Sunday, May 15, 2011

Golden Moments; from the table of a retired Lopen

when his Majesty visited our school in May 1992

Having served my King, country and fellow citizens for more than 3 decades, I am now a happily retired man. All my life, I believe I have always strived to give the best I had in me as a teacher to my students. 

Before I went on to become a teacher, I had my own fair share of trials and tribulations, ups and downs and success and failures. Emerging form a very humble family, life was harsh and getting education wasn’t easy.   However, I took all the advantage of gathering knowledge and wisdoms form the scholars and masters I have come across during my brief life in the monastery as a monk.  For this I was once known more as Lopen gelong in my schools and in the locality.

I am still a firm believer in Buddhism and am a fervent worshiper of goddess Tara, also known as Jigtsen Drolma. Being a firm believer in Buddhism, I have always lived my life based on the principle of neutrality. This has greatly enhanced my service in serving the needs of not only my students but also in helping and assisting my local neighbours in times of their needs.

Of all the time in my life (as a teacher), the thing that most enchants me today are the days I spent with my pupils both off hour and in class. During my off hours, I would often but randomly call one of my pupils and spent our time chit-chatting like equals.  They would have so many things to share with me, starting from the mischief of their friends to meals they ate home on weekends, form bulgar broth to fish curry, from potato soup to fried kharang. Besides text books and note books, they in fact had lot to share!  This gave me a wider perspective into the lives of my students and their respective backgrounds. I have indeed learned a great deal from my students in return.

On lighter moments, I would also give each individual a different nick names and their nick names would invariably have a close correlation to their behavior, their looks or their parents’ profession.  Their nicks were in no way intended to mock and jeer at them but they were named out of my love, care and concern I had for them.  To give you an example, I would name someone who cries and cried loud like triumphant as Jalingla, Pang pang la and pepe la. Someone with running nose would be named as shawala and whereas, someone whose father had built a monastery would be named Gonphaila.  And in similar manner, someone who shits in pants would be named chakpala and the list would go on.

Not only that, I would also have my own general description of the people coming from the different regions in our locality. Roughly translated in to English, here is how it goes:
For Ura Village: The rat hunters, people who are very tricky and are difficult to understand.
For Pangkhar Village: A place with so many running and meandering rivers, but have no fish in it.
For Gaiden Village: An unjustly called village. With a household of just 4, it doesn’t actually qualify to be called as a village compared to the vast plains that surrounds it
For Sumthrang Village: A place near mountain and cliff, befitting for the existence of hermits and sages but ironically inhibited by people who practice dharma but less.
For Shingkhar Village: A place far in the North and worthy of being called a salt trade centre but have no slat.
For Shingneer Village: Place where people actually have less grain but have larger containers.
For Tangsibi Village: A place dwelled by people who fancied shouting in display of strength but without properly assessing the opponent on the other side.

There were times when my loud and clear morning prayers would not only wake up my sleeping students, who excessively fed on bulgar broth and cabbage curry but it would also wake up those sluggish neighbors’ from their deep slumber.  For this, I was often called as the alarm clock of the place. Despite all the irritation, my service was from my heart and for the betterment of those who heard. 

And the most defining period was in 1992, when our beloved fourth king promised to visit our school and talk to us. It was a profound promise from the king in the month of April 1992. Subsequently in the month of May, he did visit us with all the four queen mothers and blessed us all. I fondly remember how His Majesty played his witty jokes with my black colleague known more as Sadhu (a black person in the picture right next to HM). Apart from that, there were also incidents, where few of my pupils simply hid their newly acquired gumboot (rubber boot which would cost Nu.60 a pair those days) in their gho only to be found out later by one of the queen mother while distributing the sweets for them.

The other most defining period in my life was in the twilight of my days as a teacher. The brimming trust and confidence form my locality has even uplifted me to the highest ground, a ground person like me can possibly dream of.  I was to become a member of 6 men Royal Advisory Council in the capital. It was a very overwhelming feeling and I lacked words to gratify all who had that sense of trust and faith in me. 

As I took up the new job, I was little dazed and so were my relatives and friends who were little perplexed. Some still called me lopen, while there were many who addressed me as Dasho. Obviously with blue scarf and a pata ben (long sword) hanging around my waist, there surely was some confusion. I felt uncomfortable being called Dasho and Lopen. So in between, there were some who referred to as Dasho-Lopen. 

Besides all those rosy events in my life, there were also times when people, without any hesitation criticized me and my deeds. Worst of all, there were also times when few were of the opinion that my services were nothing but a big hindrance for the development of the locality. Few even demanded me to be up rooted like a useless radish from the garden. I never denied their statements for I believed that all human being, irrespective of all cast, creed and qualification have their own flaws and weaknesses. If at all I had one, then perhaps I am an equal and normal human being too.

Irrespective of all the perception, I have lived my life worthy of being born as human and more so as a proud citizen of His Majesty the king (both past and present). As I look back, it brings me a great sense of joy and satisfaction not because I have succeeded in naming the places and pupils and becoming a dasho out of nowhere, but because most of my pupils have today made themselves through to their respective life. 

There were pupils who over ate and over drank like caterpillars and as a result over slept and peed in the bed along with those who bragged and nagged with parents at home.  Today they  have successfully become a doctors and Engineers.  There were some who knowingly fell sick on Saturdays to avoid social work and gardening while there were others who ran away from the school or broke open the windows to steal newer text books and pens. Today I proudly see them become officers and dashos.  Some were bright and some dull, some intelligent and some complacent, some honest and some not so honest, There were also few who nocturnally lingered in the apple garden looking for an apple and other vegetables to supplement their half filled belly. They have all become real someone today. Most of my pupils came from very humble background and I had the privilege of knowing their parents individually.

There were often days, when I acted differently with varying situations with my pupils. I acted with gaiety when my pupils heeded to my words and fiercely when they acted otherwise. I was a person who sincerely believed in the seriousness of grooming the future leaders and hence it called for many means and ways. I often had to whip my pupils when I knew were falling off the right track. Fortunately, I believe to the best of my knowledge that my story of a Buddha has worked because all my pupils have today become humble human beings with sublime humility.  

Today as the Nation celebrates Teachers day, I receive no gifts, no phone calls, no cards and no thank you notes. Neither do I expect one from any. Because I think I have them all already. I was a teacher not only profession but also by heart and soul. If there was a gift I genuinely seeked for then it was the progress and prosperity of my pupils. 

Today, as I hear the school bell ring near my house, I thank Goddess Jigtsen Drolma for answering my prayers and blessing me with all those beautiful pupils in my life. I further pray for the bigger progress, greater prosperity and peace for all my pupils in their time

(Note: The Author was nick named as Gonphaila by his beloved lopen, when his father built a small monastery in Sumthrang Village)
(Note: the author was the person who was found hiding his boots in his gho while the queen mother was distributing the sweets. The new rubber boots were hard when cold so it was difficult to put on so I choose to put it in my gho rather than putting it on my foot)

(Note: I am rewriting this article, because I think the maintenance team for the site has deleted my post )


  1. It is so good. Once a naughty student, think positive of his Guru and write in his blog that too as a teacher's day reward.Keep up.Dare Devil.

  2. It is nice of a student to remember his teachers and write this thread with relevant period and incidents. The Black Dare Devil.

  3. beatiful!!! Lopen Tenzin :)


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