Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My independent living skills put to full test

I have been alone in my house for over two weeks now. My wife has left for her village in Sibsoo with kids on 25th January 2015 and they will be back only towards the end of this week. She was hesitant to leave me alone but I advised her to go so that our kids would get the opportunity to have fun with their grandparents and enjoy the rustic life for a while. When my neighbours and friends noticed I was alone after a few days, they all asked me how I have been managing things alone. Everybody wondered how do I even cook and do the dishes. I always told them that I can easily do all those routine household chores. Even when I was not alone, I used to often help my wife with cooking, washing and cleaning. So, it’s nothing strange when I have to do it alone.

Looking back from where I am right now, I am very grateful to my teachers who taught me at the Muenselling Institute in Khaling. Had it not been for their initiatives and efforts to teach us independent living skills, I would not have had the confidence to send my wife and children away for so long today. I did not realize the importance of those skills when the teachers engaged us in various activities designed to provide us with independent living skills such as cooking classes, gardening, basket-weaving, playing musical instruments, washing cloths, cleaning classrooms and hostels and maintaining hygiene in the toilets. I still remember some of my teachers holding my hand and guiding me to fold cloths, gho (our national dress), wear our national dress and even eating in a standard manner when I was a child. I studied in a boarding school right from the beginning of my academic life and hence, I have had the opportunities to learn everything from my teachers in addition to academic studies. It’s true that to be a teacher in a school for the blind requires a lot more commitment and dedication. My teachers also had to serve as our second parents. Looking back on those days, I feel that all the skills I have learned from my teachers apart from prescribed academic learning have definitely helped me become a fully independent person despite being deprived of vision.

Today I have no problem cooking my meals, washing, cleaning and making all other arrangements in the house. Some people have asked me how I can maintain hygiene in the kitchen while cooking. They think that as a visually impaired person, I might cook some rubbish since I cannot see. It’s possible but we are taught how to handle things with extra care and caution. My wife has kept everything ready for me before she left: vegetables, all sorted out and cleaned, rice, vegetable-oil, salt, sugar, milk-powder and all other things which I would need everyday. Moreover, my female colleagues have been helping me do some extra shopping after office hours and I am very thankful to them for their generosity. I have nothing to worry about and I can cook and have whenever I wish. The moment I start cooking, I make sure that I wash my hands properly whenever I touch something. As a blind person, I have to use my bare-hands especially to pour oil and salt into the curry because that would give me the actual sense of how much it’s going into the pot. So, whatever I do, I make sure that it’s done in a very clean and hygienic manner so that even other people can take it without hesitation. A couple of days back, one of my colleagues
Rikku Dhan Subba came to reach me home and I felt so good when he asked me if we could have tea. To me, it showed how much he trusted me and believed in my abilities. I prepared tea for both of us and enjoyed it over a conversation about the day’s work and other stuff. He has said that he would like to take a video of me doing household chores someday.

The only problem I am facing these days is that I find it difficult to cross the Swimming Pool junction when I walk to and from office everyday. The drivers hardly give me way to cross the highway and hence, I have not dared to take risk so far. I have a clear cognitive map of my path to and from my office and if I can cross the Swimming Pool junction, I have no problems walking independently. I usually walk alone up to the Swimming pool highway, wait for somebody to help me get across the road and then continue walking to my office all on my own. Sometimes, I have to ask my colleagues to wait for me at the junction, but most of the time, I get some people to help me cross the road, and I get to my office alone. I am lucky that my office is just below YDF complex and it’s within a walking distance from my house since I live just beside Namgay Heritage Hotel in PWD Colony. I sometimes feel that instead of the unusable underpass at the Swimming pool junction, it would have been safer and convenient both for disabled persons like me and women/children if they could have constructed a flyover bridge. I always walk with a white-cane in my hand which signifies that I am blind, but with some drivers and motorists, it does not seem safe enough to cross the roads with it. I wish if all the people could understand the significance of the cane we carry and provide us a safe space to cross the roads. If we could have such a conducive environment, we can always move around the town independently and be part of the social mainstream. Since I have been nearly hit by speeding cars twice before, I have not regained the confidence to cross the Swimming pool highway on my own till today. One such particular incident was even covered by Bhutan Observer upon my request to create awareness to Bhutanese motorists. You can click the link below to read the article on Bhutan Observer’s website:
Visually-impaired feel at risk on Thimphu roads


  1. Nice post la Sir! I'm happy for you too that you can live independently and let your family having great time at the village. Just hope the condition will improve so that you can cross the road safely everyday. But I think Bhutanese people generally are kind enough to help you like the case when you want to cross the road as I often got help too whenever I lost my way while walking there.

    Wish you have a wonderful day Sir and take care! :)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Rima.... Yes, there are people who are willing to help but there are also others who do not care. If we could create an inclusive society with facilities for all types of people, it would help us become absolutely independent and we don't have to always depend on others. But I know that can never happen here.

    Thank you once again and take care.

  3. A beautiful post, Sir, as always very inspiring too. There are so many things our people can learn from you. And thank you so much for the wonderful cup of tea - you cook far better than me. I would love to make a good documentary about you, maybe in the future; you're truly inspiring.

  4. Thank u so much for your kind words. It was my pleasure to treat u a cup of simple tea.