Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Arigatōgozaimasu Mrs Satomi

Mrs Satomi, a JICA volunteer is seen busy at the Community Health Services centre, JDWNRH providing her valuable service. She is from Japan and has been working in Bhutan for a little less than a year. She along with her in -country colleagues have initiated ''parenting session'' to orient would -be -parents on baby and mother care after baby is born. The one which my wife and I attended was secondth of such sessions initiated by her.

                                    
Her passion for the work she does exudes profusely. With smile on her face she welcomes the participants.  The way she hundles the plastic/rubber dummies for demostration is also with great care as though the dummies were living beings. In its true sense, a professional health worker! 

                               
She would occasionally insert dzongkha phrases in between her discourse and her delivery sounds that of a seasoned dzongkha  speaker.

She would set up the conference room arranging and rearranging the chairs for participants who get inside creating more space both inside the conference room and in her heart for people who were there to attend her passionate and close to heart presentation.

                                     

Then she would invite her three other Bhutanese colleagues  with utmost courtesy. They would promptly start sharing about the importance of Breast feeding, delicate procedure for baby bathing, immunization timings and items to get ready during delivery.

Mrs Satomi would coordinate the whole discourse  passing  dummies and other items for display to her colleagues as they speak on their designated   topics.

                                     
While her colleagues inform the house Mrs Satomi would keep glancing at us with a wide smile on her face. Her cheerful face unlike what we normally see in our hospitals lights up the faces of the would-be-moms and nervous dads.

A sincere gratitude and respect for Mrs Satomi who thought of this noble initiative and has already helped many would be  moms to better understand pregnancy and motherhood through her two invaluable sessions
                                          
On behalf of all the would -be- parents of Bhutan and specially from  my wife and me, we would like to pray God to bless you with more strength to continue and highwaltage energy to do what you do the best!

Mrs Satomi arigatōgozaimasu!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

History’s relation with Geography: Based on the impression of how geography of Bhutan has influenced its history.

Introduction:
“Almost always the present can be explained only by the past.  It is by the interaction of history into geography that one attains the very soul of a country.” Jean Sermet.

Geographer Jan O. M. Broek has written that one of the main distinctions between geographers and historians is that the former try to understand the structure of a region without looking into its past while the latter seek to view the integration of the region over time.

The relation of History and Geography is intertwined. They cannot be studied in isolation. They can only be comprehended and understood in unison. History will describe the people and their culture where as the facets of location, climate and land features are subject matters of Geography.

All Curdles of Human civilization, be it Nile civilization, Indus Valley, Mesopotamian civilization, etc. started along the big rivers and also across flat land where agriculture could be easily carried out. Why? Because rivers provide the requirements as follows; 1. Constant water supply. 2. Water for agricultural activities. 3. Fertile soil for agriculture activities. 4. For ease of transportation via water ways and 5. Flat lands are easier for construction of buildings and houses.

These civilizations had very rich customs and culture which are the bases for the current culture and traditions people across the globe practice and preach. These civilizations gave the world languages, religions, rituals, beliefs, inventions and the set references for people to progress and promote communities and societies for the betterment of the mankind.
The influence of geography on history of mankind and of countries is the paper’s subject of interest. The relationship of History with geography is evident and thus the influence of geography in shaping the National history of Bhutan is worth discussing. The following paragraphs attempts to explain Bhutan’s history being greatly influenced by its geographical features.

I have discussed how Bhutan’s History can be traced with regard to its geographical elements thereby showing a close relation between History and Geography. The purpose of this paper is also to show the influence of one subject over another. The dissertation is being presented through series of sub-topics for clarity and to achieve more detailed explanation.

Bhutan as a Sanctuary:
Bhutan was regarded as a safe haven for exiled leaders and Buddhist practitioners. The pristine environment and high mountains invited many scholars to meditate and a few to seek refuge in the wilderness of Bhutan.

Sedha Gyab, one of the sons of King Singala of Serkhya (Kapilavastu) was forced to go into exile after he lost in one of his family disputes. He decided to move towards Bhutan and took refuge in Bumthang where he proclaimed as the king there.

Later when he fell seriously ill, Guru Rinpoche was invited for the first time to Bhutan so he could cure him. On Guru’s arrival, many places in Bhutan were blessed and turned into Beyuls, these hidden lands are believed to be the secret entrances to the Guru’s Paradise.

An Indian Prince called Vesantara (Drimed Kuenden) accompanied by his wife and two children were also exiled to the mountains of Bhutan. On their journey through the Black Mountains (Jowo Durshing) the prince gave his eyes to a blind old man and later gave away his children to the local people of Bubja village under Trongsa Dzongkhag. His kind heartedness and uncommon generosity have moved Bhutanese to become more compassionate.

Your famous religious and military General Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel had to move out of his homeland Tibet to Bhutan because his life was at risk. The dispute over the issue of reincarnation of Kyenkhen Pema Karpo, a great Drukpa Scholar, accompanied with various good omen to travel south, he left his land to live in Bhutan.

He could establish Drukpa Kagyupa as the most dominant sect of Buddhist teachings in Bhutan and gave Bhutan a unique identity and create a nation state.

The arrival of these great Buddhist scholars and their contribution has shaped Bhutan’s history. Bhutan neither can rely on its military force nor does it have a stable economy to assert its independence and sovereignty. The culture and tradition are the arsenal in ensuring the country’s security and sovereignty in the years to come. These aspect of rich culture of Bhutan has also enable us to earn foreign revenue through ever growing tourism sector. It has also helped Bhutan earn a reputation in the world stage.

The State of Isolation:
A landlocked country sandwiched between two Asian giants and the various geographical features (Education, 2009) like dense forest and malaria inflicted swampy plains in the south, snow-capped mountains and passes being covered by snow throughout the year, the mountainous terrains and being located far from the silk route led Bhutan to its state of isolation.

While in the state of isolation Bhutanese could build and preserve the rich culture and tradition which are the pride of the Nation. The Bhutanese people worked hard to sustain themselves during isolation and they became fearless to any foreign intruders with who they fought gallantly to protect their land.

The state of isolation was indeed a blessing in disguise because we remained independent, culture was preserved and we didn’t have to face the crisis like the economic depression of 1930s and the World War I and II. The sheer location and the geographical features prevented Bhutan to get involved and thus gave Bhutanese people and the able leaders the luxury to define their own destiny. It was only in early 1960s under the leadership of Third King of Bhutan Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who steered country’s development by opening the doors of the country for modernization.

British Raj, British –Bhutan relation and its Impact:
The location of Bhutan led British send mission after mission (Education, 2009) to Bhutan so they could set up their trade links with Tibet. British wanted Bhutan to act like a stepping stone or a bridge for them to travel to Tibet and greatly sell goods to make profits for themselves. These missions which span a period between 1774 with Gorge Bogle’s mission to A.J Hopkins visit in 1926 during the coronation ceremony of King Jigme Wangchuck the Second Hereditary King of Bhutan has significant influenced in shaping the history of Bhutan. A few missions were detrimental on Bhutan’s sovereignty and many other missions were to consolidate the renewed friendship shared by the British and Bhutan for mutual benefit.

The dark episode of Duar War between Bhutan and British (Hasrat, 1980. pp 109-119) resulted in the annexation of the great fertile plains of Assam and West Bengal by British from Bhutan swiftly changing the map of Bhutan. British wanted these plains as it were very fertile land favorable to plant tea, wheat and timber.

To put an official end to the Duar War British proposed a treaty which Bhutan readily agreed to sign in fear of another war. This Treaty which came to be known as Treaty of Sinchula commenced a new relationship with British India which only got better in following years in terms of personal ties between the successive monarchs and the British Raj and later with independent India.

As the country’s military strategist during the Duar War Jigme Namgyel gained respect both from his enemies and from his own people in the battle field. He was thus accepted as the leader of Bhutan which further solidified his hold over the country.

Ugyen Wangchuck, Jigme Namgyel’s son, was presented with insignia of the Knight Commander of the Emperor of India (K.C.E.I) by Sir John Claude White and with the insignia he was honored with ‘sir’ title for his service as a successful mediator between Tibet and British India. Sir John Claude White, the then Political officer of Sikkim, was well received at Punakha Dzong. The sheer geo-politics involved in his accompanying Younghusband to Lhasa in 1904, the kind of respect he received in Lhasa resulted in making him the most suitable and capable future leader for Bhutan. Soon after his return from Lhasa Sir Ugyen Wangchuck was enthroned as the first hereditary Monarch of the country.

Bhutan’s Development plans:
With ever increasing Chinese Influence in Tibet, British India and Ugyen Wangchuck both felt the need to renew the Treaty of Sinchula for mutual protection and to stop the Chinese influence towards south. In 1910, the government of British Indian and Bhutan signed the Treaty of Punakha.

In the following years, the culmination of India gaining its Independence from British Raj in 1947 and signing of the Indo-Bhutan Treaty in 1949 and the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1950 the independent India extended their friendship to assist Bhutan in all its effort to develop and modernized (Hasrat, 1980) the country. The friendship extended was also to ensure mutual protection of Bhutan and India from the Chinese dominance in the region. With the visit of India’s first Prime Minister Shree Jawaharlal Nehru in 1958, with India’s support many roads were constructed to connect Bhutanese towns with Indian towns across the border to facilitate development.

The first five year Plan (1961-1966) set Bhutan on the way to planned national development with an approved outlay of Rs 1,747 Lakhs sponsored by Government of India.

Bhutan’s Current Stand:
Dorji Penjore writes, ‘Vulnerability’ best sums up the plight of small states in any discourse on security. Many size factors interplay to entangle most small states in a network of insecurities, and smallness has seldom been beautiful’. It appeals to Bhutan more than any other countries.

Bhutan is sandwiched between the two giants of Asia namely India and China. Literarily walking between the giants (Penjore, 2009), one country wanting to keep Bhutan as their area of influence and the other wanting to have it as their area of influence. Bhutan needs to strike a balancing act in dealing with both the giants. Chinese claim over many parts of Bhutan, their desperate demands to establish diplomatic ties with Bhutan and its reciprocal reactions on Bhutan India relationship will continue for many decades to come. The whole conflict and hate-love relationship between Bhutan, India and China originated from a geographical element ‘Land’ and sere location of Bhutan. That’s the relation of History (of countries) with Geography.

Having said and done, keeping aside the geo-politics, the geographical features of Bhutan like the lust green landscape, rich bio-diversity, perennial rivers, snow-capped mountains and lakes in high mountains have earned every Bhutanese citizen a reason to celebrate. It has gathered accolades from global communities. The world community looks at Bhutan for inspiration. Bhutan is a carbon negative country and a country which is so much in love with its natural resources. What Bhutan has achieved so much in so little time is an eye opener and a thought provoking achievement for the rest of the world. In true sense, a new history of a small Himalayan kingdom is in the making. A history is being made from the oasis of nature, the geographic beauties.

Conclusion:
History and Geography subjects are like two faces of the same coin. When we learn history of a country or people we do learn about the climate, and the natural diversity of the place that had impact on their livelihood. The rich history of Bhutan in lot many ways is credited to its own geographical features and its location at least in terms of its concentration and longevity. From the creation of nation-state to the complexity of modern geo-politics that Bhutan is submerged in the relation between history and geography is the interplay in the core of Bhutan’s existence.

Countries having similar geographical features will have similar histories to tell. There can’t be one without the other. Historians narrate events including man, places and universe where they have not participated or have never had the firsthand experience and the geographies study places, nature and universe to narrate historical detail about them. History and Geography is interconnected at various level and their relationship depends heavily on each-other.

Bibliography:

Education, M. o. (2009). A history of Bhutan-19th-20th century-Course Book for class VIII. In      M. o. Education, A history of Bhutan-19th-20th century-Course Book for class VIII (pp. 3-        7). Paro: Curriculum and Professional Support Division,Department of School Educaion,           Ministry of Bhutan.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan. In B. J. Hasrat, History of Bhutan-Land of the     b               Peaceful Dragon (pp. 135-136). Thimphu: Education Department, Bhutan.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon. In History of Bhutan-             Land of the Peaceful Dragon (pp. Chapter 6- 34-45). Thimphu: Ministry of Education.

Hasrat, B. J. (1980). History of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon. In B. J. Hasrat, History         of Bhutan-Land of the Peaceful Dragon (pp. 46-59). Thimphu: Ministry of Education.

Jan O. M. Broek, “The Relations Between History and Geography,”Pacific Historical Review   (September 1941): 10: 321.

Penjore, D. (2009). Security of Bhutan: Walking Between the Giants. Journal of Bhutan                     Studies.

Sermet cited by Raymond E. Crist, “Some Aspects of Human Geography in Latin American Literature,” The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (October 1962) 21:4,                p.407

Saturday, May 27, 2017

I found my Hero!

Mr. Tshewang Tenzin,  the Executive Director of Chithen Phendhey Association proudly endorsed my book "Eight: Nyingtob Tshering's Amazing Journey" on late Saturday morning by gracing the 5th event of a series of 8 events to launch my book.

                                                        
 
"We must first understand addiction....then we will be able to solve the problem", he said as we conclude our two-hours of discussion on addictions, relapses, "writing" as an act of solace, interpretation of dreams and the recent Nation wide advocacy programme in which he was passionately involved.

Before I left his office i bowed down sincerely before him to show my respect and gratitude for his selfless service in helping people become productive citizens and for initiatives undertaken to create a drug free society. For you, for our children and for all of us.

Folks! You dont have to flip endless pages of books or watch movies to find a hero in your life! Very down to earth....yet way above thousand of us...a person is made hero by his/her selfless acts..I met him. I met my Hero! Cheers!



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Monologue: Your dreaded Gangster Nyingtob Tshering pours his heart out.

"Lekey left me....right after my dad's funeral rites got over...she attended the ceremony...not to console and support me...she had attended to be with my ailing mother for she felt for her…the pain of losing someone special and the loneliness that ensue...my mother lost her lifelong friend and Lekey knew what it meant...she was a sensible woman....who could sense a lot...But without a word...she left.she left to never return...she left to live her life far away from me...away from my world.

I can still feel the warmth of the funeral pyre...those fire fringes and the heat that consumed every bone and flesh of my father...burnt it down to black and grey and turned it into nothing but ashes......I am sorry dadI couldnt be the man you always dreamt of Every time I think about myself.... I miss him even more...and I shed tears.and those tears only pray for forgiveness as they roll down my cheek.

My father was the kindest I knew a man could be. He was also as brave as he was kind. He was, he is and will be my hero. My dad had to sacrifice his life to save me from being beaten and dragged by a gang. He was stabbed thricebleeding blood and braveryhe saved his only son. He reached me home like a war comrade who never leave anyone behind...but he couldnt make itnow I am left all alone.

My mother… she is also not doing well since then…and when I look at her I am reminded of all my failuresI know I am the reason for her suffering, her losing of her husband…let alone that I dont have a decent job to support my mother too.A hopeless sonYes I am.A hopeless me!

Thus one night, I slammed my door, picked up a knife and I was ready to slice my nerves...I had pressed the sharp edge of a knife on my wrist and was ready to press it hardercut deep and get deeper…thinking all my lifes frustrations and disappointments would ease with every deep cut I make.

 But all said and done.things have changed a lot now.a subtle thought has intrude and has invaded my minda ray of hope sparkles in every directiona long forgotten dream renewed!

A Drug addict, substance abuser, a dreaded gangster…uselessunproductive human being.call me what please you...but naming and shaming isnt going to robe my determination to change myself now… For I have found the true meaning of my lifeI am free from all confusions...Thus I am more alive....Alive to enjoy this precious life again.

Yes I am alive to live a whole new life! Come along with me. Lets take a walk together in this beautiful journey called life."

Thank you
Yours sincerely
Nyintob.

A movie Review: “Ngodupchen” A Miracle isn’t a Mundane Thing!

                                                 

Yesterday I took my wife along with me for a special movie that was being screened in the city cinema hall since its release on 15th of May. The following write up is my personal opinion on the movie we watched. Here you go…

In life many a times we do fall sick and get hospitalized. At hospitals or for that matter at our home when we are bedridden we often unconsciously record who visited us and who didn’t. We all do that. Sometimes you feel sorry for people around you who spend their time to help you out. Feeding and providing what you want at that moment of distress. You curse yourself too for giving them too many things to handle but at times you do rely to the power of prayers to recovery sooner taking personal responsibilities for the situation. You tend to do many things and everything possible. That’s what is being beautifully shown in “Ngodupchen”.

An Atsara Entertainment Production, Directed by a young Director Sonam Lhendup Tshering and Produced by Namgay Seday Retty. The movie is still being screened during weekdays and weekends at the City Cinema Hall, Chubachu, Thimphu.

Ngödupchen, is based on the struggle of Menlha, played by Pema Yogini Yuphel. The young girl is suffering from a rare disease. Given only days to live, and shaped by a fine interplay of her fate and faith, the only weapon of choice in the remotest chance of her survival is taking refuge in the triple gems. A long, hard effort and sustained determination of her father Chencho, played by Chencho Dorji, in mitigating a cascade of problems is his only hope.

Pema Yogini Yuphel is The Next Big Thing in our otherwise small and growing Bhutanese film Industry. She is a multi-talented child Artist. She has worked previously with Astara Entertainment in and as “Raywa”. A sentimental blockbuster in its own rights. Pema can sing, dance and the acting is her real forte. ‘Ngodupchee’ is her second feature film and she nailed it again. Her expression and dialogue delivery is at par to many of our female lead actresses whom we see on big screen. All in all, Pema Yogini Yuphel is a promising actress. You got to watch her perform brilliantly yet she exudes her performance with some much ease.

Chencho Dorji, my wife’s favorite among Bhutanese male actors, is playing a supporting role of a father and as you would see in the movie he has done justice to the role.

All songs are great but I like “Zakar Zangwi Nyim” the most. I love it because of its upbeat music and its stylish dance choreography. Kids who were seated beside us were humming the song in great delight.

Jimmy Wangyal Tshering, the music director, is known for his modern upbeat music and has done a great job in terms of background score and music composition for this movie.

The work in the cinematography department, spearheaded by Sonam Lhendup Tshering himself, I felt was carried out with great maturity. He knew exactly where and how to make use of his lens. The opening images with montages showing river, prayer flags, prayer wheels, people in the street sets a perfect tone for the rest of the movie. No experimental shots with heavy cranes and tracks. All shots were well framed. We normally see these powerful still shots in serious movies. The credit equally goes to Namgay Seday Retty, the screen-play writer who had envisioned the scenes.

The hospital staff who attend Manlha more than half the span of the movie are all female nurses/doctors which I felt was an encouraging portrayal. The Girls and ladies would take a note and get inspired.

As an outsider and as a film enthusiast, the only negative points of the movie are as follows;

1. I found the frequent fadeouts quite inappropriate but I do understand that the fadeouts in particular scenes where it was absolutely required were used rightfully to give some dramatic effects.

2. Just before the intermission I felt some sluggishness in terms of the flow of the story. Thought the flow gradually picks up soon after intermission.

This movie is ‘G’ rated. And is for all ages who wish to watch it. The movie has a lot many take away points as you reach to the end of the movie. It reinforces the need for us all to have faith in the power of prayers, we shouldn’t loss hope, never give up and have trust on almighty’s grace and have believe in the old adage that ‘miracles do happen’. That’s what “Ngodupchen” is all about.

The movie is a perfect package for family members and young people to gather and spend quality time together. For sure it will connect with you because it reaffirms a lot of family values.

People who value relationships and emotions should walk in to watch the movie!

Scale of 1-5:
3 ½ 



Saturday, May 13, 2017

If my protagonist Nyingtob Tshering was born to a Muslim Family


 Had my protagonist Nyingtob Tshering of my recently published Book ‘Eight: Nyingtob Tshering’s Amazing Journey was born to a Muslim family far in one of the war torn Middle-East countries this is what I see as a plot summary of the story.

ISIS Fighter
His name would have been loosely translated as “Ammar Afraz   Aiman” meaning ‘long life, un-put-down-able and fearless’ guy. If we consider his appearance; a tuft of hair on his chin, a turban on his head and a blank and white striped scarf worn around his neck. With a heavy gun dangling from his right shoulder he stands tall and strong. Ready for every bullet under the scorching sun of Middle-East. That’s a Muslim version of yours truly Nyingtob Tshering in a far -away place.

Ammar Afraz Aiman is self-made Military General who has a large number of loyalist under his command to fight against the ISIS. His reputation as a fearless Military General has resonance far and wide. The enemy would hesitate to launch attacks against his troops. ISIS declares Ammar as one of the hurdles that obstructs their ultimate victory in the region.

One fine day, a messenger comes with a news. Amidst heavy firing from both sides, the messenger shouts out to inform Ammar that his father has been assassinated. And his wife and two sons disbanded. The reason for the assassination and the ill-treatment meted to his family is Ammar’s involvement in the fight against the mighty and the ruthless ISIS militants.

He decides to drop his gun, leave his life as a Military General and sets off to become an evangelist in otherwise a war torn country and help his folks who believe that “Power comes only from the barrel of a gun”.

He knew that if he ever comes out in open, he would be killed too. Desperate and hopeless he calls on one his fellow fighters to find a place for him to contemplate on his own life and learn the greater meaning of life itself.

The fellow fighter returns within a day and instructs Ammar to live and learn inside a wrecked Masjid few kilometers away from their made-shift military base. The fellow fighter arranges many priests who visit Ammar and teache him lessons from the Holy Qur’an. Only one priest could come and meet him on assigned day and time. No priests was given a second invitation to visit and teach him. All priests are brought blindfolded to the wrecked Masjid where Ammar would be ever ready to learn. This precautions are taken to prevent Ammar’s seclusion.

A Few lessons from Qur’an which the several priests who visited and shared with Ammar are;

(4:148) Evil must not be noised abroad in public speech except where injustice has been done. 
(25:74) "Wives and offspring be the comfort of our eyes". (2:187) Husband and wife should be like garments of each other.
(17:53) Say those things that are best. (31:19) Speak fair to the people
(30:22) Differences in colours and languages are signs of Allah. They must not be exploited for the disunity of mankind.
(2:188; 5:32; 6:152) Protection of life and property. (2:85) No one can be banished from his home.
(2:286) The burden of one cannot be placed upon the shoulders of another. Also, no burden can be placed upon a soul greater than it can bear. (2:83) Treat with kindness those in need.
(2:168) Eat of what is on earth, lawful and good. (7:31) Eat and drink but waste not by excess.
(46: 13, 19) Honour and respect is due only to that individual whose "deeds" qualify him for the distinction. 
(2:44) Do not enjoin right conduct on the people and forget to practice it yourself.
(49:12) Avoid suspicion as far as possible and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs.


At the end of the story, with great difficulties and determination and with some help from divine elements, he manages to curve a niche for himself in the wall of fame of humility. For he could re-teach the world about the essence of peace, love, care, harmony and happiness and transforms his Country and the World to a far better place to live. For Himself. For his Folks in Middle-East and the whole of Humanity worldwide.

There you have it....Ammar Afraz Aiman in his own setting and problems to over come..Nyingtob Tshering at home has his own share of problems to fight and to inspire his own people in his own community.


#My Book Eight:Nyingtob Tshering’s Amazing Journey is a publication of DSB, Thimphu. And the story is written in a Cinematic Approach. Limited copies available. Go get your copy folks and Read the Bhutanese version of the story I have shared as a post here.

Funny yet wired dream!

The previous night I had a dream. It was funny yet wired dream. Let me narrate the dream in nutshell. I see an elderly woman standing ...