Tuesday, February 28, 2012

One Night In An ATM Counter

Palden Chodra is 28 years old bachelor. He has just arrived from Mongar to his new place of posting here in Thimphu. It is his first official posting. He was placed in Mongar for two years after graduating from the College of Natural Resources; Lobesa, Wangdue Phodrang. He is an Agricultural Officer and a strong believer and self-proclaimed guardian of our cultural and traditional ethics.

when he last visited his great grandmother  in their village, she kept him busy asking him to settle down soon so she could die happily after witnessing her only  great grandson’s marriage. This was the only wish she had like all great grandparents do. It was his last week in the east. And every single word uttered with her soothing voice is still audible to him. And like all loving great grandsons he did secretly promised to fulfill her last wish sooner.

Almost mysteriously, just after a month or two of his stay in Thimphu-the capital of Bhutan, he and his Miss Perfect happened to dash each other on the crowded pavement along the Norzin Lam. The whole scene unfolded in perfect slow motion similarly how it happens in all the romantic movies of Bollyhood. Her long silky hair danced in the air revealing in mini-seconds her beautiful face.

Palden Chodra missed a heartbeat, took a long deep breath and kept blinking his eyes in even slower motion when he saw what he always wished for. She had a typical Bhutanese face cut; Plump rosy cheeks, small eyes and sharply cut lips. He even heard a romantic tune coming out of Dramyin( Bhutanese wooden guiter) played in some far distant place with a husky voice humming in the background. The ‘time warp’ smoothly came to its normal speed when he heard the final note of that romantic symphony. But in the normal speed of time his eyes suddenly caught the sight which utterly displeased him.
image: Dramyin   source - culturalinfusion.org.au

Syeldon Rewa wangchuck is her good name. She is Harvard graduate and is flawlessly westernized. She is an Assistant Manager in one of the financial institutions in Thimphu. But why on earth was Palden Chodra displeased!

The ‘self-proclaimed guardian of our cultural and traditional ethics’ saw her wearing LEVIS jeans tightly fitted around her legs, stylish boots warming her feet and Northface jacket covered the top half of her body. He never wished such garments invade the simplicity of his wardrobe, his house and our nation at large. The sight of her garments did disturbed him but the beauty of her face still made the unfinished symphony of ‘love- at- first -sight’ to continue.

A friend at his office advice him to wear some decent pants and shirts after office hours whenever he makes an appointment to meet her, loss some extra mass especially around his tommy and reduce the consumption of ARA (home manufactured alcohol) and DOMA (a combination of a betel nut, lime and a wild leaf which is customarily chewed after every meal in Bhutan). Palden Chodra agreed on exercise in order to reduce the size of his tommy but was adamant not to wear pants and shirts and to reduce the consumption of ARA and DOMA. 

In his desperate attempt to woo her, without tarnishing the ethics, he toke her to watch the  latest Bhutanese releases in theaters around the city, to MART and to the SHAREE SQUARE for some shopping. Though he was uncomfortable on the elevator he wore smiles on his face. Interestingly the day of their last outing on which they had spent a time together in Centenary Park was on the eve of Valentine Day but sadly Palden Chodra was unaware of it.

Late that night, his friend called to inform him about this special occasion of lovers on the following day. So immediately he rushed to the nearest ATM Counter to withdraw an amount of money to purchase a gift to his darling. His frequent attempt to withdraw money from ATM counters that night was in vain. And out of sheer frustration Palden Chodra spat a mouth full of DOMA on the screen of one of the ATM Counters.

The following morning, on the romantic day for love buds, Palden Chodra received a call from General Manager of a Bank. He was caught red handed spitting on the screen by the CCTV hung inside that particular ATM Counter the previous night. He was ordered not to repeat the act again. The news was already spread among the staffs. And as luck would have it Syeldon Rewa Wangchuck, who lately had started to show some affection to him, works in the same Bank as the Assistant Manager.

Two days later he receives another bad news. His lovely Great Grandmother left for her ultimate home in the skies.

# its a pure work of fiction and should not be affixed with the names of characters, institutions and individuals who might have experienced the same incidents narrated in the article.          

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rich man in a Hospital Room and unhealthy vegetables in The GNH Nation.

Yesterday I visited my uncle who has been admitted in the JDWNRH, Thimphu for a week or two. It was a cold evening as usual. The hospital was jam-packed with attendances and visitors who came to pay visit to the sick and ill relatives during the evening visiting hours (6:00pm – 8:00pm).
Image: Thimphu Hospital (Photo:panoramio.com)
After our brief conversation on his status he started to share the worries Doctors at JDWNRH were bothered by. The concern was imperative. My brief visit to the hospital did prove something. The ward on the top most floor of the hospital, where my uncle was, had only two empty beds eagerly waiting for their occupants.

The Doctors had advice each patient personally on the previous day, to ask their attendances to have the vegetables cut and washed with hot water before it is cooked and brought to serve the sick. They believe the vegetables coming from bordering towns of falakata and Hasimara in India aren’t that healthy. Which i think the issue should be taken up seriously beyond the walls of hospitals because the vegetables and fruits that are imported from the Indian towns even reach to the village in the east where I was once a community school teacher. No wonder, the only two empty beds at the hospital might have been occupied as you read this line.

Thimphu being the capital city of Gross National Happiness country; the place where the concept took its first breath interestingly houses the largest population of most fashionable yet most frustrated citizens. Searching a place to park a car gives a sharp crick on the back of one’s neck, walking down a street at night scares many, looking for an apartment with a decent rent disappoints a score, the frequent soaring of already high rental charges and the increase in the price tag of commodity goods are few areas I believe where people instantly get frustrated.

We wear the most fashionable garments bought from the biggest shopping Malls in our country. These Shopping malls are just four storied buildings yet ironically furnished with elevators and lift. And in the name of saving time deprive us from the easiest form of exercise- walking. We drive the most expensive cars showcased in the largest glittering showrooms in our country built on our own fertile lands across the Express High Way but at the end of the day, the fruits and vegetables on our dining tables and in our plates are imported from the lands crippled and poisoned with chemicals.
Image: bhutanmajestictravel.com The Express High Way
Back in the hospital, my uncle shared me something that really moved me. Just beside his bed there lays a rich old man groaning. He keeps on worrying how he would be able to recollect his money credited to relatives and friends within country and abroad. He is often found counting his money bending his weak and wrinkled fingers. And late at night he unkindly requests his roommates at the hospital to chant Gayatri Mantra (the most sacred mantras in Hinduism which helps to remove obstacles in life) along with him.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The journey from no: 217 to no: 1

The very appointment here in Druk School has been an emotional event for me. i came from a small community school in Trashiyangtse which is almost 600 Km away from here. My previous school, Lichen Community Primary School ranked 217th out of 500 plus schools in our country.

With the appointment letter in my hand I had a lot of mixed feelings in my heart. I knew I got what I always wanted because back in 2009 I had applied for a post of teacher in Druk School but was not appointed. Having not being appointed then I joined the Light Drukyul Project as a Contract Teacher. And when I finally got the appointment letter last December the scale of challenges waiting ahead for me, in my new school, slowly started to sink in.

The journey from no: 217 to no: 1 was indeed more emotional but the appointment brought in more challenges. I knew I have 216 reasons to be happy but I was also aware of 216 new responsibilities that will be entrusted upon me and I was sure that I should be professionally 216 steps forward in the classrooms of Druk School.

With these empowering feelings in the back of my mind I spent the beginning of this year in preparing myself to confront the bright and the brilliant learners. To borrow Robin Sharma’s (Author of “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”) words ‘Awareness precedes choices precedes change’; Browsing the internet for new ideas in education and viewing youtube videos for additional information was the order of the day. I was aware what I needed, found so many choices and started to change.

And interestingly I too found truth in that old maxim that says; “Ask and thy shall receive”.
Facilitator explaining the Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures


A telephonic invitation from Druk School to participate in the “Training on Transformative Pedagogy for 21st Century Teachers; Facilitated by Royal Education Council, GNH SEED SCHOOL Instrumental Leaders and Coordinated by Rinzin Research and Consultancy Services” on the 2nd of February and the subsequent days of learning the Kagan’s cooperative learning structures solidified my preparation for Druk School.
The Workshop wall

This is indeed my story, an anecdote of a teacher being blessed with the latest educational wisdom but it isn’t an end in itself. The journey of teaching in my new school with newer skills and strategies is yet to begin. All said and done, I believe I was born a passionate teacher but Thank You DRUK SCHOOL, Facilitators from Royal Education Council and Rinzin Research and Consultancy Services for Coordinating the Five Day Training that simply ornamented me with skilful strategies and for making me a better TEACHER.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NIIT Chenphen Rigphen; The Fishy NAME within came true yesterday!

Image: yanatravel.com

I know the NIIT Chephen Rigphen Project is an ambitious project. I don’t have anything to talk about the  impact and the 'enabling and enhancing' goals the project have. What I want to address here is the poor, undemocratic and almost already fixed placement of second batch of Trainers announcement yesterday.

I believe the first batch of trainers was placed according to their choice of placement. That’s well and good. But the placement announced yesterday and the last minute recruitment of few graduates, who were initially not shortlisted as trainers, to fill up the empty slots made the matter worse.

My sister is one of the trainers. She got her placement in a Lower Secondary School, somewhere in east. The School is three hrs walk from a road point. The village has been provided with electricity since 7th march, 2011. The weather is moderate so said a GAO officer there when I called him up for some details. But the concern officers at NIIT Chephen Rigphen were acting cool in placing the second batch of Trainers.

The second batch of Trainers were asked to write down their choice of placement earlier alike the first batch but the placement was not done according to the choices made by the trainers. The reason the management cited was the arrival of electricity in places not mentioned as their choice. Interestingly my sister had chosen Samtse Dzongkhag (two slots were available) as her choice of placement but she was denied of it and the placement were allotted to candidates who had never opted samtse Dzongkhag as their choice. Now, why on earth were they asked to write their choice of placement if the management cannot fulfill their wishes? Neither were they provided to lucky draw their own placement which probably could have been fair and more democratic. On which my sister said she was willing to go happily.

Today, when my sister requested the Officers at the NIIT Chephen Rigphen to give her any other placement that has not been provided with a trainer due to the shortage of candidates, she was told the management has already hired some candidates (the initially not selected graduates) to fill the slots. Initially rejected candidates were given more privilege than the shortlisted. They were also placed in more favorable places where at least a farm road connects their place of posting. The management did also remind my sister that the placement has been fixed by the HRO officer who is currently out of station and they have no authority to bring any change in the placements announced.

If the following incident is at all not coincidence, the management and the HRO have a big hand in placing the candidate in his own choice of placement.

From the beginning of their orientation program which will conclude by this Friday, one of the trainer candidates, who also use to come driving his own car, was always found promising himself that if he gets his placement under Thimphu Dzongkhag he will serve the Project else he would withdraw his candidature. Fairly enough or due to sheer family backup he got his choice of placement. Che- means one and Phen- means benefit!

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