Saturday, December 26, 2015

The advantages of being blind

When I lost my sight at the age of 9, I was totally shocked and confused. I didn’t know what was happening around me and what kind of future I was heading to. All my family-members, relatives and neighbors were deeply worried about my future. They all thought that with my sight gone, my door to the outside world was shut forever. Everybody thought that I would have to spend the rest of my life depending on others for help. All those who came to see me sympathized with me and I became the mouthpiece of everybody in the neighborhood. It was really a terrible experience. I lost the ability to do many things which I used to do easily when I had sight. My hopes and dreams all collapsed at once. But after I went to school, I slowly began to see the beauty of my new world and discovered my own strengths. I gradually regained my confidence to live a normal life with others and I got back my smiles that had vanished along with my sight. . Today, I am a happy person despite of being deprived of the opportunity to see the physical world with my own eyes. Although I have lost my sight, I have got the vision of my life. My disability is actually supposed to limit my freedom and choices to enjoy the real beauty of this life, but as I grew up, I began to see in it many advantages instead. Following are some of the advantages of being blind I have come to understand based on my own personal experiences:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Connecting urban children with rural life

Most of our children today grow up in cities and towns leading sophisticated lifestyles and as a result, they hardly get the opportunity to experience a unique type of life their parents and grandparents have enjoyed back in the village. Although the towns and cities do have various modern facilities that make life in general easier and more comfortable, villages have their own unique natural beauty and charm. So while many parents in urban centers are busy looking for means to engage their children meaningfully during this long winter vacation, I and my wife are sending our children to the village to let them experience a unique way of rustic life as well as to get them closer to their grandparents. We have been taking them to the village at least for a month every winter with the hope that they would learn to appreciate the beauty of rural life and realize the real value of family and community bonding.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A funny as well as adventurous cycling experience

When I was studying in PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, one of our Bhutanese friends had a bicycle gifted to him by his brother who completed his studies from Kerala. It had become a Bhutanese pool-vehicle since everybody used to ride it whenever needed. We used to ride it to go out for shopping in the nearby market areas as well as to go to meet our friends living outside the campus. It was comfortable for two people. When the owner of the bicycle graduated in May 2004, he left the bicycle for us to use. I often used to go on ride with my friends who were experienced cyclists.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Memories from Chennai, India

Photo of Bhutanese delegates in Chennai, India

“We had the first-hand experience of flying through the cyclone today and I hope you might have enjoyed it” the pilot announced as soon as we touched down at Chennai International Airport, probably in an effort to comfort the worried passengers. We all burst into laughter when the pilot made that announcement. The weather conditions in Chennai on Sunday, 15th November 2015 were really wild with heavy rains and strong cyclone. We took off from Bakdokra at 4:30 pm and after a short stop at Kolkata, we continued to Chennai in the same flight. But as we approached Chennai International Airport, the aircraft began to tremble wildly as we flew through the oncoming cyclone and heavy rains that had been flooding Chennai and the neighboring areas over the past five days or so. As the pilot announced, it was really a scary and dangerous flight. I had never been nervous and anxious like that before. I kept on praying as the aircraft struggled to cut its way through such a strong and wild rainstorm. But due to God’s grace and the kind wishes of our friends, we could safely land at Chennai at around 8:30 pm as scheduled.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The first leg of my official trip to India

Six years after my first official trip to Bangkok in 2009, I am thankful to my boss for letting me join her team to visit a youth center in Chennai in India. When I was told that I have been nominated for the study visit a couple of weeks ago, I accepted the offer with gratitude for two main reasons. Firstly, the activity is part of the project I look after and somehow I had a feeling that I deserve this opportunity after being involved in planning and implementing numerous activities under the project over the past two years. Secondly, it has been a very long time since I had got my first official trip outside the country. So, I thought it would be an opportunity for me to refresh mentally for a while. It has been really a long gap. My wife was 6-month pregnant with my youngest son when I first got to officially fly to Bangkok in September 2009 for a week-long training and now he is six-years-old when I have got this second opportunity. However, my first official trip was a true blessing for me because although I could not officially fly out of the country thereafter, I got the opportunity to travel abroad once every year privately either upon the invitation of external agencies or through scholarships. I think that those blessings are over now and here comes the second official trip. I once again hope that this official trip would also bring me another bunch of blessings for the next couple of years.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

On the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan

Photo of Fourth Druk Gyalpo during his coronation

The heart of every Bhutanese is throbbing with excitement and joy at the moment as the nation comes together for the historic celebration of the auspicious 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. All the cities and towns are brimming with life and music as various forms of artistic displays and decorations add extraordinary glamour to the existing charm of the natural landscape. People from different segments of the society and from different walks of life have come together with various initiatives to join the nation in celebrating such an auspicious occasion. This is the day we had been waiting for to offer our wishes and prayers for the long and peaceful life of our beloved king, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo and express our special gratitude for his selfless contributions to making Bhutan a safer place for all of us to live in for ages. As Bhutanese, we have thousands of reasons to celebrate this historic moment tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The unfit parents

Photo of dog saving a human newborn baby from a trash bin. Image courtesy: google

Human beings are the only creature blest with the biggest brain and because of this, we are far more advanced than other animals in terms of our capacity to think, judge and act. We have moved carefully and consciously through every stage of human civilization and our experiences have made us a perfect social animal in the world today. We are the only animal capable of understanding and respecting others’ emotions. We are biologically wired to show compassion and love to those who are near and dear to us. Indeed, great masters say that when we are born, we all are born with Buddha nature in us. But as we grow up with modernization, it seems some of us are losing those human values we have been born and brought up with.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Lemlema: a mysterious woman that roams the brooks and creeks at night

When I was a child, I often used to hear elder people talking about Lemlemas, the ghostly spirits that would roam the brooks and creeks at night. I was told that those who go out at night for fishing are most likely to encounter them because they would be usually roaming the river-banks in search of food. It’s believed that they feed on fishes. Those stories would scare us to death and we would never dare to go out during the night since there was a brook nearby. We were told that if they find a human being, they would kill and eat only the cartilages: finger-tips, palms, ears, nose-tops and soles. Although I always questioned the existence of such spirits, some of the stories I heard were quite convincing that they literarily froze me with fear.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Problems are not always as bad as they are thought to be

Life is like a car. Once you get behind the wheel, it becomes your responsibility to get to your destination no matter how bad may be the condition of the road ahead of you. Challenges are everywhere and sometimes they make you feel that you are more unlucky and miserable than others. But if you look around carefully, you would find that there is nobody in this world who would not have undergone similar experiences you have been through. Problems are part of life and there isn’t anything that can be done to strip them off completely. But as nothing happens without a reason, I think it’s also important to realize that problems are there just because there are solutions. It’s true that every problem has a solution and if you can take time to think and explore it, you can definitely find your way out. People say God has plans for each of us but I am sure they don’t always materialize if we do not strive to implement them. Whenever we are bound in a chain of problems, sitting down and crying won’t break us free. We must always have the courage to pave our path through the wilderness of time as we move forward in life.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

How positive thoughts and actions can make a difference in life

Great masters say that our life is a reflection of our own thoughts and actions and I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s true that what and how we think today defines who we are tomorrow. This is called Tha-Damtshi Lejungdrey in Buddhism and this explains how our life revolves around our Karmic actions. When I was in school, our Dzongkha Lopoens used to tell us that we can harvest only what we have planted. We cannot expect to harvest corns from a paddy plant or vice-versa. In Bhutan, we all believe that if we focus on good deeds, the reward will naturally be positive. But if you engage in sinful and unhelpful acts, the brunt of the consequences falls back on you only. If we have to blame anybody for our failures and sufferings, it must be ourselves, not anybody else, because what we are today is the product of our own actions and thoughts. Both our happiness and sadness depend on how we look at life and the world around us. We say that man is the maker of his own destiny because our life is in our hands and we have all the freedom to take it forward in any direction we wish. Have you ever heard the story of a house with a thousand mirrors? I have summarized it below to illustrate what I have stated above.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The wrong victim

The nation which firmly believes in the philosophy of Gross National Happiness is devastated by what happened in Yebilaptsa Middle Secondary School on 16th October 2015. The entire population of Bhutan react with shock to the senseless murder of a 13-year-old student of Grade 7 for no personal fault of her own. What is most shocking about this particular incident is that the crime was committed by her own teacher and this is something Bhutan had never seen in our schools before. Schools are supposed to provide a safe environment for students to learn, play and have fun with friends, but tragedies like this one is really unthinkable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

True Love: a short poem

The fragrance of a flower lies in its petals, not in its brilliance
The true love of a person lies in the heart, not in the caste or appearance;
People say a stone can also show love if you hold it with trust and right opinion
But even nectar can be poisonous if you take it with suspicion.
I neither have wings to fly like a bird in the sky
Nor do I have the fins like a fish in the ocean to swim by,
But I always have a sacred room in my heart
Where you can forever live like a princess as in the art.
You just give me your heart where I forever can be,
And I shall fight all the obstacles that get between you and me;
I shall never let the external force disturb and destroy
This beautiful journey of our love and joy
For, I have loved you with the heart of a true friend
And decided to walk with you the rest of my life hand-in-hand.
No matter what tragedies befall us on the way,
May our hearts never break away!
May our hearts never break away!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What we can learn from Buddhist, Hindu and Christian cultures as seenin Bhutan

Bhutan is known to the world as a Buddhist country but Buddhism is not the only religion our people are allowed to follow. Today, we have a significant number of Hindus and Christians as well in the country who have their own rightful places to worship and carry out their rites. Unlike some other countries, Bhutanese people have never been subjected to religious persecutions for not following the state religion. Although some people initially believed that Christians were discouraged by authorities to influence others to join them, there was no written order issued to this effect and nobody has been legally charged so far for being a Christian or for influencing others. So considering this liberal attitude and tolerance of the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Bhutanese population towards other religions in the country, I think now it would be fair to call ourselves being in a multicultural society where people from different faith and cultures have been living in harmony for centuries. Honestly speaking, I have been exposed to the culture and practices of all three major religions found in Bhutan: Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. I was born and brought up in a Hindu family and I have some understanding of Hindu culture and traditions. But after my father suffered a brain-stroke in the November of 1990 and partially lost his ability to walk, we started living with my paternal uncle and his family who are Christians. My father was then convinced to believe in the miraculous powers of Jesus Christ to help him regain his mobility and then he was baptized. Since then, I grew in a Christian family during winters where I got to learn many things about Christianity and its cultures. I often used to accompany my father to church on Sundays and attend the church services. But I could never decide to become a Christian although I was frequently invited by my uncle to sit with them for prayers. Then when I was in school, I got the opportunity to study more about Buddhism and that’s how I got more exposure to the philosophies and teachings of Lord Buddha, which ultimately made me realize that this was my religion, if I ever have to adopt one. However, I have learned that although the actual essence of every religion is same, the spiritual practices are often influenced, either for good or bad, by our cultures and vice-versa. So based on my superficial understanding of these three religions, I would like to draw a brief comparative analysis of Buddhist, Hindu and Christian cultures as seen specifically in Bhutan. I am saying particularly ‘cultures’ because what I have seen and heard is the cultural aspect and not the spiritual part. The following are some of my observations:

Friday, October 16, 2015

White cane, a symbol of independence for the visually impaired people

Photo of a white cane. Image courtesy: Google

As you might know, 15th October is a special day set aside in many countries in the world to celebrate the achievements of persons with visual impairment and to promote white cane as an important symbol of independence for the blind. Over the years, the white cane has become a very popular tool of mobility as well as a symbol of independence for the blind across the globe because it is this particular device that has brought the visually impaired persons out into the streets, and helped them live a fully independent life in the community. Prior to the invention of this type of cane, the life of visually impaired persons was mostly confined within the four walls of their house. But today with the help of this mobility device, we the visually impaired people have been able to come out into the public and participate in the mainstream society without much difficulty.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

How Dragon Boys brought home a new hope and dream

Photo of Hari Gurung, Bhutan's best goalee at Changlemithang stadium during Bhutan's match with China in June 2015. Image courtesy: BNFT's FB page

Although Bhutan has lost 3-4 to Maldives during the 2nd-round pre-qualifying world cup match yesterday, the extraordinary performance of our Dragon Boys during the last few minutes has re-kindled a new hope in the hearts of their fans in the country and abroad. I know our boys have been playing under intense pressure both from their direct opponents as well as their fans especially in this round of the pre-qualifying matches. As amateur players representing a country where football is just beginning to gain momentum, I can clearly understand the degree of both psychological and physical pressure our boys must be going through to save our country’s name in the midst of highly professional and experienced opponents. Although we have consecutively lost so far during this round, the constant efforts and commitment of our boys to contribute to the team will never be forgotten. Although I don’t have much hope that we would win against any country in this round, I feel what our boys have been doing so far is enough at this juncture considering the economic constraints of the country to groom professional players and to expand the scope of the game. I know that they have been facing criticism from many people for their lack of proper team coordination and game tactics particularly after losing 0-15 to Qatar last month but despite all those public outcries and challenges, it’s amazing to watch them prove last night that they have still not lost their spirit.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The mysterious attack, as I may call it

While studying in Khaling as a small boy, I had heard about so-called Sondreys, the living ghosts that are believed to evolve from some women. I was told by senior friends that the souls of some women temporarily leave their physical bodies when they are asleep and wander around as balls of strange fires. Many people used to share their experiences of seeing such mysterious fires at night, which keeps on glowing into one big single flame and then spread away into smaller ones. Even my youngest sister-in-law claims to have seen such a thing when she was a little girl in the village. When I was in school, some of my senior friends who were partially sighted used to claim seeing such fires at a distance and would explain it to us. It was very scary at the time. I was once sick for a couple of days with intense pain on my chest and after the drugs prescribed by Basic Health Unit did not relieve me of the pain, some people wondered if I was attacked by such a living ghost or Sondrey as it is locally called. Subsequently when the pain subsided, people told me that the scratched marks were visible on my chest, which they claimed was that of the Sondrey.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

From Thimphu to Bumthang: a journey between life and death!

Road blockage between Wangdue and Trongsa on 23rd September 2015

Coinciding with the Tshechu holidays in Thimphu, the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) had organized a workshop in Bumthang to develop its five-year strategic plan. As I have been an active member of the Association, I was invited to be part of the workshop held from 24-26 September 2015. We had hired a Bolero truck for our entire journey to and from Bumthang. As we started our journey on 23rd September, I was worried about the road conditions on the way, because just a few days back, a taxi had slipped off the road between Wangdue Phodrang and Trongsa killing five passengers. The road between Thimphu and Wangdue Phodrang was fine although there were some minor obstacles on the way due to the ongoing road-widening activities. But the conditions began to get worse after crossing Wangdue Phodrang.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When will the right time come, if not now?

Disability is a crosscutting issue and hence, its weight falls on every segment of the society: families, relatives, friends, educators, health workers and the nation as a whole. People with disabilities come from all walks of life and with the rising trend of deformed births, accidents and various diseases, the number of people living with disabilities is certainly increasing in Bhutan. In fact, even those who are not living with disability today are certainly heading towards it if they live long enough. This was the key message we were trying to convey to the Members of Parliament when I and my colleagues from the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) were invited by the Sub-committee on Women and Children on Monday, 14th September 2015 to share the concerns and needs of persons with disabilities in Bhutan. However, the reaction from the Committee and the government was not so encouraging. It’s really sad to know that the government still does not seem to be ready to align its commitment and efforts towards empowering persons with disabilities in the country through legal frameworks.

How faith could save a calf

My uncle and his family are devoted Christians and they believe in the supernatural powers of Jesus Christ and the bible. But on the other hand, I am a devoted Buddhist and I believe in the teachings of Lord Buddha. After having learned Buddhist philosophies in Dzongkha lessons in the school for years, I have understood more about Buddhism than any other religion and hence, I decided to call myself a Buddhist since my early school days. So when I went to my uncle’s place during winter vacations, I was spiritually in conflict with rest of the family because even my father was a Christian after he was convinced that believing in Jesus Christ would help him get rid of his physical disability. He was paralyzed on the left-side of his body after he suffered a brain stroke due to hypertension and he had tried almost everything available within his reach to treat his life-long disease. But he never compelled me to become a Christian to get rid of my disability. He told me a couple of times that if I believed in Christ, I might regain my sight but after I convinced him that I have understood more about Buddhism and that I would continue to believe it, he never persuaded me to go to the church with him although I occasionally went to give him company.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

How God saved me from dangerous traps

It still freezes my nerves whenever I think of those accidents which I have narrowly escaped during my school days. As a child, I guess I was quite restless and adventurous because I still remember being always curious about everything my hands landed on. I would keep exploring things around me until I got some clues what they were and I was not afraid to put my hands into almost anything to explore what was beneath or inside. One day when I was living with my late father in Gai Khure, above Rinchending, I still remember putting my fingers deep into a small hole I had discovered in the ground while playing until I found some small eggs. I didn’t know they were frog’s eggs until I broke one of them and placed it on the top of a flat rock. There was a premature little frog which instantly died after being heated by the scorching sun. I was able to see at that time though. When I told this to my father, he scolded me for risking myself from the bites of poisonous creatures like snakes and centipedes. But I still continued to explore whatever I saw and whatever my hands reached for. When I was in the village, I and my late sister often used to go to the river to take bath and try to catch fish. During such times, I used to put my hands deep underneath huge rocks in the murky water and take out dangerous crabs with my bare hands without being hurt by them. However, my inborn talents to catch crabs finally came to a stop after a small soft-bodied crab pinched me on the finger so hard that I even cried. That was the most terrible and painful experience I ever had, and I instantly stopped catching crabs, but I still continued my adventures in other areas. I used to catch all types of spiders, tease the swarms of beetles in their nests, learn to be a sharp shooter by stoning red-headed lizards peeping out from behind trees at the distance and indulge in many other mischievous and often risky activities. But all that happened before I lost my sight.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Thanks for the birthday wishes

Dear everyone,

On this special day of my life, I would like to thank you all, from the core of my heart, for your kind birthday wishes on my Facebook wall today. In an era when people hardly get time even to greet somebody on the way, it’s really amazing to know that so many of you have bothered to leave your blessings and wishes today on my 35th birthday. I had wanted only your wishes to make this day special for me and I am truly grateful to all those of you who have spared at least few seconds to wish me on my birthday today. The moment I opened my Facebook account this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised to find beautiful birthday wishes from so many friends. So, I must let you know that you have really made today a special day for me. I shall always keep your wishes close to my heart and I would remember you all throughout my life. The day today does not make me feel that I have grown one year older but it just makes me feel that I have enjoyed one year of my life with a wonderful circle of friends like you. I can’t believe that I would have to wait for another year to hear such magical words from you. Once again, thank you so much for your blessings and good wishes. I could not thank you individually on Facebook because of the huge number of wishers, but I have decided to immortalize my gratitude for your wishes here on my blog through this post. May God bless you all and wish to see you around.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

On the 10th death anniversary of my father

I can’t imagine how fast time slips away. Ten years have passed so quickly since my father left me behind. It was on this very day in 2005 when he surrendered to God in Samtse hospital. Since then, 11th September has been a painful reminder of that sad moment for me every year. I can still remember his joyful laughter, insightful arguments and various words of wisdom he used to share with me when he was alive. He was the real epitome of strength, courage and wisdom for me. But as his days closed in, I had no option but to let him go on that fateful day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fire tragedies: a gruesome reminder for all

My heart froze with pain and grief when I heard the news of two little children being burned alive in the tragic fire accident in Phuntsholing yesterday. The story that appeared on Today’s issue of Kuensel, sent a huge wave of shock and sadness along my spine and I really felt sorry for the untimely loss of those two innocent young souls. As a parent, I know how painful it would be for the families of the victims to go through such a tragic moment and I am sure that the mother of one of the victims who had locked the kids inside the house when she went to the hospital might be regretting a lot. At least if she had not locked the house, her neighbors could have rescued the kids or they themselves could have run out to safety by instincts. But sadly they did not have any option in this situation and there was no clue for any neighbor to think some precious souls were crying for help inside the locked house when the raging fire began consuming the entire row of makeshift houses. I can’t even imagine how many times they would have called out for help. While my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those two cute boys, I feel this tragedy has sent out a strong message to all of us that we should never leave our children or for that matter, anybody locked inside the house when we go out because we will never know what might happen in the house or in the neighborhood when we are not there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Some of the strangest questions sighted people have ever asked personswith visual impairment in Bhutan!

It’s normal for sighted people to wonder how we the visually impaired people interact with the outside world and make sense of things around us. People obviously feel that there is no other more painful situation than having to spend the entire life in the absolute dark. As a result, various questions run through their mind when they see a visually impaired person living a comparatively normal life. With the help of modern technologies and wisdom of our leaders, life has been much better today for persons with disabilities especially the visually impaired people mainly because of the fact that we were the first to receive formal education. Based on our capabilities and knowledge, there are many platforms today where we can exercise our rights to participate in the mainstream society. Due to such great transformations in the lives of visually impaired people who were once deemed useless and burdensome, many people wonder how we manage to laugh and smile everyday despite being robbed of the most important sense organ, the eyesight. A man from my village had even equated me with God when he saw me reading a braille note because what I was reading with my fingers did not make any sense to him. It was a real wonder for him. Likewise, many people seem to wonder a lot about how we make sense of the universe and universal phenomena. Many a time, we have been asked some of the strangest questions by our curious sighted friends and personally, I never mind answering them. Some of the questions are funny but they make some sense especially when we look from their perspectives. Following are some of the questions sighted people have asked us so far:

Sunday, September 6, 2015

How emotional intelligence can make a difference in a person's life

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. But in the hassles and bustles of daily life, we often seem to lose this ability to feel for others. I feel it is an important tool for a successful and harmonious social life because understanding and respecting each other’s feelings is what has kept us united throughout our history. I think those who have high emotional intelligence are more sensitive to others’ feelings and can look at things from others’ perspectives. I can’t say that I have high EQ but I can relate to others easily and respect their feelings. This is one quality in me which I am grateful to have been blest with. Likewise, we have so many emotionally sensitive people who are not only aware of their own emotions but they can also identify and respect others’ feelings. But there are also some people who do not seem to care about others at all.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The issue of consensual sex and early marriages

In the absence of clearly defined provisions in the penal code of Bhutan on the issue of consensual sex coupled with inadequate public education on the subject, many innocent men have been robbed of nine precious years of their life in Bhutan over the past years. While the penal code defines the age of consent for marriage as 18, there is no enough public awareness especially in the rural communities on the existence of such laws in the country. As a result, many people still believe that it is alright to engage in consensual sex or get married before they are 18 years of age. If the concerned authorities look into the marriage records of the entire Bhutanese population, I am sure that so many fathers and husbands would go to prison on charges of rape although they have married with consent from their partners and their families.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The emergency hotline numbers you must know in Bhutan

The sudden electrical short-circuits nearly turned a beautiful Sunday afternoon into a tragic memory yesterday in my neighborhood. I was busy working on an article for my blog when I heard my wife and my daughter rushing out to the veranda. I followed them enquiring what was going on and I was shocked when they told me that there was a fire outbreak in the building on the other side of the road. Apparently there was a short-circuit at the MCB-box and the spark had begun spreading fire across the circuit board and down into the heaps of old books, carton-boxes and wooden planks which were kept right under the circuit. Within seconds, a huge crowd of people had gathered to douse out the fire which had not yet got out of control. When I just heard people talking about splashing water at the fire, I suggested that it would not be advisable if the power-line had not been cut off. But I think people down on the road did not hear me because I was on my veranda. Soon somebody splashed the water and it caused even greater sparks and the flames began to gain momentum. The entire area began to be engulfed in thick smoke and we all started panicking. I asked if anybody had called BPC or Fire Department, but nobody was sure if anybody did it. So, I got back to my bed-room and dialed 110 to call the Fire Department. I informed the Fire Police and the fire-truck immediately came to the scene as promised.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yeti, the mysterious creature of the Himalayas

Photo of imaginary Himalayan Yeti. Image source: google

A couple of months ago, there was an article on BBC website about how the legendary stories of Yetis in the Himalayas could have developed originally as a strategy for keeping children within the community, away from the reach of dangerous wild animals. It suggests that those legendary stories could have helped elders to instill fear in children so that they always stayed close to their home where they were safe. This hypothetical conclusion has been reached after no scientific evidence of the existence of the mysterious Himalayan creature could be established despite decades of vigorous research and expeditions launched by mountaineers to find one. The article further presents the recent scientific finding which suggests that the hair samples supposedly from Yeti collected from Bhutan and India matched with that of Brown Bears which were believed to have once lived in the Himalayas. It also highlights that brown bears can stand on two-legs at times and leave unusually large footprints which many people have claimed to have seen. So, is the mysterious Yeti the real brown bear as scientists are suggesting today?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Basic traffic rules which Bhutanese motorists should be aware of

My wife is currently undergoing a 3-month driving training at Gangjung Driving Institute and she has recorded some of her theory classes since the Institute does not share the handouts to ensure 100% attendance of participants. Just a while ago, I was listening to one of her recordings and I found some interesting information which I am going to share here on my blog. I am sure it’s going to be of great benefit to all those drivers who have not undergone professional driving training.

The dangerous roar of Talking Tom

Photo of Talking Tom. Image courtesy: Google

The advent of smart phones has made our life easy and interesting in many ways. We have so many sophisticated features and applications that can enable us to do almost everything just by swapping and tapping on the screen of our phone with fingers. For instance, we can create and edit photos/videos, record music, access social sites and accomplish many other important tasks apart from making calls and sending/receiving text messages. In short, our mobile phone today has almost become like a small compact computer which can help us carry out many tasks efficiently. But as there is a limit to everything, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that we must be able to use those facilities more responsibly.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Mobile version of social networking sites

I am sure you all would have been accessing various websites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube from your mobile phones but have you noticed that the mobile versions of these websites can also be accessed from the computer? Since the mobile versions of dynamic websites are easy to access and can load fast, most of the visually impaired people around the world use the mobile versions of websites especially the social networking sites. One good reason why the visually impaired are more accustomed to using the mobile version of websites is because they contain less features and are more accessible for the users to navigate around. It makes the sites more accessible with JAWS, a screen-reading software used by blind users in the world. So, if you don’t have a smart phone and if you have slow internet connection, the following mobile versions of the social networking sites are recommended:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Another doomsday?

After the world did not end on 21st December 2012, the doomsday theorists have now blown out another rumor on the internet that the world will end in September 2015. The story has started with claims made by a self-claimed prophet named Rodriguez that a huge asteroid is heading towards Earth and will hit somewhere near Puerto Rico destroying most of the American continents. He has foreseen that the scale of destruction would be so large that it might even wipe out the entire human race. He has claimed that there will be large earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes as a result of the collision of this asteroid with Earth which is going to happen on any day from 15-28 September 2015. He claims that he has even urged the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to issue a warning to the world so that people living in the vulnerable regions can be relocated to safety. Many blogs and websites have recently been flooded with this unscientific prediction and hence, NASA has been forced to respond.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My beautiful daughter has grown up now

Photo of my daughter Anju Rai in her beautiful costume

My daughter Anju Rai is just 12-years-old but she is mature enough to share most of the responsibilities in the family. Whenever she does not have to study, she helps her mother in the kitchen and other domestic chores. She is very interested in cooking and she can in fact prepare more delicious meals than my wife. Initially, I was hesitant to let her use electric appliances and cooking gas but my wife was of the view that unless she was given the opportunity, she would never learn. I fully agreed with my wife and we gradually let her work in the kitchen and soon she came out as a more independent person. Today whenever my wife is not around, I don’t have to worry about anything because I always have my daughter to rely on.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Another caution for pedestrians

My wife told me that just this morning, one of her training-mates at Gangjung Driving Institute was hit by a speeding Bolero taxicab while crossing the road after being dropped off near his house by Gangjung bus. The bus had not yet left when the speeding taxi hit him and flung him across the drains. When the remaining passengers of the bus heard a loud thud, they all turned around and were shocked to see the tragedy. He had got down the bus just a few seconds ago. When people rushed to the scene, he was already unconscious and bleeding from the head. They could not do anything but to put him in the same taxi and send him to hospital. Nobody still knows what will happen to him. People say he was in a critical condition. May God be on his side for now!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Observation of the 3rd foundation anniversary of Bhutan KidneyFoundation

Photo of BKF members at the Memorial Chorten. Image courtesy: Karma Jam's Facebook post

It was a great pleasure for me and my wife to be part of the celebration of 3rd Foundation Day of Bhutan Kidney Foundation (BKF) at the Memorial Chorten in Thimphu yesterday afternoon. It was so kind of Mr. Tashi Namgay, the Founder and the Executive Director of BKF to have invited me to the event as a gesture of appreciation for whatever little support I could render during the initial developmental stages of the Foundation. Although I could not make significant contributions to BKF other than helping in preparing documents for the registration of the Foundation, I am really honored to be part of the event. When I received the invitation over the phone on Friday, I was told that it was a special request for me and this really made me feel that I should not miss it. Initially, I didn’t know that it was the Foundation Day celebration because the girl who had called me just told me that it was to offer butter-lamps for the wellbeing of people living with kidney-related diseases as well as for the salvation of those patients who have died of kidney failures. So, I and my wife went to Chorten at around 2:45 pm with a few kilograms of vegetable-shortening (dalda) and a few bunches of incense-sticks to offer our prayers.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The ultimate journey of life

Doing simple meditation early in the morning with a soothing melody at the background has been a very rewarding and enriching experience for me. With my eyes closed, I can easily see the universe both within and around me as I gradually drift into the subconscious level of mind rolling with the melodious music at the background. The cold air entering my nostrils as I inhale and the hot air leaving my body as I exhale and the subsequent feeling of my body becoming lighter as I breathe in and heavier as I breathe out, all help me increase my self-awareness and gives a clearer insight into what is life after all. This is a simple mindfulness exercise but truly it takes me farther into what looks like the ultimate journey of our life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Message for the youth of Bhutan on International Youth Day 2015

The observance of International Youth Day 2015 today on the theme “Youth Civic Engagement” gives us a special opportunity to reflect on and recognize the potential of our youth as valuable human and social capital resources. Bhutan is a small country with just over 700,000 population. Yet, the Royal Government of Bhutan has understood one thing throughout the history of the country, the dynamic strengths of our youth. Young people make up a significant portion of Bhutanese population. The latest statistics according to the report on Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents and Youth (NSB, 2015) indicates that about 56 percent of Bhutanese people are below the age of 25. Because of this, the Royal Government has been placing so much importance on the wellbeing of our youth and has been investing a huge amount of resources on promoting youth development programs and services in the country.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The living devil

Many many years ago, there in a remote village lived a boy named Dorji. After having lost his father and all other siblings as a child, his mother was the only source of inspiration for him. Since only two of them were in the house, the weight of the entire domestic chores fell equally upon their shoulders. So everyday, Dorji usually spent his time either helping his mother in the fields or in herding the yaks they had owned. The days passed on smoothly and peacefully for them and God never forgot to bless them. Whatever kind of famine struck the village, they did not go hungry on any day.

I thought I was smarter than my aunt

There was a time when my aunt was the most powerful person in the family. She was very strong and authoritative. Even her husband, my uncle, did not have much say in the way she managed the domestic affairs. It was she who oversaw the overall management of the family and nobody ever had the guts to challenge any of her ideas or actions. She often got into disputes with neighbors and I think she had many silent enemies in the village. When she was around, I used to freeze with fear because the moment she saw me, she would always yell at me for one reason or the other. Because of this, my winter vacations were never a fun apart from getting to meet my father who was living with them. She would always assign me with various tasks, all requiring physical labor. I worked in the fields harvesting millets, gathering firewood from the surrounding bushes, fetched water from the spring which was about five minutes walk from our house and often did the dishes at home. I actually loved the jobs I was assigned although I never got acknowledged for my hard-work, but what I hated the most was the way she discriminated me and my disabled father from the rest of the family. She always kept an eye on how much we ate and what we did in her absence.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Fighting an unwinnable war against ferocious monsters

As far as I know, we have been fighting this war for decades now. We have arrested so many of them and caged them for life at various locations where many of them died of hunger and diseases. We have also sterilized them with the hope of wiping out their generations and we have even poisoned many of them to death. Yet this war is never coming to an end. What makes the matter even worse is that now the government seems to be giving up and retreating from the battlefields.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy Friendship Day 2015

Happy friendship card. Courtesy: Google.

People say friends are like flowers and I truly believe it. I have met so many special individuals in my life who have made my life much easier and comfortable. When I was crying with pain, I always had somebody to sit beside me to stop my tears, and when I was happy, I always had somebody to smile with me. I didn’t really get the opportunity to grow up with my parents and siblings as my mother died when I was four and all my siblings died before I went to school. But those tragedies did not empty my world. I was glad that wherever I went, I always had a circle of good friends who never made me feel lonely.

Friday, July 31, 2015

The most intelligent boy: a short story for fun

Once upon a time, there lived a boy called Tashi in a small kingdom. He was born with extraordinarily high IQ and there wasn’t any puzzle or trick which he could not solve. As he grew up, he gradually began to gain popularity in the country and every day hundreds of people thronged before his house to test his innate intelligence. Every time he was given a puzzle, he left the audience dumb with amazement. He was about 17 and was living with his Father after the sudden demise of his Mother when he was 10. As more and more people came to know about his miraculous abilities, his name and fame spread like wild fire countrywide.

Will Shakespeare come back to our schools?

I was not happy when Shakespearean plays were removed from Bhutanese education curriculum. As a student of English literature, I had loved his works so much because they had so much to offer in terms of human values, wisdom and extraordinary ideas through the experiences, behaviours and actions of the characters. In 2005 while appearing for the Civil Service Common Examinations, I was asked during the viva interview what was my reaction to the decision of the Ministry of Education to exclude Shakespearean plays from Bhutanese curriculum. My response was similar to what His Majesty the King had expressed during his interaction with the Royal Education Council yesterday. I told them that Shakespearean works contain great philosophies and principles of life which are still very much relevant and applicable, but sadly, the present generation is being deprived of this privilege. I insisted that although people might find his language difficult, there are a lot of practical lessons we can learn from each of his plays. He was a genius and a great self-taught philosopher who has influenced millions of people across the globe over the years. I argued that at least a few of his most notable works should be taught in our schools if we want our children to understand the real essence of English literature. But I was challenged by a panel-member who justified that the decision to remove Shakespeare from the school curriculum was to include a more variety of other forms of literature. At the end, I had to agree.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Me and my Bangchung: a painful episode of my life

I think it was 1998. The New Year’s Day had come and there was a lot of excitement in the air. As usual, my uncle and aunt had planned a family picnic to celebrate the occasion but that did not excite me and my late father because we had never got the opportunity to join them on any of such special events before. Every year, they either joined the community to go on a picnic or arranged the family picnic for themselves on such occasions but I and my late father knew pretty well in advance that we were not part of it. And as expected, we always remained at home taking care of goats, calves and doing routine household chores while they enjoyed the New Year feast elsewhere. At home, we would not have even enough food to eat because my aunt would leave only a calculated quantity of rice in a plate for us and she would lock the rice-container. So, although it was a festive day for others, it was nothing different for me and my late father. This time too, we had not expected to be part of the picnic they had planned. Everybody else in the family was busy preparing for the event while I and father remained aloof. But I don’t know what suddenly went through my uncle’s mind. Just as they were packing up things, he told me I could join them.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The unknown angel

Karma (name changed) is now a successful tour guide who has the inborn talents to entertain his clients and help them make their stay in Bhutan very joyful and memorable. He can get along with tourists very well mainly because of his outgoing personality and good communication skills. He is very friendly and respectful. He is always seen with full of smiles but behind his glowing face, there is a very different story.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Public safety in Bhutan

Public safety in general should be a top priority everywhere but I can’t understand why it seems to be getting less attention in Bhutan. When I was in Australia, I realized that they displayed public warning notice even while carrying out a minor construction or maintenance works. If they do not do that and if somebody meets with an accident, they can be legally sued for their negligence. A friend of mine told me that even for the benefit of people with visual impairment, they are required to guard the risky area with either rope or a fence. But in Bhutan, I feel such developments are very rare, if not non-existent.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The unforgettable night

I can never forget that night
When you just hugged me tight
And promised that you would keep me forever in your heart
Although you had not fully recovered from the pain of the previous cut.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

This is what the youth of Paro have to say about social media

Photo of youth forum being conducted at Paro Youth Center

Social media was one of the prominent concerns among the youth of Paro as found out during the 2-day youth forum on youth concerns conducted at Paro Youth Center on 17th and 18th July 2015. It was amazing to know that most of the participants were aware of both negative and positive influences of using social media. While many saw it as a platform for keeping in touch with friends and family-members, and sharing good information, some had painful experiences to share. Since all of the 40 participants said they are active users of social media, they acknowledged that using it responsibly is important for their personal safety.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

As funny as this: how I scared away the girl I had loved

First of all, I must confess that during my school days, I think my life was similar to that of a street beggar because I never had the luxury of wearing even nice cloths. The only difference could be that I didn’t have to worry about my daily meals since I was studying in a boarding school where food and hostel facilities are provided free by the government. Otherwise, I was absolutely penniless with no reliable source of support particularly after my father got paralyzed in November 1990. So till I was in grade 6, I could never afford to wear even underwear inside my Gho. However, as long as I didn’t slip off or climb up somewhere, I was safe in my Gho because people never noticed what I was wearing inside. But whenever teachers took us outside to study in the sun especially during cold months, I had to be really careful while sitting down on the ground. I would usually choose to sit at the back to ensure that people from across the rows didn’t see what they were not supposed to see.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What is there in the word 'Jaga'?

There is absolutely no problem when you call a spade a spade, but something is wrong when you call a crowbar or a shovel a spade. The term ‘Jaga’ in Bhutan is an official tag for India and its people just like ‘Jami’ for Chinese and ‘Chillips’ for Westerners. But it’s sad to know that in the feat of anger and hatred, many Bhutanese have the tendency to call Lhotshampas or Southern Bhutanese Jagas which carries a strong racial tone. Over the years, I have often heard people using this term to refer to Lhotshampas whom they hate and I have always been wondering what is actually there in the word that satisfies people who use it. Is it retaliation to the word ‘Bhotey’ often used in the south to refer to Drukpas? If that’s the case, I feel there’s nothing that one should be angry about. The word ‘Bhotey’ literarily refers to the people of ‘Bhot-stan’, one of the earlier names of our country which means ‘The country of Highlands’. So, I feel one should be instead proud to be called Bhotey, but the word ‘Jaga’ has literarily nothing to do with Lhotshampas.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The work of my 18-year-old brain

A couple of weeks ago, I was very happy to know that my brother-in-law still had the old magazine of National Institute for the Disabled (NID) in Khaling where I studied from 1990-2001. The magazine was published in 1999 to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Institute which started as Zangley Muenseling School for the Blind in 1973. I was studying in grade X when this magazine was published and as a senior student, I got the opportunity to contribute three articles for the magazine. Now after 17 years, I get a mixed feeling while going through my own articles. I feel as though I have wound back my time by 17 years because I feel I am re-living those days in Khaling. So, I would like to share those three poems which I had written 17 years ago as a tribute to my king, country and the institute. I am afraid the language is not as good as it appeared then. But I guess they would be worth your time.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five things you are not taught in school

Photo of students studying English subject in a school in Paro. Image courtesy: Google.

Our school curriculum is mostly academic-based and the textbooks contain only theories and logic which are not always applicable in our daily life. In addition to geography, history, science, economics and language studies, there are many things we need to know which are equally important for our success and wellbeing. But sadly, it seems we are missing them in our school curricula today. I may not be absolutely right but I feel following are some of the things we should learn while we are in the school in addition to existing subjects.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My visual memories of Phuntsholing town

I think I was aged 7 or 8 when I first came to Phuntsholing town. That was the biggest city I had ever seen in my life. After having grown up in a remote community of Dipujhora (Damzhagsa) under Chengmari Gewog in Samtse, the scene of Phuntsholing town was something I had not even imagined in my dreams. I was so excited to see so many beautifully painted buildings, different cars and bikes running in different directions weaving a beautiful tapestry of daily life, and numerous shops lined up along the roads. The good thing was that I was still able to see at that time and I had the full privilege of enjoying the real beauty of the entire town with my own eyes.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My forgotten brother

Whenever I hold my 5-year-old son Rigden in my arms, the image of my late younger brother often flashes through my mind. I think he was about the same age as my son when he died. He was about four years younger to me. Like my son Rigden, he was active, jolly and of course, I should say he was intelligent. I still have vivid memories of those days when he used to help me when I became blind. Even when he was busy taking meals, he would stop eating and help me to go to toilet whenever requested. That way, he was very helpful and supportive even at such a tender age. I always wish if he were still alive.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A song of a broken heart

What a big dream I had in my life
But as misfortunes stabbed me one after another with a sharp knife,
All my dreams have gone down the drain
And here in the pool of my own blood I am still crying with pain.

Never fades away from my head the image of your moon-shaped face
And no matter how much I try to forget those bygone days,
Tears keep rolling down my eyes
Although nobody can hear my silent cries.

I wish if I could once again revive
Those smiles which you had before you killed me alive
But seeing how you have changed from the time when we first met,
I have no reason to doubt that you had treated me only like a pet.

Anyway I respect the choice you have made on your part
To listen to your heart
And take a different path from that of mine
AndI pray that you may always be fine.


Author's note
This is a short imaginary poem I have written last night after being inspired by a Nepali love song. I hope some of you might love it...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A devil with a human face

It was in March 1998. I and my late father were on our way to my school in Khaling. My uncle and aunt with whom we were living at the time had given us only Nu.500 to go to Khaling which was not enough even for the one-way journey, forget about the round-trip for my late father who had to return home after reaching me to school. But fortunately during those days, we used to get money from the school for the return journey which used to be enough for our escorts. With Nu.400 in the pocket after paying the bus fares, we boarded a passenger bus in Samtse bound for Phuntsholing at around 8 o’clock in the morning. My uncle and aunt also boarded the same bus to go to Phuntsholing to see aunt’s brother who had met with an accident and was in Phuntsholing hospital. But from the moment we got out of the house, we walked as if we were strangers. They never bothered to talk to us even in the bus. When we reached Phuntsholing, they had left without saying a word to us.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The invisible killer lurking in the air

Due to the intensive development of wireless communication technologies in the world today, our atmosphere is being loaded with thousands of low intensity microwaves which travel through us at various frequencies every second. If visible, you would see that the air, be it at home or anywhere else, hosts a huge traffic of such electromagnetic radiation and we are just caught in between those waves. The sad thing is that there’s no physical boundary for these waves and we can’t see what do they do to our nervous system when they pass through our brain.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A broken promise

I must have been little more than 9-years-old and I was still recovering from the painful experience of having lost my sight. As a visually impaired child, I had been busy finding ways to adapt myself to the new environment which I had lived in only at nights. But as days piled up into weeks and then to months, I slowly began to find some comfort in my new world. My life started rolling back to normalcy as children of my age in the neighborhood resumed to play with me although I was never the same person who had played with them before. It was in Trashila in Wangdue Phodrang where we had to travel on a cable-box from Chhu Zomsa. My father was working for a company which produced charcoal. Most of the people working there were from our village in Chengmari, Samtse and hence, we lived as a small community.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Loss and grief as seen through the lens of my own personal experience

On 11th September 2005, the telephone rang and the news came of my father’s death. He was 71. At that time, I and my wife were busy preparing to go to see him in Samtse hospital where he was being treated for jaundice. We had already bought bus tickets to go to Samtse, but when the devastating news came in, I lost my world. Everything went blank in my head and I broke down in tears even before hanging up the receiver. My wife and her brother consoled me saying it’s part of human existence but even the reminder of that universal truth did not do much to make me feel better. At the time, I was attending the National Graduate Orientation Program (NGOP) in Thimphu and I was waiting for the program to end but just then, the tragedy befell me. As soon as the program ended, I and my wife rushed to Samtse to attend my late father’s funeral. My paternal uncle who oversaw the cremation had waited for my arrival to bury my father’s body.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Social responsibility and ownership: a food for thought for all

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a group of young people in a youth forum which was organized to promote services and facilities provided at the Youth Center. One of the main objectives of the forum was to attract more youth to the Center and to instill in them a sense of ownership of the services and facilities provided at the Center. I told them that the Royal Government of Bhutan has spent a huge amount of money in developing the entire infrastructures and facilities with a firm belief that they would benefit young people of Bhutan. So, I told them that all the facilities and services we provide at the Youth Center belong to them and that they must fully own them with a sense of responsibility.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Vended Poor Lass

Beauty has her way to the city misled
Where to lave in her own tears is she made;
And although equally placed among mankind is she,
So unfairly is she denied the rights of humanity.
Every human soul indeed knows pretty well
That never was she born as a plaything for public sale,
And yet I know not why is she still dragged into such a place
Where like a caged beast is she entrapped in disgrace.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A rough ride on the road to Russia

Latest FIFA Second Round Result. Courtesy: AFC.

After losing to Hongkong by 7 goals during the first game of the FIFA Second Round World Cup Qualifying match on 11th June 2015, it seems our journey to Russia for the 2018 World Cup would not be as easy as I had imagined. When our country qualified for the Second Round after beating Sri Lanka in the First Round with 3-1 total goals in March 2015, we had regained confidence in our national team and believed that they would not surrender easily. When they finally left for Hongkong on 1st June 2015, the entire Bhutanese people were behind them, showering them with wishes and prayers. But unfortunately, luck did not favor us this time despite the team’s best efforts and hard-work. Although we lost to Hongkong 0-7, I feel we cannot afford to deny the efforts put by our young Dragon Boys. I should say they played very well despite being comparatively far behind the Hongkong National Team in terms of exposure and professional experiences.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bumthang fire disaster: an unsolved mystery

Photo of fire outbreak in Bumthang. Image courtesy: Tandin Pem's blog

In the early hours of 26th October 2010, a devastating fire ravaged through Chamkhar town in Bumthang raising 66 shops to the ground and leaving about 267 people homeless for months. The fire which was believed to have started from a mobile phone shop belonging to Kuenzang Tshomo lasted for three hours before local residents, school children and travellers brought it under control. The fire started at around 1:45 in the morning when everybody was fast asleep. Two people perished in the fire and one was injured. A helper of a shop and a traveller who was on his way from Trashigang to Thimphu were among the dead. While the police could not establish the actual cause of the fire, many attributed it to possible short-circuits or negligence. But a handful of victims doubted if it was intentional although they did not have any clue who could be behind the act.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The cost of negligence in the health-care sector in Bhutan

I know that there are many good doctors and health workers in Bhutan with excellent service records. I deeply respect and honor them for their whole-hearted dedication to the service of Bhutanese people. These people are highly professional in their approach to working with patients and take their responsibilities seriously and professionally. I have met many of them in my life. I would like to say that these individuals do not only make diagnosis and prescribe drugs, but they also seek to provide corrective emotional support which is an equally important component of a healing process for the patients. You may not believe me but simply talking to them makes you feel better because their words and tone carry a magical spell. But unfortunately, not everybody in the health-care sector has these qualities. Just as the good must be followed by evil, there are people in our hospitals and health facilities who do not seem fit well to be in a helping profession, because firstly, they don’t have the heart to own the problems of their patients and secondly, they don’t have the right attitude to deal with their clients. They seem to be doing their job just for the sake of earning a living. As a health-care provider, I feel all health professionals must be able to take ownership of their patients’ concerns and provide appropriate support in a professional manner. The following incidents would explain why I decided to write this article.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A historic moment for Bhutan!

Photo of Bhutan receiving the certificate of recognition for Guinness World Record. Image source: Facebook.

With early sunlight flourishing over the hills and valleys and birds in the surrounding forests singing to the rhythm of cool breeze blowing over the trees and bushes, today is definitely a special day for Bhutan. Coinciding with the anniversary of the coronation of His Majesty the 4th King and Social Forestry Day, Bhutan has created another new page in history. With blessings from God on this auspicious occasion of Saga Dawai Duezang (Parinirvana of Lord Buddha), 100 Bhutanese volunteers have planted 49,672 tree-saplings in one hour and set a new Guinness World Record for Bhutan.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five reasons why our kings are divine rulers or Dharma Rajas

Photograph of His Majesty the 5th Druk Gyalpo. Image courtesy: Royal Office of Media

In a world of despots and dictators, it sounds like a fairy-tale that our beloved monarchs have ruled and guided us for years like their own children. Starting from the very day when the institution of monarchy was established in Bhutan, the sun of peace has shone over us and we have been blest with absolute harmony and prosperity throughout the golden reigns of five heriditary monarchs till today. We have always been governed with great love and compassion and we have really been proud of being blest with such divine rulers. It’s obvious that something is special about our kings. The following five reasons would justify why our monarchs are considered spiritual kings or Dharma Rajas who are always guided by Buddhist philosophies and principles. It’s this specialty that makes our kings different from tyrannous dictators who have ruled other nations for centuries.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Everything happens for a good reason

Once upon a time in a remote village, there lived a young man. He grew vegetables and fruits for his livelihood. One day while wandering across his vegetable garden, he noticed that some of his pumpkins were lying on the ground as the vine holding them could no longer bear them up. He put some extra support to the vine in order to lift the pumpkins up from the ground. After surveying his vegetable garden, he stopped under one of his coconut trees to repose for a while.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Sweetness of May

Photo of May flowers in bloom. Image curtesy: Google

Lavishly adorned with lovely lovely flowers,
The world of May has finally made its appearance
Over the hills and dales with all magical powers
To bless every heart with a thrill of heavenly experience.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What I know about responding to earthquake disasters at home

The major earthquake that struck Nepal on 25th April 2015 has sent a strong message across the neighboring countries reminding us of the need to be prepared for such disasters when they struck our own home. Looking at the extent of damage on human lives and properties caused by the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, we should understand that we cannot afford to take things for granted and relax because as experts point out, we too fall within the active seismic zone and we don’t know when will it be our turn to face it. So, it’s comforting to learn from the Kuensel article Prepared for earthquake response, the Royal Government of Bhutan has decided to take initiatives right from now to help the people of Bhutan prepare well in advance for such inevitable calamities so that we can respond to the situation more effectively.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

From the Land of Buddha to Butchers' zone?

Photo of a buffalo crying in a slaughterhouse in Hongkong in 2011. Image curtesy:

It’s true that deep inside our hearts, we all know that we are a Buddhist nation and that it’s against the teachings of Lord Buddha to even eat meat, forget about killing animals. Everybody knows pretty well how painfully innocent animals are slaughtered everyday for food and yet due to the cultural influences, we afford to push aside those harsh realities and enjoy our meals without even the slightest sense of guilt. I believe that if slaughterhouses had glass walls, then everybody would become a vegetarian. Just because we have not been to a slaughterhouse, we don’t realize the actual pain and torture innocent animals are forced through before they get to our refrigerator.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Happy Mother's Day 2015

Happy Mother's Day. Image source: Google

Today is a special day for all the mothers in the world. It’s Mothers’ Day and it is an auspicious occasion for all of us to let our own mom and our children’s mother know how special they are and how their sacrifices and love mean a lot to the family and the society at large. In many countries, children send gifts and flowers to their mothers to honor them for their immense contributions to the family and the nation as a whole. On this special occasion, I am very glad to see my own children prepare Mother’s Day greeting cards for their mom. It’s such a lovely gesture of their appreciation for her love, care and sacrifices for them. My wife is happy to know how much our children value her love and affection. She thanked them for such lovely cards and wishes.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"I am blind but I didn't cause the earthquake" - a heart-touching storyfrom Nepal

Photo of earthquake rubble in Nepal. Image source: Google.

A few days after massive earthquake struck Nepal on 25th April 2015, I was listening to a live-calling show on Radio Nepal. It was close to midnight and the show was going in full swing with so many people calling in from different regions of Nepal. I think the show was hosted to give callers the opportunity to share information about their current conditions as well as to share what they feel about the tragedy. The announcer was also disseminating important information about the earthquake and updates from the Nepalese government. Suddenly, a male voice came on the line. “We have a caller again. ‘Hello!’” the announcer answered the telephone.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Happy Teachers' Day 2015

Happy Teachers' Day. Image source: Google.

Today as we celebrate the birth anniversary of our third king late Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the father of modern Bhutan, it is also a special day for all of us in Bhutan to remember the divine architects of this nation’s future: our beloved teachers and acknowledge the selfless contributions and sacrifices they have made to make us what we are today. I believe teachers are like candles. They consume themselves to light up the world of others. I strongly believe that it requires a lot of passion, commitment, dedication, love and patience to become a true teacher.

Another precious young soul of Bhutan gone forever

Photo of butter-lamps burning. God bless his poor soul!

I can’t still believe what has happened yesterday morning. It’s very sad to know that one of our active and sincere youth volunteers has taken his own life. When I first heard the news last night, my heart literarily froze with pain and grief. It’s really a tragic moment for his family, friends and all of us at the Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education. Tandin was a very sincere and active volunteer who had been taking an active part in our programs and activities. He had been volunteering with us since a couple of years ago and he had helped us during so many important programs. He was studying in Motithang High School and I know he had a very bright future ahead of him. But today, it’s painful to know that he is no more with us.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A holy trip to Paro to observe Zhabdrung Kuchhoe

Group photo in front of Ugyen Pelri Palace in Paro

As Bhutan observed Zhabdrung Kuchhoe or the death anniversary of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal yesterday, I went to Paro with my senior friend Sanga Dorji and his family to offer prayers at Kyichhu monastery and Jangsabu Lhakhang. Zhabdrung Kuchhoe is observed as an auspicious day to visit temples and offer prayers because it was on this day the great Lama, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal was believed to have died. Zhabdrung was a great spiritual leader who united Bhutan in the 17th century and blest it with everlasting peace and harmony. His arrival in Bhutan from Tibet in 1616 was a boon to the people of Bhutan in many ways. It was he who united the country and streamlined both political and religious systems that could guarantee absolute peace, harmony and security for the Bhutanese people. So, he is worshipped as a great spiritual leader who brought this country to a new limelight. On such an auspicious occasion, people in Bhutan go to different sacred sites, temples and monasteries to offer prayers and light butter-lamps in his honor and for the wellbeing of all sentient beings.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Taming the monkey-like mind

Photo of a monkey secured with a rope

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a spiritual talk on Radio Nepal. The Pundit who was giving the talk was saying how our mind is exactly like a monkey: always restless and impatient. Yes, it is absolutely true. It’s often very difficult to control our mind. The pundit was talking about how people usually tame monkeys although they are the most mischievous and restless creatures on Earth. Likewise, we can also train our mind in a similar fashion and gradually bring it under control.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Vehicular madness on Bhutanese roads

Traffic jam in Phuntsholing town. Image source: Kuensel.

At the Swimming Pool junction in Thimphu, a car turns right at the roundabout without switching on the right-indicator light and almost at the same time, another car closes in from the other direction and slams into it breaking its number-plate. As the two drivers struggle to find a suitable space to park their cars and discuss the matter, other cars let out deafening horn-sirens. Within no time, the situation becomes chaotic with many impatient drivers trying to cut their way through and pedestrians anxiously waiting along the edge of the road to cross over to the other side. Scenes like this are common on Bhutanese roads especially during rush hours in the morning and evening. Due to such carelessness on the part of drivers and their seemingly uncivilized behavior, the vehicular madness and road rage are becoming part of our daily city life today. It’s obvious that bad drivers are everywhere in Bhutan. One driver says, “You don’t even have to make mistakes to crash into another car. There’s every possibility that you will be hit although you are on the right track.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When you go to work, you should not have to leave your heart at home

A few days back, I was browsing for inspirational quotes for posters and I came across this beautiful quote by Betty Bender, “When people go to work, they should not have to leave their hearts at home”. Although I did not choose it for my posters, it instantly caught my attention and I got it by heart. It just made me reflect on the powerful message it carries and how it resonates with many people in our society. At home, all of us are good human beings: caring and loving to our spouse and kids, warm and welcoming to guests and relatives. But there are people who often leave those qualities at home when they go to office.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

On the 1st birth anniversary of my blog

It has been exactly one year since I started my blog. It was on this very day last year when I published my first post on my blog and since then, I have been able to share many stories and articles with my readers. I had actually made attempts to start a blog as early as 2010 but somehow I couldn’t get enough motivation and inspiration to do it. I had been following my friend Riku Dhan Subba’s blog though. I still remember him telling me how thrilling it is to be an active blogger enjoying the love and support of readers and followers.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Which one is more harmful, tobacco or alcohol?

In 2010, the DPT government introduced the most controversial Tobacco Control Act which banned the sale and consumption of tobacco products in the country. The intention was good because it was initiated to promote public health but the greatest mistake was that no enough public education was provided about the act before it was brought to force. As a result, so many innocent individuals were arrested and put behind bars without bail for possessing just a few packets of tobacco products for personal consumption. This raised a question amongst people if consuming tobacco was really a crime punishable by law and that too without bail. Everybody viewed it to be too harsh but it was too late and there wasn’t anything that could be done to convince the government to undo its decision.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A twist of fate

The year 1999 had come to an end and as usual, I was at my uncle’s house in Samtse enjoying my winter vacation with my father and cousin siblings. A few weeks into the vacation, a young girl from our original village in Chengmari came to stay with us for sometime. She had come for a medical checkup at Samtse hospital and she was advised to take rest for a few days before further treatment. So, she decided to stay with us rather than going back to her village. Her father who had escorted her to Samtse went back leaving her with us and we spent almost one-and-half months together in Samtse.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why do some men pay for sex and why do some women sell it?

It’s illegal for girls to become a prostitute in Bhutan but it seems it’s socially acceptable to be their customers. So many girls have been arrested by the police for their involvement in such businesses in the past but we have not heard of any man being charged for availing the service. If this trade is to be ever considered illegal, I feel both the prostitute and her customers must be charged equally for indulging in such an offence. No matter what the authorities are doing to curb this practice in the country, we still seem to have secret commercial sex workers operating especially in urban centers. It seems they use a network of customers/friends and social media to reach out to their new customers. I have been told that there are some young girls who offer sex at rates ranging from Nu.2000 per encounter to Nu.5000 per night. So why are people taking risks to venture into this business despite knowing that it’s illegal in the country?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Flying in and out of Paro: one of the scariest airports in the world

Photo of Druk Air KB204 shortly after landing.

I have flown in and out of Paro International Airport four times within the span of past five years but I had not realized how dangerously the aircraft maneuvers around the valley to avoid the surrounding terrains. I had heard from my friends that the flight path to and from Paro seems to cut through two rugged mountains and it seems if the pilot misses a blink, the plane could crash into the terrains on either side. It’s no surprise that Paro International Airport is ranked as one of the top ten scariest airports of the world.

A few days back, I was watching a short video documentary produced by BBC World News in October 2014 as part of its program ‘The Travel Show’ and I warn you, it’s very scary how our pilots manage to get the aircraft in and out of our only international airport in Paro. The video presents the first-hand account of how our pilots maneuver the aircraft across rugged mountains totally based on their local geographical knowledge and visual reference. I was surprised to know that the instruments installed on the plane to avoid terrains are of no use in Bhutan because the airport lies just behind the mountain. The pilot says there’s no instrument that can guide an aircraft to Paro and hence, the pilots have to rely on their local knowledge and experience. The autopilot which can basically fly a plane without a pilot is also of no use in Bhutan. So, the pilots have to switch it off as they enter the Bhutanese airspace and fly towards Paro completely with the help of their naked eyes. It’s even more scary when the pilot says that they have to watch out for the wings of the aircraft and the roof of the houses below while navigating in and out of Paro. The airport being surrounded by mountains, the aircraft has to instantly navigate either to the right or left after take-off while making a steep climb to avoid the mountain just ahead of the aircraft. The runway itself is less than two kilometers long and hence, it’s safe for only smaller aircrafts like Airbus A319 to land and take-off. Although the geographical location of the airport seems to pose threats to aviation safety, our pilots are absolutely trustworthy, qualified and experienced. I was discussing this with my friend
Riku Dhan Subba yesterday during lunch time and he told me that it’s good to have such a dangerous airport because that would keep the pilots always alert and the accidents will not happen. I think in a way, he’s also right. I am sure because of the risky and dangerous flight route, our pilots will always be vigilant, attentive and careful, and hence, we will always be safe.

Below is the documentary if you want to watch:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A passion so wild!

Photo of me cycling

One thing that makes me feel good after I went to Australia is that I could learn how to ride a bicycle despite being blind. The house I was living in had a small backyard where I could practice cycling during my leisure time as there were a few bicycles collected from the roadsides. At first, my wife and housemates feared that I might fall down and break my limbs but I learned that it was normal for the beginners to fall down a couple of times before becoming a real expert. So, I too fell down a few times injuring my knees and palms but I didn’t give it up. I kept practicing until I began to gain some balance and eventually I could ride the bicycle, all on my own. I had a cognitive map of the backyard which helped me navigate around very safely. My friends were shocked to see me cycling, round and round the backyard without crashing into the walls that surrounded the backyard on three sides. Of course, I once made a mistake and crashed against the wall throwing myself down on the concrete floor. I could not get up for a few seconds as the handle of the bicycle had hit my belly. But nothing tragic happened. It was a very good learning experience.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just from hand to mouth- a true account of living through poverty

If poverty ever grooms a person to become a good leader as many politicians who have come through this experience claim today, then I feel I should be one of the best leaders in the world. Born in the family of a landless peasant in a remote community, I have got the real taste of what is it like to be ‘poor’, in the actual sense of the word. As early as I can remember, we were living on somebody else’s land, cultivating their farmland and dividing the harvests in mutually agreed proportions. Nevertheless, I was too young to feel the pain my parents were going through in ensuring that we didn’t starve to death.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One thing you might have not known about me

Normally, I am a jolly person blest with an open heart to accommodate anybody who respects me for what I am. Although I am blind, I force myself to squeeze out of my little dark world to mingle with people around me because that often helps me forget the sad realities of my personal life. I love to smile and laugh with people as long as they don’t hesitate to accept me into their group with respect and dignity. I believe I am a person with cool temperament and that I don’t easily get angry. But that does not mean that I am an enlightened soul. As an ordinary human being, I too have a heart that can be hurt if pricked hard.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Some common grammatical confusions in English language (part 2)

I am going to shed some light on a few more common grammatical confusions we face in English language. English is the funniest and most flexible language in the world enabling us to blend it with any other language without any sense of discomfort or oddness. However, there are well-defined grammatical frameworks which dictate the way we speak and write in English language. So, I would like to highlight some of the most common errors we make in English language, at least in British context.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Therapeutic conversation with a boy

I was invited to be part of a youth workshop which had brought together youth from different walks of life. The forum was facilitated by a lady who first took us through her PowerPoint slides about a wide range of youth problems in Bhutan. Following the presentation, she gave us an exercise in which we were supposed to outline what we expect from life and what can we do to achieve it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Silent forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities inBhutan

South Asian Disability Forum (Written in colors). Image curtesy: SADF Facebook page

In September 2011, I was in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, as part of the 3-member delegation from Bhutan representing Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) in the first ever South Asian Disability Forum which was held from 19-21 Sept., 2011. On behalf of the team, I was given the opportunity to do a 10-minute presentation on the general living conditions of persons with disabilities in Bhutan. As I pulled the audience through my PowerPoint slides, I talked about how people with disabilities in Bhutan enjoy equal rights and justice in all aspects of life. I even cited the example of how the Royal Government of Bhutan provides equal opportunities to persons with disabilities for employment and scholarships as long as they are capable of competing with their non-disabled counterparts. I further justified this statement by saying that Bhutan is a close-knit society founded on basic Buddhist principles and philosophies because of which people in general are sympathetic and compassionate towards persons with disabilities, and hence, there is no noticeable social discrimination against them.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sharing joy with our boys!

Photo of Bhutanese national soccer team receiving wishes for their success in Sri Lanka

Although it’s too early to celebrate our final victory, I personally can’t wait to share joy with our national soccer players who have won 1-0 against Sri Lanka in the first-round qualifying match for 2018 World Cup tournament. Hats off to our national team for proving to the world that we are not as worse as what our critics think. When Bhutan Football Federation first announced long time ago that they hope to take part in the World Cup after 2015, I and my brother-in-law who were listening to the TV interview did not believe it. We directly thought that even when giant nations like India and China have hardly qualified for such a big event, there’s no way we could make our way through. But today as our national team rejoices over the amazing victory against Sri Lanka in Colombo, I take back my own words. I have come to realize that soccer is a game in which the successes and failures depend largely on team-work and proper coordination among the players. One or two excellent players in a team can’t make much difference when it comes to the success of the entire team.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Nobody would beg for pleasure!

Photo of a begging bowl. Image source: Google.

The year 2003 was coming to an end and we were preparing to go back to our college. It was a cool winter afternoon in Phuntsholing. The month of December had just begun and our college was due to be re-opened in a week’s time after the winter vacation. So, I and a few other friends were on our way back to our college in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India. We had reached Phuntsholing town from Thimphu the day before and we were due to leave for Calcutta at 2:30 pm that afternoon. After checking out from the hotel, I and my friend Sangay Tshering who is currently a lecturer at Samtse College of Education went to buy some eatables and drinks to be taken to the college. We entered a store and bought a few bottles of traditional Bhutanese pickle and some other eatables. By then, it was already about 1:00 pm and we hadn’t even had our lunch. So, we were in a hurry and as soon as we got our things packed up and bills cleared, we rushed out to go to a restaurant for lunch. But as we came out of the shop and hurried away, a sweet-voiced young girl called out in a shy voice, “Could you kindly give me Rs.10 please?” I don’t know whether she was a Bhutanese or an Indian. She was speaking Nepali.

Friday, March 6, 2015

How to eat less to reduce weight

With so many lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension on the rise today, people are increasingly becoming health-conscious. In addition to health concerns, people are also worried about their body-shape and physical beauty which can be certainly distorted by obesity. This can ultimately cost them their social status. Hence, many people are on strict diet nowadays or they are found either jogging or doing physical exercises regularly to maintain their physical health. The life of people in urban centers is not as hard as that of villagers and hence, we have nothing to do that can make us sweat and burn the extra calories we take everyday. So, many people especially girls resort to the easiest option: skipping meals to reduce their body weight. But research suggests that it will instead make you put on weight if you skip meals. Studies have found that rather than skipping meals, eating less quantity of food is the most effective and safe way of shedding off extra weight.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I have seen ghost only once in my life

Diving back to that mysterious experience, I can’t still believe my own eyes. I must have been 7 or 8 at the time and it was in my village in Dipu Jhora under Chengmari Gewog in Samtse. I had not lost my sight then and I was just like any other child in the village, full of life and energy to play around freely. I was living with dad, step-mother and two other siblings. Although we survived mainly by cultivating others’ lands for a certain share of harvests, my step-mother brewed local alcohol which she sold whenever she got customers to make sure that we ate rice and meat curry at least once in a week. My dad was an alcoholic but my step-mother would manage to save some money for the weekly feast. Wednesday was the most favourite day of the week for all of us. It was the day when villagers rushed to Chengmari town for the weekly open market. So every Wednesday when my dad would go to the market, my step-mother would take out whatever little saving she had and would give it to him asking him to bring some rice and meat for the dinner. My dad would carry his basket and leave for the market while we would restlessly wait for his return.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Some common grammatical confusions in English language (part 1)

English was one of my most favourite subjects right from my early school days and I give the credit to all my English language teachers who guided me well throughout my academic life. My teachers used to say that a good reader becomes a good writer, but I hardly used to read any book other than the prescribed textbooks. The only books I read included a few old story books available in braille at the school library In Muenselling Institute in Khaling and a few chapters from the World Book Encyclopedia. Even today, I mostly read only online articles, stories and news. But whatever I read, I read with extra focus on the grammatical structures of the sentences in addition to the messages they carry. When I was studying BA English at PSG College of Arts and Science in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to learn from highly qualified lecturers some of whom were renowned grammarians. I have learned a lot from them and realized that there are many grammatical mistakes we make frequently, consciously or unconsciously. So today, I would like to hsare some of the most commonly made grammatical errors in English language so that you might be able to enhance your English language proficiency. I am not an expert but this is what I have learned from my English lecturers.