Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Choice- 7 wonders of our country

1: Tongsa Dzong, Trongsa                  Image: bhutanabbottours.com

2: Burning Lake, Bumthang          Image: bhutan.hubpages.com

3: Taksang, Paro                                         Image: locosfootball.com

4: Chorten Kora, Trashiyangtse               Image: bhutan2008.bt

5: Druk Wangyal Khangzang chortens, Dochula     Image: bhutansandalwood.com

6: Punakha Dzong, Punakha                                  Image: en.wikipedia.org

7:Buddha Dordenma statue, Thimphu      image: Panoramio.com

[###!@#$%^&*  Please Note That the Numbering Do not Show their Rank(edited after valuable suggestions provide by fellow Bloggers).]

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Blessed rainy day revisited.

When I opened my eyes this morning I heard mantras being chanted by a lama on BBS radio. The loud and husky sound blared from my landlord’s room upstairs. It was already 6:00 am in the morning and my neighbor Miss Yashoda Sharma who is also my colleague at my school was busy baking a cake for our house owner’s children. She had promised them to bake one. We weren’t meant to be busy today as we have been invited by our colleagues and I was also invited by local people to an archery match but we couldn’t help it. We got into the thick of the thing.
I helped them chop the wet fish and fried it. And she helped in preparing other items like Alu dum, dal and fish curry which they, our host, felt we cook those items tasty.
Started Drizzling
It was 10:30 am and the most awaited event of the day occurred. It started to drizzle here. And I collected few drops of the Blessed rainfall in a bucket and sprinkled it over my head to be blessed! [Hope the lottery I purchased last month will be fruitful..haha]
Finally the feast was ready to be served. We had a good number of items laid neatly across a long table in our Principals resident. In the menu, Alu dum stole the show and followed by ama dashi, fish curry, dal, Alu dashi, fried channa, canned chicken( thanks to the recent birdflu outbreak)  and fresh butter. But before we had our lunch the tea cups sprung from nowhere with wooden bowls full of Jow and Ter-thang ma.

Head and the three colleagues enjoying the meal

The other colleague and me

After a heavy and tasty lunch we engaged ourselves into a random conversation. The conversation started on different types of wine, dialects, languages and religions in Bhutan, school issues, position classification and ended with the best techniques known to manufacture alcohol at home. [The Head and the two ladies refrained to but you know what happened to three of us in the middle!].

The second invitation took me two kilometers away. The usual marshy route has become even more dampened by the Blessed raining. It was too slippery but somehow I dragged myself to the archery range.
An archer with his weapon
The archers greeted me with all their honesty and escorted me to a tent. I was then with the wives, children and older citizens. I gave sweets to the children [Part of Public Relation strategy] and greeted ‘Kuzu zangpo’ to all of them. The wives were busy serving beverages like Black mountain, 11000 Beer (second favorite among the locals), needless to mention; Arra the ‘cheap and the best’ available to the shooters.   [Apart from serving, these women, like other Bhutanese women, were good at teasing and sweet talk. I was almost blown away by their cajolery.]   
A multi-purpose tent
I just wondered how these beverages would help them hit the target. But that’s the way it is. The two As goes very well together, the Alcohol and the Archery. The shooters who frequently visited the tent were the ones who had many daars dangling from their waist.
It was 5:14 pm and I was getting late to return. I wished the archers a good luck and a hearty goodbye to the cheerful women and the children. On reaching home I found leeches feeding on my legs. They were as big as my little finger. The immediate thought that ran across my mind was that the leeches too had a grand feast on this Blessed rainy day as I did.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One school one TV campaign .....begins TODAY!

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” - Napolian Hill

 Teri campaign  in India help lighting million lives through distributing solar-chargeable lantern. The Bollywood stars especially Shah Rukh Khan and others came forward to endorse by adopting far flung villages.  I had witness its initial stage on NDTV a few years back.  I was only impressed then. But my recent reading of the campaign on net inspired a dream in me.  My dream is to see a Television set bringing smiles to the children of all the remote schools in Bhutan.
Another reason to inspire me the dream is my current place of posting and the occupation.
   My laptop in full use...can you see the smile? 

I teach in a small community school in eastern Bhutan. The strength of the school is 67 but only 28 of these ‘future of the nation’ have access to television and remaining 39 which constitute more than half have to walk a long distance to a friend’s house just to watch TV.  Many of them even cannot afford to as they are caught in the daily tasks related to cattle and farming.
The following observation is based on my school/place but the scenario is alike in every far flung villages of our country. .  
Part I:    What I have observed here with the regular and irregular viewer among the students is the level of exposure and confident.
The irregular viewers are limited to their thinking and are less confident compared with the regular viewers. The regular viewers have different topics to discuss. The irregular viewers don’t talk much. The irregular viewers have to be pushed in to participate in competitions conducted in school. In the other hand, the regular viewers are active. They want to be always in front, participate in every competition and events held in the school. They also have built a good rapport with teachers. However other factors like living standard and alike might be also the factors contributing to the status of the students.
Part II:  Teachers, parents (if they are exemplary) and books (both academic and leisure books) are the only available source of knowledge and inspiration. In addition to it, the environment is too poor in terms of examples. There are parents who studied till fifth standard and are somehow managing to run their family, brothers are mostly school dropouts who earn by cutting woodchips and there are elders who waste their life being drunk. It is apparent from the ambition that they have. All most everyone wants to be a teacher and the most obvious second option is to be a farmer or a woodchip cutter if they fail academically. It’s good news that more than half of the school wants to be a teacher because they see us as a successful person among the rest but the level of motivation is the least.
We (teachers) try to motivate them to study hard and fulfill their dreams. Responsible as they may be but the parents are more than happy just to see their children go to school. And the duty to motivate their children at home to do better in school is out of question. They believe we and the school can alone make a child’s life.
A program to have a doctor giving lecture in a class room on how noble is his profession; a police officer on his responsibility to maintain order in a city and a fresh college graduate student sharing his strategies of academic success will definitely inspire students to follow their footsteps. But it is beyond our scope to call these people.
In the light of the above, a television set, a DVD player and educational CDs shall be of great source of education, information and inspiration to the students. A virtual world of Doctors, Engineers, Perfect students and of success stories, triumph and good moral conducts shall guide our students to build/polish their characters and pave a way for themselves to a successful life.
How can we HELP them own a TV set?
1: Students: if you are a student of any urban school/college or an institute you could organize a cultural show or any other activity to raise a fund to purchase a TV set and a DVD player for any remote school of your choice.
2: Students studying abroad:  if you are studying abroad you could initiate a fund raising campaign in your respective universities/colleges and purchase for your choice of community school in rural Bhutan. [e.g.:  The students at Skagit Valley College, USA, sent $650 to cover Legson Kayira’s airfare to America. He was a poor boy but determined to earn a college degree. Cynthia Kersey’s book ‘Unstoppable’]
3: CCR: if you are an employee/CEO of a firm, under the corporate civic responsibility you could endorse by adopting all the community schools in the Dzongkhag of your operation.
4: Philanthropy:  if you are a person in power, a social figure etc you could also buy and gift a TV set and a DVD player to a school of your choice.
5: NGOs:  if you are an employee/Director of any NGOs within our country; SAVE the Children Bhutan, UNICEF Bhutan, NCWC, Tarayana Foundation… you could arrange a fund to give this cause a live of its own.
6: Ministry of Education: if you belong to the Ministry of Education you could talk about it and help squeeze an amount of fund to initiate this campaign.
7: Blogger/individual:  if you are a Blogger or an individual reading this piece you could just help spread this Campaign by making a buzz out of it on internet.
And there is one more thing to say, if you were ever touched or have said ‘ooo….so cute’ looking at a newspaper picture of a remote school girl with her torn bag and a smile on her face YOU got to do something TODAY! Make your mind to do it either out of your sense of being responsible citizen or just as a human being but, do it anyway.
what else could move a man's heart than a sweet smile of a child

Thank You for visiting my blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My school and community in the advent of Royal wedding

My school is gearing up to celebrate the royal wedding next month. The pressure, no excitement is on. Teachers and students are leaving no stone unturned to mark this joyous occasion.

Two of our lady teachers are tirelessly helping the students to make their own wishing cards. They are also actively involved in teaching our students Bhutanese folk songs and dances to observe the day.
folk dance in progress

The Principal of the school, two other male colleagues, school caretaker and I with five senior boys are passionately putting all our wits and might to master the art of playing Khuru (darts). We are strengthening our arms and sharpening our concentration in our preparation to beat local veterans in the game. looking at the level of our practice, we are hopeful to win and shall dedicate our victory to the Royal wedding.

The tentative program for the celebration will begin with offering of Kadar and fresh flowers on King’s and Royal Bride’s portrait by students, parents and teachers. And it shall be followed by folk songs and dances by students and a presentation of their wishing cards. The celebration shall be carried on in the second day with a daylong Khuru competition.  [Hope I would find my hands still attached to my shoulders after throwing darts for a whole day.]
practice is better than preaching

Meanwhile, in Tongsang; a small village of nine households which is three kilometers away from my school is also full of activities. The people are busy. They are into mass production of wooden plates and bowls. It is, however, a common sight to see but this year the cause for mass production happens to be the advent of royal wedding apart from Thimphu Tsechu and Drubchen which happens to fall in the same month. I wonder how these soft spoken and innocent looking people know so much about market and profit making strategies.  
Third generation but still a craftsman at heart
The vendors are optimistic to sell more products this year so they are not taking any chances.  The men are constantly engaged in sweet-talking [ except the one in the picture above] with their dealers in Paro and Thimphu. And the women who usually under take the task of varnishing the wooden plates and bowls have stopped drinking arra for a month.  [My recent visit to their houses turned out to be more of a meet to discuss on royal wedding than the usual visits to  gulp down that not-so-sweet beverage.....Ha ha ha…] They are of the opinion that this year’s product should be the best they have ever produced.
Amm Tshering; Busy but happy with what she does the best

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Hunt is over

The meat shop at Trashiyangtse which is almost two hours walk from my place can hardly meet the demand of the local people. The shop is usually close during weekends due to the shortage of supply. And during the weekdays I am not able to go because of the distance.
I thought of asking my father who is in Samdrup Jongkhar to parcel me the thing.  But somehow dismissed the idea because I have never heard of raw chicken being parceled.
So, my hunt for chicken took me to all the hamlets of our school’s catchment area. There are five hamlets and all of them are approximately three kilometers away from my one roomed apartment. The routes to these hamlets are also not so easy. The marshy narrow passages, thick bushes and the leeches troubled me a bit but didn’t have the power to stop my strong craving for chicken.
Google Image: undressed and ready!
I came across a good number of hens and roosters scavenging during my visit to the hamlets but to no avail. My numerous requests to purchase one were rejected at once. They were adamant not to sell even one.  You know it; my requests were rejected on religious and Karmic ground. I was formally informed that it’s an evil deed to kill the ‘sentient being’.  Even more pressing reason was that if they do sell me one, they will have to share my deed. So the deal couldn’t happen.
Surprisingly, after a month or two of my hunt, the hamlets were deserted of hens and cooks.
I was told by the local people that a group of students from Bayling Higher Secondary School, Trashiyangtse had stolen the prized possession of the people. The hens were valued like the goose that laid golden eggs because one egg in the market cost them NU: 10.
As infamous the stealing was, my yesterday’s desperate visit to the only meat shop was a sort of VICTORY. Chicken was available abundantly.  You won’t believe me; I was drooling when I finally purchased one.
Steaming hot....yummy! yummy!
My hunt for chicken got over and the   r   e   s   t   is history!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Emotionally Dangerous

Teacher is a profession that is considered ‘Emotionally Dangerous’. One wise man has said, “By choosing to be a teacher, you have entered an emotionally dangerous profession”.
Following is my personal observation on the issue of WHY is it so EMOTIONAL?
Gaining poise in the emotionally dangerous job
1:            Learning is subjective in a sense that few will perform brilliantly and others will learn slowly. The awesomeness of those good performers is a different story. The issue I am beautifully bothered is related to the slow learners.
I am deeply saddened when the slow learners don’t show any improvement. It’s more heart breaking when they don’t know anything even after several repetitions. In the other hand, when the same slow learners show a bit of interest in studies and see them working hard, tears of joy flow in. In either situation I feel a tremendous current of emotion.
2:            The pride of any parents is directly propositional to the performance of their child. And a teacher who teaches the child automatically comes under this performance radar.
One father of a student had sent his old and semi-deaf father to collect the report card of his academically poor son. I felt empathy for this disheartened father. The reason behind sending him was that the father was feeling ashamed; he revealed so to me over a bottle of beer.
Yet, another father who was once demoralized due to the poor performance of his elder son has now been revived of his pride and confidence. How? His younger son who is now in class PP is doing exceptionally well. Other parents started to envy, teachers are pleased and the father is proud like never before.  This transformation deserves EMOTION! It brought me smile on my face too.
3:            Jealousy among students on the bases of my class management skill is another common ground where I find myself caught in the wave of emotion. Though I treat them equally but few students always complain me for being bias and few even burst in tears. They say I beat someone slowly, help someone else more often or allow someone go to rest room frequently. These allegations make me numb at times.   
4:            Everyday meeting with students like Pema Dorji; who has to walk 2 hrs daily to reach his school,  Thuji Dema; a beautiful girl who has to stay at different places so as to continue her schooling because she doesn’t have a proper place called HOME. She has a father but, he is a drunkard and he relies on relatives for survival and the stories of several other students with whom I have to meet my eyes has a life to live but a poor and depleted one; these stories makes me uneasy.
Photo: Thuji Dema; Girl without a Home
5:            One fine day, a student was entering our staffroom to collect his assignment book. I was standing outside the door. He took off his slipper and enters the room. Suddenly, my attention was driven by the flip of his badly torn slipper. The plastic slipper had a big hole due to over use. There I missed a breath and promised myself to help this guy buy a pair of new slipper. The sight brushed the core of my heart. Within a week he was wearing the slipper that I bought for him. He was happy.
6:            final point: As a teacher, I am somehow helping a student fulfill his dream through my presence in his life. And needless to say, I too help a single parent have hope for a comfortable life and help poor parents dream a better life through the education of their children. This chain reaction makes my job more responsible and one hack of an “EMOTIONALLY DANGEROUS” profession.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Mother Teresa once said, ‘if we all clean our doorsteps the whole world will be clean’. In my context as a teacher this simple quotation if formulated would be; if all class teachers take more responsibility for their own classes the whole school would shine.  The students would be looked after more often and they would even perform better academically.
The responsibilities could be as easy as picking up a fallen pencil of a student and keeping it on her desk while she is busy reading, as simple as decorating the class to enhance learning and as complex and difficult as building character of the students.
Teaching-Learning Materials displayed neatly

What I believe is that the system of class teacher might have been initiated to fulfill the extra duties (in detail later) I just mentioned but I hardly experienced it back in my school days. The class teachers would take attendance, teach his subject and at times help the head teacher spread emergency circulations.  But the sad part is that I don’t see or hear about this fabulous practice even NOW.  Here, I am not saying that my colleagues are ignorant about this whole thing and I am the only one who has mastered the trick. But the point I want to make is we (class teachers) are duty bound to take up this beautiful and responsible duties apart from the usual text book teaching. The responsibility I am talking about is bigger apart from making them literate.
When I started teaching a year back, I was given class V to look after. The number of students was 15 and it was the largest and the naughtiest class of the school.  I was told that students exist from windows to get out of their classroom, steal lunch, they didn’t talk at all forget about responding to a question. I was happy not because I was given the opportunity to teach the largest group but, I thought if I could bring any change in them, I would be making the biggest impact! This was my motivation.
I started telling stories from my own life. Read them stories from books. I did Show movies on my laptop. Taught them songs; ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton, ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and ‘Desperately’ by Don Williams to name a few. Talk with them in a casual way. Tease them, cuddle them and foretell stories of them being successful; working at a big office, staying in a large house, buying cars and giving me lift when they find me along a road with a walking stick.  
Within days the students started to behave properly.  They began to open their long closed mouth and were quick to respond. Stopped stealing lunch and started to use door to exist (I don’t want to take this credit alone; the works of other teachers must have also gone into it). I would spent whole day with students chatting with them even in intervals and avoiding that stinking staffroom (more about this later). But, few of my colleagues got annoyed with me for being too friendly with the students. They were of the opinion that if I give more damn to the students, they will soon take advantage of me. I didn’t want respect from the students and my ego was not important than the friendly atmosphere I was trying to create for them to learn at ease. THIS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY I AM TALKING ABOUT.
When you hear or see subject teachers lashing out at the poor performance of your student in the staffroom without any suggestion for improvement, the sense of belonging with the student and the urge to help him in every possible way IS THE RESPONSIBILITY I AM TALKING ABOUT. And not that usual game of commentary where you, as the class teacher of the student, add few more weaknesses of the student to make it more interesting. This practice makes the staffroom stinking. This is the reason I hate to stay in the staffroom because in the heat of a conversation we often open our mouth to say things we don’t actually believe in.
To motivate and inspire your students to work hard each day, to be example to others and to make the class the best class of the school IS THE RESPONSIBILITY I AM TALKING ABOUT.
Set example to your students by keeping commitments yourself, conducting yourself morally because they look up to you and in sharing with parents how their child is doing in the school IS THE RESPONSIBILITY I AM TALKING ABOUT.
The Four BRAVE students writing their own destiny
This year I am the class teacher of class IV. The class is the smallest in the school with only four Brave students. Brave? They are always the headliners of our staffroom. And they still tell me that they will work hard. They are still hoping to do better. I did everything in my hand to help them. Now, they are showing improvement though little. I am happy for them but amidst this lead story I am feeling the heat. If they fail I fail. If they succeed I succeed. Funny it may sound but the class teacher is like a father to whom the whole family relies on but if something goes wrong all the blame comes to him. Akin to the simile IS THE RESPONSIBILITY I AM TALKING ABOUT. SO, MY CLASS IS INDEED MY RESPONSIBILITY! Isn’t it?
Hope you are sold to my idea!

I am a humble teacher: An accidental Poem!

I am a humble teacher. I must remain humble. I must behave like  a noble person Because I have a noble job. A 'nobel job&#...