Friday, April 21, 2023

Off into the Cold and Clouds

This year the NC Elections took nineteen of us to different places (Polling Stations) under Thimphu Dzongkhag. I got to go a place I have heard before but never been to. So, Naro Gewog Centre it was.

Took the refresher’s course and divided the amounting provisions amongst ourselves and here we were ready and set. On 19th, I and my team were the first ones to board two (Bolero) vehicles and off we went into the unknown.

As precarious as it may seem

Driving towards Tango and Dordena, all smooth sailing until the paved gave way to the unpaved. The unpaved road was the most precarious in its literal sense and every bump sent a bone-chilling fear down my spine. An arduous three hour ride on the bumpiest road that I have ever ridden, came into view the ruins of a magnificent structure. Upon hearsay, I got to know it as the ruins of the Bar Dzong. Now, why ‘Bar’, the Bhutanese language loosely translates it as ‘Middle’. Now, whose middle and ‘Bar’ of which places, please read the following. The name Bar was inscribed on the information board and everyone calls this place, Barshong.
Panoramic View of Barshong

The Bar Dzong
The following anecdote is from a young monk I bumped into while taking the not so professional picture of the Dzong.

The name of the palce is Barshong and the Dzong is named Bar Dzong because it falls right in the middle (bar) of Lingzhi Dzong and Thimphu Dzong. In its glory days, the Dzong was used as a structure to fight off enemies and never mentioned who the enemies were. He also mentioned, the dzong was built simultaneously during the constructions of Drugyal Dzong and Lingzhi Dzong.

The importance of this historical landmark is bolstered by the national flag fluttering beside it.

Come next day, no voters turned out to cast their votes in the morning and one voter in an hour was the count. After the closure of polls, we counted only forty-five. Imagine the wait of my team in the picture. 

The waiting officials
The next day, hopped into the same vehicles, thoroughly enjoyed the bumpy ride once again and Home, at last. All seven of us experienced what was supposed to be in my opinion not the best but an adventure off into the cold and clouds.

Thanks for dropping by! 



Friday, February 24, 2023

Let us be the best of ourselves…be a leader!

It is a common knowledge that Bhutan is usually associated with a monarchial form of government. In fact, monarchy serves as a symbol of aristocracy, stability, preservation of ancient traditions as well as respect to the historical events and occasions.

The monarchy witnesses about the rich history and high social and political culture of nation. Thus, it evokes positive images and associations, connected with the political awareness and appreciation of the historical heritage and customs. Nevertheless, the other point of view, nations claim about the incompatibility between the monarchy and democracy.  To those, we say look at us. The Bhutan that we call our country-the land of the thunder dragon and we are not the first, certainly will not be the last that we are a fine example of the constitutional democratic monarchy.

We are Bhutanese and must contribute to the nation building and it doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, teacher, doctor, engineer, bureaucrats, a corporate employee, a banker or a soldier, a minister or a decorated dasho. My only humble opinion is doing the best of farming if you are a farmer, be an inspiring teacher, an honest bureaucrat, a compassionate dasho etc. When we work together in a team, or in a broader sense as a society, the leader takes on the most important role. It is the leader that helps prioritize activities and direct people’s thought process in the right direction. They are the ones who have the ability to bring the group together as a whole. Because of this, not anyone can be a leader. And in my country, we have our dynamic kings who can do that.  Our kings unite the Bhutanese nation around a common historical past, cultural inheritance as well as ancient customs and traditions.

Due to the very fact that live in a unique country makes me unique and I am more than grateful for my unique kings, unique ways of life and I know the Bhutanese in general will remain unique for all times to come.

Long Live Bhutan and Long Live my Kings and Long live all leaders of my country. Let us be the best of ourselves…Let us all be a leader! My former Lopen Jose KC mentioned to me some 16 years ago, "A sweeper is an asset if he sweeps as Michelangelo painted." Do you spot the leader there?

The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence. —General Montgomery

Until then.....let us all be leaders...


Monday, January 30, 2023

The pursuit of more and more of the less and less we have…

Doing nothing on the Sunday evening, scrolling YouTube and watching the subscriptions that I have, I stumbled upon the following and watching it made me realize, how emerging are we in our thoughts about our country. In the name of progress, we are being forced by forces unseen to dam the mighty Drangme Chu. All the other major river systems are dammed or beginning to be dammed. I am neither a hydro power specialist nor a development economist but my little brain and logic tells me, it is wrong to dam the Drangme chu and a bad idea to listen to others about damming it.

Image Courtesy: Google

The pursuit of gaining more and more from the little that we have is capitalism on steroids. The unending greed of yearly policies that is being push forward is shrinking the little environment and ecosystems that we boast of. We cannot proudly declare 70 percent of the land under forest cover is mandated by the constitution and forget about the river systems that are interlinked and symbiotic in their existence. Without one the other cannot survive.  

You and I witnessed how troublesome were the years due to the Covid-19 pandemic which was an imported issue. People panicked, many lost their jobs, the economic hub of country came to an eerie standstill and many more, you name it. If the government go ahead with damming the mighty river of the east, the temporary relief may come in the form of revenues for some years. We have been told time and again, glaciers are melting ‘sey’. If they are, what will our lakes and glaciers hold during our children’s time.

Imagine the sustainability of such project when climate change sells like hot cakes in every international conferences at the UN. The power hungry neighbor of ours will only facilitate such projects if they benefit from the export of our electricity at the rate decided by them.

Ten years into the future from now, I would like to tell my kids that, the Golden Mahseer, the chocolate mahseer and the Snow trout are native to the Drangme Chu instead, before the dam came up, all these were there. I don’t know who coined the term climate change or what will it do to our lives and whether or not if climate change is a hoax, but what I know is we have to live through climate whether changing or not. The damming of the Drangme Chu will be a move towards our own haste towards climate change in Bhutan.

I am neither trying to make any political influence of any sort nor trying to petition against the damming of the only free flowing river of our country, I am just trying to put through a humble opinion about the issues concerning every nation in the Himalayas...

You are advised to draw your own conclusion after watching the following video.

And thank you for dropping by…! 

Monday, January 23, 2023

A visit down memory lane…

My official chore took me to Phuentsholing after 4 years. I spent a part of my childhood in Phuentsholing and reminiscing the good old days only made me miss the fun and the excitement back then. One commendable thing that has really happened is the cleanliness that the small city has maintained. It is clean indeed.

In other ways, the oldest city in our country has lost its charm due to the entry and exit formalities. The IC (Indian Currency) hiccups. The famous Gol Buidling is now the Pedestrian Terminal. During weekends, I saw long snaking lines of people trying to enter Jaigaon. The Indian vehicles no longer
clog our roads although people from across the border still come to refuel their cars. There used to be a different kind of fun and excitement when the two peoples mix in the southern heat, but mind you it's not even warm these days-fog, smog, name it!

The orange depot area where oranges used to be put in huge-sheds for exports are no longer visible, instead huge containers (I don’t know of what) align the roads connecting the famous Toorsa picnic spot. The roads there have maintained its infamous reputation-still super dusty and dry.

The famous cinema halls of Norgay and Mig have dwarfed and Norgay is nowhere to be seen. This was the cinema hall where I watched the block buster ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ paying Nu:15/- in the year 1999.

I remember a building where we used to play cricket and I am not sure if she was the owner or a tenant in the Pelkhil House, a plumpy Indian lady used to chase us away with a long hard broom. I strolled around Pelkhil House as well, faintly smiling as I remembered the shouts of the lady, ages ago.

The good old Ashok Hotel is still there, Blue Dragon, Peljorling the famous Deki Line, the nearby Rum Gaddi, and yes the lower market area which has undergone a complete metamorphosis and some Indian vendors are still with grocery stores. The oldest tailor in town I know, a muslim uncle near the famous Tobden Gully isn’t there, my childhood friend Chunku has put up a grocery store in the same alley.

The official chore hasn’t given me time to visit the place across the border and when I do that, there will be another update on it and for some reasons if there is no update on it, you can assume that I didn’t get the time to visit. Until then, thanks for dropping by.

Kadrinchey la and happy new year!


Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Without my 3rd through 5th grade years, that doesn’t happen. Lopen Kardinchey la!

It’s not too often we get to thank our teachers for what they’ve taught us, but it’s less often that we get to learn from them for longer than one school year. I consider myself fortunate to have had the chance to be a student of Lopen. Yes, Lopen Pema Woedzer it is.

Lopen Pema Woedzer
On an emergency visit to reach one of my friends to Bajo town, looking for some familiar Cab to Thimphu, I stumbled upon my Teacher. He didn’t recognize me and walking towards him I introduced myself as his former student. He had difficulty initially and as we conversed more, I could make him remember me at last. He asked me about my dad, mom, sister, and my brother. Lopen has aged but I look much older with the hairline.

Most people would define a good teacher as someone who makes their students excel academically and do well on their tests. I believe that’s almost right, but a little off. I believe that a good teacher doesn’t have one dimension but two. They not only make you excel, but they make you want to go to school. They care about the student’s insecurities and problems, and most importantly they are there to support you.

Lopen was very strict with studies and if one slipped a little with bad behaviour, he would make everyone not forget his style of dealing with the un-behaved. I was and remain an underperformer still in Dzongkha but whatever little I know in Dzongkha is because of Lopen.  Lopen was feared for his dealings with the ill behaved and I was a registered ill-behaved in his books😊. A smack or two on our cheek was enough to get us into behaving like humans.

My formative years with Lopen as my teacher taught me many of the concepts within my philosophical approach to human-centered education I used as a teacher. Now as a teacher: getting to know every individual pupil, coaching pupils from their strengths, continually raising expectations slightly based on prior accomplishments (and providing the support to achieve those expectations), and accepting every person for who they are by seeing who they could be with support and guidance is who I strive to be. Without my 3rd through 5th grade years, that doesn’t happen.  Lopen Kardinchey la. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How Much Money is Rich? Some Reflections…

It has been an awful two-year gap since I last posted an update here. No, I didn’t resign from reading and writing and to put some humour into this gap… “I took a two-year long vacation.”

Watching TV on a rainy-drenched weekend, I took an accidental look just below the TV. The thing was a book which I was made to buy some months ago. I paid the forgotten books’ price a month later. Such is the care for reading these days. I, included.

With children hooked on play and phones and wife busy banging her loom with loud thuds every minute or two, I reclined on my bed aka three-seater sofa, began reading HOW MUCH MONEY IS RICH? -THINLEY WANGCHUK. 

A 136 paged story as the author claims is a work of fiction and to the Bhutanese in me, I found a very thin line between Fiction and Realistic Fiction. The Author also claims to have used the real name of his son in the Note. 

The story revolves around Kuenkhen (Protagonist) life. His toils, trails and tribulations outweigh his jubilations, elations, and ecstasies. By now you must have guessed it that this book is about what the author has rightly put it as, “His self-contentment in life is living what he experienced.”

A typical Bhutanese movie in mind resembles the plot of the story and as I mentioned, Kuenkhens toils, trails and tribulations revolves around the simple fact that the money you make is the symbol of the value you create. Or to put it simpler, you will be loved, admired, and liked if there is money with you. How true of this universal truth. Family, friends, acquaintances, kith/kin, and every soul begin to take a back seat when one is in trouble.

The author shares the only reason why divorces are a common problem among young married couples or the newlyweds through this book and I at the reading end of the story couldn’t agree to disagree. Despite the upheavals, which is too loose a word to describe the protagonists’ life, his son is the only reason that keeps him going. As I post this update, the protagonist’s son must be studying in Grade III in one of the Thimphu schools. I wish the young lad to listen to his father. Mother, although living with her son had no time to breastfeed the poor infant in his cooing years. This happening in a typical family set up is unthinkable for a man like me thinking which mother would deny milk for her own flesh and blood?

The protagonist also ventures into the Aussie dream of ‘minting dollars’ and turning up wealthy only be bulldozed into desperation by his wife.

Page 69 sums up the feud in the story and I hereby quote, “Losing a battle behind the enemy line can be considering, but losing your ground at your doorstep is devastating.”

To take a sensible break from the daily hum-drum of this mundane life in a hustle, I highly recommend this book. Do grap a copy because I grudgingly believe this story isn’t a fiction and you and I may be helping him out pay off his debts…

We all have debts and this debt shouldn’t be monetary in all sense of the word. Closing the update with an excerpt from page 131…

“No man should be prejudiced to make judgement on others, the clothes, the hair, and the way they talk does not make them the person someone makes him or her off. Nobody actually has the right to judge anyone because they don’t know the story of what someone has been through.”


Happy reading folks!



Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Life in the fast lane

If you remember what Virus (Boman Irani) said in 3 idiots, “Remember life is a race, Agar teez nahin bahgo ghe toh koi tuhme kuchal key agay nikal jayega”. Drawing from this famous speech in the movie, look around you! Hustle and hurry, is the new normal. Stay home stay safe-doesn’t really get into the heads of people. Every evening as I bid my time off to the days work, I see lots, literally lots jogging and solo walking. This Covid thing has made people come out in the evenings and all too much worried about health. That is good news by our standards, at least!

Initially, masks and sanitizers were in trend now only countable are seen with those. The weekend crowd has increased in numbers and the cars as well. I sometimes wonder if Covid 19 stay home, stay safe should have been for cars explicitly. Shops are now beginning to open up and youngsters have come out. This only means the covid-19 fear is loosening at least in Thimphu. I hear places other than the capital are strict with the government law enforcement. The cars outnumber people in all places.

Parents want the schools reopened, officers want to resume their tours, Facebook users here wants the Drangpon’s wife punished, many accuse the people patrolling our nights of knocking unnecessary doors, the price of smoke has sky rocketed a 120 Nu. pack now costs 380. A man with a sack full of it was apprehended near the CFM, while the SJ Dzongkhag has allowed the import lawfully and legally.

All the more, cars predominantly tops life in the fast lane. Parking has become a new hassle once again and the talks of cars is the new trend once again. Cars on the roads are increasing by the day when covid-19 positive cases are also increasing by the day.
Come on folks, make it slower! The only good thing that has happened for now at least is the fuel price, no wonder the Lungtenzampa parking has expensive cars with teen drivers in the evenings congregating. The so-called patrolling doesn’t see them. Our country now is a driving culture with all of us loving cars. No wonder the Americans coined the expression ‘Life in the fast lane’. They also coined another ‘fork in the road’ for everyone to learn and not repeat what they regretted doing.

‘3 idiots’ was for entertainment, ‘stay-home stay-safe’ was for safety and well being of everybody, life in the fast lane was for the westerners and not for us because we surely will hit fork in the road. We must decide to stay in the fast lane or slow down to possibly have a longer and meaningful life. Some never listen and some never learn. For those in the fast lane, slow down a bit before you hit the end of the road.

PS# This update was inspired by the late Glenn Frey’s song, Life in the fast lane from the Eagles. RIP Glenn!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A conscious attempt to honor our oneness for Covid-19!

Spirituality and thinking about self-reflection come once in a blue moon to me. I am being honest in my time for spirituality and I appreciate the ones who do it religiously and hence the maxim-do it religiously.  Now that some professional work is at ease for now, we sneaked some time as suggested by Ata Apple to the Tango University of Buddhist Studies, Dordena for a special three-day ཚེ་དབང་། 

There, we had the opportunity to be in the audience of both the Je Khenpo and the Gyalsay Trulku. A blessing perhaps for some spiritual cleansing in these times., the Covid-19 times. I am sure people will make visits and remember folks today is Day One. Also, in attendance was one of the Four Lopens, pardon me I forgot which of the four.
Be mindful of the Druk Trace App and to maintain some physical distance as well because, the men in blue keep a close watch on the line, sanitizers and the gun- like digital Thermometer. The three-day long Tshe-Wang is presided over by…you knew it… (in the first sentence, 2nd paragraph!)

After the audience and after some prostrations, we went round the whole sanctum-sanctorum only to be met by this smiling girl. Tshering Pelden and she is one of the youngest bloggers in Bhutan. She blogs at www.peldenwrites.wordpress.comSo, just a reminder to those who seek spiritual solace to make a visit to the Dordena University and I am sure you will. Until then, stay-safe and wash your hands. I now see the hand washing trend diminishing than when it appeared first. Well, do make a visit as we consciously  attempt to honor the oneness of being uniquely Bhutanese to fight off the dreadful Covid-19 pandemic. 

Once again stay-safe folks.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Weekend Worthy of a Hike

Hello Everyone! I didn’t stop blogging or writing for that matter but took a year long vacation from writing. Just this weekend I paid a visit to a site where Guru Rimpoche is said to have meditated for some time. It is called Dom Tshang as in Taktshang. I hope the name’s correct.

I was there at the invitation of my friend Yeshi and family. I have been a Thimphu resident for 5 years now and I have never been to Bjemina except on one occasion to the hospital. I read about the stone quarry and brick factory mostly in the papers and that was it.

The way up!
Entrance to the Ney
Well, what am I doing here? I volunteered for the video lessons for e-learning and now that’s being done already, I and a couple of teachers are working for SIM-Self Instructional Materials. These are for the children who do not have access to BBS TV or the internet in these dreadful times. I mean these Covid-19 times. Amphan did severe damages in the Indian sub-continent as per the news and here, incessant rains made people stay indoors. We are about to wrap-up the SIM and works related to it are becoming lighter by the day-becoming lighter is an understatement though.

Yeshi and Family
Yeshi and his family had some pork curry made and after devouring a plateful of the sumptuous lunch we headed for the Ney. Here are some picture of the weekend made worthy of the hike.

Prayed for those 24 affected in the isolation room and also for those affected by Amphan. While climbing down, calls after calls from one like minded colleague made me reach my station in about 25 minutes. Waiting for me there was a bottle of Scotch and some beers. What an ending to a days fatigue? 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Is official correspondence the only way to promote Dzongkha?

This is the umpteenth time I am hearing of this news since I was a kid.  There were such similar attempts in the past even when I was in school. And the authorities haven’t identified if the Dzongkha language like the much clichéd education quality has gone down or deteriorated. Just last week I read the news of an APA between the government and the DDC, signed or yet to sign, I am not really sure. I am neither an anti-Dzongkha freak nor a linguist to comment on whether or not if Dzongkha has gone down in its usage or its becoming archaic.

The BBS TV plays its part in promoting Dzongkha, the films, radio and newspapers as well. The library books in Dzognkha are also doing its part in schools and colleges. I am still wondering if Dzongkha needs development, improvement, upgrading, stepping-up or whatever…you name it!

Official correspondences do come in Dzongkha but in limited frequency. If all government documents and correspondences be made in the Dzongkha language, the delayed correspondence which is already prevailing in our offices needs a little more time for yet another delay. If this move by the DDC is for the future generations; if our youth can learn Korean just by watching movies, I grudgingly feel Dzongkha is a NO BIG DEAL anyway.

Let us think out of the box if at all the lingua franca of Bhutan needs some attention otherwise it doesn’t have to be rocket science to know that people got into their jobs because they have been interviewed equally in Dzongkha as well. Even if we do have Dzongkha correspondences, office goers aren’t handicapped who doesn’t even know how to read and write in Dzongkha.

And if at all the national language is deteriorating, is official correspondence the only way to promote Dzongkha. Is that the only one? Did everything else fail?