Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dining in the Dark: Venturing out into the world of the visually impaired

Group photo of guests at the Dining in the Dark event. Image courtesy: FB page of Dining in the Dark Bhutan

While rest of the people in Thimphu city were busy settling down for the night on 6th June 2018, a group of special guests had gathered at Chh'a Bistro and Bar at Changzamtog to experience what was going to become one of the greatest adventures of their life. They had come to have ordinary dinner in an extraordinary environment. As they walked in through the door, they were blindfolded and escorted to their tables by volunteers. With their door to the world of light shut, they were left on their own to figure out how to make better use of their remaining four senses to perceive what was going on around them. For those who had never been in such an environment before, it was one of the most challenging moments of their life. Soon, the soup and other foods came on the table and not being able to see what was in front of them, they struggled even more as they groped for their foods. Some of them even had to eat with their hands as they could not use their spoons and forks. At the end of the ordeal, all the guests felt relieved that they have somehow managed to dine in the dark although some of the food items that were served were left untouched.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Key messages from my talk at Norbuling Rigter College in Paro

Photo of me giving the talk

No matter how many times you fall down, there is always a way to get up. When you lose your way in life and find yourself on the other side of the society, you should remember that there is always a u-turn somewhere to get back to the right lane. It is important to understand that problems are there just because there are solutions. When you find yourself stuck in between a rock and a hard surface, just sitting back and crying won’t solve the problem. You should keep on trying to push yourself up no matter how deep you think you have been sucked in. You should not care about how many times you have fallen down. You should focus on how to get up every time you fall down because as long as you keep on trying, there is always a chance to succeed unlike those who give up easily. The road to success does not run straight, It can even run through some of the darkest spots in life, but as it is popularly said, there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. This was the gist of my talk at Norbuling Rigter College in Paro which was organized by my office on 23rd May 2018 as part of the 14th episode of YouTurn, the monthly motivational talk for young people.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Chorten Kora: The sacred symbol of Trashi Yangtse

Photo taken in front of Chorten Kora stupa

When you reach Trashi Yangtse, the first thing that greets your eyes is the spectacular view of Chorten Kora stupa which stands majestically on the bank of Kholongchhu River. Having withstood the test of time for more than two centuries, this great monument draws hundreds of pilgrims and tourists every year. It is believed to have been built in the 18th century by Lama Ngawang Lodrey as a replica of Boudhanath stupa of Nepal and even to this day, one can see in its architectural designs the glory of its rich past. Enlivened by the beautiful rows of sacred temples and prayer-flags interwoven into a tapestry of natural scenery in the surrounding, the stupa touches every soul that comes to circumambulate it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Is he blind?

Some years ago, I was walking with my wife in the town when a passerby approached us and asked my wife "Is he blind?" My wife just smiled and said "Yes!". Then he began to ask her the entire history of how I lost my sight and what I am currently doing, and I was standing there listening to the conversation as though I was in the distance. He never talked to me directly. I felt quite awkward because he was talking about me just in front of me and I was there standing like a lifeless statue.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Responsible use of social media: a reminder for anonymous users

There is no doubt that the evolution of social media has really transformed our lives. It had never been easier for us to connect with our long-lost friends or meet our loved ones all from the comfort of our own home. Today, we live in a world where Facebook alone has over 1.65 billion active users monthly. This means that almost our entire generations are growing up online interacting with friends and families on social media. It has become an important medium of interaction and communication for both casual users and businesses across the world. With easy-to-use tools, simple designs, reliable connectivity and free access to great features, it is true that social media has now taken the world by storm. As a result, it has now become very important for us to learn how to use it responsibly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Voters with disabilities require more accessible polling places in the country

Photo of persons with disabilities who had cast their postal ballots in Thimphu on 14th April 2018. Image courtesy: the official FB page of Disabled Persons' Association of Bhutan

Elections are a great opportunity for ordinary citizens to make their voices heard in the nation’s political process. It is more important for persons with disabilities to exercise their right to vote and add their voices to the national debate since they represent one of the largest minority groups in the country. As a developing country, Bhutan is estimated to have at least 10 percent of its total population with some kind of disability as per the World Disability Report published by World Health Organization in 2011. This means that we have at least 70,000 Bhutanese living with some kind of disability in the country and if we also include old-age people who require special arrangements to lead an independent life every day, this figure could be even higher. So the political spectrum of the country will not be complete without the participation of persons with disabilities in the elections.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Sexual abuse: the painful reality of our contemporary society

Just as in any other country, sex crimes are not uncommon in Bhutan. But the recent stories of sexual abuse involving a health staff and a schoolteacher in Thimphu have shattered the entire nation. On the night of 5th April 2018, a health technician at JDW National Referral Hospital had allegedly raped a patient’s attendant after injecting her with an anesthetic drug in the pretext of testing her blood for transfusion. Then within the same week, another painful story of how nine young schoolgirls in a private school in Thimphu were sexually molested by their own vice-principal surfaced in the media and further shocked us even before we could recover from the trauma and shame caused by the earlier incident. It is very unfortunate that the very souls who are ethically bound to provide protection and care to their clients have themselves become a threat to the society. Although the crime committed by one health staff and one teacher should not be used as a yardstick to measure the professional conduct of thousands of teachers and health workers in the country, these stories certainly send out a clear message that our society is not always safe especially for women.