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The Story Thief

When we were growing up in a small village in the central Bhutan, we would gather around our grandparents every evening in a room that would be dimly lit with a kerosene lamp. Our grandparents or the elderly members of the family would then take turns to entertain us (siblings and cousins who lived under the same roof) with their stories. Such was the only form of entertainment we had had then.  
Our grandparents would start their stories, which they probably would have heard them from their grandparents. A young poor boy becomes a successful farmer by a turn of luck, a man fights a bear, a poor boy accidentally marries a rich man's beautiful daughter, a lame monkey helps a boy find great wealth, a rooster regrets his action after he mistakenly accuses his wife and young men go on business trips to buy cattle, among many others. We grew up listening to many such stories. Sometimes, the storyteller would narrate the same story again and again, and yet every time it sounded more magi…
Recent posts

A 'holiday' for meat vendors

This Bhutanese month (May 16 - June 13) is observed as Saga-Dawa, a holy month in the country. It is popularly or infamousely known as the time when the sale of meat items is banned in Bhutan. And it's also an opportunity for us to put a light brake on our mighty meaty appetites. Consequently, restaurants are encouraged to serve their customers rich vegetarian meals during the period. Similar ban is also observed every first month of the Bhutanese calendar.
But going by what's happening, the saga-dawa is a month long mandatory and government sanctioned holiday for the butchers and meat vendors. Being holy month does not really make a difference to the menus in the restaurants from rest of the  months in the year. 
Meat is available in all the restaurants and even small eateries ensure that their customers are served their favorite dishes. They're only being wise and practical because if they don't serve meat their customers would move to the restaurant next-door that ser…

The source

Last few months have been a real test of patience and humility for many residents of Motithang in Thimphu as they struggled with limited or no water. Some tenants were seen carrying water in various jerrycans from the neighboring apartments.
Our people are helpful that way. Some tenants had to keep their big buckets and cans outside to collect rainwater for all their bathroom needs. Most residents kept quiet and went about their normal businesses. Water supply is still is erratic and people wonder when life would be back to normal again. 
Some house owners complained about the issue to the concerned authorities. They were made to understand the shortage is from the source. And to their surprise, officials were saying that the water source is gradually drying up and that supply would never be consistent, hereafter. That worried tenants. I am sure house owners panicked. 
"We had no water problem for as long as we remember; it's only after some new in-charge took over that the …

Growing and feeding ourselves

Reports show that about 58% of Bhutanese are involved in agriculture, but the sector contributes only about 14% to our Gross Domestic Product. According to Bhutan Trade Statistics, 2017, Bhutan imports vegetables worth Nu. 3,823,879,525 (US$ 58,828,916) and rice worth Nu. 1,979,747,923 (US$ 30,457,660). Isn't that a lot to chew? We are not even talking of other food items here. 









That means people who are into agricultural activities are unable to feed the rest of us. That also goes to show how less we are growing on our farms and talks a lot about our fallow fields in rural areas. Now, if the remaining 42% of Bhutanese, who grow nothing on our own, can consume food items worth that much, we certainly have big market here for our agricultural produces. Don't you think? How do we do that? 


I think it's possible, at least to reduce our food imports. The key is to make farming sexier. Let's not leave it out to the rural farmers. In the recent years, we have seen young people…

Drukyul decides once again

Bhutanese people will once again go to the polls to choose their National Council (NC) candidates tomorrow (April 20, 2018). But doesn't it seem just like yesterday that we elected the current batch of NC members? This is impermanence in action. An end of one thing is the beginning of another.  
This year’s NC election is significant for two reasons.First, compared to the previous two elections, this year we have as many as 127 candidates contesting for 20 seats in the Upper House. In the second NC elections, we had 67. In 2008, the number was only 52. Although more candidates would cost more to the state it is a healthy symptom. It means people are now confident and think of leaving their footprints in our democratic process. More is more. Our people are given more choices. 
Secondly, Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB) tried something new this year to allow more Bhutanese to vote. In the past, civil servants and armed forces had postal ballot facilities. Earlier a voter was votin…

Bloggers are not journalists

To say bloggers are not journalists is to say oranges are not carrots. Bloggers are not journalists. That’s true. But can bloggers become journalists? Maybe. Can journalists be bloggers? Yes. In fact, it would be only proper and appropriate for journalists to blog their opinions as opposed to being 'politically' correct all the time. So why call oranges carrots when they are what they are?
Well, it is true – bloggers have no training in journalism. That’s why they are bloggers. And for the same reason they are  not journalists. No bloggers have ever claimed what they blog can qualify as ‘journalism’.  We all do what we love the most and give our best in whatever we are doing either reporting news or blogging. 

Journalists do it as careers. Bloggers do it (mostly) for hobby and out of passion. Most journalists also do it with great passion - that's true. The journalists get paid for doing their jobs while bloggers derive pleasure doing it. Journalists cover (report) stories eve…

An appreciation exercise

We have great appreciation and deep respect for those people who make it do with bare minimum. But wouldn't it be interesting to find out if we can really do it with something as minimal as what we pay as daily national wage? Right now that's Nu.125. 
I am sure something like this would have been tried elsewhere in the world, but we need to have an established experiment closer to home to authenticate it as our own. I have been thinking about this exercise for a long time now. Of course, if there are more Bhutanese bloggers willing to brave this you are most welcome in the team.  
The survival exercise, if it goes well as conceived, is to see if we could work and feed ourselves in a place like Thimphu. I know all of us are doing that right now. But this exercise is bit different. The idea is to be completely homeless and start from scratch. All you take is some clothes and the team members survive on how much they earn and work for. But not more than the daily minimum wage. 
Once…