Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Knowing Life

This Christmas was different to me. A special one, though. I’m not a Christian, but I always spend the Christmas with my Christian uncles, cousins and granny. I love it! And this Christmas I spent all day home, alone. After breakfasting late, I nestled in my bed and popped the TV shut. 

My eyes travelled wastefully over the ceiling for a half minute. It went so far as to the corner wall and stopped where a photo frame hung. I looked at the photo attentively. A mighty sea is sailing magnificently in a perfect rhythm and it resigns, ultimately, in triumph in the cosmic ocean. I went closer and contemplated on it. This photo which has been hanging on this wall for the last eight months surprisingly offered a completely different awakening to me this Christmas.  It reflects back my own true self. Like us, mortals, this sea too has life.

I comprehended that this sea is the perfect metaphor for our life. Life as this sea is ever moving, without a pause, unequally distributing joy and distress, seeking finally to merge into an ocean that was even greater and eternity. Like this sea, sometimes you see something on the banks you really want, you dash toward to grasp it and float back.

Like we prosper and rise in the ladder of success, this sea too rises so high as if to catch up with the sky. And at times, it drifts down so low and looks vulnerable, desolated. Like that of our life, the sea too meets with the hurricane of disastrous tsunamis and floods. It becomes unsettled and distracted. Yet it rises reassuringly and just resumes floating with the current, keeping its balance.Sometimes, it floats fast but mostly sails in tranquility.

And how sweet, it seems confident and optimistic in its journey. Its unshakable faith reflects in its industriousness and is still in hunt for further glory. Finally, this sea triumphantly retires from its life and joins the cosmic ocean which I believe is life-after-death, union with God and eternity.

Now, I have realized that there’s nothing about life that had to be examined, analyzed, questioned or understood. I feel that life is just process and cycle, just the doing. Like this sea, life goes on, unmindful of beginning, end, crisis or glory. Life is all about hard times and good times and just how in the end everything is perfect and union with eternity.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Youth in voluntary action

A group of 11 young volunteers of YDF cleaned the JDWNRH guests house, Thimphu last Sunday. Most of these young people are students on vacation. Refreshments and lunch were provided by the Jangsa, Animal Saving Trust. Pictures (by Tashi Namgay) below:



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My friend, Jigme

An eerie, frightening howling of dog outside in the corridor woke me one Sunday morning. It’s 6 in the morning, last summer. The cry was very intense, painful and ominous. My friend who was putting up with me that day thought some misfortunes would fall upon the tenants of the building as was customary.

My mood was one of disgust, for this dog disturbed my restful Sunday sleep. I swiftly pushed aside blanket, rose from the bed. Sleep still looming heavy in my eyes, I ran toward the door, in no doubt, to kick out that annoying dog.

I strike open the door, marched out. A lean unkempt dog was seated over few yards down in the corridor. Previous night’s monsoon downpour soaked him. As soon as he saw me, he beamed in a gracious smile like that of a timid guest. His tail wagging non-stop and producing slow shrieks, he marched briskly towards me and nudged against my legs. His ribs hit against my legs. I sensed, instinctively that he hadn’t had foods for a week or two. Good heavens! He was in intense hunger.

The fleeting rush of anger in me was quickly gone. I darted inside my kitchen to look for rice for my early morning guest. Yes, there was leftover rice in my cooker. I mixed it with cheese and emadatshi in a plate. Then I placed it in front of him. He gobbled furiously.

I sat next to him, quiet, watching him stuffing. And at the same time, I wondered how long he had been run-rounding the town, abandoned, hungry, and crying for foods. Do humans understand his hunger and pains? I understood, then, that this dog was not calling for misfortunes, but he was in such a hunger that he couldn’t help so he had to vent the great noise for foods.

He wagged his tail again and gazed deeply into my eyes, his smile beautiful. I sensed he wanted more foods. I had bread and cookies. I added them in his plate. He emptied the plate, but this time he jumped at me, climbing up on my lap and nudging his head and tail over my neck. He then magnificently bounced back, whined and barked in a decorative joy. He was doing all this as if to express his gratitude to me.

He found his master and a place called home. At last! He has his bed of my old gho next to the entrance door. And guess what? He stopped making noise and commotion. Ah, now he has grown huge, docile, friendly, intelligent and admirably handsome. Also, he has become as homely as his master. When my 13-year old niece visited my place last month, she gave him a name, Jigme.

To tell you honestly, I was a loner and melancholic person. I used to spend most of my day home, alone. My daily activities included reading, writing and watching TV besides office works. But after Jigme’s arrival, my life’s changed completely. I’m no more lonely and sad. I am happy, always loved and cared for.

Every evening, we go out way above Motithang. Long walk. I still have moments of sadness but Jigme can sense them. He comes to me, curls up on my lap and puts his head on my shoulder as if he is giving a hug to cheer me up.

Other times, when we’re out in the parks and roads, we romp and play. He crawls when I crawl, he sleeps when I sleep. He gives a jolly jump and furious run his ears pricked up and I lie flat on the ground laughing my lungs out. He darts off to comply with my every single command. All this have irrevocably bound us and make me happy. 

Interesting thing is that Jigme even knows my office and most of my colleagues. At times, he gives me nasty shock. He shows up in front of my office door unannounced. Only after I buy him foods from the canteen, he returns home.

It’s been exactly four months since I met Jigme and now I’ve discovered that dogs are great consequence in a human’s life. They love you unconditionally, always seem to know when you need them most and protect you from harms. The power of a special bond, loyalty and everlasting love that my Jigme shared with me is way beyond any special person had brought in my life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Perfect stranger

It was just a regular winter evening in Thimphu. Busy and frost-cold out in the open. After circumambulating the Memorial Chorten three times, I headed for Motithang. On foot. The chill spread through my veins and every hair on my body was standing up, shrieking with cold. Oh, Thimphu has turned colder.

A girl was walking ahead of me, about a dozen of yards away. She looked incredibly attractive. Fair, tall, slim. But unlike me, she was well-clothed-boots, overcoat, hand gloves, muffler and cap-all this to keeping herself warm and trendy.

When we reached the swimming pool traffic, she swiftly half-turned and threw a glance at me. Perhaps she had this feeling that this man was following her. At the junction, an old man in rags was selling momo oblivious to the cold. He was presumably hopping for a few more ngultrum to earn enough for his rent and children’s school expenses.  Prado and Mercedes cars bought in Quota raced hurriedly, still in hunt for added wealth and pleasure. Gosh, this only shows the huge disparity of distribution of wealth and explicit hypocrisy in the GNH country.

From the swimming pool traffic, this girl turned left. As she climbed the way towards Changangkha, she again turned back, eyeing me cautiously-this time her expression filled with pleasant worry and fear. When she saw me still coming behind her, she quickened her pace.

As we’ve to cross a busy traffic at Changangkha, she halted for almost half a minute. I caught with her pace. Again I was walking a dozen of yards behind her. Now she started throwing repeated glance back at me in a heightened panic and I could sense fear radiating from her body.

But this brought a touch of guilt and discomfort in me. I was only being a constant menace to her, unnecessarily though. But I understood this girl’s hopeless situation. She cannot walk alone safe at night like me. As a woman, she is vulnerable to all winds of circumstance. But who is her menace? Alas, they are their own brothers, their sons, their fathers and uncles-above all, men.

From Changangkha, this girl attempted the short-cut. Perhaps more tellingly, she was only trying to escape from me. But this decision has only mired her into a greater misery as I also took the same route, and without streetlights, everything appeared dark then. There was a real feeling of uncertainty. I knew for sure, then, this girl might have thought that I was really after her.

In this string of unending unsavory incident, we reached the Shop No. 7 of Motithang. A drunkard man stretching flat on the sidewalk scared this girl, ha-ha. “Azzaiiii!” she screamed. This man looked disgraceful. A GNH citizen? Or maybe he was only keeping himself warm against the spine-chilling cold with a few pegs of rum. But he snored so horribly, as if he was competing against those moving vehicles on the road in producing horrible noise.

This girl was still walking ahead of me and looking back at me, repeatedly, in horror and increasing fear. She turned left and ran towards a huge yellow building. As she hurried up the stair, she glanced at me again presumably praying to have me stopped following her by then.

But she expressed her terror more explicitly when I too climbed up the building’s stair after her. This time she ran so frantically, heels in her right hand. But to my pleasant surprise, she stopped in front of Flat No. 16, sixth floor of the building. She started rummaging her handbag looking for door key, furiously-even trembling. As she was unlatching her door, I went to Flat No. 17, the flat I’ve been staying for the last one year. When I opened my door, she stood frozen to the spot, staring at me blankly as sweats flowing down from her forehead. Maybe discovering me as her next-door neighbor might have shocked her more than the unmerciful stranger who had followed her from the Memorial Chorten.

After exchanging awkward smile, the incident seemed so incongruous to my neighbor, she couldn’t help giggling. As she closed her door, she burst into a loud guffaw.

Photo: Lakey

Friday, December 16, 2011

Youth vs Police

One day, police brutally thrash youth. Another day, a group of youth mob at policemen.

This picture below shows youth occupying the main traffic, Thimphu:

And policemen overtaking the space:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Proliferation of penis

Bhutanese culture is outrageously notorious and immoral. From night hunting to "everywhere seen" phallus and the Buddhist folklore, I can assure you that our culture is bizarrely weird. Interesting thing is that we don't feel or notice these larger-than-life penises. We are immune to it. Ha-ha! If you don't believe me, view the photographs below:  

An enormous wooden penis guarding the Guru's ney & warding off evil spirits.

Penile telescope:

Ornately embellished ball-ends slapped on walls. Holding them gives you a trifle embarrassment but brings you good luck and prosperity.

Stone cladding. Dispensing a healthy sprinkling of jizz. Long live, my friend! 
This is one reason why Bhutan is unique. We're weird and have been propagating this "crazy wisdom", but we are HAPPY.

Photos: Hiromi, Haruko, Rabi

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

National Youth Policy launched

The much awaited National Youth Policy has been launched by HRH Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuk today in Thimphu. About 12 students, 20 out-of-school youth (drayang girls, disabled, monks, youth volunteers, and job seekers), ministers, MPs, stakeholders (YDF, NCWC, RBP, media personnel, Tarayna Foundation, BNCA, MoH, BAOWE) and representatives from the donor agencies attended the launch.
Some of the goals of the Policy are:
1.       Provide youth with proper educational and training opportunities
2.       Health and development needs of young people are met
3.       Reinforce the youth volunteerism
4.       Develop skills and leadership qualities among the youth
5.      Encourage the involvement of govt. and NGOs, co-operatives and non-formal groups of young people; ensure all youth-related programmes are integrated and coordinated
The Department of Youth and Sports under MoE will take the lead role in monitoring and evaluating, and putting the structure to the Policy. The policy will enhance a good overview of all the agencies and non-formal youth groups in streamlining activities and services being catered to youth. As the Policy empowers young people with all the necessary supports, youth are also expected to take their roles and responsibilities.
However, the National Youth Action Plan which is to be developed every after three years “to provide a practical statement on the implementation of the Policy reflecting its priorities and strategic themes” is yet not developed. The consultative meeting with all the youth-related agencies after the launch unanimously decided come up with realistic and dynamic mechanisms for the Action Plan.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

National Youth Policy will be launched tomorrow

The Dept. of Youth and Sports, MoE will launch the National Youth Policy tomorrow at Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu. 

The policy will address a range of youth issues: risk and protective factors; promotes effective program services; supports logical pathways to success; and recognizes that children and youth grow up in families and communities that empower them. 

Youth issues and problems like unemployment, substance abuse, media influence and social behavior can now be looked at in a more coordinated manner. Until now different agencies have been working in their own ways often leading to duplication of activities and inefficient utilization of limited resources. It is hopeful that the National Youth Policy will help to streamline the programmes and activities of all the concerned agencies working for young people so that the youth can derive the maximum benefit from them. 

The policy shall not only look into all aspects of youth problems but also help youth to realize their full potential so that they grow up in a safe and enabling environment to become more productive and responsible citizens. 

Bhutan lose again

Inexperienced Bhutan conceded second consecutive defeat in the SAFF Championship India after India thrashed Bhutan 5-0 last Monday night.  In the first match of Group A, Sri Lanka defeated Bhutan 3-0. This put Bhutan's dreams to qualify for the semi-finals out of reach as Bhutan will play next match against the favorites Afghanistan in the third and final round of the group stage.


A lone striker in front, Bhutan played strategically defensive with a young under-19 amateur squad against India. Captain Norbu Dhendup and the Yeedzin FC left back Pema Rinzin kept the defense wall tight causing frequent head scratching troubles to the India’s forwards Sunil Chettri, Abranches and Miranda. India couldn’t penetrate Bhutan’s well-organized aggressive defense for the first 30 minutes. We were beaten by a couple of goals in the first half and the hope of coming back was presumably high. Goalie Mon Bdr. Bhattarai was phenomenal, making numerous magnificent saves. The commentator marked him a “brave young man”.

However, Bhutan at all didn’t threaten their opponents. In the solid 90 minutes, Bhutan couldn’t hit a single attempt on the target. The only corner in the second half was a waste as the Singaporean referee whistled for an India player for foul. 

The lone striker was easily outnumbered by the India defenders. There was low level of confidence level due to lack of exposure. Bhutan made numerous un-concentrated long range passes and easily losing the possession to the opponents. Bhutan hardly kept the ball possession.

Bhutan showed convincing confidence and skills for the first 15 minutes of the second half. But after the third goal in the last quarter of the match, Bhutan were intimidated and worn out. Bhutan would have conceded about four more goals had India not misfired and wasted some perfect chances.

But the result was fair and as expected to the Bhutan’s Japanese coach and Bhutanese football fans. The commentator announced, “With the small population and poor sports infrastructure, Bhutan is growing in stature. Such exposure does the boost.”

With the talents we have seen in the young Bhutanese squad, we expect the BOC to come up with many sports infrastructure and resources in Bhutan. The only half-baked Changlimithang stadium and deserted football field of Changjiji are never answering Bhutan’s athletes and sportsmen's hunger and thirst for the sports.

Bhutan's first 11 lineup: Mon Bdr Bhattrai, Sangay Khandu (Yeshi Samdrup, 61st), Nawang Dendup, Sonam Tenzin (Karma Tshering, 71st), Nim Sangay, Pema Rinchen, Thinley Dorji, Man Bahadur Gurung, Tshering Dorji, Chencho Gyeltshen (Tshering Dendup, 88th), Jigme Tshering Dorjee. 

Group A: Bhutan, India, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Group B: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal. 

Bhutan are ranked 198 and are the lowest ranked team in the competition.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Long tale of the longest lunch

Gedu HSS staff never cook lunch during their school festival and any other school events. About 69 school staff bring their own packed lunches (rice, curries and edzey) from their homes. The picture below shows  about 69 different varieties of foods displayed during the School Sports Day 2011 lunchtime. It's very interesting to say that you cannot even reach half way this lunch table. Your plate is full after the fifth hot-case. And if the school continues this unique trend, one day they will surely win  the Guinness Wold Record.

Friday, December 2, 2011

You all are my Heroes!

Dear Sheetal, Tandin, Tshering, Pema and Wangda,
Last evening at 6:30 when Dawa came live on BBS TV, I shivered uncontrollably. I was nervous and horrified. After a few minutes I even started sweating. I felt as if I was experiencing a horrifying massacre. I don’t know why. Perhaps, I’ve never met people living with HIV/AIDS in the past or I was having the phobia of the disease.
But as Dawa went on introducing each one of you who have braved and took all the risks to declare your status, I started feeling pleasant and normal. I was seeing any other five normal people on the BBS studio. You are no different from us. You are good looking, strong, happy and self-reliant. Unlike what myths or misconceptions had, some of you are even more successful, ambitious and enterprising than those without HIV/AIDS.
You know what? After watching the first two segments, this heavy phobia in me (certainly due to lack of information) has been swept away. I felt instant relief and was ecstatic as if I had suddenly recovered from high fever. I came to know certain things from you all: HIV/AIDS is also like any other diseases (TB, hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes); an AIDS patient can live a healthy life with better medical treatments; HIV cannot spread through handshakes and hugs; a baby can born uninfected from a HIV positive mother.
More importantly, your mere presence on the national TV and sharing of your experiences has immensely benefited all the people living with HIV/AIDS and other fellow citizens like me. It has demystified the hoodoo spell (that has placed on us ever since the first detected case of HIV in Bhutan) that HIV/AIDS patients bring misfortunes to his/her family, society and office.
Our government along with the donor agencies worked extensively to stop HIV/AIDS. Awareness programmes through media, leaflets, magazines and textbooks have been in place. But your glorious presence on the TV did more than what our government could do in the last decade with millions of dollars.
As a proud Bhutanese citizen, I applaud for your audacity and noble job you have done yesterday. You took all the risks to come out  in the open public from your hiding place to educate us and to fight against the stigma and social discrimination. You did all this not only for yourselves but also for other friends living with HIV/AIDS, their families, co-workers and friends.
I know, for sure, from now onwards you will never be stigmatized and discriminated. You have genuine supports from the highest of religious body, royal family, government, NGOs and our society.
I salute you. You all are my heroes!
Yours well wisher,
Riku Dhan Subba
Photo: BBS