Saturday, October 29, 2011

Phoja's Absurdity

I am a man. Bhutanese man. And phoja is a term that lauds the precious pride and honour of being the one in Bhutan. Some called it Kay phoja. Fortunate, I would be proclaiming certain personal merits and privileges by virtue of being born as phoja that my sisters are deprived of.
“Tough guise” is the predominant ambience of being phoja. That being said, from my own granny, parents, siblings, teachers to my friends-they always wanted me to be tough, masculine, strong, controlled and powerful. In order to survive, to resolve problems and more importantly to prove the society that I am a phoja, I have to unmistakably show my strength. Sorry, I can never engage in dialogue and settle down any conflict coolly. I would say, “Who is that jhandey? I will hunt down him like a pig and slaughter him, jedhaaa!” Too aggressive and explicit violence, no? Perhaps this could be the sole reason as the international researchers have found out that 99 percent of rape, domestic and dating violence and murder come from men.
Meanwhile, wussy, wimpy and sissy are in stark contrast to my personality and they are unacceptable. Any of these traits had I imbibed, then the society would call me chakka or aumsu morem, a societal ego-bruising insult that I would better be a woman. Didn’t you apprehend here the societal prejudice to women as a lesser human over men? 
Pic: Typical Bhutanese foods to keep phoja strong. Perhaps 3 plates a meal

It’s even more interesting to note down another point here. In our society my personal merit is also determined by the number of women I would have sex in my life. Sorry for being overtly blunt, but, it is quite true. The mathematics here is very simple. As the number of women I sleep with increases, my merits and indestructible pride would climb on its graph and I hail it as a big achievement. Leksho! A lunatic achievement, though, ha-ha!
You may get ambushed, dare I say, married men are most active and never give up adding onto their number. Admire their sexathon, a sort of Casanova adventure.  
As our tradition would have it, a phoja must cut his kera after each hundredth woman he had sex. Sounds like crazy, doesn’t it? It is. Gosh, I came across many phoja who had cut their first and even third kera. They proudly assert to his friends or even to strangers about their coveted achievements. That’s also with real gusto. And there you see his listeners (even women) admire  his accomplishment and applaud and knight him, “Key phoja” I know it gave you a nasty shock.
However, the sad reality is that if a woman changes her boyfriends frequently she is supposedly the woman of low morale, slut-or in our own word, tshe-tom. It would cause me more head scratching if my wife or wives sleep with another man. Our society will consider me chochow, worthless that my wang ta lungta or shoey dha soenam, the self-integrity has been damaged irreparably and that I can never prosper or again live a happy life. This will be my inevitable fate. Just imagine what sort of chauvinistic fate my wife or wives would encounter? Even in this GNH nation, the gender discrimination is apparent and it is yet to fork out.
As a phoja, I wouldn’t whine so much. But much as I hated to admit, we gossip a lot and eve tease. And the women with whom we had sex are the talks or victims of our gossips.
I have this typical character. The next morning, my daughter would ask me Nu 10, for she needs to buy pencils. I get mad at her and shout, “Gachi gi tiru. Pha shong!” and I would chase her away. But when I visit a liquor shop (which I do it every evening), I would insist hard on my friends or colleagues to drink beers. Always, I am ready to sponsor. If they deny, I would even drag them to drink.  
And I am never old. Even in 70s I would be pleasuring myself in honour of the young ladies. Wealth is one of the factors. I would buy more kanchi with my wealth. However, to maintain myself sexually healthy would be a challenge in my old age. Never worry! I would order hornet from Tsirang and Dagana which stimulates healthier sex life.
I am proud to be a phoja. Are you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Left unwanted in my own country

This article is written by an electronic and communication engineering (ECE) graduate from Delhi. He pursued ECE course after he qualified for the government scholarship in India. However, after returning from India with a degree in ECE, he desperately started hunting for job in Bhutan when he finally discovered that the degree he has is not at all required here. Also, he found out rather shockingly that the system of higher education, job fair management and human resource recruitment is flawed. Further, he is vehemently disgruntled at the way GNH is being formulated by the policymakers in Bhutan. Read it below:
A handful of us from Bhutan pursued bachelors degree in electronic and communication engineering (ECE) in Delhi. For the last four years, we banged our heads, cracked the equations, and lived within the world full of signals. With a degree in our hands and of course in a great expectation, we came home but only to meet with a hurricane of unemployment and disappointment. No company or agency in Bhutan recruits ECE graduates.
In a country like India or even in rest of the world, the ECE graduates are gainfully employed in the fields of electronic and communication engineering, IT, electrical and electronic engineering. It is because the same subject of electrical and IT are being covered up in the ECE syllabus. But it’s very sad to discover that in our country, companies and agencies do not accept our job applications for the post of electrical and IT. Just to let others know, the ECE is considered the toughest and very special among the engineering courses all over the world. But, alas, in our country, we are treated like a weed in a field. We are unwanted.
During the National Graduate Orientation Program 2011, we raised our concern regarding the matter and we did even through  Kuensel. However, our genuine concern is still unheard. It’s being blatantly disregarded by the concerned authorities. It’s sheer inconsideration of youth’s voice, I must say. Imagine the repercussions when we, the youth of Bhutan, raise our concern on the matter or decision-making processes or policies that affect us and our policymakers keep on ignoring it. This kind of system only makes us further frustrated, unhappy and under-utilization of human resource. More bluntly, this may breed anarchism and terrorism in our otherwise peaceful soil.
We did the preliminary entrance (PE) exam for the CSCE general very recently and we got through it, but it is more disheartening to know now that we are not allowed to sit for the CSCE 2011. The RCSC officials reasoned us that there is not a single vacancy for the ECE graduates in the government sectors. If there’s no vacancy for the ECE graduates or if they cannot recruit the ECE graduates for the electrical or IT slots then why the RCSC let us appeared the PE? They have wasted our precious time and indeed money. Let me give another justification. If there’s no requirement of the ECE graduates in Bhutan then why the education ministry sent us out for pursuing this course in India?
Funny thing is that the RCSC and MoLHR officials and even the agents hiring job seekers during job fair do not know that ECE course ever exists. Even officials holding high ranks are unaware of this course. For example, during a job fair in recent time, a representative of a company doesn’t know the differences of B.E and B. Tech.  More embarrassing was that they don’t even know about the procedure to recruitment. When we explained about the courses, they blatantly denied us saying that they are not qualified to accept our job applications. As a job seeker, I shall honestly throw this feedback to our concerned authority that the job fairs being held in Bhutan are not up to the expectation of the job seekers. It immediately requires improvement in professionalism and quality. 
It’s also frustrating to always hear our policymakers and senior bureaucrats giving their speeches and deliverance on upholding GNH values, but all in vain while implementing it. Ours is also a country where the voices of poor and youth are never attended to and where poor will become poorer and the rich richer.  Also, we see our policymakers delivering speeches and mostly they utter that youth are the future leaders and GNH the stepping stone to our country’s economic growth. But I see youth which consisted about 50 percent of the Bhutanese population are being sidelined and left uncared. The existing policies or any legal procedure do not support and empower our youth.  
Here, if you really care for the future nation builders, I keep my hand on my heart and hope that all the concerned authorities attend to our genuine concerns and bring necessary positive changes la.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Remembering her in my own words

You are wrong if you have this presumption that our local celebrities cannot do anything other than acting. But let me tell you what Tandin Bidha, a beautiful and talented local film actor did very recently would surprise you. 
                                                      Pic: Patients guest house  
Tandin Bidha visited the Patient Guest House at JDWNRH with Tashi Namgay, the founder of Bhutan Kidney Association (BKA) in recent month. About 33 patients, mostly kidney failure patients who are under dialysis, are sheltered in the guest house in a catastrophic condition. They are poor, homeless, orphans, without relatives  and no good food to eat. More sad to know that they are depressed, dispossessed and merely waiting for the end (death) in a lamentable display.  Each new day is one more day they win. These patients suffer every day without any means of escapism or outside interventions. 
                           Pic: Patients of the guest house with Tashi Namgay (4th from right)
Mind you, when they continue suffering and die we will be the ones who are guilty for not having done all in our power to love and protect them.
However, Tandin Bidha’s arrival has brought obvious instant renewed mood of optimism to these patients. She hugged each one of them, shared love and exchanged encouraging words and smiles. Also, she encouraged them to stay strong mentally and physically by taking medicines and meals regularly.
                                         Pic: Tandin counseling a patient 

A young girl, student of Rinchen HSS has been attending  to her mother whose both kidneys failed and is under dialysis at JDWNRH. This young girl has borrowed Nu 1,500 from her uncle to meet her schooling expenses and buy foods for her sick mother. She broke down in front of Tandin, "How am I going to pay back that huge money?" Tandin Bidha couldn't hold onto this tragic incident and altruistically placed Nu 2,000 in her hands. Tandin’s gracious action instantly brought an avalanche of smiles and relief in them.  She is one of those rare souls who aspires for no honour and politicking in her film promotions. She did this all at the request of Tashi Namgay.
                                          Pic: Tandin with the std of RHSS

Actually I can never muster the right words to convey what she did. But as a member of the BKA and for the good she has done, the joy she has spread and the love and compassion she has shown to the people living in wretchedness, we place on her highest honour and pray for her and person like her who try to love and serve the poor. 

Pic: With the youngest kidney patient in Bhutan

  Pic: Sharing photo with a patient
Note: Bhutan Kidney Association, a non-governmental public benefit organization, is still under registration process with the Civil Society Organizations Authority. Once certified, with its very committed members,  we shall establish office and begin raising funds and facilitate financial support for kidney patients. The association shall also support and improve health conditions of all kidney patients in Bhutan through comprehensive promotion, prevention and curative measures and necessary counseling. Today there are over 78 kidney patients in Bhutan.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A festival never to miss

I know most of you have celebrated Diwali with your lhotsham friends. This year, as Diwali will spark every Hindu house early next week, I also know what you love most about this festival. Isn’t cel roti the one? He-he! Others are "Deusi and Bhailo", “Bhai Tika” and the lights. I have this apprehension (but I may be wrong) that most Bhutanese love cel roti. Perhaps you already reserved it from your lhotsham friends, colleagues or neighbours.  And if you’re young, supposedly a student, you would gang up with your friends, run away from your house or bunk hostel and all night play "Deusi and Bhailo". The stimulating josh is that you’re paid with money and certainly get plentiful of cel roti. Ha-ha!   
                                                              Pic: Deusi & Bhailo
If you really crave for the roti, I bring here for you the cel roti recipe. But before that, let me tell you briefly the significance of the festival. I will try making it short and yeah, very interesting. Mind you, I will not chant like pundits. 
Forget about the history. Ram, Ravana, etc. etc. Myth will take its toll and it's going to deadly bore you. Diwali falls on one new moon night between mid-October and mid-November and is celebrated for five days. On the first day (Kaag tihar), crows are given offerings, considering them to be divine messengers. On the second day (Kukur tihar), dogs are given food for their honesty. Don't worry, all animals won't come. On the third day, Laxmi puja is performed; the day businessmen clear their accounts and worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. The fourth day is celebrated as New Year where Deusi and other cultural processions are observed. On the fifth and final day called "Bhai Tika", when brothers and sisters meet and exchange gifts. Interesting, na? 
                                     Pic: Bhai Tika (Brothers & sisters exchange gifts)
During Diwali, lights illuminate every corner of Hindu lands and the scent of incense sticks hangs in the air, mingled with the sounds of fire-crackers, joy, togetherness and hope. People in the community play "Deusi and Bhailo" which is a kind of singing and dancing forming a group. The groups go to all the houses in the community and play songs and dance, and give blessing to the visited houses, whereas the house owners offer foods like rice grains, cel roti, fruits and money. After the festival, they donate some amount of the collected money and food for charity and with rest of the money and food, they go for picnic. 
                                           Dan (Money, roti, drinks, fruits) after Deusi & Bhailo
Remind me, if I have bored you. Ok, I have a trick here to trigger you active. Recollect those days you went out with your lhotsham friends playing “Deusi and Bhailo” or imagine that you’re young and had already formed a group and going around playing Deusi snacking on cel roti non-stop.
With each Diwali and the lights that illuminate homes and hearts, its significance is "the awareness of the inner light". The light empowers us to commit ourselves to good deeds which bring us closer to divinity. Hindu philosophy asserts that there’s something beyond the physical body and mind which is pure, infinite, and eternal. It refers to the light of higher knowledge that dispels all ignorance. With this awakening comes compassion and the awareness of the oneness of all things.
                                                                    Pic: Cel roti 

Now I will get your hands into the cooking of cel roti. Trust me, I asked this recipe from my sister who makes best cel roti among my family members.

25 gm suji, ½ kg besan (optional), ½ kg maida, ½ kg rice flour, 200 g sugar, 5 pieces of crushed elaichi, ¼ teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 liter refined vegetable oil.
Step 1: Mix all the ingredients in a bowel, except refined veg. oil.
Step 2: Add half liter of warm water in the bowl and stir it with your hands for 20 minutes until it becomes smooth and thick liquid.
Step 3: Heat the vegetable oil at 100 degree Celsius in a pan.
Step 4: With the help of your one hand, grasp a half handful of the liquid ingredients and pour it in the pan clockwise or anti-clockwise until one end touches other end.
Step 5: Take it out immediately with the help of a two feet long bamboo stick when it turns dark red.
Cel roti is eaten with chutney, aludam and even with non-veg. curries.
Symbolism: Since this roti is prepared during Diwali, a time when all family members come together, the round-shaped cel roti symbolizes that wherever the members of a family go or settle down (though very far away), they would be never forgotten and ultimately come together back to their village, their root, during the festivals or in times of need or adversity.  

Photo courtesy:;

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bhutan is not the 'Shangri-la on earth'

The measure of happiness has been a topic of debate in the Sinagporean Parliament over the last few days, and constant references to Bhutan have been made as well.
However, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in the debate that he visited Bhutan a few years ago and he saw that the over-romanticised version of GNH did not fit the reality in Bhutan.

He confronted that Bhutan is not the "Shangri-la on earth".
  And he cited reasons why: 

"Most of the time, I saw unhappy people [in Bhutan], toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products. They have studied us because Singapore is also a tiny nation, living next to big neighbours.

"We have successfully transited from third world to first, and managed to create a functioning and harmonious society for our people. In their minds, Singapore could well be the Shangri-la and they want Bhutan to emulate Singapore."

Read the link here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let’s support TMEV

The REVA electric car which has been introduced in Bhutan since 2009 didn’t attract us. Though eco-friendly and enables zero emission driving, there are many challenges associated with EVs. This car can run only 80 km for a battery, a normal charge takes 8 hours, and its maximum speed is 80 km/h. That’s why people still prefer conventional combustion-engine vehicles. 
A new Hope: A new hope is born as the Thunder Motors Electric Vehicles (TMEV), a Bhutanese based company will be launching its first batch of electric cars (half and full body cars, SUVs) by the end of this October. Price will range from Nu 400,000 to Nu 1.4 million. Interestingly, the company will also manufacture larger vehicles.

According to the Managing Director with the TMEV, the vehicles have been designed to suit Bhutanese conditions and are eco-friendly. The components of the vehicles are imported from other countries: controllers are purchased from the USA, batteries from China, and body parts from Japan and the motors from Germany. This time the vehicle is finally assembled in china; however, from next year the company is hopeful to start assembling in Bhutan. 

Battery and its durability: The fully charged vehicle will run between 200-500 KMs. It will take about six hours to charge batteries at home, while at charging stations it will take only 10 minutes. 

Reduce the country’s dependency on Indian Rupees: The introduction of eclectic cars would drastically decrease fuel dependency in the country and cut down the fuel imports by 50 %. Today the RGOB spends about Nu 5 billions on fuel import every year. 

Cost effective: An individual have to spend only Nu 35 to Nu 70 every month charging the battery. Around 40 to 80 units of electricity will be enough to last a month. 

Conversion: Interestingly the cars with combustion engines can be converted as electric cars by replacing the engines with electric motors. The conversion cost for larger vehicles range from Nu 400,000 to Nu 500,000, while smaller vehicles can get it done for Nu 100,000 to Nu 200,000. Two wheelers will cost Nu 40,000. It will take between five to 20 days for the conversion process to complete depending on the size. 

Charging stations: TMEV will build charging stations at certain locations, as the plans have already mapped out as to how the station would function. 

Challenges: Lack of awareness among the public and also at the policy making level. Bhutanese businessmen are very skeptic to invest in electric vehicles. Support from the government is very imperative in the initial three years as people are reluctant to pay for conversion.

With the availability of cheap electricity and the national policy that emphasizes on environmental conservation and the country’s dependency on Indian oil, this eco-friendly project initiated by TMEV should be supported by the people and our government. The government have to provide unwavering supports by providing financial helps and exempting it from import duties and other taxes.

References: Bhutan Times,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To My King and Queen

All my fellow bloggers have composed poems, lyrics, appreciations and sonnets to the royal couple and they have beautifully posted on their blogs. I felt that I wouldn't be doing justice until I compose a poem of praises to our majesties. And I tried really hard to compose, but all in vain. I realized then I can never compose poem. But I have for you a beautifully crafted poem by Tshering Tashi, a class XI student of Punakha HSS (which I have taken it out from Nobu's blog, teacher). Read it below: 

The moment I heard the news,
I emptied my heart, and filled it with happiness,
For I could not help but feel overwhelmed,
For I could not help but feel sheer joy.

Your Highness Ashi Jetsun Pema,
Thank you for making my King happy.
Thank you for holding His hand,
And thank you for being kind to us.

You are that new light,
That will further brighten my King’s World.
The World that two of you will nurture together,
In happiness, in love, with compassion, and with maturity.

My King has always made His people happy.
But by deciding to give us a Queen,
He has made us even happier,
And by choosing Ashi Jetsun Pema.

On this joyous auspicious occasion,
The gods and goddesses will come to Earth,
For Heaven then will be on Earth.
When our King will take his bride.

I wish I could express all the joy that’s in my heart.
Join my hands and smile a contented smile.
A smile like a smile at the end of reading a fairy tale,
  For I see and know the pair will live, ‘Happily Ever after’.

We cooperate with you if you deal us humanely

Last Sunday I was travelling back from Gelephu. I was shell-shocked, and more than that angry. At various checkpoints on the Gelephu-Thimphu highway, there were frequent inspections by regional immigration and police officials. I understand that the checking is for national security, but, we want the immigration and police officials to deal us humanely.

I dare say that the inspectors are giving brutal harassment to the travelers. Firstly, they didn’t announce the public extensively to carry the identity cards with them while traveling.  This is the reason many travelers are denied entry from the check points and harassed unnecessarily.

Secondly, there’s a need to knock down some manners in the police officials who are on inspections. They act and speak so rude to the passengers. They treat the travelers as criminals. We understand they’re doing all this for the security of our country. But ours is a civilized society. We cooperate with them if they deal us humanely.

Perhaps they think that only policemen are serving the Tsa-wa-sum. The truth is that we as citizens of this country also serve the Tsa-wa-sum. The reality is that we’re on different leagues of arm forces, civil servants, corporate employees, businessmen or framers.

Next time when we have such great event in our country, I suggest the MoHCA to inform the public in general extensively about the inspections. This kind of sudden inspection only arouses rues over public and mistreatments from the inspectors. And yeah, to the head of the RBP-better knock down civil attitude in your police officials and make them public-friendly.