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.