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Farewell 2015 and Happy New Year

In a few hours' time, we will be in 2016. That is like in a blink. And as we bid goodbye to 2015 I would like to say thank-you to everyone, who visited my blog. I am really sorry that I could not really continue to blog. But I hope 2016 provides me more time to blog. Happy New Year to all. I hope to see you all in good health and peace of mind. Goo luck.

In the following, I would like to share the interview I gave to The Business Bhutan. I would like to thank the News Editor, Ms. Peky Samal for kindly thinking of me when she actually wanted to write about the increasing blogging trends in the country. I share it here not because I have propounded great things; rather I share it here because I don't have anything worthy to share with you to close the last chapter of 2015.


      What is your blog’s name?
I call my blog: Penstar with a subtitle … for the Pen is mightier than the Sword (www.nawanpenstar.com)
When did you start your blog? I had started this blog sometime in 2009 altho…

The Dragon King - a Tribute

The following is another tribute that I had the honor to contribute and offer to our beloved K4 and was published by Business Bhutan in their special edition on November 11, 2015. 

The moment my mother stepped out her feet, the whole family mood would change. I remember how, as a young boy, I felt so low, restless and completely dejected when she had to go some places leaving us behind. Our house would be empty and cold. And as she disappeared away from us, behind the hills, I would amble home, crying.
That was exactly the kind of atmosphere that the nation had as people retired for the night of December 9, 2006. His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo had just abdicated the Golden Throne and handed over His Royal duties to the then Crown Prince and the Fifth Hereditary Monarch His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck at Tashichodzong in the presence of the Council of Ministers. For a moment, the whole nation went silent unable to believe what they were seeing or hearing. The citizens fe…

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

November 11 is finally here. It is that time of the year when Bhutanese people think in the same wavelength of thoughts and that time of the year when gratitude finds natural flow in all our hearts. And for people of remote Shingkhar Gewog in Zhemgang, November 11, 2015, bears special significance for their lives will never be the same again as they welcome electricity for the first time in their lives on this day. That will forever brighten their dark lives. And what a fitting and historic time to rejoice the coming of the light in the darkness! For this happiness and more, we would like to thank the selfless Monarch, who brought lights in the darkness. Thank you, Your Majesty! (Below, I share with you the tribute to His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan that I have contributed to the November-December 2015 edition of Tashi Delek, the in-flight magazine of Drukair- Royal Bhutan National Airlines.)  

His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck is the twenty-first-century leader, a true Buddhis…

Second Bhutanese Bloggers Conference

So it happened. Just like the way we have planned. And we realized we are getting better at it; growth. Two conferences in a matter of 3 months. That is why I would like to thank everyone associated with the planning and execution - Second Bhutanese Bloggers Conference.  
This time, we wanted to take it to an institution and we chose Paro College of Education. The college hosted us and treated us well. As I remarked in my opening address, visiting an institution always conjures youthful memories and transports us back to those days when we were young and fresh and innocent. Being at Paro College did me the same the other day. I would like to thank the college administration for inviting and welcoming us with big open hearts. I send my personal thank you to my young friend Jigme Sherab, who went beyond his way to help us coordinate the event. Thank you! 
And the Second Bloggers Conference saw a wider audience. We would like to thank students of Drukgyel Higher Secondary School for coming…

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.

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 b…

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…

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. 
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 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.

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 cla…

The Other side of the Argument

I have had the pleasure of meeting this person of high repute and since then I have been closely following him with great admiration and respect. And one day I run into another person. We happened to casually chitchat when he suddenly mentioned this.

I was told that because I wrote something against a cause that the famous personality is known to champion, the man decided to unfriend me on Facebook. I did not know that he did that. But I was really sure that he may not have done this. And it was only in the evening when I checked my Facebook profile I realized I lost one virtual friend. The famous person has really blocked me.
That made me think a lot. I had great respect towards this man. In fact when a student wrote something controversial about him a few months ago, I requested the student not to post it anywhere because I knew that would dent his reputation. And on my request the student decided not to post it. That was that.
But I was really shocked that he would unfriend me just …

The Birthday Generation

I was told about a particular teacher, who happened to observe a group of girls celebrating the birthday of a particular Indian movie actor in a school. (I forget whether it was Salman Khan or Sharukh Khan’s, but certainly it was one of them). The teacher went to them and conveyed them his appreciation for a celebrity’s birthday. 
And then he casually asked the girls, “Do you know when your parents were born?” which silenced them all. Most of them, I am sure, did not know their parents’ date of birth. 
Last evening, I attended one of my nieces’ birthday. It was a decent gathering of family members and friends and relatives. 
Now people of my generations or a generation before that would know that celebrating birthdays is fairly a new culture in Bhutan. But it is gaining popular by the day. And some day in future our younger generations would assume this was always a part of us.  
Most of us in Bhutan (especially those born in the villages) don’t know exact dates of our birth. Back th…

Community of Bhutanese Bloggers Conceived

And finally it happened. I must say that it was by far the most attended Bloggers Meet. In the past we had bloggers agree to attend and cancel at the very last minute. But on June 24, 2015 – almost 100% of bloggers, who confirmed came. I would like to thank everyone for keeping his/her words, especially those who had to come all the way from Wangdue or Paro. Thank you!



35 Bhutanese bloggers met in Thimphu. We were honored to have the presence of senior bloggers like Aue Yeshi Dorji and Dasho Sangay Khandu. The meeting assumed more significance because of their presence. Equally, we were happy to have many young bloggers in whom we see so much enthusiasm and potential.



On top of many things that transpired during the Meet, one of the most significant outcomes was the unanimous decision reached to form a formal group of bloggers, a platform aimed at encouraging and inspiring more bloggers around the country. The members decided that we will call it Community of Bhutanese Bloggers (CBB) a…

More counselors to provide meanings to more lives

When we were young boys back in the village our parents would worry that we might fall off trees. This was because climbing trees was one of our favorite activities. To add colors to my mother’s fear, one day I slipped off a tree and fell unconscious. Halfway home I could remember a kind villager carrying me on his back. That scared my mother.
And times are changing. We live in an age confronted by numerous issues that are part and parcel of modernization or globalization. We have children daring to take their own lives. Suicide is parents’ biggest nightmare. Young people need guidance more than ever. That’s why we need to train and have as many trained professionals in our schools.
It is good to know that the Education Ministry is trying to train many teacher counselors. While some teachers bear the dual responsibility of teaching and counselling, some teachers are full time counselors. And especially for bigger schools we need dedicated teachers. Today, student life can really get fru…

A Reading Society

His Majesty the King of Bhutan has officially declared 2015 as the National Reading Year in the country. It is exciting and an appropriate year to mark Reading Year dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo's 60th Birth Anniversary. And the event has inspired many schools in the country to approach reading from various angles and with numerous innovative activities.
School is a place where we breed reading habit in our children. Some say home is where it begins, but I think school is where it all starts. And therefore, I see teachers playing critical role in cultivating this crucial habit in our children. Importance of reading can never be understated.
Until recently, in Bhutan reading is equated with difficult chores. Some even brand it punishment having to read a book. As a result, not many of us in Bhutan grow up loving to read. At schools students read books under so much pressure instead of seeing it as enjoyable activity. And most teachers do not read themselves. The N…

The Prize and Price of a Town

The idea of having a town in the first place is to have steady development and progress in that locality. It is also understood that having a municipal authority is to ensure that we have adequate and required facilities and infrastructures in place for those who live and work there. But on the other hand, there is a heavy price that we pay to host a town.  If there is a thromde, the residents can expect better services in terms of clean drinking water supply, well maintained roads, improved medical centers staffed with adequate doctors and better telecommunications facilities to name a few. And then there is something called town planning. Planned towns are better run. Our experiences in the past have us believe that we lose so much to towns. We lose our fertile land. We lose our paddy fields. We lose our thick forest. Losing our fertile land to the developmental work is one thing and then there our goal of food self-sufficiency. Given that our fertile fields are turning into buildings…

New generation of Bhutanese Entrepreneurs

And until we stop importing so much goods and services from India, we won’t be able to solve Indian Rupee shortage that we face today. Given the small population that we have compared to one of the most populated countries on the planet, it is both a blessing and a curse; blessing because we do not need to import as much, but if our population is big, we would end up importing much more than what we currently do. However, it is curse in that being a small country, we are unable to produce as much as we should to counter huge demand both at home and India.
If we are able to produce at good speed and quality, we have a ready and a big market in India. But this is not so. One thing that impedes this is lack of our capacity to inspire more people to build more industries. And because there are not many production houses, what we produce here is far more expensive than those produced in India. That's why our business houses do not have advantage and the inspiration of producing goods he…