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.