Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Swimming Pool Junction on Doebum Lam highway in Thimphu should probably have speed-breakers to reduce chances for frequent accidents at the intersection

Since the day the 4-lane Doebum Lam highway in Thimphu was opened to traffic in 2008, the intersection at the Swimming Pool junction has seen numerous accidents over the years. The ever increasing traffic congestion coupled with reckless driving has made this part of the highway one of the most dangerous traffic hotspots in Thimphu. Despite stringent traffic rules and regulations in place, we still continue to see so many crazy drivers on the road.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The brutality of alcohol as seen through the lens of personal experiences

Right from my early childhood, I had seen people heavily drinking and often fighting amongst themselves, but I had never been exposed to the brutality of alcoholism until I was 9 years old. I was in Wangdue Phodrang hospital undergoing treatment for ocular infections when I got familiar with a man on the adjacent bed who was admitted for liver cirrhosis. I heard that doctors and nurses had strongly advised him never to take alcohol again. He was a very outgoing and cheerful man. Whenever his family-members brought him homemade food, he used to share it with me and my father. I can still remember the delicious fish curry and rice he had once shared with me after some of his relatives visited him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Lessons I have learned from my late father

Photo of my late father

Every year, the month of September transports me back in time and reconnects me with the memories of my late father. September 11 has become one of the darkest days of my life. It was on this day in 2005 when I had to part with my beloved father, the only person I could call my own family. Since then, I have been living in a story that does not have a protagonist. Without him to stand beside me, I had to move on with life alone, often swimming through the turbulence and rough waves on my own. 14 long years have gone by since that fateful day, but I can still feel the vacuum that has been created by his absence in my family. If he were still alive, he would have been 85 today and I am sure he would have been still strong enough to play with his grandchildren and entertain them with bedtime stories and jokes. It is very sad that my children have to live without the memories of their paternal grandparents throughout their life.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Global warming is now becoming a reality

Photo of Wangdue-Tsirang Highway submerged in water in August 2019. Image source: Kuensel

Although Bhutan has more than 70 percent of its land under forest coverage, it is clearly visible how we have been facing the brunt of global warming over the years. The atmosphere is heating up right in front of us. September is supposed to be a comparatively cooler month in Thimphu, but I am still using a fan at times. Until some decades ago, Thimphu used to be one of the coldest places in Bhutan around this time of the year. We used to receive heavy snowfalls by October and November but today, we don’t see such snowfalls even during the peak winter season.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Key highlights from the Hon'ble Prime Minister's keynote address during the celebration of International Youth Day 2019

Photo of Hon'ble Prime Minister delivering his keynote address in DYS auditorium on International Youth Day 2019. Image courtesy: PMO's Facebook page

During the observation of International Youth Day on 12th August 2019, the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering made his vision for education loud and clear. Since the theme for the event was “Transforming Education”, the main focus of the day was on how to make our current education system more relevant to the emerging needs of the 21st century. He called on all the relevant agencies to come together and work towards making education more appropriate and relevant for young people so that they would have the knowledge and skills necessary for survival in the globalized world. His keynote address basically revolved around the following issues:

Monday, August 19, 2019

From knees to the wheelchair: a story of pain and struggle

Photo of Rinchen Dorji, a physically challenged student of Khasadrapchu MSS

Life is a choice. How we live it depends on our ability to accept who we are and find peace within ourselves. When we have a disability, it does not mean that we don’t deserve to live. We all have disabilities. The only difference is that some are visible and some are not. As we all know, life does not treat everybody alike. It often throws lemons at you and if you can’t make lemonade out of them, it is said that you will have to go through the sour taste of time forever. A positive mind, charged with optimism and determination, is what takes a person to lift himself up from the pain and find a new purpose in life. It is this positive energy that has transformed the life of Rinchen Dorji, a physically challenged student of Khasadrapchu Middle Secondary School in Thimphu.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

G4B, the smart and intelligent goggles for the blind

In a world where technology is transforming lives everyday, there is another good news for the blind. A young engineering student from Arunachal Pradesh in India has invented goggles that can protect visually impaired people from bumping into taller obstacles on the way. Fitted with sensors, the G4B or Goggles for the Blind is designed to detect obstacles that are higher from the ground within the distance of 2 meters and alert the user through vibrations if he or she gets closer. It is said that the G4B has three sensors: one each on the left, right and at the Center, designed to vibrate as per the position and direction of the obstacle. More interestingly, it is said that the intensity of vibration is determined by the distance between the person and the obstacles ahead of him or her. The closer one gets to the obstacles, the stronger the vibration becomes. It uses echo-location, similar to the navigation mechanism used by bats. If this technology comes to the market, I think it can make life much easier for the visually impaired population as a whole.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

If we have the heart to help, the power of love never dies

A man was driving along a rural highway one late evening when he spotted an old lady stranded with her car on the side of the road. Wondering if she was in trouble, he stopped his car. As he walked out of his car and approached her, he could sense a mixed feeling of relief and nervousness on her face. She felt relieved because at least she had somebody to seek help from but she was also nervous and afraid that the man might harm her. But as he got closer, he called out “Hello, I am Brian and I am here to help you.” The old lady instantly glowed with a broad smile and thanked him for his kindness. She told him that she had a flat tire and that she had no idea how to change it. The man got under her car, removed the flat tire and replaced it with the spare one. The grease and dusts made his hands dirty and he even injured his finger while tightening the wheel-nuts. After fixing the tire, the lady thanked him and asked him “How much do I owe you for the work?” The man smiled and said “You don’t owe me anything. If you really wish to pay me, just help somebody else in your life just as I have helped you today” said the man as he drove away.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

What's happening to the extra time that modern technologies give us everyday?

In the past when we did not have any technology to ease our life, we had to do everything manually. We had to be always busy because we had to be everywhere physically to get our jobs done. Even to visit the nearest town and to get back home, we had to walk for days and weeks on foot or horses. During those days, it made sense when people said they were busy all the time. Nevertheless, they still had time for social and family events in the community.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

How to help children get the best out of their school vacation: a reminder for parents/guardians

Now that the summer vacation for students has begun, thousands of children and youth will be returning home to spend the much-awaited holidays with their families and friends. After five months of disciplined life under the supervision of school management, this is the time for them to relax and have fun with their loved ones. They will often be hanging out with friends, exploring every nook and corner of towns and streets. As a result, there are also risks that they might cross their boundaries and get into problems.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Understanding Buddha from a layman's point of view

Photo of His Eminence Garab Rinpoche narrating the story of Lord Buddha. Image courtesy: Facebook timeline of Dorji Phuntsho.

As Buddhists, the first and foremost thing we should know is that Lord Buddha is not God. He was never a superhuman like those Gods worshiped by other religious communities across the world. He neither created life on Earth, nor did he have any role in the creation of natural phenomena around us. He never claimed to have created this universe. He was just a researcher who found answers to worldly suffering and showed us the path to enlightenment. This was the key message His Eminence Garab Rinpoche conveyed during the observation of the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha at Kuensel Phodrang in Thimphu on 17th June 2019. Taking advantage of the huge presence of young people at the event as well as considering the underlying significance of the auspicious day, Rinpoche briefly shared the biography of Lord Buddha especially to help young people understand who he was and how did he attain enlightenment.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Elevating the teaching profession by motivating teachers

Many of us who had lived through the late 20th century would agree that teaching used to be considered one of the noblest professions in Bhutan. Until 1990s, to join the teaching profession was a matter of pride and honor because the society had a huge respect for teachers. When I was a student, I had many friends who wanted to become teachers in life, not for any additional monetary incentive, but for the love and respect they would enjoy from the society. Even my late father had wanted me to become a teacher because he too knew the nobility of the teaching profession.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Raising children without a village

Those of us who grew up in the village would realize how convenient it was for our parents to raise us during our childhood. Whenever we fell sick, our parents did not have to cancel their appointments or take leave from work. They always had someone from the family circle to come over and take care of us for the day. Even when our parents were away for several days, we always had the love and blessings of our grandparents, uncles, aunts or neighbors. We never felt alone. But now that we are in the towns and cities, our kids are mostly growing up in a compartmentalized world, cut off even from the closest neighbor.

Monday, May 27, 2019

The inner beauty of Zhemgang Bhutan

Photo of me near Kuenga Rabten Palace in Trongsa on the way to Zhemgang Bhutan

Although Bhutan is a small country, there are still many places I have never been to. On 11th May 2019, I was really excited to be in Zhemgang for the first time in my life. I had travelled from Trongsa with my colleagues that morning. The snaky road cutting through the edge of rocky mountains, deep valleys and steep gorges finally led us to the beautiful landscape of Zhemgang Dzongkhag and made our bloodcurdling journey worth it. The panoramic view of virgin forests on either side of the highway and the spectacular display of spring blossoms over the hills and valleys thrilled us and made our journey memorable. Even the dangerous stretch at Riotala cliff was calm and peaceful. We felt as though we were being escorted by Nature. Soon, we were greeted by a golden langur, the first sign that we were in Zhemgang Dzongkhag. After four hours of drive, we finally descended into the beautiful hamlet of Zhemgang town where we were received by the Manager and youth volunteers of Zhemgang Youth Center.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Vixen in the bottle

In the eerie silence of the night, a 41-year-old man in Paro woke up to see nine cats in boots and hats dancing in his room. The dance was so mesmerizing that he found himself enjoying it. But all of a sudden, the cats vanished as mysteriously as they had come. He never saw them again but days later, he saw a man at his window who told him he had planted a device in his head with the help of a gun and that he was now wiretapped. Since that day, he felt he was being completely controlled by somebody. He started hearing a voice at his right ear giving him orders and instructions every day. The voice would sometimes even ask him to eat odd foods. However, the invisible man at his right ear seemed to hate alcohol and would discourage him whenever he decided to take it.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Some basic tips on how to make smart phones and electronic gadgets safe for kids

In a world where internet is riddled with porn and other adult contents, leaving smart phones with children can be dangerous. At any given time, they could click on a wrong link and end up accessing contents that are not appropriate for them. If we do not monitor the online activities of our kids, the smart phones and gadgets that we give them for self-engagement and entertainment may end up ruining their future. The findings from research studies tell us that the early exposure to pornography and sexually explicit contents can negatively affect the overall development of a child. It is said that those who get exposed to pornography or graphic materials at their early age lose the ability to form positive relationships with people as they grow up and can often become aggressive.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How BBS Television can be made more accessible for the visually impaired and illiterate viewers

For decades, the Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation (BBSC) has been playing a crucial role in informing the nation and influencing important decisions in the country. It has been one of the most popular sources of news and information for the general population. But in a bid to reach out to the larger audience, it seems to have forgotten those who need additional adjustments to avail its services. As the only national television channel in the country, the BBS TV has the moral responsibility of making all of its contents accessible for the entire population. But with some of its contents not at all accessible for the visually impaired and illiterate segment of the society today, it is not doing justice to the nation as a whole. It sounds unfair why only the sighted and literate audience should have the privilege to access the channel without any hinderance when the nation has all the resources to make it fully accessible for all.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Technology and unemployment: the two sides of the same coin

With the continued growth of science and technology in the world, the modern era has seen some of the greatest changes that had never been recorded in human history. The advent of advanced technology in every field of work has transformed the world we live in, making our lives easier than ever. Today, our homes and offices are filled with electrical appliances and sophisticated equipment that enable us to carry out our daily tasks without having to drip even a single drop of sweat. Be it in the field of agriculture, education, health, manufacturing industries, transport, tele-communication or entertainment businesses, the technological advancement has given a new dimension to our lives, shaping our society as per the needs of the moving time. It is the evolution of modern science that has helped us close our door to the primitive society of the past and embark on a new journey into the modern world. But the greatest danger of living in such a sophisticated era is that if we can’t keep pace with the technological advancement of the day, we can be left behind and pushed aside from the rest of the population. The advanced technology has created job opportunities for millions of skilled workers in the world, but at the same time, it has also forced so many unskilled workers out of their jobs.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Smaller deeds done are better than greater deeds planned

It is said that a young man was once walking along the seashore when he saw the beach littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed up by tidal waves. He instantly got down to his knees and began the most arduous task of rescuing the helpless creatures. He picked them up one by one and threw them back to the water. A few hours later, an old man who had been watching him from the distance approached him and asked him how much difference he would be able to make by doing so, because there were still thousands of starfish on the beach. Without uttering a word, he bent down, picked up one starfish and threw it into the water. He then turned around, smiled at the old man and said “I have made a difference at least to that one”.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The monetization of online news in Bhutan and its impact on visually impaired readers

While it is understandable that the decreasing revenues and the increasing cost of production are compelling news agencies to come up with creative methods of monetizing their products, the Kuensel Corporation’s latest move to monetize some of its online news articles has come at a wrong time for the visually impaired readers in Bhutan since E-Kuensel is still not yet fully accessible with screen-reading software. In the absence of braille news magazines and other reading materials for the blind in circulation, KuenselOnline had become one of the most accessible sources of news and information for persons with visual impairment in Bhutan over the years. But now with readers requiring to register for E-Kuensel to access certain news articles, the visually impaired readers would be missing them until the day E-Kuensel is made fully accessible for the blind.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Truckers: the unsung heroes on our roads

Photo of a loaded Bhutanese truck. Image source: Google

As the world below disappears into a miasma of fog and darkness, the driver slows down his truck and decides to stop for the night. He parks his fully loaded truck on the edge of the road and asks his assistant to start preparing dinner. His assistant takes out an old kerosene stove, lights it up and cooks a simple meal for dinner. Once the food is ready, they have it together and after cleaning up the mess, they climb back to the cabin of the truck to sleep. They get up early in the morning the next day and continue their journey. Such was the life of truck drivers when I was a young boy and I think they will have the same stories to share even today. They have no time for their families and friends. They spend almost their entire life on the road, hauling goods from one place to another.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

A true love never dies, as this video shows

Life is just like a dream. We won’t know when we would be jolted awake to face the ultimate fate. Today, we find ourselves enjoying our life to the fullest, always laughing and smiling, but the bitter truth is that nothing is permanent in the world. No matter who we are and where we are, death is inevitable in life. It is a natural phenomenon we all must go through someday but when you know that your days are numbered, dealing with your impending death would definitely be a different experience. It is said that at this juncture, we realize who our real friends are and what matters to us. This is the story of a man who has immortalized his love for his beautiful daughter and wife after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2011.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The positive and negative energy that charge our mind

The meaning of our life is defined by how we look at things around us, not by the kind of world we live in. Even the hell can be a better place if we can find beauty in what we see. But if we let our negative thoughts overshadow our mind, we cannot find peace even in heaven. The inner happiness that lights up our life is basically determined by how positive we are. If we cannot recognize and sift the negative energy out of our mind, we will never be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we get caught up in a mess. Only those who have the heart to see beauty in things around them can understand what it means to be optimistic and positive in life. If we always focus at the darker side of what we see, we cannot find the strength to overcome challenges and move on. For a positive person, even a crisis will have a silver lining. But for someone with a negative attitude, it is the end of everything. A pessimistic mind filled with negative energy can never lift you up from the mess once you have fallen down.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Plastic pollution, one of the biggest environmental concerns of our time

The recent decision of the government to reinforce the ban on plastic bags has triggered some interesting debates on social media. Many people still believe that plastic pollution can be addressed better through public education, not through policies or levies. But the experiences that we have got over the past 20 years tell us that these two should go together. When the ban on plastic bags was first introduced in 1999, there was no enough public awareness on the harmful effects of plastic wastes. As a result, the single-use plastic bags and other plastic products continued to appear in the market and litter our natural environment: polluting our soil, air and water. Of course, there was a time when we started getting Doma, meat and some other products wrapped in newspapers but with no proper public education and monitoring system in place, this initiative could not last long. Today, most of us are aware of the adverse impact of plastic wastes on our environment and health, but with no active policy in place, we have become complacent over the years.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A tribute to my precious Guru, Lama Singye

My dear Lama, you have been my real source of light
For, you have shown me a path, so tranquil and bright;
I have until now wasted so many precious years in the dark,
But now I can’t thank you enough for igniting in me a magical spark.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Reflecting on the meaning of life as I embark on another level of spiritual journey

Group photo with Lama

It was a good coincidence this time that my New Year began with a special spiritual retreat which enlightened me on many aspects of human life. Administered by my own Root Lama, the sacred teachings and the subsequent meditations opened a new horizon for my spiritual journey. For the first time in my life, I could see a light that could ultimately guide me to my grave and beyond. I deeply regret that I have already wasted 38 years of my precious life, lost in the whimsies and fancies of the materialistic world. But now that I have received the most special teachings from my Lama, I shall try my best to make the remaining part of my life more meaningful than before.