Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finally the Curtains !

Well, I don't have many words here, but finally after more than a year, I got my windows curtained. As the two men started fixing them, I just counted the number of times those men have frequented my room to get the measurements. And surprisingly they have been to my place over twenty times already. I also thought to myself that, perhaps these things could very well be the reason why India, which is otherwise a great nation, is not moving forward faster than it ought to be.

By the way, my room looks more bright, more homely and more cozy now! The curtains indeed added a colour to my dull and dusty room. So today I had to rearrange my tables, bed  and char to make it look even better. I know our curtains came late but its still better that way than never having one.

So thank you Gujarat University for all the facilities. And yea,I still have some more months to enjoy this beautiful curtains.

In Fourty Years Time

The picture in the left is how I look now and the picture in the right is how I will look after forty more years. It is a prediction made by a gadget called samsung galaxySIII? Should the prediction come true, then it would mean that I would  have become a bald headed and heavily wrinkled person at the age of 72. Besides  those unusual big jaws, I would also become an old man with unusually flaccid drooping cheeks. The only feature that looks un-aged is my nose. Isn't it looking great!

Well, we all know that our life is so uncertain. We also know that, in reality its way to hard to predict anything like the one predicted by those sophisticated gadgets here. But if I am lucky, then who knows, I might someday live to be that person in the picture. And here are some of the things that I dream to achieve in those long and glorious forty years.
  1. Become a teacher someday and continue learning.
  2. Meet K4 and thank him for giving us future that is forever beautiful 
  3. Write a Book and dedicate it to my loving parents.
  4. Write another Book and dedicate it to my dearest loving wife and to my three girls
  5. And finally retire and become a monk and die in a hermitage while meditating 
  6. (well.. I have many.....but for now lets limit to just five here)

At the moment I am leaving everything to someone called almighty. I hope he grants me at least one of them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In Memory of Dr. Richard Teo 1972 - 2012, Message For Going-to-Become-Doctor People

Below is the transcript of the talk of Dr. Richard Teo, who was a 40-year-old millionaire and cosmetic surgeon with a stage-4 lung cancer but selflessly came to share with the D1 class his life experience on 19-Jan-2012. He has just passed away few days ago on 18 October 2012.

Hi good morning to all of you. My voice is a bit hoarse, so please bear with me. I thought I'll just introduce myself. My name is Richard, I'm a medical doctor. And I thought I'll just share some thoughts of my life. It's my pleasure to be invited by prof. Hopefully, it can get you thinking about how... as you pursue this.. embarking on your training to become dental surgeons, to think about other things as well.

Since young, I am a typical product of today's society. Relatively successful product that society requires.. From young, I came from a below average family. I was told by the media... and people around me that happiness is about success. And that success is about being wealthy. With this mind-set, I've always be extremely competitive, since I was young.

Not only do I need to go to the top school, I need to have success in all fields. Uniform groups, track, everything. I needed to get trophies, needed to be successful, I needed to have colours award, national colours award, everything. So I was highly competitive since young. I went on to medical school, graduated as a doctor. Some of you may know that within the medical faculty, ophthalmology is one of the most highly sought after specialities. So I went after that as well. I was given a traineeship in ophthalmology, I was also given a research scholarship by NUS to develop lasers to treat the eye.

So in the process, I was given 2 patents, one for the medical devices, and another for the lasers. And you know what, all this academic achievements did not bring me any wealth. So once I completed my bond with MOH, I decided that this is taking too long, the training in eye surgery is just taking too long. And there's lots of money to be made in the private sector. If you're aware, in the last few years, there is this rise in aesthetic medicine. Tons of money to be made there. So I decided, well, enough of staying in institution, it's time to leave. So I quit my training halfway and I went on to set up my aesthetic clinic... in town, together with a day surgery centre.

You know the irony is that people do not make heroes out average GP (general practitioner), family physicians. They don't. They make heroes out of people who are rich and famous. People who are not happy to pay $20 to see a GP, the same person have no qualms paying ten thousand dollars for a liposuction, 15 thousand dollars for a breast augmentation, and so on and so forth. So it's a no brainer isn't? Why do you want to be a gp? Become an aesthetic physician. So instead of healing the sick and ill, I decided that I'll become a glorified beautician. So, business was good, very good. It started off with waiting of one week, then became 3weeks, then one month, then 2 months, then 3 months. I was overwhelmed; there were just too many patients. Vanities are fantastic business. I employed one doctor, the second doctor, the 3rd doctor, the 4th doctor. And within the 1st year, we're already raking in millions. Just the 1st year. But never is enough because I was so obsessed with it. I started to expand into Indonesia to get all the rich Indonesian tai-tais who wouldn't blink an eye to have a procedure done. So life was really good.

So what do I do with the spare cash. How do I spend my weekends? Typically, I'll have car club gatherings. I take out my track car, with spare cash I got myself a track car. We have car club gatherings. We'll go up to Sepang in Malaysia. We'll go for car racing. And it was my life. With other spare cash, what do i do? I get myself a Ferrari. At that time, the 458 wasn't out, it's just a spider convertible, 430. This is a friend of mine, a schoolmate who is a forex trader, a banker. So he got a red one, he was wanting all along a red one, I was getting the silver one.

So what do I do after getting a car? It's time to buy a house, to build our own bungalows. So we go around looking for a land to build our own bungalows, we went around hunting. So how do i live my life? Well, we all think we have to mix around with the rich and famous. This is one of the Miss Universe. So we hang around with the beautiful, rich and famous. This by the way is an internet founder. So this is how we spend our lives, with dining and all the restaurants and Michelin Chefs you know.

So I reach a point in life that I got everything for my life. I was at the pinnacle of my career and all. That's me one year ago in the gym and I thought I was like, having everything under control and reaching the pinnacle.

Well, I was wrong. I didn't have everything under control. About last year March, I started to develop backache in the middle of nowhere. I thought maybe it was all the heavy squats I was doing. So I went to SGH, saw my classmate to do an MRI, to make sure it's not a slipped disc or anything. And that evening, he called me up and said that we found bone marrow replacement in your spine. I said, sorry what does that mean? I mean I know what it means, but I couldn't accept that. I was like “Are you serious?” I was still running around going to the gym you know. But we had more scans the next day, PET scans - positrons emission scans, they found that actually I have stage 4 terminal lung cancer. I was like "Whoa where did that come from?” It has already spread to the brain, the spine, the liver and the adrenals. And you know one moment I was there, totally thinking that I have everything under control, thinking that I've reached the pinnacle of my life. But the next moment, I have just lost it.

This is a CT scan of the lungs itself. If you look at it, every single dot there is a tumour. We call this miliaries tumour. And in fact, I have tens of thousands of them in the lungs. So, I was told that even with chemotherapy, that I'll have about 3-4months at most. Did my life come crushing on, of course it did, who wouldn't? I went into depression, of course, severe depression and I thought I had everything.

See the irony is that all these things that I have, the success, the trophies, my cars, my house and all. I thought that brought me happiness. But i was feeling really down, having severe depression. Having all these thoughts of my possessions, they brought me no joy. The thought of... You know, I can hug my Ferrari to sleep, no... No, it is not going to happen. It brought not a single comfort during my last ten months. And I thought they were, but they were not true happiness. But it wasn't. What really brought me joy in the last ten months was interaction with people, my loved ones, friends, people who genuinely care about me, they laugh and cry with me, and they are able to identify the pain and suffering I was going through. That brought joy to me, happiness. None of the things I have, all the possessions, and I thought those were supposed to bring me happiness. But it didn't, because if it did, I would have felt happy think about it, when I was feeling most down..

You know the classical Chinese New Year that is coming up. In the past, what do I do? Well, I will usually drive my flashy car to do my rounds, visit my relatives, to show it off to my friends. And I thought that was joy, you know. I thought that was really joy. But do you really think that my relatives and friends, whom some of them have difficulty trying to make ends meet, that will truly share the joy with me? Seeing me driving my flashy car and showing off to them? No, no way. They won’t be sharing joy with me. They were having problems trying to make ends meet, taking public transport. In fact i think, what I have done is more like you know, making them envious, jealous of all I have. In fact, sometimes even hatred.

Those are what we call objects of envy. I have them, I show them off to them and I feel it can fill my own pride and ego. That didn't bring any joy to these people, to my friends and relatives, and I thought they were real joy.

Well, let me just share another story with you. You know when I was about your age, I stayed in king Edward VII hall. I had this friend whom I thought was strange. Her name is Jennifer, we're still good friends. And as I walk along the path, she would, if she sees a snail, she would actually pick up the snail and put it along the grass patch. I was like why do you need to do that? Why dirty your hands? It’s just a snail. The truth is she could feel for the snail. The thought of being crushed to death is real to her, but to me it's just a snail. If you can't get out of the pathway of humans then you deserve to be crushed, it’s part of evolution isn't it? What an irony isn't it?

There I was being trained as a doctor, to be compassionate, to be able to empathise; but I couldn't. As a house officer, I graduated from medical school, posted to the oncology department at NUH. And, every day, every other day I witness death in the cancer department. When I see how they suffered, I see all the pain they went through. I see all the morphine they have to press every few minutes just to relieve their pain. I see them struggling with their oxygen breathing their last breath and all. But it was just a job. When I went to clinic every day, to the wards every day, take blood, give the medication but was the patient real to me? They weren't real to me. It was just a job, I do it, I get out of the ward, I can't wait to get home, I do my own stuff.

Was the pain, was the suffering the patients went through real? No. Of course I know all the medical terms to describe how they feel, all the suffering they went through. But in truth, I did not know how they feel, not until I became a patient. It is until now; I truly understand how they feel. And, if you ask me, would I have been a very different doctor if I were to re-live my life now, I can tell you yes I will. Because I truly understand how the patients feel now. And sometimes, you have to learn it the hard way.

Even as you start just your first year, and you embark this journey to become dental surgeons, let me just challenge you on two fronts.

Inevitably, all of you here will start to go into private practice. You will start to accumulate wealth. I can guarantee you. Just doing an implant can bring you thousands of dollars, it's fantastic money. And actually there is nothing wrong with being successful, with being rich or wealthy, absolutely nothing wrong. The only trouble is that a lot of us like myself couldn't handle it.

Why do I say that? Because when I start to accumulate, the more I have, the more I want. The more I wanted, the more obsessed I became. Like what I showed you earlier on, all I can was basically to get more possessions, to reach the pinnacle of what society did to us, of what society wants us to be. I became so obsessed that nothing else really mattered to me. Patients were just a source of income, and I tried to squeeze every single cent out of these patients.

A lot of times we forget, whom we are supposed to be serving. We become so lost that we serve nobody else but just ourselves. That was what happened to me. Whether it is in the medical, the dental fraternity, I can tell you, right now in the private practice, sometimes we just advise patients on treatment that is not indicated. Grey areas. And even though it is not necessary, we kind of advocate it. Even at this point, I know who are my friends and who genuinely cared for me and who are the ones who try to make money out of me by selling me "hope". We kind of lose our moral compass along the way. Because we just want to make money.

Worse, I can tell you, over the last few years, we bad mouth our fellow colleagues, our fellow competitors in the industry. We have no qualms about it. So if we can put them down to give ourselves an advantage, we do it. And that's what happening right now, medical, dental everywhere. My challenge to you is not to lose that moral compass. I learnt it the hard way, I hope you don't ever have to do it.

Secondly, a lot of us will start to get numb to our patients as we start to practise. Whether is it government hospitals, private practice, I can tell you when I was in the hospital, with stacks of patient folders, I can't wait to get rid of those folders as soon as possible; I can't wait to get patients out of my consultation room as soon as possible because there is just so many, and that's a reality. Because it becomes a job, a very routine job. And this is just part of it. Do I truly know how the patient feels back then? No, I don't. The fears and anxiety and all, do I truly understand what they are going through? I don't, not until when this happens to me and I think that is one of the biggest flaws in our system.

We’re being trained to be healthcare providers, professional, and all and yet we don't know how exactly they feel. I'm not asking you to get involved emotionally, I don't think that is professional but do we actually make a real effort to understand their pain and all? Most of us won’t, alright, I can assure you. So don't lose it, my challenge to you is to always be able to put yourself in your patient's shoes.

Because the pain, the anxiety, the fear are very real even though it's not real to you, it's real to them. So don't lose it and you know, right now I'm in the midst of my 5th cycle of my chemotherapy. I can tell you it’s a terrible feeling. Chemotherapy is one of those things that you don't wish even your enemies to go through because it's just suffering, lousy feeling, throwing out, you don't even know if you can retain your meals or not. Terrible feeling! And even with whatever little energy now I have, I try to reach out to other cancer patients because I truly understand what pain and suffering is like. But it's kind of little too late and too little.

You guys have a bright future ahead of you with all the resource and energy, so I’m going to challenge you to go beyond your immediate patients. To understand that there are people out there who are truly in pain, truly in hardship. Don’t get the idea that only poor people suffer. It is not true. A lot of these poor people do not have much in the first place, they are easily contented. for all you know they are happier than you and me but there are out there, people who are suffering mentally, physically, hardship, emotionally, financially and so on and so forth, and they are real. We choose to ignore them or we just don't want to know that they exist.

So do think about it alright, even as you go on to become professionals and dental surgeons and all. That you can reach out to these people who are in need. Whatever you do can make a large difference to them. I'm now at the receiving end so I know how it feels, someone who genuinely care for you, encourage and all. It makes a lot of difference to me. That’s what happens after treatment. I had a treatment recently, but I’ll leave this for another day. A lot of things happened along the way, that's why I am still able to talk to you today.

I'll just end of with this quote here, it's from this book called Tuesdays with Morris, and some of you may have read it. Everyone knows that they are going to die; every one of us knows that. The truth is, none of us believe it because if we did, we will do things differently. When I faced death, when I had to, I stripped myself off all stuff totally and I focused only on what is essential. The irony is that a lot of times, only when we learn how to die then we learn how to live. I know it sounds very morbid for this morning but it's the truth, this is what I’m going through.

Don’t let society tell you how to live. Don’t let the media tell you what you're supposed to do. Those things happened to me. And I led this life thinking that these are going to bring me happiness. I hope that you will think about it and decide for yourself how you want to live your own life. Not according to what other people tell you to do, and you have to decide whether you want to serve yourself, whether you are going to make a difference in somebody else's life. Because true happiness doesn't come from serving yourself. I thought it was but it didn't turn out that way.

Also most importantly, I think true joy comes from knowing God. Not knowing about God – I mean, you can read the bible and know about God – but knowing God personally; getting a relationship with God. I think that’s the most important. That’s what I’ve learnt.

So if I were to sum it up, I’d say that the earlier we sort out the priorities in our lives, the better it is. Don’t be like me – I had no other way. I had to learn it through the hard way. I had to come back to God to thank Him for this opportunity because I’ve had 3 major accidents in my past – car accidents. You know, these sports car accidents – I was always speeding , but somehow I always came out alive, even with the car almost being overturned. And I wouldn’t have had a chance. Who knows, I don’t know where else I’d be going to! Even though I was baptised it was just a show, but the fact that this has happened, it gave me a chance to come back to God.

Few things I’d learnt though:
1. Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart – this is so important.
2. Is to love and serve others, not just ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with being rich or wealthy. I think it’s absolutely alright, cos God has blessed. So many people are blessed with good wealth, but the trouble is I think a lot of us can’t handle it. The more we have, the more we want. I’ve gone through it, the deeper the hole we dig, the more we get sucked into it, so much so that we worship wealth and lose focus. Instead of worshipping God, we worship wealth. It’s just a human instinct. It’s just so difficult to get out of it.

We are all professionals, and when we go into private practise, we start to build up our wealth – inevitably. So my thought are, when you start to build up wealth and when the opportunity comes, do remember that all these things don’t belong to us. We don’t really own it nor have rights to this wealth. It’s actually God’s gift to us. Remember that it’s more important to further His Kingdom rather than to further ourselves.

Anyway I think that I’ve gone through it, and I know that wealth without God is empty. It is more important that you fill up the wealth, as you build it up subsequently, as professionals and all, you need to fill it up with the wealth of God.

Street Museum in Ahmedabad, Part Two

Finally, I am done with my internal exams and I can now breath a sigh of relief. Of the total six papers, I think I messed up 3. I think the time was the factor here. One and half hour for four good essays, by any measure, I feel is too short even a fastest writing person on this planet. Along with those four essays, let us also not forget the MCQ part!

As always I tried to give my best. But constrained by time, I literally had no time to arrange my thoughts. Therefore I often ended up writing junks-like answers which made less sense and no logic. lol. And I think this happens in every exams everywhere around the world! Since, todays paper is my  last paper for my internal exams, I did not want to mess up any more. So I stayed late and got up early.  Back in the exam hall, I read the questions thoroughly and then wrote my answers like running water.  Now I am waiting for my final exams. 

By the way, I have promised to bring up some more pictures of  the paintings. So here are some of them. Please enjoy and leave me loads of comments to read.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Street Museum in Ahmedabad, Part One

Mathematics! Well, I have just one sentence for it. 'I am not good at it'. But like it or not, I grew up with mathematics all my life. If education was pork then, I accepted mathematics just like a tail of a dead pig. Mathematics is one subject which increased my heart beat and reddened my face. Therefore I never enjoyed mathematics. But for now, let us keep this for another post.

Tomorrow ( i.e on 29.10.2012) I have my Mathematics exam. So today, I got up little early to do my revisions. This used to be my trend and tradition.  For the record, I did not even wash my face nor brush my teeth today. I was all bogged down with thousand paged Statistical methods by Dr. S.P Gupta and over 500 paged Business mathematics by Dr. J K Thukral. I did not even know how and when I had my breakfast. 

So, towards evening I went for a walk and I took the normal footpath. I took my camera along because, I remember seeing some paintings by the road side. I have seen those paintings over thousand time now but today I decided to take a deeper look. And I did. I found all the paintings very beautiful and meaningful. It was like being in a museum. For once they made me forget about my tomorrows exam!

I was told that those paintings were done by school kids. Personally I liked all the paintings and I salute those people who have initiated the project. It not only makes the street look beautiful but it also imparts lots of knowledge.  'Save the Planet' and 'save the girl child' were mostly used title in the art. They look very thoughtful messages from the young generation. Look at the arts your self.

By the way those beautiful arts are grossly misused by the passers. I have seen people peeing and spitting on them. While I was busy shooting those pictures  (i.e in a span of just few minutes) I have seen two men peeing on them without even hiding their dangling penises. For once, I wished I had the power to grab them tight and chop if off from the bottom! 

Enjoy the art works. It is in Ahmedabad. And I intend to bring out some more pictures once I am done with my exams.


Friday, October 26, 2012

I Do Not Like The Idea of MCQs

The university where I study looks fairly old. Looking at the establishment year, it appears to be among the oldest universities in India. It offers roughly more than hundred courses both on campus and off campus! And this made me believe that, it is also one of the greatest and largest universities in India (if not in the world) I do not have the official figure, but there seem to be over hundred colleges affiliated to it along with hundred thousand students in each of them.

I am one among few foreign students here. (from Bhutan)

And ever since my day one here, I have observed  few things that are consistent and also few thing that are inconsistent in and around my university. Notably the heat, dust, din, and noise were some of the consistent things, Whereas, some of the inconsistently consistent things are as follows: One, our university's lack of ability to declare our exam dates beforehand, two, our academic syllabus has been under constant change and modification, and three, changes in the pattern of our exam question papers. 

Firstly, not being able to have a fixed exam date looks reasonable because, Gujarat is a region known for its multi-culture that are as amazing and as beautiful beyond words. Personally, I feel this is one region where traditional and ceremonial occasions are observed with strict adherence. In the process, events here are also predetermined as per the traditional calender (and not as per Gregorian calender) Hence for a person who lives by Gregorian calender, its like "Be like a Roman when you are in Rome" 

Secondly, continuous change in academic syllabus is even far more acceptable. Besides removing those overlapping topics in various papers, it looks far more OK to change the syllabus to suit the changing needs of the students and the society at large. In a way I feel it is like changing an old and outdated base year (in computation of price index for economic variables) which have become useless and senseless over a period of time. 

In my first and second semester, I had six papers and each had five units in it. I remember how little time we had for each topics. I also remember how I wrote two crazy semester exams! It was tough and and it has been a real knowledge testing stuff. Although time was our major constraint, some how we managed to cover up in given time period. 

Now that I am in third semester, I feel happy for the fact that we have a revised academic syllabus (with least overlapping and repetitive topics). We now have six papers which have four units.

But all looks not so well. With a slight change in syllabus, our university have come up with a drastic change in exam paper setting. Currently I am doing my internal exams and I am totally not loving the exam times like before. I feel we are made to study like hell only to answer very few questions that demands answers as long as Mahabharat epic........ and some questions just demand one word!. They call it MCQs or Multiple Choice Questions here.  We just need to pick the correct answer from the four given options. It is not not at all difficult and I know some people can easily score ten out of ten or fifty out of fifty, because people discuss in the exam hall like they are in group discussion!  And all those crazy stuffs has to happen in hour and half time !

So, I am now thinking that if the objective of education is to test the knowledge of the students, then the idea of MCQ with four essays in just hour and half time does not look as a correct yardstick. What do you think?  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Hitting 100000 While Some are Disappearing

Long time ago when these people wrote on their blog, life used to be fun. Blogging used to lot more interactive and vibrant.  Let us not forget, it also used to be lot more sharing and loving! Blog sphere, as it was called, used to be a platform where we, as a bloggers came together and shared our thoughts, opinions and learned from each other, the art of expression. It used be like a place where bird of same feather flocked together and flocked happily. 

But for now it appears to me that this group of interesting people have shut their doors to blogging. Their blogs, which  once thrived with thought provoking and inspiring posts now looks deserted and dead. It looks like a ruins that are cut off from civilizations for ages. Honestly, their prolonged absence and silence is making me feel that something like salt in the curry is missing in our blogs sphere.

Please guys, come back and join the house. I want to share with you, the joy of my 100000th hit. At the moment I am feeling on top of the world for being able to capture the moment when my blog hit reached my magical number 99999.

I wish all the bloggers a very happy happy blogging days and life ahead. Thank you all for inspiring me into blogging. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Another Golden Voice From Bhutan

Picture Courtesy: Yeshhey's Facebook
My deepest apologies for Yeshhey and Dechen. In my earlier post I mistook Yeshhey's clip for Dechen's. But I am happy that Dechen responded to my message and I got it corrected. I rechecked the clips and then came to know that even Yeshhey is also from Bhutan.

Now listen to heir voice. Aren't they beautiful and soothing? I am feeling speechless with  their sensational voice. Its so touching and!. To me, I feel that these guys have the talent to take our music industry to another level.

At the moment, all I can say is that we need to support them and cheer them up. Please friends, lets give a huge and heartiest appreciation and applaud to Yeshhey too. Let's wish Yeshhey all the best in her life. 

Listen To This Talented Singer From Bhutan

One thing that makes me feel prod about being Bhutanese is that we have many undiscovered talents in us. I honestly believe, we have gold in us!  Although our beautiful past could not provide us the opportunity to dig for them, with dynamic present, it gives me a genuine sense of feeling that, we are heeding to a promising future altogether  Be it academic, music, film, literature, art and culture, there are not many fields, where Bhutanese have not excelled!

Picture Courtesy: KBS TV S. Korea
Dechen during her performance
I think Dechen Wangmo's case stands as living testimonial to my statement. Just listen to her voice! you will know what Bhutanese are capable of.  It is little difficult to understand even with Google translator, but the way media in South Korea has gone to describe Dechen's performance, I think she has surely cast her spell of music  over there. If I am not wrong, Koran media has labelled Dechen as the "Queen of Music from Bhutan". Let us all give Dechen a huge round of our sincere and heartiest applaud ! 

You are an inspiration! and I thank you for that. I will definitely show your clips to my three daughters, and tell them to dream big and work hard to achieve big like Ashim Dechen.

I wish Dechen all the best in her life. And I hope to see her in Bhutan complementing our own beautiful talented. Namgay Jigs, Ugyen Panday, Minzuk, Jangchub, Jampel and many more.....

'If music be the food of love" then we have people like Dechen to play on and on. May god Bless Dechen in her endeavor. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Buddhism and Helping Animals

In the words of Lama Kunzang; “The souls of all sentient beings are inter-woven through numerous births and rebirths in this samsaric world. We should show all animals, gratitude and respect through compassion and sympathy.” In other words it means that as a rationale human beings, we should know that animals are our relatives and best friends and that they are not our food! 

Lama Kunzang has done a lot in saving the lives of those innocent animals. He is by far the embodiment of Buddha himself. I am deeply touched by his deeds. From saving cows, bulls and stray dogs, he has now made his presence in saving the lives of Yaks! 

As a person who grew up with yaks, I have a personal love for those animals. Through my experience, I know that yaks are emotional sensitive and intelligent animals. Like any other animals they do not deserve  to be killed for food  (at least). We were a poor family then. But we never killed any yaks for our livelihood! Sometimes my family survived on just one milking yak and we did very well! But for now lets keep this topic for another post. 

The fact of the matter is, now with no meat coming from India, I think our yak herders are taking the advantage of these lucrative meat business. Brutal and inhuman killing of animals is taking place in our Buddhist country. Therefore, for the love of our friends, -animals; lets extend our helping hand to Jangsa animal saving trust. By this I am not urging any one to make a hefty donations to the trust. Each one of us can make a difference if we can at least reduce our meat consumption. I would not even force someone to become veg over night, but please read the excerpt that I took form Jangsa Animal Saving Trust page. This Lama inspired me to my heart. Just see what it can do for you.

Lama Kunzang Dorjee
Lama Kunzang Dorjee heads the oldest Buthanese monastery, Jangsa Gompa in Kalimpong, India.* He also heads two monasteries in Kurteo Lhuentse , Eastern Bhutan , and one in Gelephu in Southern Bhutan. Decidedly vegetarian and tsethar practitioner (practise of saving lives), Lama Kunzang Dorje set up the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust and saved more than 650 bulls and other similarly ill-fated animals from being killed in slaughter houses by buying them.

Lama Kunzang Dorjee was born in the Nyo lineage of Gyalwa Lhanangpa. At the age of 13, he began studying under his father, Lama Pema Longdrol** and Kyabje Tashi Tsering, also known as Somdrang Rinpoche. He received guidance in the preliminary practices for three years following the Phowa, Bardo and Samadhi practices. At the age of 19, he met H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche who had come to Tashigang, Bhutan, to give the Empowerment of Rinchen Terzod.

Photo Courtesy: JAST
Lama Kunzang Dorjee started education in a modern Roman Catholic school, St. Augustine school in Kalimpong, but at the age of 14, he joined H.H. Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche's monastery in Gangtok that follows the Nyingthig lineage of Nyingma School. This change was his own decision, which his father was happy to support. As both his parents were disciples of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Lama-la received the Empowerment and transmission of the Great Terton Dudjom Lingpa and H.H. Dudjom Rinpoches's Sungbum before he joined the monastry in Gangtok where he stayed for 13 years receiving the empowerments of Kama, Terma, Yabshi, Jigling Tsapoe etc and various other Trilung from H.H. Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche. He also studied some Sutra teachings and Tantra teachings from Venerable Lopon Thekchog and Khenpo Tsundru Singye of the same monastery and from Lama Gyalwang Nima and Khenpo Dazer. His monk ordination and many teachings he took from Khen Rinpoche Mewa Thukten.

Lama Pema Longdrol, gave him many teachings and transmissions, including the detailed instructions on the tantric deity of Vajrakilaya. Lama Kunzang Dorje has been blessed to receive Dzogchen and other teachings from Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. From Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche he received Dzongchen teachings and Kagyur transmission. Lama Kunzang Dorjee has been blessed to get some teachings from Kyabje Dungse Rinpoche as well. He did his three-year retreat at Helembu, Nepal, under the guidance of H.H. Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche. Lama-la is following the path set by H.H. Chatral Rinpoche in the practice of "tsethar" (saving lives by buying animals who otherwise would be killed).

Saving cows and stray dogs, Lama Kunzang Dorj stated that his compassion was kindled when, in late 2000, five bulls which had escaped from a slaughter house in Kalimpong, forced their way into his monastery and refused to leave. When the five bulls returned to the monastery for the third time the same day, Lama Kunzang Dorjee gave them water and fresh grass, but they refused to eat. That moment was a turning point: he had started to save these beings. He bought them for Rs. 45,000, built a shed and appointed a caretaker to look after them. Lama-la, who is also in the process of establishing a sanctuary in Thimphu, Bhutan for animals that are going to be slaughtered in and around the capital, also hopes that meat consumption will slowly decrease as more people become aware of tsethar. 

In 2008 together with the Bhutanese Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) lama-la started a project to save stray dogs. In 2009, he has visited England , where he contributed to a university project on tantric longevity rituals, and also visited South-east Asia, as well as Hong Kong , where he is starting a Buddhist centre.

Long Live Lama Kunzang and Long live all the JAST members.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Happy Anniversary to My King and Queen

13th October 2011 will go a long way in the history of Bhutan. It will be remembered as the day on which our beloved king and queen tied their knot of love. "Royal wedding" as it was called, brought us ineffable joy, indescribable beauty and lasting hopes. Their unification ceremony was witnessed by millions around the world, loaded with emotion and ecstasy. Some even must have watched it with a pinch of envy!. But it was truly the most memorable event in human history.

With this I would like to wish your Majesties a very happy happy wedding anniversary. May you and your legacy continue to bless us, lead us, guide us and inspire us all through the ages. I am sure that the sun of happiness will shine for eons in Bhutan, if only Bhutanese couples portray and behave like our Royal couple, both in action and in mind. 

I thank you, your Majesties for showering me with an inspiration. Through your union, I learned that, Happy nation is nothing but an aggregation of happy homes. I consider myself a loving family man, but from you, I  have now learnt  to display more love and affection to my family too. Thank you Your Majesties.

May Kuncho-Sum Bless my King and Queen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Killing Yaks for Livelihood or For Greed?

Killing, for what ever cause and reason is an unjustified act. It is brutal and inhuman. Shunned by many religions, it is often considered as an anti religious!. Especially in Buddhism, even an infant is suppose to know that killing is a heinous and irredeemable sin. Therefore, it is morally not right to take a life of even a tiny being like mosquito!

But today, driven by human greed for easy money and meat, these principles have become like a myth. Killing fellow beings have become like a fashion. Long time ago, it was done in the name of religion and culture. Now it is done more in the name of livelihood and survival. Sometimes it is also done for fun, pleasure and luxury. Many innocent animals like bulls, pigs, chickens, etc are slaughtered everyday without mercy. With the recent news in KUENSEL, it gives us a feeling that animal killing has reached its height even in Bhutan. It is a shocking sensation to hear that animal atrocity is happening in the last Shangri-La!

In our recent past, we acknowledged that many animals were slaughtered across the border to meet our  rising meat demand. But soon after enforcing the Cow Slaughter Ban Bill in India, It appears to us that now our yak herders have taken their turn in slaughter house. Looking at the sheer numbers of yaks being saved by Jangsa animal saving trust, it tells us a different story all together.

Every moment I hear yaks being rescued from their heartless and senseless owners. I ask this question to myself  "Is survival in high lands that desperate?"  The immediate answer that comes to my mind is that;  living in the high land is no fun. It is an enterprise as mighty as the mountains. But survival is still not that desperate. Our king(s) and Government have in fact done a commendable job to improve their living standard. legalizing trade in cordycepts is one such landmark initiative taken by the king to improve their economic well being. Due to this, today the living condition of our yak herders, if not higher are at par with the rest. Today, we see yak herders shopping in Thimphu with packs of thousand notes! Some of them have already become a established business man! Luxury items like cars and bows etc have just become their needs. They are indeed having an economic miracle at the moment!

So where is the need for them to slaughter so many animals?

It is well known fact that those yak herders would  kill few yaks annually to sustain their family. The killings were minimal and it was mostly carried out in the confines of their household needs. No public announcements were required. But today things have changed. Yak herders of our generation now prefers mass public slaughtering! The very animals that sustained their families through thick and thins are now transported in mass from high up mountains to towns in trucks. They are soon tied and readied to be slaughtered without any  mercy! Shamelessly and with out any guilt, those herders turned-to-butchers were often heard saying that they were doing it for their survival!!!!!!!!!!!!!   What could be more cruel than this!

See the pain in his eyes
Although Jangsa animal saving trust is doing their best to save those animals, much needs to be done from our state too. Yaks are domestic animals that are fast heeding towards their extinction! With this rate of killing, there would be no more yaks in few years time (in Bhutan). Therefore, saving and protecting yak is not the responsibility of Jangsa animal saving trust alone. It is a call for us to combat animal cruelty!.

Now as a Buddhist country, if we can have a law banning tobacco, than calling for a law to combat animal cruelty is not a big ask for our state. Let us also make life better for other beings as well.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thank you Passu.

Photo Courtesy: Passu's Facebook
Hi Passu,

I do not know from where to begin, but I am here to honestly thank you for all your inspiration. Of all the people who inspired me into writing, one person that (still) stands toweringly tall is you. Your witty lines always made my day. Your abundant humor in imparting lessons were simply sublime.

More than one year ago, when I decided not to blog, due to the warning letter I received from my Boss, I remember your comment that made me think millions. I am sorry for not being able retrieve that comment, but it came came as a knock of realization for me. Except that biased warning from my boss, I could not find any other reasons that were in any way fitting to bring my writing habit to a halt. So here I continued. 

Today, I have over hundred  regular followers. My Blog gets an average of hit few hundreds daily. I am happy to know that I have also inspired people like Tashi and Jamtsho into reading and blogging! and there are many more people like them! Thank you Passa, this was all possible because of an inspiration and encouragement from a passionateblogger like you. Read their comments for yourself:
  • "Hello partner, you have given a new dimension to blogging with your unique and innovative ways. Your way of writing is simply outstanding. I have enjoyed all your articles ever since you started blogging two years back. You are the one reason why I now enjoy reading every day. Please continue with your writing and my best wishes for your future endeavors...........................Warms regards, Tashi"
  • "Dear brother, I am amazed to know that you have read too many books. You really write so well, witty write up. I had been following your blog (and a few others), and those blogs inspired me to create my own, to improve my writings. Hope some day I can be like you bro. keep posting.... ........................................Jamtsho"
Not only that, my two housemates now have their own blogs! Their blogs are keeping them engaged and I feel immensely happy about that. I feel more happy for the fact that they are now more into reading and writing than into sleeping and dreaming. Check their blogs: Tashi Jamthso's Blog and Jurmi's Blog

By the way Passa, I was trying out  a new template for my blog through your link. I have checked all 417 pages! and  unfortunately, I had to settle with this template, (the one which you are using as well). Please bear with me. Through your blog, I was also able to add a Google translator on my blog. Now, through this new gadget, I am hoping to entertain even non-English audience too.

Thank you Passa once again for all your inspirations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Longchen Thongdrol

Picture courtesy: Sonam Rinchen
Sometime ago in 2011, a group of people from Shingkhar has initiated sacred project called 'Longchen Thongdrol Project'. I remember blogging about it on different occasions. Longchen Thongdrol project is one such project which is undertaken purely by local people of Shingkhar, who reside mostly in urban Thimphu. I was told that the project is worth more than a million Nu and all the funds are expected to come by way of donation and contributions. Till date, I was told that Funds have mostly come form Shingkharpas only. And in few instances, even the die hard Shingkharpas (including me) have failed to make any contributions! 

I feel sad for not being able to contribute even a penny till date. But I would like my fellas at home to know that I am praying very big at the moment. I am wholeheartedly praying to Meme Raguala and Longchen that one day I become someone who could contribute lot more than pennies and pounds. I hope Longchen and and Meme Ragula understands my situation better. I am surviving on limited stipend and unlike many people who study, I do not earn any dollars. I hope Meme Ragula and Longchen also understand that the economic condition of our country is not good now. So if Shingkharpas are not regular in their contribution, then it is not Shingkharpas to be blamed but Bhutan's economy.

oohh! by the way lets also not forget that, at the moment people of Bhutan are busy contributing for the reconstruction of Wangdi Dzong too.

The aim of constructing a sacred Thingdrol is to liberate all the sentient beings who are suffering in samsara. As a Buddhist undertaking, the project when completed is expected to bring blessings to every single individuals who beholds it. All in all, it is expected to bring happiness and prosperity to Bhutan in particular and world in general. 
year of Photography: 2003
Therefore, through this post, I would like to invite individuals who have great reverence to Buddhism in general and Longchen and his teachings in particular to also come forward and offer your part. On behalf of my brothers and sisters from Shingkhar, I invite you to make your drop count in building an ocean of good deed. No matter how tiny your flower may be, Longchen Thongdrol project would still deem it an offering as big as the word big itself.

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