Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Smacking the Holy Office

Back then, when I was a student, smacking was one effective tool to get the naughty ones back to normalcy. A smack or two on the cheeks was enough to get us into behaving like humans. This smacking attitude of my teachers continued until the end of high school. They are still alive and teaching. Now, positive disciplining practices, reinforcements, handling disciplinary issues in the school depending on the degree of offence looks normal but the offender gets away with the punishment, that too making no difference in the attitude of the offender.

Ask any teacher, disciplinary issues are like common cold. It’s always there. It’s the teachers who conduct meetings after meetings to punish the child appropriately. Too harsh-there will be hordes of individuals and agencies behind just to pin point saying, ‘You are freaking wrong’. If left with a mild punishment, our attitude is, ‘Ayee, Children are children’. Also if left unattended, ‘the school isn’t doing enough’ kind of things. We have become used to listening to the negative talks of non-teachers despite the hard work we put in for the sake of children in schools. Sometimes I wonder, ‘What made me choose this line of work?’. Other than workloads and negative criticisms, there is nothing much in the profession. I think the government realized this because they are now recruiting lesser and lesser teachers despite the shortage.

Corporal punishment is now a thing of the past. Smack a child and see what follows. Parents, communities, and even your own nest (MoE) will not back you up. Scorns and curses over the social media is another story. Now, let’s reverse this situation. What if a teacher is smacked? Who all will join the bandwagon in supporting the teacher? Are there rules and policies in place to protect the teacher? I have been teaching for the last nine years. Apart from teaching skills, civil service rules and curriculum stuffs, I haven’t heard of such policies. Everything that happens in the society is staged in the school. Urban nuisances, news making headlines, youngsters going awry, you name it. Children these days study less in the schools and learn more outside. And you may opine, teachers aren’t doing enough in schools? We are doing and in fact we are doing it more than enough. But are you doing enough to your child as parents, neighbors and members of the society. Do you regularly worry about your child’s performance in the school? Or do you always submit to your friends  (other parents) opinion?

Your concern mostly would be to drop and pick your child form the school. Leave the rest to the teacher. Isn’t this what you do daily? Your child may lie to you about home works, schools and friends. Is that what you want? Help us to educate your child. We merely cannot. It must be a coordinated effort between you and us. Do you want your child to smack his/her teacher?

As we become educated, the attitude towards teaching profession is becoming less. Teachers smacking children, the consequences must be…authorities may come asking, did you sign the service document making it legal. Are you a civil servant? Have you not kept in mind the teacher’s code of conduct and ethics? Blah, blah, blah… And if a student smacks a teacher… it is for you own discretion and drawing your own conclusions. If truth is kept loitering around the chairs of bureaucracy and immediacy of parents office-politics, the lofty vision that we have kept for ourselves is too farfetched and fictitious.

Next time, it could be your child for the naming? Think again! 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Act of Indecency

Do you own a car? Do you drive to work and back? If you are a Thimphu resident, you definitely must be owning one or you must be thinking of owning one. Cars have become a necessity of city life and without it our daily chores in and out of homes would mean unimaginable trouble. If I am wrong, just look at the roads where you reside in the city. Just last year there were a few parked, this year, one finds it difficult to get a decent parking space. The numbers have only doubled in a year’s time. As we develop economically the number of cars will only double in times to come and that I am sure.  
Good, well said and done! Owning a car is the Bhutanese version of the American Dream I suppose and who doesn’t want their life to be comfortable and easy, even I do. 

Schooling has begun for this year and will go on until 18th December. An hour before the office rush hour, it’s the school rush hour. Thousands of teachers, students and parents wanting to get to their school is making the traffic choke. Fine, this is the price we must pay for owning a car. Of course there are other advantages of owning a car. Who doesn’t know about this? In fact everyone does. But I have some uneasiness mentioning this here on my blog.

Everyone these days needs a car. Depending on the income we choose or may choose the cars we want it for ourselves. The point is, some of the people drive posh expensive cars only to show disrespect and indiscipline on roads. I am not against how you bought or how wealthy you are. Its none of my business either. Just because you drive a BMW, it doesn’t mean you don’t make way for the incoming Maruti 800 car. The road doesn’t belong to you.

And while driving at nights, your big cars head light causes blindness to other smaller cars. Your car is huge, tires are huge and the ground clearance is also huge, that doesn’t mean you have touched the sky and the ones with smaller cars are going anywhere near hell. You drive 4x4  on our roads, it’s for off road-ing. Excuse me, cars in the western world have low ground clearance. I know you will opine Bhutanese roads to be no better than for off road-ing. A small car can reach where you reach.

When you drive a Land Cruiser for instance, you aren’t the king of the road, please make sure others using smaller cars also get a decent space to cross over or pass by. And some doesn’t even know how to signal to other cars using one’s own parking lights. What a disgrace? What’s the use of driving, when you don’t even know the basic traffic rules? A long queue on the expressway is seen everyday just because a big expensive car has refused to give in to the space for a smaller car. What good is your big car when you drive them only to show attitude and indiscipline on roads? Likewise what good is your degree and masters when you don’t have the decency to be humble? And for the cab drivers…it would be another update. Indecency is rampant on roads these days.

Drive responsibly folks, the roads doesn’t belong to you!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Calling spade, A Spade!

Back in 2011, when I was teaching my eighth graders, a girl in the front wrote an essay. She wanted me to correct it. As I went through the essay, it mentioned of the karmic actions and the circle of karma. Cause and effect basically. She ended her essay with a dictum, ‘what goes around comes around’. This put me into thinking, an eighth grader who wrote so well about life, religion and optimism.

Five years on, this ‘going around-coming around’ maxim just played its part and I witnessed it live, gave me a sense of relief and satisfaction.  I am no different. Pardon me, my phonetics and transcription is bad. Kay Gha Na Chi- Birth, happiness, sickness and death is a universal truth. Someone I know just doesn’t understand this. I bet the word ‘righteousness’ must be alien.

Someone of ours simply wasn’t able to work, some real bad things were happening to the health. To this others opinionated in not pretty good ways. The very person who spoke bad earlier, was bed ridden. Never have I been pleased and satisfied on hearing such news. How I wish to say…Birth, happiness, sickness and death right on the face of this figure.

Sickness comes to everyone and these miserable’s mock at others for their sickness are mentally sick. This of course is much dangerous than being sick physically. When that happens, I will just remember my eighth graders essay-What go around must come around... Mental sickness can only be treated in Ranchi, Bihar. (At least that was what I was told, when I was a kid). They got no place amongst us.

Everyone suffers from sickness and I don’t intend anyone to like my post either because this is just my idea of getting relieved from whatever disturbs my head but the bottom line once again is, everyone falls ill. And just as I end my blog, what’s wrong when you call a hypocrite, a hypocrite? A spade a spade! Selfish, greedy and self centered people (Hypocrites) are everywhere. They come in all forms... friends, colleagues, relatives, acquaintances and worst of all as leaders. These are jaundiced who see everything yellow.

What’s wrong in calling a spade, a spade?    

Monday, March 14, 2016

Rest is all Ego

Che Dorji one of my blogger friend, wrote in his update some weeks ago, “The only difference between you and me is HUMAN, and rest is all EGO”. I was pondering on what he meant and I was trying to analyze situations where, what he wrote would better fit in. I have thought about numerous situations and conditions where this update of his perfectly fits in and relates to my personal anecdotes. Here are some of them.

You see, I like every other Thimphu resident make the weekend round to the Farmers Market for groceries and edibles. This is nothing new and everyone knows about the fee one must pay for parking your car. Just beside where I parked, a huge green SUV was already parked. We went about buying some veggies and others edibles and I was holding my 11 month old. We must have probably spent about 40-50 minutes of our time. On my return to the car, the green SUV driver was having a brawl with the parking fee collector. The brawl, as I hear later form the same parking fee collector was, the fee he was supposed to pay was 30 Ngultrum. The man in the SUV gave only 10. The poor man insisted on Nu: 30. That’s when the driver (Owner of the SUV) nearly punched the poor man. Without paying, the SUV left. The difference between two of them human, rest is…

I didn’t visit an ill friend because I was caught up with something personal at home and the other reason was, there were lots of people visiting that particular day. Later, I was a little edged by that friend in a professional way for not seeing him on that day. Although, I cannot claim that was professional but it inclined personal grudge. He meant it and I felt him. The only difference between us is human, rest is all ego.

I have for the time being, given up on the occasional mood swingers (beer) and I seldom meet my drinking buddies. I have an 11 month old to look after and she doesn’t take away her sight from me. It’s been a pretty long time now without having gone outside. I was also asked by the IELTS tutor on speaking test this question, “How often do you go outside?” After the test, I was wondering if I look like a person who is seen outdoors and liked going out. And now I hear a rumor in the air, “I have become miser and known the value of money”. The difference between the person who coined this out and me is only human, if you know what I mean.

Some people possess unimaginable ego and these are the ones who talk about the attitude problems blatantly and at a point blank range, not realizing their attitude is the problem to everyone. Such is the time these days. Sometimes, I too feel about keeping the same attitude and dealing in a way they deal but then it will only make me like them, not who I am. I realized to go about my own business and mind my own problems. That way its better, never bothered about others who only think of themselves before anyone else.

Now, the only difference between us and the rest of the world is human, and rest is all ego…

Friday, March 11, 2016

Folks, what is cool?

Note: This update is a lopsided opinion on what I felt and it is intended for pleasure reading only. It is in no way intended to defame, demoralize or bring down any individuals or offices. Happy Reading!

In the remote woods of Kheng, when I was first deployed as a teacher, there were hardly any working civil servants apart from the teachers ourselves and we would be less than five in count. I had to walk three hours to the nearest BHU, a day to reach the bank and even longer to reach the Dzongkhag office. There  I walked for all undertakings, ate organically grown food, played sports to spend time and occasionally organized gatherings among schools and staff. It was not much fun then but when I look back at those by gone years now, I feel I had lived an interesting life.

Here, every Tom, Dick and Harrry is a civil servant, a corporate employee, or a private company worker, etc…There is no dearth of working people. There is no dearth of urban nuisance as well. If water is out for a day or so, panic is the only appropriate adjective. If there is no electricity for a day, ‘server down’ is what you get in reply for public service delivery. And in most offices ‘Printer or the cartridge’ is out for printing as well as photocopying. Due to the sheer number of people moving in and out and going about their personal or professional lives, ‘CL Mindu’ is the official jargon. Traffic in the mornings and evenings, waiting in long snaking lines for kerosene, ATM’s and LPG cylinders, sounds of construction in every corner, rising living costs and food items. Meat is cheaper than vegetables and dairy products, and for the fruits, prices are exuberant.

On the Norzin Lam lane, looking at the road below from one of the famous restaurants window, I asked myself, where are these people heading? The cars, the people and never ending parked cars, the dogs (as I watched one, the dog used the zebra crossing to get to the other end). It only makes me question, is this development in a thought-out pattern? All things that make life easy is available or is being made available, for instance the outdoor gym for the elderly is frequented more by after school brats who instead of heading home swing themselves worrying their already waiting parents. Treatment is provided free at the ordeal of waiting in lines for hours and buying one’s own medicine from a private medical shop. Even children these days know what PCM is.

For any sports, firstly you don’t get an open play field and even if you get one, it is monetized. Necessities and comforts come at a cost. Back then I walked, I was fit physically. Here I drive and pay for fitness and I still am prone to so many lifestyle nuisances. People here mostly suffer from BP and Diabetes.

Tours with TA/DA doesn’t exist and even if you get one, you will have to undergo the mental torture of a psychiatric patient and the physical one of a TNA Pro-Wrestler. Bosses work you out and you give your best shot but you will always be underappreciated and labeled an underperformer. Office politics will mostly be about monetary benefits, cars, buildings and land. I am not against who owns all of these but saying it out is taboo in our societal set up. Here, the life you live is dictated either by ‘Power’ or by ‘Money’ you possess. Even if you are an underperformer, if you know how to woo people with feel-good talks, you are in their good books, if not you have to be wealthy.

People residing out of Thimphu thinks, “Zai, living in Thimphu is cool”. Except for the water running from the taps, for some ice cream shops, some AC ventilated offices and the river, everything about this place is not cool. People’s attitude is not cool, living expenses is not cool, and food prices aren’t cool so salary definitely  will not be cool, fuel expenses isn’t cool, health isn’t cool, pollution isn’t cool, robberies and burglaries isn’t cool, public service delivery isn’t cool, admission pressure isn’t cool, work load is not cool.  You just name it.

Folks, what is cool? 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My tryst with IELTS

I had registered myself for the IELTS and there was no apparent reason for doing so. I just wanted to appear and see for myself what the IELTS thing was all about. Every Tom, Dick and Harry nowadays talks about the IELTS and how they underwent the test. IELTS was a language test on four different strands. Language interested me and after convincing and nagging my other half I had it registered. Of course, this test doesn’t come free. A hefty ten thousand six hundred must be paid to undergo the test. I hear from the British Council people here in Thimphu that this fee is going to be revised from next month. I am writing this for those people who are thinking of appearing the IELTS in future. Oh IELTS is the abbreviation for International English Language Testing System.

A registration form must be filled firstly and it’s available on the RIM website. There is another centre that conducts the same test-IMS (Institute for Management Studies).  After filling in the details, a copy of CID must be enclosed as a proof of identity. This form along with a copy of your CID must be e-mailed back to the address inscribed on the form. Within half a day, an e-mail will come confirming your registration. After receiving the email, you have three working days to process a demand draft amounting to ten thousand six hundred on behalf of the British Council, New Delhi. That demand draft has to be given to RIM.

You will receive another e-mail confirming your test Date. You will be given two different dates. One is for Speaking and the other for Listening, Reading and Writing. For the speaking test, you just need to take your CID and see a person who will interview you and test your fluency, vocabulary and your command over the English language. This test just takes about 15-20 minutes.
For listening, reading and writing you need to take pens, pencils, sharpeners and erasers. Now I will mention how this test is conducted and how strictly one must mange time.

Listening: You will be provided with a head phone and you need to listen carefully. That’s why teachers tell us to listen to the BBC English. As you listen you must write the answers in the question booklet itself. Remember to use only pencil in this test. Later you will be provided with ten minutes to transfer your answer to your answer sheet. Listen carefully and it won’t be a problem but remember the recording will be played only once. You have only 40 minutes for this. Please manage your time.

Reading: Your will be provided with the reading question booklet and an answer sheet. It has three essays; informative, descriptive and an argumentative essay. You must read the essays one at a time and write the answers in the answer sheet. No additional time is given to transfer your answer. For most Bhutanese, I included, reading is difficult. You will get 60 minutes for this test. Here too, use only pencil...and manage your time as well.

Writing: Here, you will again get 60 minutes for the Writing test. There are two tasks in this test. Task one gets 20 minutes and task two-40 minutes. Here there is an option whether to use a pen or a pencil. I suggest you use pencil for the entire test. Task one requires a candidate to write a report on 150 words on a situation provided. There are no choices for situations here. You must write what is asked. Task two requires a candidate to write an argumentative essay in not less than 250 words on a topic provided. No choices provided here.

If you get hold of a guide book on IELTS, please acquaint yourself with the format of the questions and how the answers must be written. It is not a very difficult ordeal to sit for the test and time management is the mantra here. Now, I know why every Tom, Dick and Harry I have met talk about IELTS.

Good Luck

Monday, March 7, 2016

Do you park your car out in the open?

This is my fourth update on the safety issues which residents of Thimphu face on a nightly basis. We reside just metres away from the community police office and yet the crimes, vandalism and nightly disturbances continue. The media reports it and a sense of relief runs through many of us. After a few days we are back to the status Quo.

Vandalizing cars and homes have become a nuisance and to even hear about these incidences has become routine news. When others lose their car belongings it just a routine anecdote to hear, but when that happens to you, it’s a frustrating undertaking to mending and fixing the damage. Every night someone loses things from their cars. It’s a reminder not to keep things in your car. I did the same but the very next time, your spare tyre is stolen. In the dead of the night, someone bangs my car and runs off. I had been a victim of many such incidences in the past.

Google images
I happened to report this to the nearest RBP station and they take down all your details and location only to hear nothing from the other end. We are so preoccupied with living one’s own life within the cocoon of our apartments that whatever happens outside is not my f***ing problem. When your car gets vandalized then you realize we aren’t safe anymore and begin worrying about replacing or fixing your car. Do you park your car outside in the open? Think again!

I see only the traffic people going about their job in various locations and the other men in blue; I wonder if things must be reported to them so that they are justifiable enough to investigate. If a crime is not reported, is it kept as it is? Shouldn’t they patrol the streets and places? Just orienting kids won’t bring down nuisances. What about the lots that aren’t into orientation and who roam about not realizing what time is day or night.
My worry is, this time I am the victim of a car robbery. Next time it could be you or anybody. Just by reporting if the authority investigates, just how many reports is our authority willing to compile keeping in mind we are the residents of Bhutan’s largest city. Did I forget to mention we reside in the capital city? Is our capital city safe and secure during the nights? I  grudgingly beg to differ!

Or is an investigation legitimate only if reporting is done? Are there no other means whereby such vandalism is curbed? This update is just a lopsided irritation that I underwent thinking of men in blue who aren’t doing enough to reduce crimes or whatever. And for those who own a car, I am sure you do and who don’t have a private parking, please do think about what I just mentioned.

Good day folks!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

It's a kids job to push boundaries

Waking up, getting dressed and moving on to your place of work. This was the daily ritual I followed until now and I never paid much heed about how others like me come for work. Listening to colleagues about the morning nag of their children reminded me of my own little daughter Tenzin. Just recently she started waking up the moment I crawl out of bed. All is fine if she doesn’t see me. As soon as she puts her sight on me, she will start to make faces wanting to be picked. And from this morning I was a little uneasy leaving for work as I left her crying in her mother’s arms. Such is the pain when leaving for work.

Tenzin Tantrum Euden
My friends tell me, this is just the beginning and there are more to come and unravel about the unpredictable nature of toddlers. I am now beginning to think of how can I leave for work without being noticed by her.

All this time I have seen her temper tantrums and her irritation. She has started to speak of some unfamiliar sounds and points at things that makes her happy. She swings her arms up and down whenever she watches the local channel which plays songs and movie clips. She goes into sleep after minutes of getting in the car. She is barely 11 months and I feel as if she was born yesterday. Time has made its due course in just a blink of an eye.

I realize a kid’s job is to push boundaries, but it’s tough not to take it personally. As I post this, I am imagining what might she be doing at home. She might just be nagging her mommy or might be fast asleep. Anyway, I will be home by evening to rejoice moments of our togetherness. That’s my Tenzin Tandin Euden AKA Tenzin Tantrum Euden.