Friday, September 9, 2016

What good is your Degree and Masters if you don’t have the decency to talk politely?

This morning at 10:33 am, I had a missed call from a landline number. I was in the class and couldn't hear the ring. Also, it is not expected to answer any calls while teaching. After the class at around 11:15 I saw it and made a return call. A man answered from the other end. I asked I missed the call because I was in the class and may I know who’s this? The answer came, “Ga ina mashey pa chin, ga lu call chap mo” (Why did you call if you don’t know who’s at the other end) and he put the phone down. I was like….what the heck?

Of no fault of mine I was answered rudely. I called back again and after a pretty long ring, someone answered. This time it was a lady. I told I was just asking which office is this because I got a missed call from this landline number. The lady replied saying sorry we don’t know who called but this is the Ministry of Education office. Then I introduced myself. I told her, I want to talk to the man who answered the phone earlier. She told me nothing about him. Instead she begged sorry on his behalf. You see now, one phone call  tarnished the image of people working in the MoE.

Firstly, I made a call because there was a missed call. Unmindful of being ignorant who called, I get an answer mocking me for calling. Secondly, a lady answers apologizing and being sorry for the man who answered my call. This isn’t a new thing and this ins’t the first time I am being answered rudely for no fault of mine. Why aren’t most civil servants polite over the phones? I am ashamed mentioning that I work for the MoE and people at the head office are so rude that they even don’t have the decency to be humble while answering a call.

To the man who answered my call, ‘What good is your degree/masters and exposure you got out of the training's abroad if you don’t have the decency to talk politely over the phone? You are a worm in the bureaucracy of ours and people like you eat away the hard work teachers like we put for this nation. And I am intimidated at the very fact, how did someone like you end up working in the Ministry when you don’t know the most basic of human functions-speech? Such people work for the Sherig Lhyenkhag.’

God bless us, because teachers far and wide may call to seek help but if the person speaking at the other end is like the one I mentioned, I will surely lose my motivation and faith in the Ministry for which I am working and to which I am answerable to.
The next time you say ‘Hello’, dear teachers, pray that this person doesn’t answer you! For now I have saved the number should there arise any retribution and retaliations in future.

Happy Calling Folks!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Cynical Permission

The other day, out of curiosity I typed my name on Google and I was surprised to see so many Lobsang Nima’s and this made me conclude my brother’s Facebook update some years ago, “Google is God; Answers everything.” Looking closely at the search results I found two results that caught me.

I wasn’t aware that my blog posts, two updates in particular were featured by Business Bhutan in their columns and editorials. Further browsing down the links, I got my posts in Business Bhutan website. There were articles by other prominent bloggers like Yeshey Dorji and Passang Passu. I don’t know whether they are aware of this or not. For me, I am not aware of this and no one from the paper ever asked. Not that I don’t want to share what I have written but shouldn’t I know where on earth my posts are being featured.

Some years ago, Bhutan Observer did the same but they asked me if I agree to let some of my blogs be featured in their online paper. I am happy that my articles are being read but at the same time a little cynical on whether or not permission must be sought.
Until my blogger mates put down their opinions on this, this shall be an update like any other.

Good day folks. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Good morning isn’t always good

We talk of our lofty vision of GNH and place a higher degree of importance to our schools in imparting education. GNH, I am sure will be infused even more this time not forgetting the happiness cream. Curriculum is going to change; at least that is what I hear. No matter what is changed, if the ego of the teacher is before everything else, it’s like saying, “Unless your government increases my salary the earth will remain flat”. A teacher who was working in some remote school back then told this to some education inspectors.

I am living the moment of how irritating can Mondays be and the Monday sets the cornerstone for how the rest of the days would go. OK like every Mondays, there’s morning hassles, cook, eat, pack, get dressed and off to school in my case. Reaching school, greet friends and children, sign and off to the morning assembly.

The retention of children is at stake here. Just recently, in groups all teachers underwent the ‘Transformative Pedagogy’ training and we were amazed to learn that a child’s retention and learning can only go beyond their age with one addition. Confused! A Child is 7 years old, his/her retention and concentration, is 7+1=8. A child of 7 years can learn and listen to 8 minutes. And these eight minutes is again difficult at a stretch. This is what research has found out.

Contrary to this finding, the morning assembly in any centre of learning goes beyond an adult’s retention. Imagine the plight of hundreds of faces in the sun looking at the teachers. Point is, say things that is important and inevitable. You do not need the brains of an all knowing saint to deliver the intended messages. Sometimes, listening can be so monotonous that you begin to doubt the speaker’s credibility. One can see the frustration on our children’s faces as well. Such uneasy can the sight sometimes be in the mornings.

These centres of learning must be the place where the value of time must be taught and instilled. The next time you greet someone good morning, although a good morning from the other end, may not have had a ‘good’ morning. Think again.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Brush up your Shakespeare

A souvenir remembering Shakespeare this year 
Reinstating Shakespeare in the English curriculum from next year came as good news at least to me. I positively hope children will enjoy it as much as I did in my schooling. May be the gods are with us because this year the bard is celebrated around the world and the playwright’s home town this year has seen thousands of visitors from around the world. This is the popularity of William Shakespeare and this year the world celebrates his 400th death anniversary. 

William Shakespeare's known portrait 
When it was removed I was in my 1st year in college and I was not in favor of this move and it broke my heart. May be the all-knowing people who thought of changing the English curriculum then, were too naïve to think out of the box-"Lord, what fools these mortals be." This is midsummer madness.

Shakespeare’s plays have everything we need to learn in literature. This obvious reason must have skipped from the minds of the curriculum saints back then. Of course the language written dates to the Renaissance England. Shakespeare plays to me is " I am one who loved not wisely but too well"-Othello.

However, after one and half decade of teaching the so called ‘modern curriculum’, people must have realized we are going awry somewhere with the English delivery in the classrooms. With this not so modern curriculum, I raised up an issue sometime in 2008. The contents and the activities although modern, dictionaries were provided obsolete with archaic words. This still happens in schools. The text is new and the words are new. Dictionaries provided are some 18th or 19th imprint dating back to 70’s. Of course one need not rely on the dictionaries these days with the internet. Retention is the proceeds that we expect from children after teaching and learning. Learning by doing is so fundamental for children to keep their learning retained for a longer period of time and there is a charm to it. Today with internet how many of our children learn academically. Instead I see children fond of online games and songs, adults included sadly.
Google Images

Children may find William Shakespeare alien but believe me, after they have gone through his plays I am sure they will begin to like and love him. Such is the appeal of literature to its readers. I am very sure the working committee of this move would like to begin with some romantic comedies rather than the fierce tragedies. I don’t know how you all across the country might take it but I am definitely overjoyed with the news. I feel there will be some real literature in our classrooms. I am euphoric. This is surely coming of better days.

Come next year, literature in higher classes will have some spice and good luck to you English teachers. Will you brush up your Shakespeare? I am sure you will. I also know it's easier said than done but "If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces." -The Merchant of Venice. 

Until Shakespeare comes next year, "To thine own self be true"-Hamlet.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Remembering Sher Khan on July 29

Disclaimer: Apart from the basics of its food habits and the tiger corridors around the world, I know very little about this amazing animal. I am neither a Tiger expert nor a wildlife biologist but this is just my opinion on one of the most beautiful animals that roam the jungles of our earth.
The 2016 movie
Back then when I was a kid and when we didn’t have a television set at home, I used to run to my neighbor’s house and watch the animated Jungle Book on the only channel Doordarshan. The language obviously was in Hindi. That was then. Even before reading the book, I knew some of the book’s character Mowgli, Bagheera, Akila, Baloo, Sher Khan, forgot the Serpent and Alpha female’s name. I don’t remember any other books that he wrote and I didn’t even read any besides the Jungle Book. I love the Book to this day. I secretly stole this book from not a very good reader friend some years ago and now I don’t have it in my collection. I have no idea where did I misplace it. 

The Book
The animated Jungle Book as a kid and reading the actual Book in my 9th grade made me connect to the story. The animation made sense and it was truly a revelation of exciting adventure that Mowgli undertakes.

The antagonist in the Book or the movie, Sher Khan (The Tiger) is killed in the end. Bagheera asks Mowgli to fight like a man not as a wolf because Mowgli was raised by the wolves. Let me not narrate what happens in the Jungle Book. Watching and listening to the fierce dialogues of Sher Khan in the movie made me update this post.

Fast forward to 2016, sleep wouldn’t come easily and it’s 2:32 AM. It is also pitch dark, let’s exactly say it’s the morning of July 25, 2016 and it’s Monday. So, good morning folks! I can hear the rain outside and I have just done watching The Jungle Book (2016). I decided to write on Sher Khan and the story which left an imprint in my mind as a kid. The plot of the movie and the book is almost the same.

The mighty Sher Khan in the movie
The Book being very close to me and thinking about the Jungle book takes me down memory lane when I was not even attending school. The tiger coincidentally happens to be my favorite animal. Of all the animals I love tigers. They were on top of the food chain in the animal world. Now they are endangered. Very few roam the wild today. This has impacted the food chain drastically. Sadly, man has become the modern day Sher Khans driving tigers to extinction.

Bhutan is home to Tigers and let us give them space so that no news makes headlines on BBS about human-wildlife conflict involving Tigers. Contrary to Kipling’s portrayal of Sher Khan, Tigers usually avoid humans and for food they hunt alone. You may have heard of the man-eating tigers of the Sundarbans and Siberia. These are cases of desperation on Tiger habitats. Had humans not encroached the tiger habitat, cases such as these wouldn’t have happened. 

Tiger filmed by Gordon Buchanan somewhere in Trongsa for the BBC
I would like to join the world community and pray for the survival of all tigers in the world today. I recommend the movie Jungle book for everyone. It is a must-watch for kids and adults alike. Another movie I like to recommend is, 'Two Brothers'. Tiger conservation needs people’s help in the countries where Tigers roam. Bhutan is one such country and let us be proud of this fact that we shelter tigers and our ecosystem is a thriving one for the Tigers. 

The time now is 3:22 AM and perhaps I should be trying to get some sleep because I have school at 8:20 AM. 

Did you know July 29 is Global Tiger Day? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Religious crime

The Facebook update of Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche put me into thinking yesterday and further bolstering my thoughts on what I read, the news last night made me conclude greed can be so malicious. The lure of money can turn a decent human being into a psycho-path.  I am sure many of you might have heard and read it. The news left me no choice but to pen it down. We have gone into the extremes to find a subject of our humor and livelihood.

Google images
Firstly it was a well known comedian of ours who mocked and made fun of the religious titles of our monastic community and  now we have a travel agent who deceived his/her clients for millions of Ngultrums just to make them listen to Rimpoche’s teachings. Rimpoche as I have listened to in the past provides every teaching for free. Let this kind of deception not be a gold rush for the people in the future. I have heard of the term ‘Responsible Tourism’ and I am sure every travel agent is aware of this. I would like to add a word on this ‘Responsibly Responsible Tourism’.

The comedian was made to beg for his blasphemy in the national television and for the agent, I am wondering whether or not the governing body of the tourism industry is doing anything about this.  As I find it, our religion is becoming a subject for people to do all sorts of things and you may wonder at the mockery people make about the well off religious clergy.

Religion is one of the foundations that constitute our country and people from outside pay heavy amounts just to see our centres of religion and nature. Our Vajrayana tradition allows us to be ‘naturalists’ and that’s why we take pride in our flora and fauna.

Such acts that too from our very own people is very intimidating. Was there no other means to earn a living? For those who committed this…the land of the peaceful dragon and of the Drukpas doesn’t need a religious law because our religion proposes peaceful and harmonious living. I am not sure if a religious law should be in place for a country like ours. Had our country been an Islamic republic of blah blah blah or whatever… these crimes  will be punishable by death.

Until the next news breaks on religion from within or outside the country, I can only seek solace in the words of the Dalai Lama.

"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace".

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A moment’s pleasure may cause a lifetime of displeasure!

Divorces are as common as the common cold and extra marital affairs are as abundant as potatoes in the vegetable market, which sells throughout the year. Spouses going awry with families and affair with some other people are predominantly the reason for divorces and hiccups in relationships. Whoever is the culprit between spouses doesn't matter if their kid’s future is at stake. There are other higher and important things to take care than settling their differences. Despite this obvious fact, the separation is only increasing. Here in my school, a staggering number of my students belong to divorced and broken families.

I know a couple who are happily married with 2 kids. I knew them since college. They are senior to me. Last year, towards the fall I had some guests at home. Falling short of some beer I rushed to a bar nearby and got hold of some. As I was paying the bill, I saw the husband with a beautiful girl sipping some beer.  The husband on seeing me, put his index finger near his lips and, “Sh…………………………………..” A long one! To which I understood ‘don’t let his wife know about this.’ I knew he was drunk and falling short of words to say as I caught him, this was a huge embarrassment for him, I presumed. I never did say a word of this to his wife and another year passed by.

Beginning this year, I saw the wife in an embarrassingly awkward situation. My old high school friends (Class mates) had arranged a good dinner just to relive the high school days. People have come from far for this get-together session. We agreed over Facebook to meet after 15 years almost. The restaurant where we agreed to meet was a large one. Not all of the tables were reserved. Reaching there, there were others having some fun time and singing loudly in not so pleasing tunes and scale.

There over some beer session, I saw the wife this time in a corner with a young man merrily kissing each other in the shallow lights of the bar. This time the wife didn't see me. I went on with some beer, ate my dinner, took a lot many pictures which I think are not worthy of sharing and hurried home.  

After a month, while shopping for veggies at the Farmers market, I met the couple each holding their kids walking around hunting for veggies. I had my spouse and baby with me. We bumped into each other and shared “Hi, how are you, how’s kids, Wai shay sho wai, Nyam ta nu…all those stuff.”  In this case both of them have no idea what’s in each of their heads. I know what’s in their heads at least for now. I know their lies and affairs will someday impact their kid’s lives.

Google Images
I have a relative who is very much into all these extra marital stuff. She now flirts with everyone as if she will die the next moment. I am related to her through my uncle, who is now no more. While he was alive, she used to lie and make reasons here and there and is never home. She must have been in this business a long time because back then we were kids. After my uncle passed away, she never wasted her time with her kids. She enjoyed her time escorting people and every time we see each other, her partner would be a different looking man. My aunt didn't make herself available for her kids. Her daughter later married and succumbed to her mother’s habits. She is also a divorcee. We sometimes meet incidentally.

I can only conclude that not everyone shares the same feelings and emotions although we are all the same and interestingly I can further reassure that a moment of pleasure may cause a lifetime of displeasure. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Tenzin! Gaaghi - Who did this to you?

The Art that made Tenzin cry
The flower exhibition at the palace ground in Paro was unlike anything else in its scale. It took me hours to finish seeing all that was being exhibited. I took my Tenzin to see all that was exhibited and restless as she is, lost interest and started walking on her own. I followed her to whichever direction she walked to. Finally we arrived at this beautiful art where vegetables and some fruits were displayed. She instantly recognized the cucumbers. What next?

A moment before she cried!
She pointed at those cucumbers and started nagging me on getting her one. Had there not been the person explaining this beautiful art I would have silently grabbed one and given to her. In the midst of hundreds of people, how could I meet her demand? She started crying so loud only to make me red-ashamed. I picked her up and childishly said “Gaaghi” several times. A moment later she forgot what she had done.

On one of my visits to the municipal office to pay some utility bills, a little boy in his 2nd year or so was crying so loud pointing at a tricycle near the shop and imagine the plight of the father who was red like me and was requesting the shop owner on paying the cost later in the evening. I am sure his cash at hand wasn’t enough. He had to finally buy the cycle and I could see a smile on the little boys’ watery face.

Again on a mundane stroll in the town here at Thimphu I was stopped to get a large pink ball that caught her eye displayed near a Pan shop. I had to get her the ball or else, face the consequence of being red-ashamed again.

At home when my little one does something not acceptable, mommy scolds her and pats her back. To this she cries out loud and looks for me. Until she finds me, this crying continues. After a while when her genuine cry in pain is gone and to make me feel cared for her, she deliberately cries out loud, sometimes making me laugh my heads off. Kids these days…I have to pick her up and say, “Gaaghi” several times to make her stop.

Once a day at least, this ‘Gaaghi’ sound for consoling my Tenzin echoes at home and during weekends the count multiples. A kid’s job is to push boundaries and I can never say where this boundary ends and begins and for my little one, I have read this somewhere but couldn’t put it exactly that way I read it. It goes something like, ‘A father will always give in to his daughters demands because the daughter knows there is at least one man who will never hurt her’. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Being at ease is better than being right…

I wonder if you readers would consider whether or not if this might qualify to be a blog post but here it is, I have penned down on something that crossed my mind recently.  I know the Nitty-Gritty hassles of everyday life is not worth a mention in writing but I couldn’t help penning it down because the thought ate up two nights of my time. For none and less readers, I might be considered a fool but for those enthusiasts who prefer writing and reading, this is just an anecdote to keep the practice alive and kicking. So happy reading!

This update is on my frustration on borrowing things when I didn’t hesitate to lend mine. Being selfish is the attitude of people when it comes to their belongings. You borrow or lend because you know the person firstly. Second, if there wasn’t some trust why give your things. This incident inspired me to post a Face book update in not so pleasing lines.

Forgetting mine at home, I borrowed a charger to be used for an hour or so. I had my cell phone down. Later, I was asked to bring back the same to which I agreed. I was in another room. The owner came twice asking for it. Grumbling, of course! I had to call someone to bring it for me and handed over to its rightful owner. Imagine the agonizing plight if I had borrowed some other things, especially cash.

All the good that we shared up until now is smacked by just a small speck of indecency and insecurity.  Being colleagues in the same office, one has to tolerate the other, however bad and nauseating it might be. Distances can be maintained and I am amazed at how people in the same office refrain from each other for years. Perhaps I should seek some mantra from them to keep the person who hurt me at bay. Let’s see if Oscar Wilde is correct, “Familiarity breeds contempt”.

I was asked by another one, “What happened to you? You look angry and disturbed”. I humbly replied saying people value their things and I sensed insecurity in them when I used their things. She smilingly remarked, “Shit Happens”.  

The very person I am referring to acts as if independent and I know this independence will someday shatter and when help is the only remedy available, how I wish it to be denied.  I want her to feel how I felt for her. Whatever sins I accumulate for mentioning or keeping this in my mind, I will accept it and for her doing on me, there must be a harsher sin mentioned in the books of Lord of Death. I wish to live to see this judgment.

Help must be sought and if you seek help from the wrong people, you will end up being upset. I would have retaliated on the very spot but; this act will only make me like her. I am a better human being than her. I stand at a higher plinth than her and I am now a better human than yesterday. I am being selective in my battles with the wrong doers because at times being at ease is better than being right. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

When mistakes become headlines!

This is my first update in terms of brevity and I would like to keep it that way because I couldn’t help putting my thoughts into what happened.  

Watching the 9 pm news last night I panicked. The news was ‘MoLHR found unemployment rate had increased compared to the past year’ and secondly ‘Research showed favoritism as the most common form of corruption in the civil service’. The news was reprehensible. Fine!

If unemployment is brought down, that should be making headlines and if favoritism in the civil service is minimized or tackled seriously, that too should be making headlines. Not the other way around. This is sheer absurdity and ridiculous.  

I agree on the broadcasting part, but people involved in these two agencies should do some serious home works. What is the good done, if you tell a parent that his child has failed for the second consecutive time? It will only deepen the sorrow. It should rather be …… the child is made to work hard so that he/she doesn’t fail this time. Isn’t this morality? Not always but sometimes I feel you don’t need the brain of the almighty to come to conclusion that this is a serious mistake. Or this is right and that is wrong etc…

“If something is worth telling, it should be told twice”, I learned this long before I joined the civil service and my update ( only bolsters the news that they are right in making headlines. I owe this line to my teacher who taught me this. How true of him that he coined this universal dictum almost two decades ago. To him I pray, “The course of your teaching never did run smooth” Sorry I had to steal this lines from Shakespeare’s All’s well that ends well.

I have so many to put here but I thought and I still think when working everyone should work with a motto of reducing the mistakes and multiplying the success. Not that you proudly declare a mistake, come on the national TV with smiles from ear to ear charged with…I don’t know what!

Folks, listen to the news, there are so many absurd and bizarre things about our bureaucracy.

Happy listening to the news…