Sunday, May 31, 2020

Online gaming and its associated risks for children

With the closure of educational institutions and restricted movements in the community because of COVID-19 situation in the country, our children have been finding it difficult to spend their time meaningfully at home. They have no friends to hang out with and no places to go to for outdoor activities. They are increasingly growing restless and anxious. As a result, most of them have been going online to interact with their virtual friends and play online games, and with the e-learning classes going on, it has been even more challenging for the parents to monitor what their kids are using the internet for.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The right song at the right place at the right time

The establishment of Zangley Muenselling School for the Blind in Khaling in 1973 brought new hopes and dreams for the visually impaired people of Bhutan. His Royal Highness Prince Namgyel Wangchuck and the missionaries from Norway who founded the school had a common dream, a dream to help every visually impaired Bhutanese see the world through education. One of the biggest responsibilities the founding fathers of the school had was to shift the social paradigm from “We are blind. We cannot do anything!” to “We shall overcome!” And so had the students first learned to sing the nursery song ‘We shall overcome’ the lyrics of which contained the ultimate vision of the school. Over the years, the school has opened the horizon of opportunities and unlocked the door to a promising future for all its visually impaired students, and this is what the song was all about.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Life under the shadow of Coronavirus

Photo of flowers on the mountain with Sun rising in the horizon. Image courtesy: www.businessinsider.com.

The month of May is here in all its natural grandeur. The tender blossoms from the balconies of buildings, gardens and forests are seen rejoicing in the cool breath of Nature, with their colorful petals smiling at the Spring Sun. The mountains and valleys have rolled back to life after being withered by the freezing temperatures of winter. The blessings of Nature are everywhere, in the tender petals of flowers, in the singing of the seasonal birds, or in the beautiful rivers flowing through the valleys. But this year, something is missing in the air. With COVID-19 pandemic still looming round the corner, the feeling of serene calmness and tranquility the Spring season usually brings has not yet sunk in.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Revisiting the past through digitized news archives

The New York Times, which is one of the oldest newspapers in the world has digitized all its news archives starting from its first publication in 1851, giving us the opportunity to travel back in time to look at some of the most important historical events just as they happened. The stories written years after the events have taken place can help us get a glimpse of what had happened in the past but they do not take us back to feel the actual atmosphere of the time when they happened. The original news articles on the Assassination of the US President, Abraham Lincoln on 14th April 1865, published on 15th April 1865; The collision of two jumbo jets on the runway at Tenerife on 27th March 1977, published on 28th March 1977; and The assassination of Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi on 31st October 1984, published on the same day, all took me several years back in time and I felt as though I was there when those events unfolded. I had heard these stories through history books and articles written at a later date by scholars and authors, but these digitized original news reports really made me feel as though I was on a time-machine, flying backwards to see the history myself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A song of death and impermanence

In the endless cycle of birth and rebirth,
We are entangled in this suffering-laden Samsara;
Though we were born and reborn millions of times in the world,
Never had we been fortunate enough to find the path to enlightenment.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

The significance of Dradu and Dilbu, the two commonly used ritual instruments in Throema practice

Photo of Dradu and Dilbu

In Throema practice, the practitioners use a small ritual drum called Dradu and a bell called Dilbu. These ritual instruments give a spiritual rhythm to the prayers. But they have deeper meaning and significance than what we think we know. According to His Eminence Garab Rinpoche, the pioneer of Throema practice in modern times, a Dradu is more than just a circular drum made of a hollow wooden cavity covered on two sides by a thin animal skin. I feel it is important that all Throema practitioners know the actual significance of these seemingly simple-looking ritual instruments while using them.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Looking through both darker and brighter side of COVID-19 pandemic

The schools and colleges are closed. The towns look desolate with only a handful of people and cars on the streets. The public offices and business organizations have gone quiet with people taking turns to come to work. Most of the people have chosen to stay at home, away from the crowds. The city of Thimphu which used to be bustling with human activities almost 24 hours a day now appears dead and dull. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the entire economy. With the number of confirmed cases and related deaths running in tens of thousands across the globe, we are beginning to feel the real weight of the pandemic. People are losing their jobs everyday as the countries are going through economic paralysis.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Fix the face, not the mirror

A drunken man was walking home after a party one late night when he suddenly lost his balance and fell into a bush of thorns. When he reached home, he quietly sneaked into the bathroom and looked at the mirror. He was shocked to see that he had bruises and scratches all over his face. He suddenly realized that he had been warned by his wife never to drink again and if he did, she would leave him. With the hope of playing it safe, he got his first-aid kit and dressed all his bruises to tell his wife in the morning that he accidentally fell down on the road while walking home in the dark. But in the morning, he woke up to his wife yelling at him for drinking again. He protested saying that he never drank at the party. But his wife took him to the bathroom and showed him how he had placed the bandages all over the mirror. He did not have even a single bandage on his face.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Five fake health tips on COVID-19 we should ignore

We know that COVID-19 is a new virus and there is no known treatment. Yet, there are lots of fake health advice being circulated on social media. The worst thing is that people are falsely attributing the sources of such information to UNICEF or medical doctors to make them sound genuine. I have looked at some of the most widely circulated health advice and verified with official sources. Here are the five fake health tips we should ignore.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The fight against COVID-19 calls for national unity and collective responsibility, not blame game

At around 05:00 in the morning on 6th March 2020, I was skimming through my Facebook Newsfeed when I suddenly came across the news of the first positive case of Coronavirus in the country. It instantly sent a chilling wave of panic and fear along my spine. I immediately went on to check the official Facebook pages of concerned agencies to verify the information and when I realized that the report was true, I was left shaken. Within no time, the news stirred up the entire population and triggered all sorts of debates and discussions on social media, mostly blaming the Hon’ble Prime Minister for not shutting down the tourism industry. This sudden shift from panic to hatred was more worrisome than the actual situation. More than the virus, I began to worry about our social harmony and national unity as Bhutanese.