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?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Some Crazy posts and imprints I have come across so far !

Do you believe in Sense of Humor? Well sure I do and if not for all these inanimate signs and prints where is the charm to smile and ponder with amusement. These are just my collections of what I bumped into here on my studies. These did make me laugh my heads. Have a look!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Speaking: Not everyone's cuppa tea!

Contrary to what most mention about time, which is of course short, I have time to listen to and watch the fiery speakers and authors of today exclusively on YouTube. As inspirational and stimulating as it may seem on the onset of any speakers, the power of words and the ability to put the right words in the right moment is intelligence as well as a handy skill. Not many that I have come across possess such skill which of course includes me. As an educator for many years public speaking is and still remains a daunting challenge for me. Learning to listen to speakers of motivation is what I found and seek refuge in while trying to speak on academics and not necessarily politics.

I have had our very own TS Powdyel sir whom I love to listen to this day. The former Prime Minister, JYT is another fiery speaker who I admire. President Barack Obama is world leader and I am fascinated with his speeches especially, “This is not a nation of White America, brown America, Hispanic America, Asian America, republican America or a Democratic America, This is the United States of America” and this very line among others catapulted him to be the first African- American president of the United States.

Aspiring to be a full time writer someday in my coming years, I now grudgingly believe writing and speaking must go hand in hand. Even Adolf Hitler had his ‘Mein Kampf’ published before he became the fieriest speaker of the pre WWII era. Another recent favorite of mine is a friend of Bhutan, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, an acclaimed Author and a diplomat from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Southern India. If you may, besides the chores that keep you busy, try YouTube-ing his name and you will be amazed at how he mesmerizes his audience. I now aspire to speak like him, not sure if that may sound funny to you.

All in all, I am here in this video trying to think of all of my inspirations till date while speaking for seven minutes at an educational conference at a place called Khao Yai in Thialand. A three hour drive from where my university is. I have some pictures posted for you to see of this magical place which of course is a tourist destination. I would love to hear from you and don’t forget to leave your comments in the section below. Happy Listening!

Due to the large size of the video, I couldn't upload it here but do click the link below for the video and not forgetting Deki and Gaki for the video, thank you guys! 

Click this link: Conference Paper. 

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Neat!

Kuzozangpo and Sawadhekhrup! Before the year comes to an abrupt end without mentioning anything of the culture shock here, I cannot make this post a new year’s update, you know why? It’s spooky in many sense. Yeah, yeah! I know….. you know most and you know well about Thailand especially Bangkok with all shopping stuff, malls, amusement areas, Tuk Tuk, Khao San Road, Patpong, Pattaya, Som Tam, Chang, and not to forget Ann, who speaks a little Dzongkha and most Bhutanese know her, the Tokyo mall in MBK, Watson's, Tesco Lotus, Seven-Elevens, etc… 

I know you know many more than the mentioned. What many don’t know is, this is not for the ladies anyways, beauty and grooming parlors are dotted everywhere for women and equally dotted are massage parlors, I haven’t been to any.

Look for hair cutting shops as you stroll around and walk aimlessly with no sense of direction. Many a Bhutanese, including me still have doubts about which is east, where the hell is north and so on. And in downtown Bangkok, forget directions, one’s own hotel disappears within minutes if you are not careful. People literally squeeze in between jammed cars to walk ahead. OK, back to hair-cut!

For men, getting a decent hair cut here can be pretty cumbersome. Now, don’t jump into conclusions for those of you who know me-a supposed bald preaching of hair-cut. If you are smart enough, you can look for hair cutting shops on Google Maps and even if you find one, you will pay way above the normal.

As minimal as hairs on my head, men’s hair cutting shops are also minimal. After you have found one, get in, speak some Thai-English and get yourself a hair-cut. I am talking about me, not generalizing. The person who cut my hair or trimmed anyways, gets a calculator and shows me, 300 Baht. What the heck? But that included washing your head and a little massage. Imagine, if you aren’t bald.

Next stop, weeks later, I stumbled upon a clipper in a Tech-mall. Asked, ‘Thau R-layi’ and I get the answer, 429 baht. This should be a sensible investment and I bought myself a clipper.

How's that for a first timer? 
After that, I never visited any shops for my hair cut and on two occasions, I requested my neighbor, Sherub for running the clipper on my head. This is the third time I have used it and guess what, I did it myself. Just before plugging in, watched YouTube on how to clipper your own hair and watching religiously, there you have it, a clean clipped hair and not so good head. Necessity is grudgingly the mother of all inventions. So, if you thinking of holidaying in Bangkok and its outskirts, get yourself trimmed or try my idea or you choose 300, Clipper worth 429…and learn some handy skills. One thing about being bald is, it's neat! 

Self-conscious a too little? Looks, Hairs, dresses etc…Well, no one notices all these now...People are busy getting from A to B, because you are in Bangkok, the most visited city in the world. So who the hell will say, blink or even notice if you cut your own hair...

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy holidays! Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

To live is an act of courage: Reasoning Suicides!

Let us not make GNH a jargon and relate it to every possible misfortune that Bhutan faces. Youngsters aren’t happy that’s why the suicides, as common as that. Since, GNH stands out and we are still fascinating the world with our philosophy, everything that happens in Bhutan is somehow linked and reasoned to this concept. I know perfectly some link must be maintained but let us not make a metaphysics or for that matter a metaphorical irony of out every other problem that we undergo.

Sorry, I came late to this topic and I have thought about this for a while and spent some time pondering on what has been mentioned in about suicides. I am very amazed at the fact that how can suicide rate be medium in Bhutan considering the population. People in other countries have a rate mentioned and let’s consider this, millions if not billions live in the countries cited and governments take suicides very seriously.

Some major causes of suicides among many, as I have read are;

§  major psychiatric illness - in particular, mood disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia)
§  substance abuse (primarily alcohol abuse)
§  family history of suicide
§  long term difficulties with relationships with friends and family
§  losing hope or the will to live
§  significant losses in a person's life, such as the death of a loved one, loss of an important relationship, loss of employment or self-esteem
§  unbearable emotional or physical pain
Some platforms and activities to reduce the above mentioned causes is the need of the hour. Isn’t it worrying that young people are taking their own lives with reasons? There are reasons that’s why the death. Young people are dying, isn’t this serious… A sensible thing the authorities can do is conduct a nationwide suicide prevention campaign across schools and colleges instead of mentioning services like helicopter and insufficient counsellors in schools, overworked psychiatrists and very few mental health centers. 

Home is where most of the problems begin and what if something is done to educate adults on this, take for instance, sex education at homes is a taboo even for the ones reading this. This culture must be adopted to talk to young people at homes. Let us make our young people believe that, sometimes even to live, is an act of courage. And yes, sorry for the wacky title-because it doesn’t have to be rocket science to detect common sense whether be it governments, communities, organizations or individuals.

Kadrinchey for dropping by.