May 29, 2011

A blind escorting a blind?

 Now let’s face it. There are two sections of people who are vulnerable to these dreadful ‘modern’ diseases – informed and uninformed. The latter group consists of individuals who engage in dangerous lifestyles because they do not understand the ramifications of their actions, but the former engage in such risky activities closing their eyes and ears to the information that they have; all for a momentary pleasure completely blinded. In the end both the group (informed and uninformed) commit fatal blunders. This is how we nullify government’s steady efforts in educating us on the healthy and safe lifestyles.

Does it mean that we lack information or are we just being complacent? How seriously do we take all these campaigns - we as the officials who carry out such health campaigns and those of us who afford to attend them? How meaningful are such awareness activities? If we are provided substantial information on the risks involved, why are we still jeopardizing our lives? And for a momentary pleasure, can we afford to endanger our lives? Every time someone tests HIV positive somewhere, does every strand of hair on our frail bodies stand up? Or is it just a momentary reflex?

We smoke heavy even when we are shown enough evidence of how costly the habit is. Likewise is the case with those who sniff/chew tobacco products. It is same old story with us who drink a lot even when we are amply clear about the harmful effects of alcohol. Some of us never give up our habit of chewing doma even when doctors have warned us enough. But sometimes ironically those who are supposed to advise the mass are themselves unable to give up on the habit – a blind escorting a blind?

Our concerned authorities make every concerted effort to educate our people. But how effective these all initiatives are, is for us to judge going by the increasing number of people who fall victims. There is nothing inherently wrong in these initiatives. It all boils down to how much and what possibly can we make out of them, all of us. 

May 20, 2011

The People's King and his Royal Intention to Wed


Photo: Royal Office of Media
Here comes wonderful news from the Royal Throne. His Majesty has announced his intention to marry Ashi Jetsun Pema in October this year. We are all very moved. The way our His Majesty chose to share with us the joy and happiness, shows His intention to share them with His citizens.

We wish all decisions or policies are shared with the people before they are implemented in the way and the manner His Majesty has shared his intention. This calls in for deep reverence.   

For now we can hardly wait to celebrate the Royal Wedding. This is an interesting time for us all. 

May 18, 2011

The way we beautify Dzongkha

And then we talk of simplifying Dzongkha language for learners to take keen interest. Come on!

When we were children, our grandmother used to tell us stories of an animal called Sekpaleng. I don't know the name of the animal either in Dzongkha or English. But this animal is believed to be so caring that when the mother sekpaleng take her children for a walk, she would clear the paths through the woods for her children.  But as she clears the wood, the animal is said to be throwing everything behind her. And hardly does she know that she is hitting her little ones. In the evening she would have none of her young ones left.

Similar is the case with our effort directed at the promotion of our national language. In an act to simplify, we are complicating the learning process by beautifying it. Please find out from the three following book titles what fancy names our Dzongkha publication take:


A Beginners' Spelling Guide - the Rays of the Moon?

An Advanced Learners' Spelling Guide - the Rays of the Sun?


A Beginners' Dzongkha Dictionary  - the Seed of Wisdom?


May 17, 2011

A Bundle of Joy

Technically, I am just eight months old. Although I was born much earlier than that, I was born again on the morning of August 29, 2010 at around  10.05 AM with my little daughter in Phuentsholing General Hospital. And seven months later, she could utter Apa, making me the proudest father on earth. I am sure happiness is relative and all fathers feel the same way about their children. There is a proverb in our locality that says in our eyes, our children look the best while others' crops appear more productive. How true! And unless we are parents ourselves, we don't appreciate what it means being parents. Having children of our own to raise makes us appreciate our parents more and be extra grateful to them. 

It makes me happy to see my daughter learn new things everyday. Every time I go to office, she has learnt to wave her hands and say "Tata...". And people say she is going to have power in her words because she has learnt to say apa first, I don't know. Well, that maybe a stereotyped belief, I would of course be happy to have fathered a daughter with a powerful speech at her disposal. Here are a few pictures.  
















May 14, 2011

"Lightening kills [a] man" in Wamling Village

Tonight there was a very short news headline on BBS from a small village of Wamling, in Shingkhar gewog, Zhemgang. It was unfortunate that a man succumbed to death after a supposed 'lightening' struck him. And all our prayers are with the deceased's family members and relatives, who I am sure must be equally 'shocked'.

But more than the shock of the man's death, it shocked the fellow villagers to painfully observe as BBS creates a new village in Zhemgang.  I wonder if the reporters confirmed it before he/she proudly declared on the national television. As far as my memory goes, there is no village in Shingkhar gewog by the name of "Peelizhog". And I am afraid ECB has not listed Peelizhog anywhere in the Dzongkhag in its delimitation exercise. I am sure this is not the way BBS feeds us news from around the country. A small error, but it matters, you see.

And viewers would have appreciated if they were also enlightened how lightening can kill. 

May 10, 2011

Bend it like a bamboo


Today a disturbing piece of news featured in Kuensel. It surely created outcry in Bhutanese residing in the Land of Gross National Happiness. With passing of the latest judgment by Paro Dzongkhag Court on tobacco-related case, wherein two army officials and a Druk Air engineer were granted one year bail. They had to pay Nu. 36,000 to excuse themselves from being locked up for a year. Well, it is an act of compassion rendered to three accused. This is what we need in a Buddhist country. And finally a different interpretation by Paro Court gives us hope of emancipation for the remaining ones painfully waiting – probably this would help us re-look at our judicial approach.

But we can only wonder what Sonam Tshering in particular has done in his past lives to deserve being the first victim of the Act. But now really I am worried – extremely worried if Sonam Tshering and 20 others would forgive us all. We have bent justice like a sali bamboo. (Sali bamboos are used in making traditional bows)

The stage is set now. And a new tobacco drama is being enacted. Have patience, people. Let the story unfold. 


I carried out my sacred duty

My judgment inside
The other day, the postal ballot reached my office and today I voted for my local leaders. And I suppose these people would live up to our expectations. I am extremely happy that I could at least fulfill my sacred duty in our maiden democratic process. It also makes me proud being able to take part particularly in this first LG elections and take part in creating history for Bhutan. 


We all should take active part in the process. And negligence and abstinence indicate our poor response to the process. We either make it or break it. Participation is must.

Are you exercising your adult franchise through postal ballot? Well, if you aren’t, it is not too late. You have a few more days. Go home, visit your relatives and cast your vote and help choose capable leaders in your gewogs and chiwogs.

I have carried out my sacred responsibility. And now I leave up to the majority to pass their judgment. May the best and deserving win. 




May 8, 2011

This is where we are now

In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is a king punished to roll a big boulder up a hill. He puts so much effort to roll the boulder up the hill, but as soon as it reaches the top, it rolls down to the bottom of the hill. And the king has to roll it up to the top of the hill only to see it rolling down to the base of the hill. The whole rolling up and rolling down process starts all over and goes on. For eternity. How monotonous can a task get! How futile an effort! What a waste of energy! And where is the charm in such an existence?
  
Today all of us are engaged in a Sisyphus-like task and just like him we take so much pride in doing that. Every day, we go to office. We start our computer and log on. We browse the Internet and update what’s happening at home or on the way on facebook walls. The more we update it, the more it needs to be updated. I won’t be surprised if slowly people start updating what’s going on in their bathroom onto their facebook walls.

And then we all sit down and start complaining of hundred and one things. We complain and condemn unfair laws. We are cowards, afraid of our voices. We write nasty complaints targeted at an individual or organization on online forums. We borrow others’ opinions and express as our won with pride of having launched a rocket in the sky. And a few would agree. Others would attack and curse the anonymous complainant. Everyone has different things to say about the same thing; except that it essentially means the same thing but said in hundred different ways.

We talk of how tall someone is or how short others are. We gossip who has worn what at some elaborate weddings. We complain about our jobs and we complain about our bosses, good or bad. We talk of how in inefficient our colleagues are (hinting how good we are) and start gossiping about politicians. We talk of businessmen and pass our readymade comments on our celebrity figures. Some say we don’t have any such figures in Bhutan. We have only our mighty egos to be blamed. At the end of the day we have nothing much to talk about. At meetings and congregations, we say so many things and don’t even mean quarter of it.  

Our conversations are scripted and we are certain of what is coming next.
“How are you doing?”
“I am doing fine, thank you!”
“How is your family?”
“My family is doing well, thank you!”
“How is your work?”
“My work is going fine, thank you!”

And sometimes the order is reversed whereby the one who asks questions now becomes the one to answer them later. “Oh so you are going home?” we ask, meeting someone on his way home. “So, you are going to the hospital?”we ask on meeting someone on the way to the hospital. “You are eating your lunch now?” is our question on seeing someone eating his lunch. The list goes on. And last week I was having a haircut at a barber’s when one of my friends spotted me. “You are cutting your hair?” was what I got.  

For the first time in years I realized my body was calling in for some exercise and heeding that call, I went on a late Sunday morning walk. It turned out to be more than a walk. It made me think of deeper thoughts. So, as I am walking on this long stretch of footpath that never seems to end, I meet a man, who carries an umbrella in his hand. I am told that’s his only prized possession. And he as walks, he talks to himself. For a while I mistake him for talking on his mobile phone. Now and then he laughs aloud, but abruptly his mood goes solemn. He continues talking and soon finds reasons for laughter. I tell myself, this no ordinary man.

In the next moment, he walks closer to a rivulet. He immerses his legs and slowly wades through the water. Reaching the other side, he talks to himself for a while and starts crossing the water again. I watch him with curiosity and disbelief as he crosses the river many times. Crossing the water back and forth multiple times gives him so much joy or at least relieves him of unspoken concerns or so I suppose. He talks and communicates with the unseen, beyond normal human perception. I see him as a man who has crossed our level of existence.

In our pursuit of materialism, human web of connection is weakening. We are dissociating from ‘others’. We don’t know who lives in the next door flat, but we try to add as much friends on facebook. And there is no consolation and solace whatsoever. We believe less and less in the power of prayer and many are condemned as superstitious. On the other hand we whole heartedly take pride in “Who has viewed your profile” or who has liked our facebook status. And this is where we are now!

P.S: This piece was published in Bhutan Times May 8, 2011 edition.