Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A disguised fable of our ‘Padestrain Day Policy’!

The comic tells about not so comical issue (sketch: BO)

The recent and very sudden CHANGE in the Pedestrian Day Policy is obvious. The rectification was imminent. The ‘CHANGE’ has its own purpose and it was  custom designed to happen at this moment.

The CHANGE deserves to be understood bit differently here…..keeping the ELECTION TIME in focus. The sudden CHANGE in the pedestrian day policy is actually very simple to understand.  

‘The Pedestrian Day’ was initially in place for the protection of our environment but the CHANGE in the policy now is underpinned to help make the political stand of the ruling party more vibrant. How?

The CHANGE inspires to galvanize potential voters because the moment is very crucial for the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa- the ruling political party- for its own political future. The CHANGE comes in as one of the last minute strokes in five long years of office of the ruling party to make the ground beneath their feet more stable for the next general election.
No more walking to office...Pedestrian day is on  sun-day.

It is a very basic intention of any political party in power to soften with its own regulations and become more approachable to the general public and to their sentiments in times of election.

 It is more true for Druk Phuensum Tshogpa to do so when talks on the next general election has already started brewing in towns and cities, inside homes and on tv screen nation wide. The ‘CHANGE’ in the Padestrain Day Policy is just another political gimmick because a month or two of softness could lead them to another term in the office for next five long years.

I had once shared with my colleagues that the politicians in power at the moment won't mind attending our house warming parties if we happen to call them now. Reaching at home, they won’t leave any stone unturned to appear nice and easy. By their virtue of being the representative of our constituency, we won't leave anything to serve them well too…. They would seemly hesitate to accept our hospitality in the beginning but later all of us would be glued by their well-polished and sweet talk.

Coming back to the Padestrain Day Policy, the new resolution states that the first Sunday of a month will be observed as the pedestrian day henceforth. The beauty of the new resolution now lies only on it’s gimmicky nature. With this new approach, the purpose and the impact of its noble intention has been immensely reduced now. The need of the hour for the government is different so the approach won’t matter either. (God bless us all.)

When there were a lot of grievances among the general public on the stringent ‘Pedestrain Day Policy’ because of its impact on businesses, the government was reluctant to act then. Now the ruling party needs to meet its own end and as expected of a political party, it will also bring in a lot of schemes for the betterment of the citizens. Just wait and see….a lot of citizen friendly reforms must be in the pipeline of DPT to woo our votes. The new resolution on the pedestrian day is just the beginning.          

                                               BE WISE……….and ELECT WISELY!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I can’t wait to meet you again.

Dear Karma,

Where should I begin?.... aaaa…. Okie…. let me start with the mood I am going through right now “I can’t wait to meet you again”.

Yes, I can’t wait to meet you again. I can’t wait to listen to your laughter and see you smile at me. Yes, I can’t wait to caress your hands again and convey through those touches that you are always missed and loved. Can’t wait to be in front of you and look into your eyes and get lost in the universe I see in it.

Yes, your eyes tell me a lot about you like your name which has its own story to tell.
It has been observed that people with gray eyes are wise and gentle individuals and are the least aggressive. They are known for their sensitivity, a flexible attitude and their inner strength. They possess a style of analytical thinking and are rational and clear in their thoughts.

Yes, the softness in your voice and the way you carry yourself is very gentle. You have always let me speak first and you look so happy to listen to me. For you, each word I utter has meant so important to you. I felt it so, because you have never missed any of the emotions in the words I use in our brief meetings. You know exactly when I am delighted, nervous or worried.

Yes,you deserve all my love and respect for the inner strength you have. I love you for so many reasons but the way you think about your parents, the respect you have for elders, the urge to stand on your own feet and your wish to give your mother all the happiness made me bow my head and I simply thanked my God, ‘Thank you, I found her finally’.

Yes, I found you finally. Yes, I always wanted to meet a girl who understands life in a more emotional way. Yes, enjoyment and fun are good in life, but it needs to be taken seriously too. And you happen to talk a lot about emotions. Love, care, happiness is all you want.

Yes, I found you finally. Your name “Karma” means past deeds. And i believe, there were many good deeds which I had to perform and receive before I could meet you. No wonder why I took so long to meet you. Yes, my ‘karma’ is with me in a form of a person now.
image: google

Karma also means ‘star’. No wonder why I couldn’t see you before. Because I was searching you in the deep sea and on the vast land hoping to meet you somewhere. Many years went by but I never could find you. Finally, my desperate search for a girl like you made the Gods in the heaven feel empathy for me and you were requested to come down for me. Yes, I know, when you decided to step down to the earth, the sky shed a million tears because it lost it’s brightest and the most precious jewel.

Thank you Karma for leaving your beautiful universe for me and for making my life shine by your presence. I love you. Yes, I love you immensely. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our parliamentarians will be on the walls again!

When I first arrived at Lichen Chewog in Trashi Yangtse as a teacher at the community School, the ruling party had already completed their second year in the office. The mainstream politics and the names of our iconic parliamentarians had already invaded the decent homes of the East and had also stirred the innocent minds and hearts of the local community there. 

The woods and the mud plastered walls were laminated with portraits [Publication of  Kuensel Newspaper] of Lyenpo Sangay Nidup, Our Prime Minister Jigme Y Thinley and of the members of their respective parties; the ‘People’s Democratic Party’ and the ‘Druk Phuensum Tshogpa’.
Location: Laya (Photo courtesy:   

The election campaign publication of kuensel Newspaper had gained a status of its own. The papers occupied most of the walls of all the houses in all the five hamlets around the catchment area of my previous school. The modest hamlets were now standing firm with their own political affiliation and the dwellers were getting constant inspiration from the glossy pictures of their favorite politicians posted on their wrecked walls.

The colorful pictures of our parliamentarians were displayed neatly and were given the most visible and also sacred spaces in their houses; the walls at the entrances, the walls of their living rooms and on the empty spaces on the walls of their altar rooms…. Smiling and poised….. the pictures were posted next to the gods and deities worshipped by the local people. With it came in the culture of glorifying the parliamentarians when visitors like me entered their room with in-depth understanding on how government is formed and why politicians are found giving sweet talks everywhere.

One hamlet one ideology

During the first year of my tenure, going around the hamlets for usual chit chat with the villagers landed up in understanding their political views and came to know the ardent supporters of the respective parties by looking at the lavish display of those smiling portraits of our otherwise very serious political figures.

We didn’t discuss much about the politicians posted on the walls then. But in my second year of tenure our comfort zone for each other expanded immensely. Along with it, the discussion on politics of our small yet vibrant nation, the success and failure of the ruling political party and the sense of duty showcased by the Opposition Leader, Lyenpo Tshering Tobgay got brewed so well inside those cozy houses with the warm hospitality of the eastern Bhutan.
Farmers at work...without political heads.

The different hamlets nestled in far away mountain had their own political inclination. One hamlet was different from another in terms of their political affiliation yet the people would break bread together and help each other selflessly. The political vibe of the villagers turned thin and weak when they come out to work in their fields. But as they go back to their houses and to the portraits the vibes got re-charged again.

For me, visiting the hamlets soon became more of a balancing act in terms of the political views I share in their houses and in front of those glossy portraits starring at me. Being apolitical and general in opinion was the only trick. I knew people won't welcome any contradictory comments on either political or religion believes that they live with. It's too personal and its best not discussed in public. So, we discussed more on the personality of the parliamentarians hung on their walls than about their political gizmos.
Another hamlet...another ideology

The thick glossy portraits of our first list of aspiring parliamentarians did serve many purposes there. It helped in gathering the falling dust from the wall to the wooden floor, kept alive the believe and hope of the voters and shielded the cozy and warm rooms from the chilly wind blowing in that high mountain.

But did the elected members of our parliament served us well? Are they still exuberant about their campaign promises? Did they work enough to win your vote for the next election? Are the future parties and their members only drooling and are lured into politics by the status quo of our present MPs? All said and done, we need to be ever more responsible in casting our votes this time to make our government more vibrant and strong.

But no matter which party wins the next election, how successful a candidate turns out to be or what else the new government will do, all the candidates standing for the next election will definitely serve a great deal of purpose for the next five years in those far flung villages. Because just before the general election a brand new set of glossy portraits of our parliamentarians will be nailed to their wrecked walls and it shall smile along the gods…gathering dust, warming the rooms and welcoming guests to their houses for the next five years.

Friday, November 2, 2012

We remembered you! [His Holiness late Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche]

1st November, 2012: On the joyous occasion of the fourth coronation day of His Majesty the King, a group of faculty members of my school ( Druk School) went for a volunteer work to assist the construction of Zangdopelri Lhakhang around the Kudung (remains) Choeten of His Holinesslate Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche in Dagophu Goemba, Paro.

The Model of the Zangdopelri( Photo: Anjana Mongar)
Our visit and the volunteer work had a very special prayer wrapped in our hearts for our King and our Queen.

As our hands started picking up those bricks our hearts silently murmured this  prayer: “Your Holiness, Whatever karma i receive through this contribution let it go into the establishment of the legacy of our Wangchuck Dynasty (May our King and Queen be blessed with a Prince or a Princess soon)".

(Photo: Anjana Mongar)

The volunteer work was initiated and coordinated by Dechen Namgyel, a teacher of Druk School.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Father returns Home

His Infant and High School (1965-1977 May)
The Sibsoo High School at Gola Bazzar in Sibsoo Dungkhag (Samtse) where Royal Bhutan Army currently occupies the campus is the Alma Mater of my father. That was the place where my father received his share of modern education which made him into a gentleman.
Sibsoo High School
During his entire schooling, he was excellent in dramatics and equally good in athletics. He has won a ton of sport certificates in his time and received accolade after accolade for his dramatic skills. He acted brilliantly for a skit ‘Paral Ko Aago’. It was an enactment of a famous Nepali Blockbuster. He swept the audience with his immaculate acting skill and his act of smoking a real cigarette on the stage purely out of  love for acting brought waves of anger among family members at home.

The Letter that changed his life (September 1977)
After completing eighth Grade (final grade offered by the school) he spends next four months toiling field and looking after cows. It was during these months when he had spent some quality time with our mother, the then a village girl.

Growing up in a large family she had to make a choice between household chores and walking to school. She took up the household responsibilities and allowed her brothers to attend school. She often visited my paternal grandparents whenever she was free from her unending chores, some time to chit-chat and often to help them with their share of work.

One fine day, a letter from ‘Man Power’ landed on his hand. During those times, the name ‘Man Power’ was commonly known for the office that recruited citizens in various government agencies. The office was stationed in the Capital, Thimphu. It was the letter that molded a man’s destiny. This letter which was typed on a thin paper using a typewriter commenced a journey that took my father 34 long years to return home but with great pride and honor.

His first visit to Thimphu (1977 October)
In those days, the motor road that we have today connecting Sipsoo and Samtse didn’t exist. The only route possible was through Indian towns. He had to cross our border to Indian town known as Thaljhora where ‘Dattha Transport’ would take him to Nagarkata and from there he had to board another mini bus to reach Jaigoan (border town near Phuntsholing, Bhutan).
My great grandmother holding me on her lap( pic: 1984)

My Great Grandmother, 98 years old now, gave him 30 Rupees (Bhutanese Currencies were not prominent then) to spend on his journey to Thimphu. Phuntsholing Town was a tiny patch of settlement then. On the following day he aboard BGTS (Bhutan Govt Transport Service) bus from Phuntsholing to Thimphu.

On the way up, the present Bustling Gedu town existed with only few huts and Tshimasham or Chimakoti as it was popularly known then served as a pit-stop (it still does) for drivers and passengers to rest and eat. The place also had few scattered huts. There use to be four check points before one reaches to Thimphu; First came Kharbandi ( now known as Rinchending Check post), the next point was near Chukha Bridge, then came Chimakoti (near present Chukha BOD) and finally at Chuzom (confluence where Paro-Thimphu-Ha roads diverge).
Thimphu Clock Tower  

While reaching Thimphu, the bus took him and his fellow passengers to an open space where we have our prized Clock Tower today. The open area served as a dropping point for passengers until the Tower was built. A smaller iron bridge use to run beneath the present Luntenzampa Bridge which helped traffic to cross the mighty Thimphu River.
Along Norzin Lam

The traffic consists of mostly Jeeps and a lot of people were seen wearing pants and shirts. Meanwhile, in the western world it was the hippy’s trend that blazed the time. ‘I looked like a hippy,’ he proudly said. He had long and shabby hair, tight gogo pant and had worn a pair of shiny leather shoes when he first came  to Thimphu.
My father up with the GO GO style

He was accompanied by his uncle to the ‘Man Power Office’. A long and heavy register on the desk of the ‘Man Power office’ showed him a list of vacancies for him to choose from. There were two hundred plus vacancies available, re-called my father.

One post captured their attention. The technical allowances paid for the post was Nu: 100. In addition to it, Nu: 300 will be paid as salary after the required training completes and during the training period a stipend of Nu: 200 will be given to the trainee. So, he placed his signature next to it and there forth his destiny was sealed.

Training and first official posting (77 Oct – 78 November)
His training in Animal Husbandry took him to VTI (Veterinary Training Institute) at Wangchutaba. In the middle of his training, he visited his village to get married with the village girl who always came to help his parents; our mom. On 18th May, 1978 they tied their knots and my father returned to complete his training. After completing his one year training and serving for six more months he went back to his village to bring our mother along with him to Thimphu.
Near Pangrizampa (Thimphu). Back drop: One of the mighty trees there.

The place where Tarayana Building and Chuba chu BOD stands today.

After completing his training in November of the same year, his first place of posting was at Veterinary Hospital then situated opposite to the present City Mall at Chubachu. Then he shifted to Dechencholing where he had to often give treatments to the Royal cohort of cattle at the palace. They stayed there from January of 1978 to June of 1980.
In Paro..(i am in front of my mother)

Between 1981 to 1986 November, when I was three years old, my elder sister was six and my younger sister was only a few months old, we came back to veterinary Hospital, Chubachu. From then on we moved out of Thimphu to Paro and got transferred from one District to another within a span of two or three years for next twenty six years.
 (Near Mount Coot-tha City of Brisbane)

Staying at Paro he got enlisted for three months training at Queensland University, Australia. It was the first group of Bhutanese sent aboard to be trained as Livestock Inspectors (now known as Regulatory and quarantine inspector, BAFRA).
My dad playing with the Kangaroos. 

After twenty three years the government of Bhutan offered him yet another opportunity to travel abroad on an official tour. This time it was Bangkok, “the land of smiles” for twelve long days starting 21st Feb, 2010.
Some where in Bangkok

2012-    Sipsu calling
On 26th September, my dad, mom and i packed our stuff for the final time. We moved on to our village in Sipsoo, the final place of posting for my father before he retires in October 2013.

That day when his feet touched the soil of our village my heart poured out all the respect and love that one heart could ever muster. I only saw a happy man but I couldn’t image the amount of satisfaction he might have experienced in the heat of the moment. It was a long travel around the country and arriving at the place where it all began must have meant a lot for him and I felt it too. My eyes were filled with happy tears and got moved pondering upon every little sacrifice our parents have made for our happiness. They indeed lived a self-less life.
At Paro........ Back Drop: The majestic Rimpong Dzong.
The moment my father stepped down penned a story of a man who served his country with his best ability. With all honesty, sincerity and utmost dedication he was there at the service of our King, Country and the People. When my mother recently asked him to resign owing to his ill health he said, “34 years went by….i am left with one more year to serve my country as a civil servant… so lets wait!’’

It was indeed an emotional moment for him. After we settled down with our stuff, my father hurriedly updated his Facebook status.. … He wrote:

Left his village when he was a young boy of 19 on tour for 34 years. Still one year to complete his official tour....he is now back to his village to complete his last 1 year which will be his final and his last one year time he has to cover many important works which will be his tour conclusion...God bless him.....
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The day we reached our village was also a very special day for my mother. Her journey along with my father also completed a whole circle. My heart equally felt for her too. She must have been also satisfied and happy for she has been doing the best what a mother could possiblely do for her family. She has been the rock of our family who decided on many things for the betterment of her family and has selflessly dedicated each day of her life in the service of her family. For last 34 years she has been anxiously waiting at the door for my father to arrive from office, the day commenced a year that marks the end of her waiting because my father has finally returned home for now and forever.

Monday, October 22, 2012

We were almost consumed while lighting the Drukyul.

With so much hype and glorification on the teaching profession, the Ministry of Education came out with an ambitious project among others called "The Light Drukyul Project."

It was very short sighted and poorly managed project that only had its sole purpose to fill in the gap created by a shortage of trained teachers in remote schools in our country for a time being.  For that The Ministry of Education galvanized the already disappointed and unemployed graduates to take up the place with glossy promises of better opportunities that brought more waves of shame than pride to the rooms of the Ministry of Education.

With brief orientation program, the HR department of Ministry of Education deployed the aspiring college graduates in different districts where the shortage of teachers was very acute. We were paid a nominal salary of Nu: 10, 000 per month.

With great pride we moved on to serve the nation through our contribution to the respective schools. We moved in with the even bigger hope of better opportunities after completing our two year mandate to serve in the remotest schools of our country.

Patala Primary School under Tsirang District, established in 1969, was the school where my friend taught before he joined along with me as a faculty member of Druk School this year.  
Patala Primary School: On one of the annual functions at the school.

A narrow and often slippery feeder road leads to the courtyard of his previous school. But in the summer he and his colleagues had to hire local horses to carry their luggage. They had to walk for hours uphill from Dovan, a place located along Gelephu- Wangdue Highway.

Walking extra mile with the horses
My friend had a Laptop and a mobile phone but no electricity to charge them. He says the school had solar panels but were to be used only in the evenings.

Like me my friend also sheltered himself in a one room apartment. Though I stayed in a nearby house in an empty room owned by a villager, he was allotted a small room which was previously used as a kitchen by his Principal. It was made of mud and stone prevalent in village construction. He narrates his stay inside that room with deep lament.

Rats and snakes would often invade his room and summer days were nightmares for him. For him the mosquito net served more purposes than it was meant for. He never intended to use it for mosquitoes for they didn’t scare him much. He used it to protect himself from snake bites when he was asleep after a long and tiresome day at school teaching fractions and geometry to the village children.

Rain was plenty there. So, he used to spread a piece of tarpaulin on the mosquito net above his head to collect rain drops that dripped from his old and wreck roof.

 He had also provided one corner of his small room to one of his students whose parents were recently divorced. He provided him with everything and had asked him to work hard at school.

One unfortunate day, just after the school hour was over, dark black clouds started to gather in the sky above the school and strong wind blew. My friend was busy in his staffroom and the student was in his small room changing his uniform when lightening struck him and he suffered burns all over his body.
My friend with Bhanu[At Damphu Hospital.]
My friend was informed by the school cook that Bhanu, the student who lives with him, was no more. He immediately rushed to his room to witness a charred body of his student cum companion which made his eyes drift away for some minutes. He didn’t feel his breath when he placed his fingers under the student's nose. He immediately did the CPR( Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) procedure. The process did work and he immediately rushed him to Damphu Hospital[After a month he fully recovered and he continued his schooling].

He experienced a lot of things during his tenure there that tested his limits… a journey worth remembering.

I had my own share of slippery roads and uphill walk that often questioned me how long were I going to scare the life out of me. I didn’t have a proper place to take a bath. My school taps served as an open bathroom. The chilly wind that blew continuously in that cold place would chill my body more and the pit-toilet and its awful smell always frustrated me. The two hours walk to Yangtse Bazaar to make shopping for a week would numb my whole body.

But whatever it is, we honor our stay in our respective place of posting because the purpose we have served is larger than what the Ministry of Education had ever thought of and what Nu: 10,000 per month is worth of.

We didn’t limit our stay within the school compound and within the four walls of our one roomed apartments. We never demanded more respect from the villagers and the community as a whole. We always stepped down to their level and tried to understand each other and help each other in times of need.
The classroom and the students of Patala Primary School
When we were in the school, we gave our best in helping the children learn the concepts and skills and contribute extra services and took initiatives to boost our school’s growth. And when the school hour gets over, we joined the villagers to discuss the developments and happenings in our country.

In our regular conversations we shared with them the fundamental rights and duties of a Bhutanese citizen. How important it is for them to cast their votes and how much more important it is for them to come to the school and talk and discuss with the teachers regarding their children’s performance.
Sitting down with the villagers.
We not only acted as a bridge for the children to achieve their dreams but we did bring the community closer to the affairs of the schools for the mutual benefit of the community and the school. We did what we could possibly do the best for the children and the communities that received us like royals.

Where the Nation still looks down on the name so infamously coined as ‘contract teachers’ and the Ministry of Education still has the hangover of it. Amidst this, I need to salute my Light Drukyul colleagues who are now working in different fields and serving the Nation in different capacities for being there where your presence was most needed at the time and for being the agent of change for the communities we served.

It’s neither the Ministry of Education nor the Education Minister himself but the aspiring college graduates who dared to move in when the Education Ministry was facing a troubled time are the ones who stole the show off. I salute you FOLKS!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One year Celebration...

On Friday, a week ago, my students and I celebrated our one year of ‘togetherness’. It was the day to remember the good moments we have shared in the four walls of our classroom and to continue the good practices of helping each other and working hard for the common goal. 

I had asked each one of them to bring a cake for themselves. Kelly, the student who dreams to be a ‘fossil scientist’ bought a big and creamy cake for me too with a thank you note on it. His father came to hand over the cakes.

The October month did call for the celebration as the year is closing in and the annual exam for them is also approaching. I really wanted them to enjoy after the yearlong effort they have been putting in and to roll up their sleeves for the annual exam. 

I have seen tears rolling down on their cheeks, the sweet smile that brightens their face and the laughter that makes me always happy. The healthy sense of competition among them, the pride they take in helping their friends and how happily they work has only tightened the bundle of memories for the gone by year that I would always cherish with deep affection. 

The following Photographs show how we celebrated our “One year of Togetherness”. Enjoy….

Table full of happiness

Tsangma R Dorji moving his little fingers to entertain the whole class

My girls singing a local hit song.
Cakes, juice, sharing and enjoying

With smile, Master Kelly digs in his big cake like a "fossil scientist".
 # A big thank you goes to all the parents of my class for making this small yet memorable moment possible for me and for the children by sending us the cakes. Even bigger THANK YOU goes to Kelly's dad and mom for the delicious cake that not only sweetened my taste buds but also touched my heart. Thank you all once again.


I am a humble teacher: An accidental Poem!

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