkhar Naktsang) and spent hours chit-chatting with him. I remember asking him so many questions to which he never showed any sign of displeasure or annoyance. in instead he addressed to me as charo,and answered all I asked. He drew beautiful pictures with his free hand. It fascinated me and left me awestruck! But, I thought he was an ordinary monk wearing ordinary red robe who performed ordinary Buddhist rituals!

I was totally ignorant about who I was dealing with.

Later, with the passage of time an space, I came to know that he was one among the three reincarnations of Terton Pema Lingpa and that he was the most revered Rimpoches' of our time. Since then, I saw Rimpoche presiding  and performing  many rituals both near and far, with his humility as strikingly as ever.  

Then in March 2006, I became very ill and I even went to an extent of predicting my own death somewhere in the month of October, the same year. My parents, my siblings, my wife and all my relatives both far and near panicked like hell. I saw them all getting desperate and wild.  Besides taking me to doctors in Thimphu JDWNRH, Haa, IMTRATI and Doctors in Lungtenphu Military Hoaspital, I know they left no stones u n turned to save me, starting from performing a Terdha ritual to Pawo ritual. They even went to the extent of performing a ritual by Indian Sadhu!

When nothing seem working, my elder brother finally sought to seek prediction form Rimpoche himself. Rimpoche responded and responded positively. He told my brother that I would be OK in months time. 

True to Rimpoche's prediction, I finally recovered from my illness in the month of September, the same year (a month before my predicted death). Finally my life came back to normal and I could finally attend my duty in my office. Later,I also met Rimpoche himself and introduced my self and thanked Rimpoche for all his blessings. Just in case I fall sick again, he even consented to teach me a mantra which will avert future misfortunes altogether. He took a small paper and wrote the mantra and gave it to me. (

With this, I saw Rimpoche travelling by air often and most of the time there was only his aged mother escorting him. On my further inquiry, I found out that Rimpoche was battling with a deadly diabetes and that it was getting worse. I saw Rimpoche's health deteriorating with each passing travel he made. I last saw Rimpoche unboarding the flight on a pushchair then slowly he passed through and never to be seen again. I sat back on my chair with my eyes welled with tears, knowing there was nothing I could do to save him.

Today, I am not only a fervent worshiper of him but also a follower of him with all my heart and soul, because in his silence he taught to me that "Simple and humble is perhaps the temple of god"

I wasn't the brightest, but sometimes I did miracles!

If there is one thing that reminds me of my days in Ura, then going hungry all the time is one that strikes my mind so vividly. I was a dull boy then. Hardworking and playing smart in my studies were thing I never knew about. Those things never actually bothered me.

But I as good in few things. I was a master in running away from my school, I did it whenever I went hungry. Walking alone in the night for 3 hours between school and home did little to deter me. I used to even run away from school when I felt bored. Other days, I remember either listening or parroting. That was in the class. But outside, I used to spend my days either beating some one or getting beaten back.

I never knew, I would do well in my studies and come first in my class. But looking at this transcript, I think sometimes I did. I was awarded the merit certificate in my academics. I still remember. That day, I received two different soaps tidily wrapped in white paper (Lux soap and one Lifebouy soap) I still remember how our headmaster handed me those soaps as my winning prize.

Alas! Its all torn and colored now. I have only few its kind and I wish I were little good in caring it. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Audit found I was a travel freak.

This is my sixth year in service to King, Country and people. Till date I have worked as Customs officer in  Department of Revenue and Customs. I don't know how far it is true, but people say that officers from my head office travel the maximum for training and seminars abroad. 

For that matter, I wish I were also there in my head office too. Its my dream to travel around the world. Who wouldn't travel when you are given a hefty DSA in Dollars, with free food and accommodation! And yea... who cares about the "6 months minimum gap" rules in BCSR. They are just there like any other rules. 

Thankfully, I have availed three golden opportunities to travel abroad of which the details are given below:
  1. Intellectual Property Right seminar in Japan (March 2007)........ Duration 1 Week.
  2. Passenger Management Training in Malaysia (August 2009).......Duration 2 weeks
  3. Computer based Training on drug Law enforcement in India (November 2010..... duration 4 days.
I remain ever grateful for my Department and my superiors for nominating my candidature. If not monetarily, it did benefit me in terms knowledge, exposure and skills. So Thank you once again

But  on 17th May 2011, someone form my head office said that there is an audit memo against my name. And interestingly I was issued a memo for breaching that very rule which many people don't give a damn. -Of course for not maintaining a minimum  6 months gap between each  ex-country travels.

The audit people found I was travel freak! They have indeed issued a memo against my name for breaching the travel rules. Memo stated that I made a trip to Bangkok, for Training on Tax Administration and Policy. But sad thing is I did not travel on that occasion. My Ministry thus asked me to submit an explanation of which I was never informed, until I went to my head office myself.

So I had to write the an explanation as under to convince them. Please read it for yourself. Oh ya! but where are the list of other travel freaks like me. I wish to share the list with public someday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Laughter is the best medicine, Blogfeast

Hypocrisy combined with hilariousness and humors have long been the traits of Bhutanese people. This dates back to the days when People visited Tibet, either for trade or in search of Buddhist scholars. They were referred to as Aku Drukpa(s); - the entertainer and the buffoon.  True to the references, Their traits came in handy, unless it doesn’t cross the limit.

Here is one such story where one of Aku Drupa (of those days) cooked up a story from nowhere to draw the attention of his Tibetan equals. His story involved a small Lhakhang in Bumthang Chumey, presently known more as the chuk-che Zhey Lhakhang (Lhakhang that houses the Buddha with one thousand arms and one thousand eyes) 

In his first visit, He told his Tibetan counter parts about the hugeness of the Lhakhang and that a man would take a solid whole day going around it. The bigness of the temple fascinated the folks and was awestruck but somehow felt convinced. They applauded and still believed it was true (Yemba dra)

 The following year, the same Aku Drukpa attempted to draw attention from the crowd in a similar fashion but had nothing new. He decided to continue his story that kept the audience spellbound year ago. He took his time to begin the joke. When he did, he went little too far from the conventional humor the audience have actually expected.   
Photo courtesy: Tshering Dorji
He said, he was still skeptical and unsure as to whether the wooden shingle from the roof of the same lhakhang, that fell year ago, would have actually landed on the ground or not after a year. That surely sounded rubbish and unrealistic! He got lashed and jeered and sent home immediately. 

The morale of the story; Too much of anything is not good, not even the jokes of a Lhakhang.

I write on these topics

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