September 15, 2015

The Youtube Eraser

“Please eat some more,” my wife insists.

“I don’t feel like eating anymore.”

Any parents would understand how difficult it is to convince their children to eat, especially while they’re sick.

“Baby, please finish this,” I try my share of parental persuasion. “If you do that, you can watch as many The Frozen videos on Youtube as you want.” 

“Are you sure, Apa?” 

“Yes, very much, but_," I hate putting conditions. “If you don’t eat everything on your plate, I’ll delete all The Frozen videos from Youtube.” 

The mere thought of all her favorite videos disappearing from the cyber-sphere disturbs my daughter quite a bit. 

My daughter keeps her promise, but it will not be long before she finds that her father has made a fool of himself for her benefit.

August 28, 2015

The First Bhutanese Bloggers Conference

We need to begin small; in fact, all big things must start small. But a beginning has to be made somewhere. And only then can we grow and grow big. 
The Community of Bhutanese Bloggers (CBB) will be organizing the first ever Bhutanese Bloggers Conference on August 30, 2015. This is our small beginning and a maiden attempt to bring Bhutanese bloggers and those interested in reading and writing together. 
The conference will be held at Namseling Boutique Hotel in Thimphu. As of Friday 28, 2015, 24 members have registered to attend the conference and the organizers are expecting more to join.  

This is the first conference since the adoption of Community of Bhutanese Bloggers Constitution way back in July 19, 2015. The community plans to have at least one conference in two months and 2 Meets in a year. 

The idea of the conference is to have bloggers and fellow members of CBB to volunteer to speak on the topic of their interests. The Bloggers Meets, which will happen twice a year, will be more informal meeting of the CBB members. 

During the Conference, we will have 4 bloggers speaking on four different topics that are close to their hearts. The conference will feature bloggers Riku Dhan Subba, Dasho Sangay Khandu, Ugyen Lhendup and Madam Tshering Dolkar. But the most important of all, CBB will be launching its App - Bhutanese Bloggers (developed for CBB). The App provides a list of registered members' blogs and keeps a tab of who is updating when. 

On behalf of the CBB, we would like to invite all - bloggers and everyone interested in reading or writing - the first Bhutanese Bloggers Conference. 

We would like to thank all our partners and other members involved in the process of planning. 

August 21, 2015

Our Road Crossing Culture

Our road crossing culture is a big chaos. Most of the time! And in the absence of traffic lights it is difficult for the pedestrians to know when exactly to cross a road, be it in the town or at certain sections of our roads. Sadly, zebra crossing is a highly misunderstood and failed concept here. 

First, the people behind the wheels do not give ways to people, who are waiting to cross the road. Sometimes, this leads to many problems. Some pedestrians wait for the coming cars to cross before they finally decide to cross a road. But again, it is dangerous when some people, who understand the rules of how a zebra crossing works, try to cross the road without waiting for the speeding cars. Once some drivers are on the road, they rule everything until they get off their cars.  

The second thing is, our pedestrians are not adequately aware of what they have to do when they cross a road. Some of us, hate to walk a few hundred yards down or up where we can safely cross the road, but instead cut the road without looking at the speeding cars. That is a big danger, right there. That's why I think we need to educate our public on how to safely cross a road and develop a strong road crossing culture whereby, the drivers know when to give way to the people, who are crossing the sections of our road that are painted black and white and those people wishing to go to the other side of the road know when not to cross a road and bring about traffic jams. 

And on the Thimphu-Babesa Expressway, we have huge bumpers that are supposed to also serve as the zebra-crossing. But sadly, drivers on this stretch have no time to wait for the pedestrians waiting to cross the road. This could become dangerous when some people wishing to go to the other side of the road thinks it is their right to walk ahead at the zebra-crossing. That's one of our biggest concerns. I hope nothing untoward will happen, though. 

That's why I see the likes of Police-Youth Partnership programs can really come in handy in this matter. Instead of making our young people check drivers' licenses and other required documents, we must use their energies to educate the general public on the importance of following a safe road crossing culture. I see our young people creating awareness (of course with the guidance from the Traffic Police) among our drivers on the importance of zebra crossing and their responsibilities.  

Otherwise, one would never know if he/she would return home safely with a packet of salt from a nearby shop. And tt is equally risky for the people behind the wheels. 

August 14, 2015

We need to introduce more festivals

Bhutan is known for many of rich and colorful festivals. Every Dzongkhag has its own Tshechu to celebrate and rejoice. And of course many tourists come to watch and experience many of these festivals. Today, in urban Bhutan, we perform mask dances to entertain tourists; I am not sure if that is culturally right thing to do. But I leave that to the experts to debate. 

Love for Mushroom
The good news is, we are now not restricting our definition of festivals to only those that celebrate the birth anniversaries of Guru Rimpoche. The term extends beyond its religious meaning and significance. We now have festivals for music, films, art, cattle, food, and nomad among many others. 

Talking of Literary Festival, Mountain Echoes is right around the corner. It will be held in Thimphu from August 20-23, 2015. It is a celebration of literature, the art and music. Make yourself available for some of the sessions if you are in Thimphu. Interestingly, this month the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest is introducing the first ever Mushroom Festival. And I am really looking forward to this fest, particularly because of my love for mushrooms. I would like to think the festival is organized to sensitize people on the edible mushrooms and sustainable collection. 

And likewise we need to introduce many more such festivals. 

We really need something called Public Toilet Festivals – at least once a year – an occasion for everyone to come out in the open and clean up the public toilets. This way we can create more awareness on the use and importance of public toilets in maintaining proper sanitation in the country. We also need Mountain Festivals to clean up the waste that are carelessly thrown in the mountainside and on the national highways. In this, we can also encourage people to plant trees in areas where tall trees are cut down. 

Water Festivals will ensure that the water we drink is clean and safe. In that, we need to mobilize volunteers to clean up tanks or check on the quality of water that we consume. In the Drain Festivals, I envision residents cleaning up drains close to their apartments – at least once a year. That way we do not have to wait for the Municipal authority to do everything for us. In the Highway Festivals, we would have people cleaning the highways and creating awareness on road safety to the commuters. In Plastic Festival, we are looking at collecting discarded plastics. Since plastics are non-biodegradable, we need to take measures to put an end to plastic going to our environment. 

All these festivals, just like our Tshechus or other festivals must essentially entertain people. We need to make people want to participate and contribute socially while they also have lots of fun. And in this I foresee many organizations, agencies and private institutions making their share of contribution to the society. 

The whole idea is to make it trendier for people to come out and volunteer in socially useful activities. 

August 3, 2015

The Voice of Bhutanese Mothers

As I type these lines, I am watching a Bhutanese singing show: Drinchen Amai Sungkoed, the voice of Bhutanese mothers. Unlike the earlier Bhutanese reality shows, the current show engages Bhutanese women and is specifically aimed at developing their voice and personality.  

In Bhutan, the concept of women empowerment is fairly new and we have always maintained that we have no gender bias in the country and that both men and women enjoy similar support and opportunity. But today we also spend so much effort and resources to organize conferences that talk about women empowerment.

Drinchen Amai Sungkoed is an appropriate platform for our women, who otherwise end up managing a household. And the program is expected to groom these women while they also demonstrate their talents to the nation. We need to think of it as an opportunity for our mothers to boost their confidence and learn public speaking. This is expected to bring our women national recognition and create more confident leaders.

I am all praises for the organizers. We have to recognize their efforts because such programs will definitely bear fruits in the longer run. It is heartening to see more sponsors supporting such programs, but going by the number of commercial ads that we see, this show has not received as much support, unlike the other past shows.

The ultimate goal of this nation is to create a large pool of women, who can participate in various levels of the political arena. Today we have minimal women representation in the Parliament and local governments. This is a serious concern. And many organizations want to change this scenario.

But I think it is small and simple things like this reality show that will empower our women. It is a singing contest. But more than anything, it is breeding leaders and putting big confidence in them all.

July 28, 2015

Money Matters and Success Factors

Preliminary Exam is the gateway to the most sought after career in the Civil Service in the country. And that's why many graduates are trying all that they can do to crack this examination. That way they come a step closer to realizing that dream. 

Sadly, some graduates, however good they are, cannot pass this first hurdle. And consequently they cannot write the main exam. But I think we cannot judge an individual by just giving him/her to write one examination. And of course knowing this is the only option left, graduates seek solaces in preparatory classes.

Because of the sheer number of graduates looking forward to crack Preliminary Exam, there are many individuals and private companies willing to help the graduates prepare for the exam. Of course this help comes with a pricetag. And going by the information doing the rounds on the streets of Thimphu, the tuition is expensive. I only hope these classes are useful.  

These individuals and private companies conducting preparatory classes should think beyond business - at least this time. It is not that graduates go to these classes because they have so much.  

Many graduates cannot afford to pay even this fee. Some are not even aware of such classes. Sadly, money plays a role in people's success. This should not be! I think money should never stop someone from doing well in his/her life. 

The current government promised to scrape off Preliminary Examination. However, the government realized that they cannot change the law that easily. 

And since Preliminary Examination is here to stay, we need to think of preparatory classes for those young men and women, who cannot afford these expensive classes. It will take some dedicated volunteers to change the lives of many young men and women out there.