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.


  1. Awesome! I really enjoyed reading it. Also, the ending is superb. Hats off to Mr. Sadhu for raising up such personalities for the nation.

  2. Hi Kusha bro,

    Thanks for the comment. Its all because of him and his colleagues that i have come thus far in my my sincere kudos for him and ya I respect him honestly....

  3. Great writeup bro. I enjoy going through ur articles. Keep them coming :)

  4. awesome reminiscene...your article are always worth reading!

  5. Sadhu wanted his students to become lighthouse so that others can see him because he is dark!

  6. Thus Mr. Sadhu made his students lit the kingdom. Nicely written Aue Kuenzang. The way you narrate, in first person, its just superb. M waiting who could be the next character to speak.

  7. hey, this is so beautiful. remembered all my indian teachers while reading this :) love all my teachers

  8. Ajo, it is an flash back for me, (my assembly line slap!)...enjoyed reading..its beautifully written..(wish i could)..ehhe

  9. Hi Wangyel,

    Often those things (like spanks and slaps) make like beautiful isn't it?

    All the best and ya keep visiting my blog....


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