Monday, April 23, 2012

What teaching means to me

ir, kho ghi awa tang nu la”, said a curious little pair of eyes from a corner and the one who was “awa tangmi” is red ashamed in the other corner. This is how I was greeted when I became a teacher and when I entered the very first class as a fully fledged teacher. What I would do next? Simple! Clean the boy, made him wash like any other mother. And yes, this is what I exactly did.
Teaching in its conventional sense is much more than teaching. Teaching is the epitome of all service working profession. It can be termed otherwise as the ‘bolt of lightning that illuminates the cloud of ignorance’. Teaching also is the ‘noblest’ of all professions and this is viewed by the educated lot in our country as the true service working profession.  It is being said that the true ‘Lopen’ is only a title for the Buddhist saint Guru Padmasambhava and this reverence is given to the teachers as well. Such “noble” and “holy” is the profession teaching.
Some say teaching is an art, some say teaching is a learned skill. One thing's for sure, if you are not serious about teaching, you will not succeed. As your career advances, your skills at actual teaching will improve. But what about the other things involved with being a teacher? Just because you can stand up in front of a class and supposedly "teach," it doesn't mean that you are actually a teacher! And you do have to become a teacher for the right reasons with a passion for children.
Teaching to me is much more than teaching content. It takes so much to be a teacher because once a teacher, your character teaches your children. And they are real quick in picking things up from the teacher. There is a very thin negligible line between the personal and professional life of a teacher. A teacher is under constant surveillance at school. Whatever one does as a teacher has a deep and an insightful impact on the children. This is how I perceive teaching as a teacher myself.
My humble opinion about this profession is very simple; it’s the holiest of all the professions in these ever controversial debates on professions these days. Teachers and the teaching profession deserve support, not blame in light of what is happening to teachers lately. Despite all the criticisms and the “blame game” today teaching also has its special pleasures. Teachers get to be present when children discover new and exciting things about their world. They also help them unravel problems that might otherwise have kept them stuck at a certain level of intellectual development. It's an opportunity to teach aspects of morality and professionalism that will benefit students for a lifetime.
As a teacher myself, I love teaching and I take pride in the profession that forms the largest number of civil servants in our GNH driven country.
Long live the teachers of Bhutan!

Lobzang Nima is a teacher at Zhemgang Lower Secondary School

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A teacher’s paranoia

Let us look at the trend today; having a beloved by your side during any visits, on picnics, tours, games, in offices, during travels is a crown on the manhood which one tries to achieve as a man. The love-fever in men makes men hungry for creating impressions in the mind of their beloved, consider this; “Oh wow! You did that! How sweet”, isn’t this what everyone went through when one was lost in those love filled good old days? Pardon me; if I am offending anyone who didn’t have to be like what I just mentioned, truly these are my observations.
The pride that comes with having a beloved is most enjoying! That it makes men happy, wise and prompt in doing things which one wishes to undertake. For a spoilt brat like me, when in high school, there was one such girl named Tshering![1] She was one intelligent girl with good looks. When I saw her in school, I was longing to talk to her somehow or the other. Now, I have a special reason for not missing any classes, games, study periods and outings because of the pride associated. I would stare at her during the classes and we coincidentally happen to be in the same class. What more could you wish for when someone you admire sits in close proximity to you? I was awestruck with the charm she possessed, and her simplicity in whatever she does made me admire her a little more every now and then.
As a high school kid, I had an added advantage over girls (All grownups). I was a cute little tiny tot then. Due to this fact every girl in my school kissed me on my cheek saying, “Gadim chi cute dhu, (How cute)”. So I knew every fresher in my school, every old girl who had become a little plump over the vacations and it was as if I was in charge of the girls in the school. Pema (Name changed) was one such girl. She will not go into the class until she kisses me. I would rather interpret it as a filial love because she was senior to me. During the weekends she used to come near the boy’s hostel and call my name, wanting to take my clothes for washing. I would smilingly hand over my dirty clothes to her and by evening my clothes would be ironed smooth, perfume sprayed and a packet of potato chips would be in the bag. She used to bring pickles for me during the meals. This was the life that I used to have as a high school kid. The high school days were carefree and all things that came across were filled with excitement and I was always anxious about what would follow next.
My big break came when I was in college when I fell for a seemingly charming girl. She was outwardly joyful but it was much later that I came to know of her mental playfulness. My friends teased me whenever they had the opportunity and she came to know me at last. My buddies forced me to propose her and then when I finally did, it was an accident. I went near Girls hostel and she was busy in the TV hall with some movies. There I told her the fact that killed me for so long. After I made my declaration, she smiled and I took it as a definite ‘yes’. I was on top of the world.  It didn’t take much pain to win her but this always remained a mystery in my mind till now.
Her love for me was a special and a privileged relationship. We went for visits and get together at our friends place and I cherished those moments with much awe. We spent a year long relationship with love and affection all the way. When I passed out I felt as if a part of me was left behind and there was something missing in me somehow. I used to visit her and she was there holding onto the commitment that we made when we first met each other. Everyone was quite happy with what I was doing and some showered advises and some suggestions!
It was an awesome relationship that I had made for myself with my own share of tribulations and hardships. I used to visit her during the breaks and I even took her to my parents place in Chukha. My father and mother were so happy and they liked her very much. Every person in Chukha knew my recent development. When I went to visit her once I did some shopping for her and met her friends who had come for vacations.
Again during the following winter break we met in Thimphu and because of some unknown reason we had a good quarrel. Then things started to go wrong. A few months later, I was on election duty as a polling officer to some distant village. It was 2008 March and we were getting things ready for the first ever general elections in the history of our country. I and a team of four teachers were preparing hard in arranging the polling station which was a dining hall of the school in the village. Suddenly my phone rang and I was shocked to hear it, because I was unaware that the village was connected by mobile network. I had left it on a table after I was done listening to some songs. I yelled, “That’s my phone” my other friend, “Yes, Lobzang”. I ran to table and picked “hello”. A familiar voice was at the other end of the phone and it was her friend. I was told, “Lobzang, I have some bad news for you”, I was like a long ‘Whhhhaaaaatttttt what’s wrong? And she replied, “She is going around with someone and she wouldn’t listen to us despite repeated advices”. Her talks were ironically telling me to end the entire affair. I believed in her words because she was her roommate and a close friend.
I was numb in my bones for a moment and answered, “Thanks for the news and wait for my call”. I put it off. I was pretending in front of others as if nothing had happened but actually the whole sky was crashing down on me. Then we arranged a few tables, voting compartment, voting machines etc. in a desperate mood.   
My later part of life came to a complete halt when I was leaving my school for the vacations. There again a call from the very girl who called me earlier (during the elections). This time the hot news was “she is 6 months pregnant”. I am definitely not to be blamed. I by now made up my mind not to succumb to such ill happenings in my life.
I have all the big and small reasons for this to happen because in NIE there are more choices, particularly when you are looking for one which suits you. I too had this luxury when I was a trainee then. More often it would be the juniors that would look excitingly pretty and ravishing, by looks of course! From around 700-800 trainees in a semester back then, it is more normal to lose your love string with one and look for other greener suitors. For those who were pre-married before joining NIE, it was a disaster in the making. Choices are abundant for girls and boys alike. The chemistry of love is at its full swing and at its pinnacle.
For the next coincidence, all teachers who graduated in the years 2006, 2007 and 2008 were to report to NIE Paro for the convocation. I was excited to meet all the trainees of my batch. I had indeed waited for this momentous occasion.  All teachers from Zhemgang who were my batch went for the big event. Our hopes were high because K5[2] was the guest of honor. On my way to the college premises for the rehearsal, I and some of my friends were returning after we selected a gown and a hat for ourselves for the next big day.  
Then disaster stroke! I saw her who was dressed fine and her good old elegant face was bright. But to make her more worthy of her womanhood, there was a slight swell in her abdominal part. The call was right. She literally was what I was told about. And I also could see her pretending not to have seen me. She changed her look as if something had happened and I was feeling pity on the poor soul. My friend Yeshey boldly told me, “she is nervous” and in fact she was. “Why do you have to look at her when she is ignoring you”, declared he. I smiled back at him and silence followed for a while.
Then I went to the bench where I once sat with her during the NIE days. We would spend hours talking about our family and their differing outlook on marriages, the type of cars we want ourselves to own someday, the school where we would like to teach, and interesting of all we also jointly designed our bedroom and the number of TV sets that should be installed in our utopian home. Everything was perfect and it seemed to me that I was the only happy being in the entire world until that March-election morning. Splash! I realized this in the 21st century when William Shakespeare did it in the Renaissance that, “Easy winning makes the fruit light”.

An excerpt from Lobzang Nima's book titled "Beyond the call of daily life", 
Q-Reprographics, Thimphu, 2011 (ISBN: 978-99936-824-0-0)

[1] Name changed                                                                                                                                                                                  
[2] His majesty the fifth king

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Musings on petty issues of human relationships!!!!

It has been always fascinating to write about people and their ways of doing things. Let me not put it as ‘characters’ because it is annoying and uneasy to hear it in a ‘humane’ perspective. As this humane relationship ‘humane’ as we call friendship is a little bit misjudged (god knows why). My version of the story is it is a little bit misunderstood in our way of life, the Bhutanese way for that matter, at least. It has remained a custom to nag, tease, make fun of, sometimes insult and downgrade our company in the midst of friends commonly termed ‘circle of friends’. Well that’s the bottom line of all human becoming friends. It has also been the custom to share to ‘another’ being about the friend you are close to about his(her) likes and dislikes to ‘create an impression about oneself’ in the eyes of another. This comes at a cost of down grading one to achieve the height of prestige, the other tries to achieve. I ‘f……..’ don’t understand this but this has been the Bhutanese norm of the so called, the cliché “FRIENDSHIP”.
It would mean, when people are on one side and you on the other, it would be a ‘Universal deceit’ as George Orwell put in his book, “1984”. Further airtel jingles puts it this way, “waise har ek friend zaroori hota hai”. Now as I write this piece, I lost a couple of my good friends just because of the aforementioned cause or you may like to call it the ‘causes’. As long as there is a bone, noses will be there to smell it, the old Bhutanese maxim reads!
Good luck, now go haunt your buddies!