Saturday, December 31, 2016

Digital contents and media accessibility in Bhutan

With the advent of television and internet in Bhutan in 1999, the digital contents and audio-visual media have been providing an efficient way for the general public to access news, information and entertainment in the country. The publishing sector delivers most of its contents through their websites while the audio-visual contents are delivered mostly through the national television. Although the emergence of new technologies and innovative practices have revolutionized Bhutanese media over the years, the issue of media accessibility for persons with disabilities especially the visually impaired people still remains. Prior to the era of television and internet in Bhutan, the BBS Radio was the most popular source of information and since it delivered audio contents, accessibility was never an issue for us. However, with the advent of television and internet services, people began to give more importance to graphic contents and as a result, we the visually impaired people began to fall aside. Today, with some information delivered only in graphics and without audio description, we feel we are deprived of our right to access information and entertainment on mainstream media. However, the lack of media accessibility is no longer a technical issue today. We have all the appropriate technologies in place that have the potential to make our mainstream media fully accessible and inclusive. Now the issue lies only with those people who have those technologies in hand. If they have the will, they have all the resources to make their contents fully accessible for persons with disabilities without compromising the quality.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: My Year Review

With just one more day left for us to bid farewell to 2016, it’s now time to look back and reflect on some of the major life events that defined our life this year. It’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate the successes and churn out the lessons learned from the failures. For me, I should say I have had a satisfying life this year both at the professional and personal level. As we stand at this juncture of time, I just would like to look back on the year and revisit the steps I have walked over the past twelve months before I walk into another new stretch of my life’s journey in 2017.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

She is a homemaker, not a housewife

Photo of my wife Amrita Rai with River Swan at the background. Image shot in Perth, Western Australia in 2013

When people ask me about my wife’s profession, I just tell them that she is a homemaker because she is the one who actually transforms my house into a beautiful home. As one of my lecturers had once said when I was in college, there is a huge difference between a house and a home. A house is only a physical structure whereas a home is where we get absolute comfort, warmth and happiness. Considering the amount of sacrifices she makes every day at home, I think the term ‘housewife’ does not fully define her role. Whenever we hear someone say that his wife or mother is a housewife, the general impression we get is that she is jobless and stays at home idly. But if our wife or mother who stays at home were to prepare her Individual Work Plans to show us what she does every day, I think she would have more responsibilities than most of us who go to office.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The two key messages from His Majesty the King's National Day addressto the nation

Photo of Trongsa Dzong. Image courtesy: Her Majesty the Gyaltsun's Facebook page.

As Bhutan celebrated the 109th National Day in Trongsa today, it was once again time for all of us to collectively reflect on what the country has done for us and what we can do for the country. The entire nation felt blest as we witnessed the three generations of monarchs: the past, present and the future kings gracing the historic occasion today with their presence. I unfortunately missed His Majesty the King’s live address to the nation on television, but I remained conscious enough not to miss the re-telecast of the address in the evening. As an ordinary Bhutanese citizen, I got deeply touched by His Majesty the King’s concerns for the country and its people. I even became emotional when His Majesty shared his noble dreams for Bhutan. Among so many important issues His Majesty highlighted in his address, here are two key messages that touched me the most.

Friday, December 9, 2016

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2016 celebrated withprayers

Photo of 108 butter-lamps burning. Picture taken by my wife after the prayers

On 3rd December 2016, Bhutan joined the global community to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on the theme “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”. This theme recognizes the role of these recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals in building a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities around the world. Unlike the past years when all the relevant agencies used to come together to celebrate the day, this year’s celebration stretched out to reach larger audience in different places as different agencies came up with their own programs and activities to observe the event. For instance, the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) and the Special Education Division of the Ministry of Education went to celebrate the day at Tendruk Central School in Sibsoo under Samtse Dzongkhag while the other Disabled Persons’ Organizations like the Ability Bhutan Society and Draktsho Vocational Training Center had a grand celebration in Tashi Taj Hotel in Thimphu. Likewise, the relevant institutes such as the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf in Paro, Muenselling Institute of Khaling and other inclusive schools around the country celebrated the day in their own locality with various exciting activities.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pieces of good memories from Nepal

Group photo of delegates from 7 South and West Asian countries During the regional alumni workshop 2016 in Nepal. Image courtesy: Facebook page of Australia Awards in Nepal.

I was truly delighted to be part of the Bhutanese delegation to participate in the Australia Awards South and West Asian Regional Alumni Workshop which was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 17-18 November 2016. There were five of us from Bhutan who were selected to take part in the workshop themed “Education for All”. Although the Bhutanese team members were new to each other, we quickly developed acquaintance and made up an excellent team.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The real weight of a guilty mind: a response to the defamatory storieson social media

Having to live with the guilt of hurting someone unintentionally is really a traumatic experience. As soon as I instinctively shared on Facebook what eventually turned out to be a rumor about the missing Bhutanese student in Australia about two weeks ago, I felt as though I slipped off the edge of this entire world. Although I removed the post as soon as I doubted its authenticity, somebody was quick enough to take the screenshot of the story and started sharing it across Facebook and WeChat. It was indeed this copy of the post that ignited the issue and went viral on social media. So I feel it was this copy of the post that did more harm than mine. I believe everybody who deliberately shared the post to defame me should also be equally guilty of spreading the rumor and hurting the sentiments of more people. Many people soon contacted me privately and accused me of posting the story. I had to spend hours trying to explain and apologize to them individually. At last, I was able to make peace with most of them except a few whom I personally know. A former school-counsellor who is currently studying in Perth even went to the extent of defaming me openly on my Facebook wall. He openly questioned my professional ethics as a counselor and I fully agree that I have overlooked it when I blindly shared what I heard in a WeChat forum. But if we turn the table around, he is also a professional counselor, and yet the way he is using the social media to launch personal attacks on me does not demonstrate his ethical practice either. He seems to be a better counselor than me with good understanding of counseling ethics and values, but I can’t understand why he is so keen to spread the hatred towards me through social media. As a counselor, he should be able to see me just as one of his clients or an ordinary human being at this point of time. . He must know that a counselor is also a human being and he/she can never be perfect all the time. I have made the mistake and I have accepted it. So what is the point in digging the dried shit again and again?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The secrets behind the smiles of Bhutanese people

Gross National Happiness. Photo courtesy:

Last Friday, I was walking with two of my friends on the Doebum Lam highway in Thimphu when a news reporter from India stopped us and asked us why Bhutanese people are happy. The reporter told us that his team was in Bhutan to understand our secrets to happiness. He excitedly talked to us how Bhutan has been known to the outside world as the Land of Happiness and that he was interested to find out why. So in response to his question, this is the gist of what I told him:

Monday, October 10, 2016

A fate worse than death: a painful reality that can pierce your heart

Parental Love. Image courtesy:

I am really shocked to hear that what could be possible only in the movies and fictions has become a reality in Sibsoo today. A couple of hours ago, an old man from my wife’s village sadly passed away in Sibsoo hospital, but what was more painful than the death itself for him was the betrayal from his own son. According to my wife who is currently in her village, his story goes like this:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lessons that can be taken from Passu's life

Photo of two speakers for YouTurn: Passang Tshering and Dasho Sangay Khandu with Sherig Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk in DYS auditorium. Photo taken on 30th September 2016

During the launch of YouTurn, the monthly inspirational talk for youth initiated by my office on 30th September 2016, Mr. Passang Tshering who blogs at Passu Diary shared some of the most important and interesting episodes of his ordinary life that had the potential to motivate and inspire young people to look at life positively. With his good oratorical skills and a good sense of humor, he could easily connect himself with the lives and experiences of young people and hence, everybody in the audience enjoyed his talk. His stories really carried lots of values and lessons the youth could take home. There were over 160 youth in attendance and all of them appeared to have enjoyed his stories. Following are some of the most significant lessons I could pick up from his life stories for the benefit of young people:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A piece of memory from the Blessed Rainy Day 2016

Happy Blessed Rainy Day. Poster courtesy:

As Bhutan observed Thrue-bab or the Blessed Rainy Day yesterday, three of my visually impaired friends and their families joined me at my house for a simple meal. Keeping in mind the spiritual significance of the day, we all chose to have a simple vegetarian meal to join the nation in observing this year’s Thrue-bab. Although the Blessed Rainy Day is traditionally supposed to be a feasting day for the common people as it marks the end of the farming season and the beginning of the harvesting season, it is also believed to be an auspicious and holy occasion for Buddhists. On this day, it is believed that the rain will be blest with elixir and has the supernatural power to cleanse all our sins and bad karma if we take bath during the most auspicious hour specified by renowned astrologers. So since it is a holy occasion, even those friends of mine who were not vegetarians agreed to stay clean for at least this Thrue-bab yesterday.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How can we ensure free and fair election if we don't know ourcandidates?

As Bhutan gears up for the second Local Government Elections, those of us who have registered for postal ballots are having a tough time to decide our vote for the right candidate. In the absence of live coverage of the campaigns and public common forums on BBS Television and other mainstream media, it has been difficult for those of us who have been away from our villages for a while to personally know our candidates and understand their commitments for our communities. I am just wondering why the mainstream media are not giving as much importance to the local government elections as they usually give to the parliamentary elections. Since each vote can make a difference, it is important for us to have access to how each candidate in our Gewog/Chiwog is campaigning and what kind of future he/she is promising for our parents, grandparents and relatives in the village. This would also ensure fairer elections since we would be able to choose the right candidate for the right post without having to consult someone in the village.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Beware of internet hoaxes

Over the past few years, the internet has been flooded with various hoaxes that can be easily construed as true by gullible readers. In the modern era of information overload, it is increasingly becoming difficult for us to sort out the fake information from the hoaxes. Most of the internet hoaxes appearing on social media come from the fake or satirical news sites. The hoax sites usually do offer a disclaimer to indicate that the stories they publish are not to be taken seriously, and hence, it is very important to check out the disclaimer notes of the specific web site to determine the authenticity of the stories.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trying to turn a new leaf in life

Photo of myself and other three friends with our root Lama, Lopen Singye. Picture taken In Paro.

It has been almost one year since I seriously started considering to redefine my spiritual path. My religious root has been quite complicated. I was born Hindu but grew up in a Christian family. My uncle and his family had already been devout Christians when my father joined them in late 1990 after he suffered a stroke and became partially disabled. So with the hope of getting rid of his disability, he decided to turn to Jesus Christ for solace and blessings. When I joined them later, I was also persuaded to attend the church and join their congregation for prayers. I was told that I could regain my sight if I truly believed in the supernatural powers of Jesus Christ. So I also started going to the church and prayed with others. But the moment I was back in the school in Khaling, I forgot everything and attended the daily Buddhist prayers with the same kind of devotion and belief. So I think I should say that during the school days, I was a Buddhist and during the winter vacations, I was a Christian.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The importance of tourniqueting as part of the first-aid treatmentduring medical emergencies

Nobody is immune to natural disasters and accidents. We would never know what kind of fate every new second might bring on us. Hence, it is very important to cling to the blessings of God everyday and stay prepared for whatever tragedy that might cross our path. What makes the situation worse is that accidents mostly happen far away from the medical facilities and it is often difficult to get immediate medical attention. Therefore, in order to save time and to save lives, it is always important to be equipped with at least a few first-aid techniques. The most important thing to remember during any accident is not to panic. This is the moment when we are required to make the most rational and critical decisions and hence, panicking would never help us get out of the situation safely.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five inspirational stories that might help you start your day with a positive mind

Life becomes so dull at times that we often need external inspiration and motivation to push it forward. I believe that positive energy is something that can be transferred from one person to another but we should know exactly how to tap it. Whenever we feel low and desperate, all we need is someone who can give extra thrust to our life through their experiences and stories. The real beauty of life lies deep within the layers of problems that engulf us and to get to the core to conquer this precious jewel, we often need some external forces to push us from behind. At the end of the day, a positive mind is what matters the most. The following five inspirational stories may help you change the way you look at life.

Friday, August 19, 2016

International Youth Day 2016

Group photo of Youth Center Division Officials at Gedu Bhutan on the way back to Thimphu. Image courtesy: Ms. Rinzin Wangmo

“We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we just borrowed it for the future”. This was the key message conveyed to the youth of Bhutan during the International Youth Day celebration at Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. Personally, it was a great privilege for me to be part of the team from the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education to leave for Samdrup Jongkhar to coordinate the event. Against the warning of incessant Monsoon rain and the threats of terrorist attacks in the Indian State of Assam, we hit the road on 7th August 2016 from Thimphu to celebrate this year’s International Youth Day with the youth of Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. The International Youth Day has been observed in Bhutan since 2010 to recognize the potentials of young people and to celebrate their key achievements in various fields. But for five consecutive years, we celebrated the day only in Thimphu and hence, those youth living in other Dzongkhags could not get the opportunity to be part of it. So this year, for the first time in six years, we decided to take the event out of Thimphu. In line with the UN theme for the day “Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty by Achieving Sustainable Development through Sustainable Production and Consumption”, we decided to collaborate with Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI (, a civil society organization that focuses on GNH-based developmental activities especially in rural communities to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. So this was the main reason why we chose to travel all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar to celebrate the event this year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Remembering the friends of persons with disabilities on the specialFriendship Week

Photo of a young man walking with his visually impaired friend on a forest path using the sighted guide techniques. Image courtesy: Google

With every single help you offer us
Comes a blessing that brings a smile on our face;
Thank you for being part of our lives
And helping us understand how beautiful is the world around us.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The secrets of success in business

Starting and managing a business is not as easy as what we generally think. It requires adequate knowledge and experience on business management to be a successful business person, no matter how small your business may be. If you look at other countries, you would find people taking up numerous business management studies and training before starting a business of their own. Just selling away what the customers come for, or just having enough financial resources alone does not make you a business tycoon. It also requires a lot of commitment, hard-work and patience to be able to take your business to greater heights. But in Bhutan, I have observed that most of the people get into business without any such preparation. Hence, they lack the knowledge and experience to run a business in a systematic manner. People do not know the core ethics that should guide the business such as customer service, social and communication skills and so on. As a result, they end up driving away their customers instead of serving them with all their heart and paving the way for future visits. Speaking from the experience of an ordinary customer, I believe that if you adopt the right strategies, there will be certainly no shortage of customers, regardless of the location of your business. The following few tips might help you succeed in business.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A humble man with big dreams

Photo of Mr. Tashi Namgay, the Founder and Executive Director of Bhutan Kidney Foundation. Image source: his Facebook profile.

Having gone through several ordeals in life, Tashi Namgay has finally earned a smile on his face that can melt the hearts of many. He is a man who has found the extraordinary courage within himself to walk the path not so commonly walked by his contemporaries. Today, he is admired by many people for his noble initiatives and contributions to the society, firstly as a social worker and secondly as the Executive Director of Bhutan Kidney Foundation, the non-profit organization he founded in 2012. To me, he is a great source of inspiration especially for young people. He bears testimony to the fact that nothing is impossible if we are truly determined to achieve what we aspire to achieve. This is a story of how determination, hard work and love for humanity can carry a person far into the realm of happiness and contentment.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Three great lessons we can learn from successful people

Success is definitely not a magic word. It does not happen overnight. Yet we see so many stars and champions in the world who have transformed themselves into extraordinary beings. They were not born genius. So what are their secret mantras for success? People say that successful people do not do different things; they do the same thing differently. Well, I think that’s true. If we look at most of the world champions, we would find that they don’t do different things but they adopt different strategies to do the same thing. Science says that when we are born, we all are blest with equal number of brain cells but as we grow, some people overtake us in rational thinking and creativity because how fast or healthily our brain grows depends on how much we use it effectively. Hence, it is apparent that success mostly depends on how effectively we mobilize our internal resources to meet our targets in life. I believe that we in fact have everything within us which, if utilized properly, can certainly carry us afar. But the sad thing is that in the midst of worldly affairs, we often miss the opportunities to look at ourselves and recognize our own strengths. Looking at the lives of a number of so-called successful people in the world, I have come to believe that the ultimate success could be determined by the following three main factors that can even be termed as ‘Secrets of Success’:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lost in the woods: A brief but tense ordeal

Photo of twilight. Image courtesy:

It was a cool winter evening in Samtse. The busy day was coming to a rest and the world was sinking into the west. The birds were chirping from the bushes and treetops as they prepared to settle down in their nests. From the distance, I could hear people calling out for their goats and cattle as they gathered them for the night. I was on my winter vacation and I was living with my uncle and aunt since my late father was living with them at the time. As the world was closing its door on us, I was still at the village spring to fetch water. The spring was not so far from my uncle’s house but the path ran through some bushy areas across a narrow gorge. I think it took me over 20 minutes to make a round trip and I had to do that several times a day since we didn’t have regular water supply at home.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Manju, the baby-sitter

Until the recent past when there were no enough schools in the remote parts of the country, most of the girls used to be sent out to urban centers by their families as baby-sitters. Drowned in poverty, the parents did not have any option but to send out their girls with the hope that they might earn some money for the family. As a result, many girls as young as 6 or 7 years old landed up in different families in the towns and cities as baby-sitters. The girls were usually paid a very nominal monthly wage in addition to free logistics such as food, clothing and accommodation. But the girls never got to see how much they were earning monthly since it was said to be directly given to their parents/guardians. Some of them worked for years even without any pay other than free food, clothing and accommodation. I think they were basically treated just like slaves. Some host families might have treated their baby-sitters well, but many of the former baby-sitters I have met so far do not have good experiences to share.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What is it like to be a sleepwalker

One cool evening in Khaling in 1990, I woke up to the long shrill of a whistle. When I came to my sense, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. I could hear people talking and rushing somewhere. I was seated on what was supposed to be a doorstep but couldn’t figure out exactly where I was. The repeated whistling sound indicated that it was time for something but I had no idea what. I stood up from where I was sitting and tried to explore around. I had no idea where I came from and where I was. I was totally disoriented. I noticed that one of my slippers was missing and no matter how much I groped around, I couldn’t find the missing slipper. Finally the school captain called my name and asked me if I was not going for dinner. Only then I realized I was just in front of the school kitchen and that the whistling was a summon call for dinner. The captain was a low-vision student and I let him look for my missing slipper, but he too couldn’t find it. So I had my dinner without my slippers on and as I was having my meal, I didn’t stop thinking about what could have happened to me that evening. After dinner, I went to the hostel and tried to piece together all the events of the day I could remember in order to solve the mystery of how I got in front of the kitchen from nowhere. Suddenly I realized that I could remember everything that had happened until the evening study hour that day. I vaguely remembered resting my head on the study table feeling tired and bored. Then my memory had stopped thereafter. I got a feeling that I could have dozed off during the evening study hour and that I might have sleepwalked out of the academic building when the bell rang. I immediately rushed to the classroom and found my missing slipper stuck under my table. It soon became apparent that I had walked out of the classroom into the kitchen premises in my sleep. When I look back to that incident today, I still wonder how I could have walked so safely in such a trance. There were a number of obstacles such as rudimentary bridges, pits and bushes of nettle plants on the way which I could have easily bumped into, but the fact that I could stick to my path despite being blind and that too in a state of subconscious mind is really a kind of miracle. That was my first ever sleepwalking experience and I wish it to be the last as well.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

How would someone without sight communicate with someone with hearingdisability?

As a blind, I think nothing is more difficult than having to communicate with a deaf person. Whenever we the disabled people from different parts of the country come together on special events such as the celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities and other disability-related programs, we the visually impaired persons and the hearing impaired persons reach a real deadlock not being able to communicate and interact with each other. On one hand, the hearing impaired persons can’t hear what we say and on the other hand, we can’t see the sign language they use. What makes the matter worse is that we the visually impaired persons do not have the concept of sign language and hence, we can’t even gesture what we are saying to them. To someone who can see and hear, the situation may look so funnyand unique but this is a reality.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The modern-day madness we must all get rid of

On 27th June 2016, a 16-year-old student was reportedly stabbed to death below Changangkha Lhakhang in Thimphu while trying to stop a gang fight. Three days later on 30th June 2016, another 19-year-old student of a private school in Thimphu was pursued and stabbed twice at his back by five masked boys below Druk School. While the victim is currently recovering at JDW National Referral Hospital, such incidents are a gruesome reminder that Thimphu, or for that matter, any urban center in Bhutan is not at all safe for us to roam abount casually. These two latest incidents are, however, not the first cases reported this year. On 15th January, a 23-year-old taxi driver was brought to Phuntsholing hospital after being stabbed several times by some thugs. He soon succumbed to his wounds. Then on 10th February, a 15-year-old Bhutanese student studying at North Point in Darjeeling, India stabbed one of his Indian friends to death during an adventure camp. So what lessons can we learn from such tragedies?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The dumbest criminals I have ever heard of

We the Bhutanese people generally believe in our Karmic actions. We have been taught right from early childhood that what goes around usually comes around. That’s why we have been taught never to harm or hurt anybody, because the consequence of our action is believed to fall back on ourselves someday. I think this could be the main reason why the criminals are usually caught easily. We have a popular saying “Le gi ra mi tub” meaning “nobody can escape his/her fate”. Probably because of this principle, Bhutan has seen some of the dumbest criminals over the years as demonstrated in the stories below.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The funniest questions I have ever been asked

Although I have been blind for over 26 years now, I have got enough opportunities to interact and socialize with different people in the world. I have realized over the years that the real beauty of the world does not have to be perceived only through eyes. Along the journey of my life, I have come across different people who have helped me see the world in many ways. But over the years, I have also met some innocent individuals who have asked me some of the funniest questions without knowing that I am blind. I have had funny encounters with children as well as adults and I often giggle to myself when I reflect on those experiences. Following are some of the funniest questions I have ever been asked by both innocent children and adults.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Reaching out to youth through a smart phone

Photo of me in front of Tashi Namgay Resort in Paro, the venue for the workshop

Today I was in Paro with other four colleagues from my office to attend the advocacy program on the use of mPowerYOUth, a mobile application designed to help youth access various services provided by various agencies working for young people in Bhutan. This application has been developed by the Department of Youth and Sports, MoE in collaboration with the G2C Office as part of the government’s efforts to streamline and enhance the public service delivery. With this application in place, it is expected that youth will be able to avail various services just through their mobile phones and hence, their needs and concerns can be taken care of easily.

Friday, June 24, 2016

All Strangers: a typical reflection on urban life

A couple of days ago, I read on Kuensel about how a Bhutanese official working at the Royal Bhutan Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand as Accountant was accidentally electrocuted while attempting to cross over the fence inside the residential area near the Embassy, but until yesterday, I never knew that he was my neighbor living just across the street here in Thimphu. I was shocked when my wife told me this after hearing the news from other neighbors who had gone to attend his cremation yesterday. Although I am not personally familiar with them, my wife knows his wife very well and she told me that she had met her with her daughter just last Sunday in the vegetable market. My wife says his wife is a very frank and friendly person and that she talks to her wherever she meets her. The deceased had left for Bangkok, Thailand in January this year and that his family was planning to join him soon. It seems they had even bought air tickets during this summer vacation to go to see him in Bangkok, but it’s very sad that their dream could not materialize. Life is just like a dream: you won’t know when you would wake up to reality.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Another piece of miracle that probably goes beyond the scope of scientific explanation

Photo of King Cobra. Image courtesy:

Right from my childhood, I have learned from elderly people in the village that some people have the special power to treat snake-bites without requiring the victims to go to hospital. Even my late father used to tell me how he was once bitten by a snake on his finger while fishing in the village river and that he was treated by a fellow-villager simply by chanting some kind of Mantra. It seems he didn’t even have to go to hospital. Nevertheless, I am not able to understand how this process works and even to this day, it is a mystery for me although I have my own sister-in-law in my family who has been treated by such a healer.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Different strategies adopted by miscreants in urban centers today in abid to survive

While we are definitely enjoying the fruit of rapid globalization and socio-economic growth, we are also facing numerous challenges that come hand-in-hand with modern development. As we transition from a traditional society to a fast changing modern Bhutan, social problems such as unemployment, broken families and substance abuse which hardly bothered us until decades ago are now constantly on the rise, and the government is still struggling to deal with them effectively. As a result, many people especially the youth who have been the victims of moving time are seen utterly frustrated. In the absence of means to legally earn a decent living, many people have now even started risking their lives, dignity and human values to find alternative means to survive in the society. It is no surprise that burglary, scams, deceptive practices, cheating and robbery have become so common today. You can be looted through various means at any time anywhere, and one tricky thing about those miscreants is that they can change their strategies according to time and context. The following stories are a reminder that we should be careful wherever we go.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The near-death experiences that might explain the dying process

Death is a dark reality of life every living being is destined to face. No matter what powerful positions we hold or how much luxurious life we enjoy while we live, there is literarily no escape from this ultimate fate. From the beggar to the king, and from an ant to an elephant, we are all bound to die one day regardless of who we are. But I am just wondering if it is possible for the dying person to notice what is happening to him as his stream of consciousness leaves his body. I have heard that many people appear to go through a series of strange experiences as they die, but are those experiences just hallucinations as some people think or is it a normal process of dying? It is difficult to understand the actual process of death but I have learned from my late father that it is definitely the start of a new and unique journey into eternity.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

When I was not able to accept my disability

I was on my way back to school after my winter vacation. In Phuntsholing, we had to come to the bus terminal so early in the morning to catch the bus to Samdrup Jongkhar. During those days, we used to have 1st bus, 2nd bus and so on and I and my late father had got our tickets in the 2nd bus which would leave at around 5:30 am. It used to take more than 12 hours to reach the destination and hence, it was the longest and most tedious journey. So I and my late father checked out of our hotel-room at around 4:30 am in the morning and got to the bus station well ahead of the departure time.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

How animals also value their life as much as we value ours

I must have been 7 or 8 years old when I first saw how a pig is killed. It was a bright late morning and the sun was already high up in the horizon. Since I was able to see at that time, I still have the visual memories of the incident. It was our neighbor’s pig and many villagers had gathered at his house as they prepared to slaughter the pig. Many people looked excited to have their share of pork even as the pig was having his last meal which is usually given just before being killed. I was standing not far from where a man armed with a sharp spear was trying to aim right at the heart of the poor creature. Then as the pig was busy munching his food, he shot his spear right through the ribs of the pig and the poor creature collapsed to the ground with long painful shrills and squeals. In the matter of few seconds, the pig was dead and some of the men made fire to burn the pig to remove its hairs. But as they threw the pig into the fire and the smell of burning hairs began to rise up in the air, the pig suddenly woke up and ran into the nearby thickets. The men then ran after the half-burned pig throwing stones and anything they could find on the way. The pig disappeared into the thickets and everybody was worried. But the poor pig was not lucky. The men soon found it trembling in the bush and they finally killed it successfully. This memory still tends to haunt me whenever I think of that incident.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

The price children pay for their parents' divorce

Last night, I was browsing through Thimphu Confession Page on Facebook and I was very sad to find so many people sharing their painful experiences of being the innocent victims of domestic violence and broken families. Some of the stories even brought tears to my eyes. I had not realized that the hostility between the separated parents could go even beyond their boundaries to torture their children. I have copied two stories testifying how painful it is to be deprived of the opportunity to grow up with both the parents and siblings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Beware of weight-loss scams

When I was studying in the college in 2004 in India, a friend of mine had found an online commercial advertisement about a product called NutriSlim Powder which claimed to help people lose weight without any hard labor. I knew I was putting on weight and I was wondering how I could shed off those extra fats and stay physically fit. I never dared to remain hungry. So skipping meals was out of the option. I was doing some physical exercises but I was not getting the expected results and that was not giving me enough motivation to keep up my commitment. So when my friend recommended NutriSlim Powder to me, I got excited and wanted to give it a try. After all, its price was only Rs.1100 and with home-delivery service available, I thought it was worth trying once. So I telephoned the Asian Sky Shop at Chennai and placed the order for one packet of Slim Powder. The product reached me in a few days’ time and based on the given instructions, I started taking the product every morning and evening. The sawdust-like powder had to be soaked in water for about twelve hours before drinking. According to the instruction booklet, it claimed to help people lose appetite, burn unnecessary fats and increase the metabolic activities thereby helping the person lose weight in a short period of time. After a few days, I seemed to lose my appetite a bit and felt as though my belly was shrinking. But then it was time to order another packet because I had finished the first packet even before realizing the real effect of the product. So I ordered for the second packet but this time, I deliberately tried to test its effectiveness by eating as much as I could. I wanted to see if I had really lost my appetite but I found out whatever improvement I thought I was seeing after taking the powder was only a psychological feeling. Only then, I realized it was just a weight-loss scam.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The dark clouds behind the smiles of Drayang girls

Photo of Drayang girls. Image source: Rikku Dhan Subba's blog

Whenever you go to a Drayang, you would see so many beautiful young girls dancing and singing with smiles on their faces. They appear to be full of life and energy as though they are truly enjoying what they are doing. But behind those stainless smiles often lies the dark side of their life. If you get closer to their hearts and listen to their stories, it would be hard for you even to hold back your tears. But on the stage, they have learned how to hide their darker world to please their guests. Since their income depends on how many requests they can get from their guests in the audience, they are bound to appear as attractive and seductive as possible so that most of the men would pay them for the show. And I know most men go there only with one intention. They see those girls as somebody who can be lured into anything with money. But if we think with a conscious heart, we would realize that those girls are also human beings like us and deserve to be treated with equal dignity and respect, and not to be looked at just as sex objects. If human bodies were transparent enough to reveal the emotions running inside, I think most of the party-goers would be fighting their tears as the girls perform on the stage.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The monster lurking in the shadows of mankind

It is very sad that animals can’t speak our language and many of us do not have the heart to feel their emotions. Although they can’t express pain and suffering as we kill them, there is no doubt that they too love themselves like we do and have the right to live like us. In fact, I believe we all have a soft corner within our heart that naturally responds to any pain or suffering we see around us, but our worldly desires and greed often overshadow this sensitive part of us and turn us into monsters. I have realized that there are some people who exist like robots and can afford to do anything without even the slightest sense of guilt.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Breaking the wall within the family

Photo of my family

My wife is illiterate and looks innocent but sometimes she can really think out of the box and tiptoe far into the future. Realizing how disability can create barriers even within the family, she always tries to keep our children closer with me with the hope that they would grow up learning to accept me as their disabled father. Ever since my eldest son and my adopted daughter were 6 or 7 years old, she would let them guide me whenever we went out into the town or other places and every time I refused to walk with them not being able to trust them, she would always warn me they would hesitate to walk with me when they grow up if we don’t let them do it right now. Yes, after all, she was right. I realized that we should never let such a wall form between me and my kids right from the beginning. Hence, I always started walking with my kids whenever I went out and today, my eldest son always comes to my office after his school hours to fetch me home. As of now, both my adopted daughter and eldest son do not seem to hesitate to walk with me and this is what my wife wants to see in all the times to come.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Seeing the world through technology

The 21st century is truly an era of technological revolutions. With the advent of advanced technology, our life today has certainly become more comfortable and meaningful than ever. Science is continuously pushing its boundaries into the world of unexplored mysteries and trying to demystify whatever that appears beneficial for us to understand. With the expansion of scientific thinking and innovations, I think the word ‘impossibility’ is soon going to be a thing of the past. I am blind but the advanced technology has enabled me to move comfortably along with other non-disabled people, be it in the office or at home so far. Now with the advent of smart phones, my life is now becoming even more comfortable as numerous applications are being designed to help the blind see right through their mobile phones.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A letter from my old friend

I must be really grateful to social media for connecting us to various people who matter to us regardless of where we live. After almost ten long years, one of my old college friends Mr. Anis Alam finally managed to trace me out on Facebook and I was literarily replete with joy when his message popped out on my timeline two days back. When I was studying BA English at PSG College of Arts and Science (PSG CAS) in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu in India from 2002-2005, Anis was studying BSC Micro Biology and he was one year junior to me. He is from Manipur, North-East India and probably due to our similar skin colour and cultural difference with Tamilians, he soon became close with Bhutanese students and we began to interact more. Eventually he became my immediate neighbour in the hostel by the time I reached my final year and he became one of my best friends. So I was really delighted to receive a long message from him after such a long gap. His message has indeed taken me more than ten years back to relive the sweet memories we had together in Coimbatore. I have copied his message below.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The best consolation for being poor

Until a few decades ago, the life in the village was really tough. Despite continuous hard labor in the fields, we didn’t even have enough to eat. The main staple food for people in my village used to be corn, wheat and millet. Not everybody could afford to cultivate paddy and hence, to have a rice-meal was a rare special treat. Moreover, wild potatoes and wild vegetables/fruits often used to be the alternative sources of food. Probably due to the scarcity of food supplies, we had learned to make best use of what we had. The vegetable oil was one of the most expensive items in the kitchen, yet people were able to sustain for a month or so with just over a few hundred milliliters of mustard oil. I still remember my late mother often borrowing vegetable oil from neighbors in a small flat bottle measuring two or three fingers up the bottle and that would be enough for the family for weeks. But although we were literarily poor with no enough food, I think we were healthier than what we are today. Our diet hardly contained unwanted calories and fats and even if they had, we had enough physical activities that helped us burn them. So the lifestyle diseases we see today were never a public health concern during those days.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A silent grievance

Both my wife and I love to live in harmony with everybody in the neighborhood. We know what does it feel like to be seen as a bad neighbor and hence, we don’t want to be quietly scorned at by people whenever we walk in and out of our house. This is the main reason why we don’t show any sign of frustration to anybody else even when we sometimes feel we are being taken advantage of. This does not mean that we are the enlightened beings, but we are trying our best to accommodate everybody into our life. But sadly we have realized that not everybody shares the same feeling like we do. It’s said that wherever there is God, there is always a devil, and I think this is often true. I have realized that every community has at least one or two ill-natured people who stir up and spoil the whole social atmosphere in the neighborhood. This often makes me wonder why we the human beings, so-called social animals, are not equally blest with the ability to empathize and understand each other. It’s really sad that not all of us have the same heart to accommodate each other although we share the same human realm on this planet.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Remembering my teachers on Teachers' Day

Happy Teachers' Day. Poster courtesy: Google

If the future of a nation is decided inside a classroom, we all know who are the extraordinary souls behind this entire process of creating a better world for all of us to live in. Today is the special day for us to honor and salute our selfless teachers for their immense contributions to the society by making us what we are today. Many teachers who have taught me have gone beyond their prescribed role to equip me with even those skills and knowledge outside the textbooks. I have realized that anybody can explain what is written in a book but teachers often have to walk extra miles to nurture us and guide us onto the right path. So on this auspicious occasion, I would like to remember from the core of my heart all the teachers who have really made a difference in my life.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Celebrating the end of my two years of blogging journey

As the month of April draws to a close, it’s time for me to look back and celebrate the end of my two years of blogging journey. I started my blog in April 2014 for which I still owe my friend Riku Dhan Subba special gratitude since it was he who always encouraged and motivated me to start blogging as he thought the world deserved to hear my stories and experiences. So finally I gave it a try in April 2014 and looking back from where I am now, I can clearly feel I have become more visible than I was two years ago. It’s amazing to know that many people have come to know me just through my blog and it makes me humble when people say they read my blog regularly and that they draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from my writing. Today, blogging has become an important part of my life because I can’t afford to leave my blog unattended no matter how busy I am with other assignments. I think what started as a passion has now become a kind of social responsibility for me now because I can feel the pressure if I don’t update my blog for a week or so. I feel that only through active blogging, we can engage the readers and followers of our blog meaningfully and that’s what I have been trying to do over the years.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Life as seen through the lens of death

Every time I step into a hospital or a cremation ground, the atmosphere turns dark and future goes blank. When I think of those patients in the hospitals fighting for their life and those who have already reached their final resting place in the cremation grounds, so many questions swirl up in my mind about the actual meaning of human existence. One moment we find ourselves smiling and laughing amidst the circle of happy family-members and friends, and the next moment, we are gone. It’s really sad to realize that after all, nothing is certain in this world. As great masters say, the only certain thing in life is uncertainty, and over the years, I have come to realize that this is very true. The ultimate truth is that no matter how powerful or rich we are during our lifetime, we all must pass through the same door at the end. Death spares nobody. This painful universal truth reminds us that this human life is the most precious gift we have ever got and that we must make best use of it. Life is in fact too precious to be wasted on worldly affairs. Life is too short to hate anybody and create unnecessary problems. Reflecting on death makes me more conscious of my own death and often makes me feel anxious as I still feel empty at hand.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

International Mother Earth Day 2016

Earth Day 2016 Poster. Image courtesy: Google

As a citizen of one of the greenest nations on the planet, I am very happy to learn that the leaders of more than 170 countries are meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York today to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change coinciding with the 46th International Mother Earth Day. This is a clear indication that the voice of the Paris Climate Summit held in December 2015 was loud enough to prompt many world leaders to action. As the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is being signed, many countries observed the International Mother Earth Day today on the UN theme: “Trees for Earth”. Since 1970, 22nd April has been designated as Earth Day to channel human energy towards environmental issues and highlight the importance of saving the planet Earth by planting trees. The world commits today to plant 7.8 billion trees within the next five years. This means that by the time we observe the 50th International Mother Earth Day, our planet will be much greener than it is today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dealing with Earthquake in a new environment: a traumatic yet funnyexperience

Earthquake comes without a warning and when it comes, it shakes the entire shit out of you especially with the knowledge deeply imbedded into our brain by science that Bhutan is within the active seismic zone. Even the slightest trembling of the Earth a few days back sent many of us into panic and forced us out of our houses. The tremors recently felt in Bhutan was nothing compared to what we experienced in 2011. The earthquake that shook Bhutan on 18th September 2011 was the strongest shock I have ever experienced in my life so far, but the memory of how I instinctively reacted to it still makes me giggle sometimes.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How to take screenshots from your mobile devices

As you all might know, a screenshot is an image of the display on a computer or a mobile phone screen. It is a great way to show what is difficult to be explained in words or via emails/text messages. By taking screenshots, we can easily capture the entire information displayed on the screen and share it with others whenever necessary, and the good news is that we don’t even need a camera to do it. Screenshots are used for various purposes. People use them for advertisement, sharing documents in picture format or to save any online materials which cannot be easily copied or downloaded. But most importantly, they are used for trouble-shooting purposes. Whenever your computer program/website or your mobile phone device crashes, it would be difficult for you to explain everything in details to the technical staff online. So the best way to convince your friend or customer service staff about your issue is to take a screenshot of the error message or anything that appears on the display and send it to them. This would greatly help the concerned technicians analyze and diagnose the technical problem you are facing. Therefore, taking screenshots is a great way to communicate with people what your devices display without having to verbally explain it to them. But how do you take screenshots? If you have no idea how to do it, please stay with me. Today, I will show you how to take screenshots from your mobile devices. Just follow the steps given under each heading below.

Friday, April 15, 2016

As funny as this: a hunt for a mysterious treasure

I think it was late 1989 or early 1990. My father was attached with a land survey team based at Gepjana village in Paro as a cook. I had already lost my sight by then and I was due to leave for school in a few months’ time. A temporary base for the survey team was set up a few kilometers above Bondey town and we were living in tents.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

If you love yourself, you will never kill yourself

One thing we should always remember is that life is not a bed of roses for everybody. We all have our own share of problems and challenges to deal with. Even His Majesty the King does not live in absolute peace. He too has his own share of problems because as citizens, we bother him constantly. In fact he worries about us and our country every day. So nobody in this world is immune to pain and suffering. But when we see thorns popping out on our way, trying to end the journey then and there is never a good option. If we look around, there are many alternative routes we can take even if we can’t afford to wear shoes and walk over the thorns. If you love yourself, you will never desert your body when it gets stuck in miseries.

Friday, April 8, 2016

A monk hesitates to call himself a monk

A group of monks performing rituals. Photo courtesy: Google.

It was January 2009. I was travelling alone in a bus from Thimphu to Phuntsholing on my way to Rangjung in Trashigang to participate in a writers’ workshop organized by Curriculum and Professional Support Division (CAPSD) of the Ministry of Education. I had a friend waiting for me at Phuntsholing in the evening. So I had nothing much to worry about. In the morning, my wife dropped me at the bus station, got me to my seat and left. Soon somebody came in and sat next to me without talking even a single word. So I wasn’t sure whether that person was a girl or a guy. I wanted to strike a conversation with this person hoping that I might be able to get some help on the way especially while going for lunch, but he/she wouldn’t talk. The bus slowly pulled out of the station and started to move.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Have you ever wondered why number 5 on numeric keypads have a raised dot or bar on it?

You might have noticed that almost all devices with numeric keypads such as telephones, mobile handsets and remote controllers have a raised dot or a raised bar on number 5, but have you ever wondered why? It certainly has more meaning than just being part of the layout of the keypad/keyboard. In this article I will try to explain the purpose of this striking feature to the best of my knowledge.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A three-legged chick: a mystery that could perhaps be explained byscience

During one of my winter vacations in my uncle’s house in Samtse, everybody was taken aback when a hen hatched a 3-legged chick. With its three legs, it looked completely different from its siblings but its mother did not neglect it as we had expected. It enjoyed equal care and love from its mother as it grew up with other normal chicks. When I examined the chick, I found that it was able to use only its two legs to walk but the third leg was just an obstacle attached from just below its tail. It did not have any purpose there. It was just hanging down like a shovel and was in fact affecting its normal movement because whenever it tried to walk, it would get stuck on the way and hindered its free movement. I felt so sorry for the poor chick.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Celebrating the end of a tedious week

The past two weeks had been very tedious for me and my colleagues in the office as we were involved in three major programs that had to be implemented one after another. We had never carried out programs in such a quick succession before and the preparatory tasks and other arrangements completely drained us out. First we had the capacity building training for out-of-school youth from 15-19 March in collaboration with the Institute of Management Studies in four Youth Centers: Trashigang, Phuntsholing, Gelephu and Thimphu Youth Centers during which I was fully responsible for coordinating with the regional Youth Centers to arrange the training. Then we had to coordinate the conduct of a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop for another batch of out-of-school youth and Youth Center Managers in Thimphu from 24-28 March 2016. I think there is nothing more challenging than bringing youth from other Dzongkhags especially keeping in mind the current financial rules that allow us to pay the DSA of only Nu.150 per day to each youth. Nevertheless, the TOT workshop ended successfully as planned and then we had a 2-day youth interaction program in Thimphu with Parliamentarians which started yesterday and successfully ended today.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The benefits of inclusive education: my interview with Mr. RinchenDorji, a PHD student

With the passage of time, I am glad to know that at least some people have now begun to realize the importance of inclusive education in Bhutan as a tool for integrating children with disabilities into the mainstream school environment to further their independence and enhance their capacity to live a meaningful life. I have studied in the mainstream school since grade 7 but with no teachers trained to deal with special need children, it was very challenging to be able to cope with sighted friends because we were literarily crippled by limited reading materials in accessible formats and lack of trained teachers. Nevertheless, I and my friends managed to find our way out and could successfully complete our studies. But if the inclusive education policy was already in place, we would have had a different story to share. Today, people have started talking about inclusive education and I am very grateful that they have started taking some interest in the subject. One of the lecturers of Paro College of Education, Mr. Rinchen Dorji is currently doing his PHD degree in Inclusive Education in Australia and a couple of months ago, I have had the opportunity to take part in his research study. Following is the transcript of that interview held in my office. I have named the interviewer as RD.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What youth can learn from their role models?

When youth and children look up to us as their role models, we have the most sacred responsibility to guide them onto the right path not only by telling them what to do, but also by demonstrating what is best in us so that they can observe and learn from us. We have the best opportunity at hand to help them define and re-define the meaning of their life through our own lifestyles so that they can rise up in the right direction with right values. But if the role models fail to demonstrate what is good for their fans or followers, the result can be catastrophic. Just as the simple but unique hairstyle of Ronaldo during the World Cup final in 2002 could change the hairstyle of millions of his young fans around the globe, the role models can definitely influence the thinking and behaviors of those who look up to them as their source of inspiration and motivation. Hence, I feel all those who are respected by youth as their role models must always walk the right path so that those who follow them do not fall down.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A discourse on Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: the most logical answer to a seemingly illogical question

Photo of Sogyal Rinpoche. Image source: Google

I was once listening to a recorded discourse by His Eminence Sogyal Rinpoche on his groundbreaking book ‘Tibetan Book for Living and Dying’. He was talking to a group of students in a college in California, USA. After sometime, a student raised a question which can never be answered with certainty. He asked “Is there life after death?” I wondered how would Rinpoche respond to the question because he was certainly not talking to an orthodox audience who would easily believe what is written in the religious scripts. But the answer he provided moved me completely. It was perhaps the best answer one can ever expect for such a question.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The drama of city life in Thimphu as seen through the eyes of taxidrivers

Photo of a group of taxis in Thimphu. Image courtesy: Google

With rapid development of modern infrastructures and public facilities, Thimphu is now growing into a city that hardly sleeps as it gets crowded with people from all corners of the country. It is estimated that there are over 50,000 people currently living in Thimphu city who have come for various reasons: employment, education, business, etc. As a result, we get to see different people with varying lifestyles and strange behaviors in the city every day. But more than anybody else, the taxi drivers get the opportunity to watch the real drama of the city life as they ferry passengers from one place to another every day. I have personally talked to a couple of taxi drivers in Thimphu and they have shared the following stories:

Friday, March 25, 2016

A shamanistic approach to treatment: is it a miracle or just acoincidence?

Shamanism is part of an old cultural practice of treating sick people which was influenced by Bonism, a religion that originated in Tibet and spread to Bhutan before the 8th century. During the olden days when there were no medical facilities, Shamans were the only source of hope for the sick people. Today, although we live in a scientifically sophisticated world with advanced medical facilities, Shamanism is still a common practice in many communities in Bhutan. People first consult the shamans and only if they don’t get better, they go to the hospital. Shamans basically perform rituals to invoke the local deities and appease them to help the sick get better. I don’t find the logic to believe in such practices but a few circumstances have made me wonder if they really have some supernatural powers to fend off evil spirits. Believe it or not, I must confess that both I and my eldest son were once saved by a shaman although it could have been a mere coincidence or a placebo effect.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The four funniest incidents of my life

Without some fun, I feel life would be a serious drama with characters just performing what they are instructed to do. It would certainly be a lonely and monotonous journey. But thanks to Nature for blessing us with the ability to laugh and make others laugh. We often run into some funny episodes that spice up our life. I know we all have some funny experiences in life which, when we look back from now, would easily make us giggle or laugh. Following are the five funniest incidents of my life that might make you laugh as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The significance of Bura Maap (red scarf) and Patag (sword) in Bhutan

Photo of Dasho Karma Tshiteem with His Majesty the King after receiving a red scarf. Image courtesy: Kuensel.

The conferral of Red Scarf and Patag (sword) by His Majesty the King is a unique Bhutanese tradition of honoring and recognizing individuals for their most dedicated service to the nation. Only those who prove to be the best among the best (Dasho) in terms of their contributions to the country are privileged to receive the red scarf from His Majesty the King. The color of the scarf itself is associated with Buddhism as it resembles the robe worn by Lord Buddha and hence, it carries both spiritual and cultural values. As His Majesty the King has said while conferring red scarf to Dasho Karma Tshiteem, the Chairperson of RCSC during the National Day celebration last year, red scarf symbolizes the compassion of Buddha with which its wearer serves the society and the Patag represents strength with which its wearer protects the nation forever. It is a sacred symbol of honor and recognition. But although both red scarf and Patag are part of the regalia that symbolize recognition, they are slightly different when it comes to their actual significance. This would explain why some retired officials are still seen wearing their red scarf while their Patags have disappeared.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What does your CID number tell about you?

In Bhutan, our Citizenship Identity (CID) card contains a 11-digit number but have you ever realized what each digit represents? Certainly those 11-digit numbers are not picked up at random by the computer. Each digit has a meaning and contributes to your identity. Just by looking at your CID number, we can exactly know which part of Bhutan you are from and what’s the status of your census. Today I am going to share what each digit of your CID number tells about you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How does it feel like to be in a carcrash: an inside story of survival that defies belief

Photo of a carcrash. Image courtesy: Google

On 18th July 1999, Tshering Dorji and his elder brother Pema Thinley both of whom were studying at the Muenselling Institute of Khaling were on their way back to the Institute from their summer vacation. Tshering Dorji was studying in class IV, whereas his elder brother Pema Thinley was studying in class II. Both of them were enrolled in Muenselling Institute as low vision students. On that morning, they had walked down from their village in Gomdar and waited at Narfung the whole day trying to flag down any Khaling-bound vehicle to hitch a ride to school. But they could not get catch hold of any car that day as the number of vehicles plying that highway during those days used to be very less. The sky started closing in as the evening twilight began to creep in. They had almost given up their hope to reach the Institute that day when a teacher of Khaling Lower Secondary School, Lopen Pem Tashi came on his scooter. He had come from Samdrup Jongkhar and he informed them that their Institute’s car was coming. After hearing this news, they stopped looking for other vehicles and decided to wait for the Institute’s car. To their delight, the car arrived at around 5 pm and they were happy to know that there were two empty seats as though they had booked them in advance. But as they got in, they didn’t realize that they were heading to one of the greatest ordeal of their life. About 12 kilometers into the journey, the car veered off the road near Melong Brag below Tshelengkhor and crashed into a steep cliff killing three out of five people including the driver. This is an inside story of two survivors of the crash, Tshering Dorji and Sir Shriman Gurung.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How God had talked to me through my friend

It was June 1999 and I was volunteering at Muenselling Institute in Khaling as a temporary teacher. We had done our class X exams (ICSC) in March and I had volunteered to stay back at the Institute to serve as a temporary teacher while awaiting the academic results. The results were finally declared in May 1999 but sadly we the visually impaired students were left out in the list. Although I was confident that I would qualify for class XI, I had wanted to come to Thimphu to find out why our results were withheld. The new academic sessions for class XI were due to commence from July and with every passing day, I began to get more worried about my future. But to my delight, I heard that the Vice-principal of the Institute, Sir Shriman Gurung was planning to go to Thimphu in the Institute’s vehicle to settle the annual accounts of the Institute and I immediately decided to jump at the opportunity. I discussed this option with my friend Leki Chedup who had completed class XII and who was also working as a temporary teacher with me in the Institute. Since he was one of my best friends in school, I always sought his opinions whenever I had to make important decisions and he helped me a lot. When I told him about my plan, he flatly rejected my idea and advised me to inform the Principal of Khaling Higher Secondary School and wait for the results to come through, instead of travelling all the way to and from Thimphu unnecessarily wasting money. Yes, after all, he was right. I didn’t have money to meet my travel expenses and I decided to stay back. I went to see the Principal of Khaling Higher Secondary School and requested him to reserve my admission convincing him that I would definitely qualify for class XI. I was happy that he agreed to admit me as long as I fulfilled the admission criteria. Leki soon left for Thimphu to explore some training/employment opportunities since he had completed class XII.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Why Hindus don't serve meat during the wedding ceremony at the bride'shouse?

In Hindu culture, the wedding ceremony is held in two phases: one at the bride’s house and another at the groom’s house. The first phase of the wedding takes place in the bride’s house during which the groom and his family-members come to formally receive their bride. The family-members and well-wishers of the bride also come together to attend the wedding party. But this phase of the marriage party is slightly different from the one which is to be held at the groom’s house later. Only vegetarian foods will be served and many people still wonder why meat is banned during this phase of the wedding. After careful analysis, I have found the logic behind this tradition.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A possible explanation for some mysterious deaths

One winter night about 8 years ago, a childhood friend of my wife who was living in Jimina in Thimphu found herself barely conscious when she woke up by chance. She tried to stretch out her body to bring herself to full consciousness but her body would not respond to her will. Finally she somehow managed to stretch over to her husband and her baby who were sleeping next to her but when she tried to pull them one after another, they were dead like logs. She tried to call them but they would not respond to her. So she dragged herself to the door and knocked it open. As soon as she got out of the door, she began to regain her consciousness and began to feel stronger. She eventually managed to get some neighbors to help her take her unconscious husband and her baby to the hospital. Sadly as they rushed to the hospital, the baby died on the way and could not be saved. However, the doctor could save her husband. For her, this was the most traumatic experience of her life. For her family and everyone in her neighborhood, the death of her baby and the cause for their unconsciousness became a big mystery. Nobody could figure out what could have caused it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Five weird things we do on Facebook

Facebook Logo. Courtesy: Google.

The moment we hear about social media, the first thing that crosses our mind is Facebook. We know that it is one of the most popular social networking sites today with over millions of registered users worldwide. It has become an ideal platform for people to interact with their friends and family-members as it provides easy access to hundreds and thousands of audience at any given point of time. With its user-friendly design and several amazing features, it has helped us create a completely different world online for each of us. We may not have so many friends to talk to in the real world, but we always have at least somebody to talk to on Facebook, be it a friend or a stranger any moment we log in. In fact, most of us would have more friends on Facebook than in reality. It has become a social medium for people to reach out to those whom they love or interact with the public either casually or officially. It is being used as a means to reach out to people both by individuals and organizations today as it provides so many interactive features that enable us to do whatever we like. So we have started posting all kinds of stuff, both serious and funny, for the public to see. As a result, we often end up doing strange things online. Here are five weird things we do on Facebook today.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How technology can help singers deceive us

In a public function, a young boy appeared on the stage with a microphone in his hand as the announcer called out his name and the title of the song he was going to sing. As usual, he tested his mike by lightly tapping on it with his finger and whispering “hello” a few times to ensure it was working. Then his karaoke track began to play from the CD and he began to sing. As he sang the song, the sweet melody of his voice perfectly melted into the musical effects of his track and like a charmer, he kept his entire audience spellbound. When he finished, all of us rose up to the top of our lungs to cheer him up and a big round of applause went off as a gesture of appreciation for his outstanding performance. Later when I met him personally, I congratulated him on his excellent performance and insisted that he should continue to sing. He thanked me and we departed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Do ghosts really exist?

The modern science has tried to kill many wonders of nature by explaining them. For instance, we have now learned that the phantom lights we often see in the swamps are the swamp gas and the spook lights seen in graveyards are the lights emitted when phosphorus present in human bones comes in contact with oxygen. But those lights do not always appear in the swamps or graveyards. It seems we still have some phenomena which challenge logical thinking and reasoning. There seem to be still many wonders in the universe which science has not yet been able to fully explain. The stories of ghosts and ghostly activities are common in our society. We often hear people talk about their experiences of seeing such unusual spirits. Yet we compel ourselves to believe that ghosts do not exist. Although many of us do believe that such unusual phenomena do exist, we would like to deliberately believe that they are just our illusions and that they are unreal. Unless you see it with your own eyes, you will never believe in such mysteries. There are many people who do not believe in the existence of ghosts saying it’s just a psychological phenomenon. But I met a man in 2004 who was forced by circumstances to believe that such a thing does exist.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Logic behind why Mathangs (sisters-in-law) are treated differently inthe Lhotsham community

I have no idea whether this same practice exists in other cultures around the world but in Bhutan, it’s generally acceptable to have an affair with or even marry the sisters of our spouse. We call them Mathangs (sisters-in-law) and we don’t share ethical boundaries with them. We can freely joke with them, tease them and even marry them if deemed necessary and appropriate. Since we are related only through marriage, we don’t hesitate to open up ourselves to each other and the society accepts it. But in Lhotsham culture where I come from, there is a slight distinction between the spouse’s younger sisters and elder sisters and there is a strong logic behind this distinction.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The ethical responsibilities of our bus drivers

I appreciate the professional expertise and experiences of our passenger bus drivers today who have made our public transport service much safer than what it used to be until about two decades ago. The concerned authorities have learned lessons from all the fatal road accidents we had in the past and as a result, bus accidents have become very rare over the recent years. However, safety alone is not enough for the passengers to have a journey worth the fare they have paid. The general comfort during the ride should also be equally considered because as a paid traveller, each passenger is entitled to it. In addition to having comfortable seats, the general attitude of the drivers towards their passengers is also equally important.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February: the most auspicious month for Bhutan!

Photo of HRH Gyalse with His Majesty the Gyaltsun and His Majesty the Fifth King. Image courtesy: Her Majesty the Gyaltsun's Facebook page

Following the birth of His Royal Highness the Gyalse, February has become the most auspicious month in the history of our country, the month that has seen the birth of two kings: His Majesty the Fifth Druk Gyalpo and the future king of Bhutan. It’s a wonderful coincidence that His Majesty the Fifth Druk Gyalpo and His Royal Highness the Gyalse would now share the same month for the celebration of their birth anniversaries and this month shall continue to hold a special place in our history henceforth. The whole nation was thrilled with immense joy and delight when His Royal Highness the Gyalse was born on 5th February 2016 and it was the most special privilege for our generation to have got the opportunity to join the nation in celebrating the auspicious birth of our future heir to the golden throne and offer prayers and wishes to His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsun for such a special gift to the people of Bhutan. With the birth of Gyalse, one of the most sacred duties of His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Gyaltsun has been fulfilled and the future of our nation is secured.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My youngest son leaves the comfort of his home behind to start a newjourney of his life

Photo of my youngest son Rigden Subba in his school campus on his first school day

There is a wave of excitement in my family as my youngest son Rigden Subba began his much-awaited academic journey since yesterday. Till now he has been his mother’s best companion at home, living with full of childish innocence and smiles. So the first day was certainly a strange experience for him. Although he had promised that he would not cry in school as his elder brother had done on his first day in school four years ago, it seems he did silently shed some tears on the way back home yesterday. I am sure he must have felt very strange in that new environment. For now, my wife is giving him company in the school, waiting for him all day and helping him have lunch or go to toilet during the intervals. He has been told that after a while, he has to be alone and that his mother will only come to get him home after the school hours. He has accepted this upcoming ordeal that he has to face. I am sure he will soon learn to be independent especially after he gets familiar with the environment and his friends. The problem with him right now is that he is normally a silent boy and that he doesn’t easily mingle with others. So, most of the time, it seems he is seen alone in the classroom. But with the passage of time, I hope he would gain some confidence to open up and interact with others.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The cost of forest fires for a small nation

Photo of helicopter fighting fire in Thimphu. Image courtesy: BBS website.

Whenever there is a forest fire, it always pains my heart to think of all those precious natural resources perishing in the flames. It is really painful to watch those trees that would have existed for thousands of years burn to ashes within no time taking along with them the lives of numerous animals and insects. I am just wondering how many people really realize how much each forest fire costs the nation as a whole. I feel that each tree that is burned down, each animal that is killed and each insect that perishes in the fire is a loss to the nation as it can affect the balance of its biodiversity. The fires that raged through the pine forests in different locations around Thimphu yesterday and today definitely call for stricter and harsher penalties for those involved in starting the fire, be it deliberately or accidentally. I know many countries have tougher laws on the protection of natural environment but in Bhutan, it seems our laws are not harsh enough to discourage people from making unnecessary fires in the forests, or throwing the cigarette butts into the bushes without putting off the fire.

Friday, February 12, 2016

What my kids have to say about their vacation in the village

Photo of my entire family: me and my wife with our three kids

This winter, my kids have spent almost a month in their mother’s village in Sibsoo observing and enjoying a unique kind of life which they had not seen in the towns. After they came back on 29th January 2016, I asked them to share their experiences of being in the village. To my amazement, they have many good things to share. I am glad to learn that they were able to help their grandparents a lot during their short stay.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Will Thimphu become the first city in Bhutan to help persons withdisabilities get out of their closets?

If what we discussed and proposed during the consultative meeting with the World Bank team today is going to be implemented by Thimphu City Corporation, Thimphu will perhaps become Bhutan’s first ever accessible and inclusive city where persons with disabilities can enjoy greater independence. Today, almost all the public facilities such as sidewalks, public transport services, banks, hospitals, movie theaters and shopping complexes are not disabled-friendly and because of these barriers, we have not been able to fully participate in the public life. More importantly, the general attitude of the people towards persons with disabilities is still not as positive as it should be. As a result, many persons with disabilities are facing discriminations behind closed doors. For instance, Mr. Pema Tshering who is a physically handicapped person currently working in Simply Bhutan says he has been denied ride by taxi drivers on many occasions just because he cannot walk. But with the change in time, I think things are now beginning to fall in place. The consultative meeting held in the office of Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) today was initiated by the World Bank as part of its new project to make the public transport services within Thimphu city more accessible and friendly for persons with disabilities and I was fortunate to be part of the discussion.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The role of parents in youth development

Looking at the current trend in urban centers, I feel parents have the biggest role in shaping the lives of their children. The way we bring up our children can certainly make a huge difference in how they behave when they grow up. Today, many of us have our own jobs to attend to in offices or businesses because of which we fail to give our children the amount of attention they need and deserve. What makes the matter worse is that many children are caught up between either alcoholic or workaholic parents and as a result, they are often left on their own. Moreover, the divorce cases are very common in our country and this adds fuel to the pile of problems affecting the lives of our youth. I have seen that most of the children growing up with single parents are having behavioral problems probably because they firstly don’t get the required level of attention as their dad/mom has to focus on the job to support the family, and secondly, they get pampered as their dad/mom won’t mind giving them whatever they request because as a single parent, we always have a tendency to love our children too much that whatever they ask for, we can’t deny. In the process, they begin to find our weaknesses and start taking advantage of the situation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I don't own my wife as a property

Photo of me and my wife during my graduation day at Curtin University in December 2013 in Perth, Western Australia

I and my wife have been married for over twelve years now, and we have never gone through any major conflict of interest till date. Despite occasional arguments over trivial matters, our children have never seen any violence in the house. I feel this has been possible because both my wife and I know our boundaries well and respect each other’s views. We never take unilateral decisions when it comes to family matters and we always consult each other and because of this, I feel our married life has been going on smoothly so far. We got engaged in May 2003 when I was still in the university, yet we have managed to walk together the unexplored path of life sharing happiness and sadness, successes and failures, and problems and solutions. Today, we have been blest with two sons and one adopted daughter all of whom have made our life extraordinarily beautiful and lovely.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Why it is good to be sensitive?

As human beings, we all are born sensitive. As babies, we can easily respond to the facial expressions and the tone of the voice of our caregivers. Even the slightest change in the tone of the voice or facial expression of our caregivers can make us either laugh or cry. This shows we are born with pure sensitivity and innocence. But as we grow up, we are gradually taught how to develop thicker skin. Great masters say it’s good to be sensitive, but it seems the society does not want so many sensitive people around. Since the beginning of human history, our society has always been looking for people who do not mind to kill and to be killed. Several wars and battles have been fought at the cost of so many lives fueled by unquenchable human greed and ego. Yet, it seems even the two great World Wars have not satisfied our men. The continuous bloodsheds in the world today, and the silent competition among the nations in the production of sophisticated weapons of mass destruction like the recent testing of Hydrogen Bomb by North Korea, all indicate that people are still preparing for the third World War.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Welcoming 2016

Happy New Year 2016. Poster courtesy: Google

I am surprised how fast time has slipped away. Within no time, we have spent the twelve precious months of our life since the day we celebrated the New Year last year and due to God’s grace and the blessings of those who had wished us around this time last year, we could successfully make it to 2016. I hope God will continue to bless us like this throughout this year and beyond. Today as we welcome the year 2016, I think it’s time to look back and reflect on some of the best moments we have had in 2015. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the mistakes we have committed over the past one year and take forward the lessons we have learned from those mistakes.