Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On my signature

My signature is crap and sloppy as hell. It’s very tiny and looks like scribble on the wall by kid. Its shape is even more terrible and it, surely, will disgust you. Nor, it really represents my full name.

If the signature was a snapshot of our personality, then I am the man with stinking attitude and demented character. Look at my signature below, feel disgusted and call me, careless, moron or asshole or kutta, anything you like. I will tolerate this time, at least for my crap signature. 
                                                 Pic: Not only terrible, inconsistent too

The funny thing is that I’ve neat handwriting-perhaps-the best handwriting you would ever see. My school or college mates used to call it ‘computer handwriting’ and ‘calligraphy in the old manuscripts’.

But here is what weird you would see. After I took civil service job, I’ve been signing lots of stuff for work. My signature has significantly evolved over time. Sad, it has further deteriorated and become even more inconsistent. I loathe it so much as I do to those bogus politicians. 

I never got the impression my signature was a big deal until last month. You’d be surprised to hear this. The teller of Bank of Bhutan stopped the transaction and looked at me suspiciously. She compared the signature I signed on the withdrawal form to the original signature card of my account. My signature didn’t match. I had to produce my ID. 

Many times I attempted to redevelop my signature. But I admit that a person like me can never write a good signature. I lack vision and creativity in developing a good signature. 
However, according to the experts, my signature has all the good traits to reveal. They are below:
1. My smaller size signature indicates that I’ve less desire.
2. My signature which is completely different from the usual writing shows that I’m introvert and do not desire to disclose everything about me.
3.  My filthy signature tells that I love to keep things in private and desire to keep my true identity unknown.
4. A straight line under my signature reveals that I’m a self-reliant and believe in following rules and traditions.
5. The three dots at the end of my signature reveal that I’m very ambitious.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

“I wish I were rich”

There was a wave of excitement and happiness all over the country. Our beloved King was to wed the Royal Bride Jetsun in October 13. Streets, roads, buildings and chortens were all adorned in sparking lights and all Bhutanese citizens were in a wild festive mood. But amongst this, one Patients Guest House at JDWNRH was dreadfully cold and didn’t react to the most anticipating national festivity. This welfare hostel is a home for about 33 homeless people, kidney failure patients who are undergoing dialyses and for the destitute and dying. 
                                          Pic: Patients in front of the welfare hostel

They live in a catastrophic condition that they agonizingly spend each day without good foods, good clothes and good medical treatments. Some feed on the forlorn hope, a hope for the miraculous intervention to occur to them that can change their life. Others are giving up their hope of life altogether and waiting miserably for the unquestioned future. Death. Their families, relatives and friends are also equally burdened and depressed. In the past, many Dashos, Lyonpos and MPs promised them hope but forgot them when they went back. 
Not quite a handful of days before the Royal Wedding, Lhamo Drukpa, the talented and charismatic national film artist, along with Tashi Namgay (Founder of Bhutan Kidney Association) visited the Patients Guest House. She wanted the patients to feel that they are loved, happy and more importantly to uplift their spirits to make them able to join in the celebration of Royal Wedding. 
                                       Pic: Lhamo Drukpa (4th from the left) with the patients

She stayed in very close touch with the patients giving them tender loving care. As an affectionate friend, she consoled them and shared their plights. As a caring sister, she hugged and nursed their wounds. And as a loving mother, she cried with them and fed hopes and aspirations upon them. This went on for a considerable length of time. Meanwhile, she also delighted the patients with her magical voice. She, then, donated groceries (rice, eggs, biscuits, noodles, milk and soaps) and winter blankets to all the patients. 

                                       Pic: Lhamo Drukpa (2nd from left) distributing gorceries

Her inspiration, humility and grace remarkably spread all over the house. Surprise and happiness on their faces, all the patients emerged joyfully out of their beds in a worshipful gratitude for her. The otherwise depressed patients remarkably resurrected in confidence, bliss and abundance.
So, during the Royal Wedding, all the patients excitedly crammed in front of the TV and watched the marriage ceremony proceedings. They graciously snacked on the biscuits and noodles brought to them by Lhamo Drukpa as they glued to the TV. They were as excited and jubilant as any other Bhutanese citizen and were praying for the long life of the Royal Couple.
I just imagine how proud our beloved King and Queen would be to hear about the good work she did to the 33 patients for the Royal Wedding.
Today, Lhamo Drukpa visits the Patient Guests House at least once a month with groceries. During the winter, she donates blankets and garments. Also, she organizes religious talks for the patients in a regular interval. Very recently, she invited Chung Rimpoche, the founder of Ati Foundation when the patients received preaching and blessings. 

                                           Pic: Chung Rimpoche at the guests house

She also looks after about 30 monks in a dratshang in Lhuentse. Other time, you would see her with the homeless senior citizens in the Thimphu Street, talking to them and buying meals and clothes for them. “I wish I were rich,” she would smile altruistically each time we meet.
She often travels to Vellore in India as most Bhutanese patients referred there for further medical treatments are in pathetic conditions. Though the RGOB covers the travels, surgery and medication expenses, there are many hidden costs associated that are not covered by the government. For example, blood. A unit of blood costs Rs 5,500. There are some patients who need about 5 units of blood everyday. Also, there are many patients who have to extend their stay in Vellore due to medical complications and unmatched blood groups of the donors. This leads to major financial problems and depression to the patients and to their families.
As a friend, co-worker and fan, I thoroughly appreciate the sincere, selfless and dedicated works done by Lhamo Drukpa. May she live long!
Today, Lhamo Drukpa is a board member to the Motion Pictures Association of Bhutan. She is one of the most committed members of the Bhutan Kidney Association.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Once upon a time in Japan

The brilliant shades of autumn painted in the jewels of nature, rich and luxurious in warmth of gold and amber greeted our beloved King and Queen. The nature has stunningly swollen to its fullest, particularly to welcome its extraordinarily beautiful Guests. Its aroma of sweetest beauty has harmonised gloriously and sung all in praises for the world's newest Royal Couple.

Monday, November 21, 2011

In the end

You’re my best friend. Assume it. I had invited you for a quiet dinner at my home.  It was a crispy evening. We nestled in the couch of my heated living room. We sipped hot coffee and bite the warm corn bread as our talks ranged from literature, books, photography, blogging and office works to our relationships and family.
Suddenly, we faced a daunting trip to our conversation. We’re just trying hard to recollect the name for jackfruit in Dzongkha. But we couldn’t. Head scratching. Tempers boiled over. We exchanged frustrating grimaces. In sheer disappointment, we pushed aside our coffee and we were robbed of our noisy conversation.

However, we cruised back to recollecting its name in a crazed hope. We, several times, attempted giving it up. Worse, we could do it for a few minutes only. Yet again we were fighting hard to recollect it for we read it in our school textbooks. You know that even when we were school students we used to do inky mink pong key (check the spellings) while attempting for the multiple-choice questions and the matter was closed. But we’ve never thought so hard before like this. And it’s unnecessarily dragging us into terrible insanity. God help us!

Then, we applied extra efforts. We made countless phone calls to our friends and relatives. Finally, we got the damn name for jackfruit in Dzongkha. It’s dramzey. We exchanged loud sighs of satisfaction, ah!    

We resumed snacking on the corn bread and sipping hot coffee. But this only reminded me to share you a similar incident with you. My friend, you know, each time I wake up from my bed, I start searching. I don’t know exactly what I’m searching for. At times I wonder that I’m stretching out for something that remains tantalizingly out of my reach like the shaft of light falling into my room that comes from beyond the horizon, beyond the reach of my logical mind. But I yearn for it, desperately though.

I search for it so uninterruptedly and so obsessively in my washroom and breakfast. My quest to clinch this missing thing also goes on in my dresses and car. And later in my office, in colleagues, lunch, friends, relatives, parents. All to no avail!

Perhaps this is the question any human can ask themselves most frequently. I go to someone close to me hoping that I may find what I am searching for. But most grownups really are idiotic. They’re vaingloriously engrossed in the triviality of everyday existence. They only talk about unimportant things: money, properties, overseas trainings, kids, relationships, loan, fame and power. They think that the truth can be found only in erecting big buildings, beautiful people, power and money. And they counterattack or always try to give me the ready-made solutions. Some even throw gibberish giggles at me and make fun of my inquiry mind.

I don’t want to be one of those people who take the world for granted. I never want to let the corrupt society to corrode my soul. This is the reason I feel exiled from the real world, rest of the people. Though I feel fragile and quiet, sensitive and melancholic, I never stop dwelling in a perpetual sense of expectation, of longing.

Later on, I return home, tuck a heavy quilt and still hungry for the answer. Bitterness wells up in me and this keeps me up at night, tossing and turning.
Next day I talk to young people, my niece and nephews. I share my feelings with them. Their innocence, simplicity and untainted minds speak that my answer lies in them. I become excitedly curious and spend more time with them venting out my feelings. Even my presence makes them happy. Give them a chocolate, they become happy. Buy them a doll, they become happy. Do them good, they react instantly-they express happiness.
                                                                   Photo: Gayatri 

Oh jeez! I get my answer. Happiness is what I’ve been searching for. Before you leave, oh, let me ask you a few questions. Why do you work everyday to earn money? Why do you settle down with a person you love most and raise children? Why you always want to try for new things, meet new person or accumulate more wealth? Why you twirl the rosary and chant mantra? Aren’t you doing all this for your own happiness?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last glimpse of Autumn

One crispy morning, very recently, I sat daydreaming nearby the window of my heated room. And my neighbours’ children were run-rounding around the courtyard, when I spotted the brief, stunning glory of the brilliant yellow, orange and red tree leaves fluttering by the window to cover the ground. They’re falling slowly, gently twirling on the ground. 
This is the time I realized how engrossed I was in the triviality of everyday existence. You know what? We, mortals, let ourselves be lulled into the enchanted sleep of our humdrum existence conclusively. The moment we rise from our bed, we’re preoccupied into the dress we wear, looks, conceitedness, foods we eat, etiquette, relationship, romance, cars, jobs… (Fill in the blank).  
It’d have been déjà vu for me if I hadn’t woke up from this enchanted slumber. I nearly missed miraculous autumn this year, ugh!
At once, I picked up my camera. Push aside my quilt. Jump over the stack of novels, note pads, pen and laptop. Out of my room. Out there in the cold, I was capturing the rich and jewels painted nature in my digital lens.
This was a moment, I thought, Mother Nature swollen to its fullest meaning for the nature lovers, photographers and poets. It was so rich, reminiscent and the light on the trees at sunrise and sunset comes somewhere beyond the giant mountains, beyond the reach of my logical mind. In the middle of shooting, I stopped, wondering at times-even enigmatic.
And as I took the pictures, I fully internalized the aroma of beautiful nature. It rejuvenated my otherwise muddled heart. And this was the time when I wanted to conquer the world.
If you've taken trip to countryside you’d see hundreds of acres of golden cornfields and sections of forest turned gold and deep red glowing in the afternoon sunlight. You’d also see the crops are being harvested, cereals gathered and taken to the warehouses.
And here what other fellow bloggers say about autumn. Langa wrote on his blog,
As I squint up into the sky,

all I can see is the deep and vast blue sky;

without a trace of clouds hanging-

a perfect form of sky we talk about.

Thimphu is getting colder and colder.

For some, the season of fall is all about love and craving for the warmth of their lovers. Aurora Karma posted on her site, 

she knew she loved him,
and he loved her as much.
She wanted to be closer-
under his skin-
with no time and space
between them.
She wished
nothing mattered but-
their love. 

Photo courtesy: Last two photos by Stephen & Dominique

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Letter to my father

Dear Apa, 

I hope all of you’re doing well without any sickness and problem in the village. My prayers are always with you all!
With the blessing of Kenchosum, I’m doing quite well here. And it’s been two years that I started working as dzung wokpa [civil servant]. You remember, Apa? When I graduated with BA, you always urged and wanted me to try for a job in the civil service and that you wanted me to sit for the RCSC exams. And you arguably told me that once I become a dzung wokpa, I will be invincible. Or more aptly, you used to remind me that the repeated storms of joblessness can never touch me once I become a dzung wokpa. Also, I’d have easy access to get loan.
Moreover, I was assured that in the civil service I’d have enough quality time for my family and myself. Restful weekends, CL, EOL. I still remember the time when you told me that even when I become old and weak there would a cheque every month being sent in my name. 
But you know, Apa?  In the beginning, I found myself in such a jeopardy as you’d never dream of. I was nearly suspended from my office. But I was only being exceptionally industrious and suggesting breakthrough initiatives to my bosses.
Instead of describing our job responsibilities and teaching us the work, bosses only try to discipline us. We only do what those above us order us to do. Our bosses are never accustomed to the subordinates asking questions. It’s unbelievably funny to say that what our bosses tell us is not always right. But it’s not our job to ask why. If we all began to ask why, there would be only ocean of whys.
There’re two rules about the bosses in our line of work. We’re to be mindful of the rules for all time. They are:
                          Rule 1: Bosses are always right
                          Rule 2: If they’re found wrong, refer rule no. 1

Apa, you must’ve heard or seen on TV our senior bureaucrats unhesitatingly and unashamedly lauding that youth are very important and guardians of the future Bhutan. But the irony is that they (heads of different sectors, divisions, departments, ministries, agencies) never invest in young officers. All the ex-country training opportunities are grabbed by them, secretly though. No fewer than six times in a year they visit to attend the ex-country trainings (more than what they are entitled) and countless in-country workshops, seminars and short-term trainings.

Funniest of all, most of these people are in their early 50s and will be retiring after a few years. Our government is mindlessly wasting the budget on them. I think young officers should be the priority because we still have three more decades to serve in the civil service.  

Now, I will tell you why they frequent ex-country trainings. Though old, they never twirl the rosary and practise dharma like you. The last few years of their service is to earn as much as to buy new prados with the available quotas and purchase plot of land to erect buildings. And their children’s job is only to finish off their savings and destroy their properties. Sounds strange!

I forgot to tell you that in the dzung wok, we stop living truth. Blunt and straightforwardness in the matter relating to office management would only do more harm than good. Those hardworking people are never acknowledged and rewarded. I’ve a beautiful poem written by someone like me which can better explain you the situation of dzung wok. It’s here, Apa. Read it below,

When I do something without being told, I’m trying to be smart,
When my boss does the same, he is taking the initiative.

When I make a mistake, I’m an incompetent,
When my boss makes a mistake, he is only human.

When I’m out of the office, I’m wandering around,
When my boss is out of the office, he is on business.

When I’m on day off sick, I’m always sick,
When my boss is a day off sick, he must be very ill.

When I do good, my boss never remembers,
When I do wrong, he never forgets.

This may interest you further. In every dzung office, there’s a bunch of people who are the boss’s favourites. We called them chamchagiri. The boss is always surrounded and accompanied by this group, treating with domas and tshom from their rural homes. They’re extraordinarily sincere in front of their boss but bunk office as soon as he is outdoor.They've discovered that the secret to success in  the civil service is not in hard work but in the chamchagiri

We’ve another group of people who assemble together, do tea and doma party during the office hour and gossip non-stop.

Most people in the office broadcast their works they are doing. They pretend that they’re really working hard in front of their desktops. The reality; however, is that they would be busy chatting on yahoo messengers or printing or photocopying their children’s assignments or project works.

Don’t worry, Apa. I’m coping up quite well with the system here. It’s only a time of change for me, from innocence to reality. Now, I’ve honed all the necessary chamchagiri tricks and concocting plans to build unshakable rapport with my bosses. It’s little weird, but I’ve to do all this for the ex-country trainings, fast-track promotion and more necessarily to sustain in Thimphu.

Yours beloved son.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On a Bhutanese film

I don’t like the Sir Wang Drugay, a Bhutanese film. Honestly. The filmmakers  have, dare I say, mindlessly strayed away from their responsible professionalism. 

Let me tell you why and here you will fairly understand my protest. One of the characters in the film is caught into a miserable circumstance and she needs money terribly. Eventually, the character comes to a sad conclusion that she sells her kidney. After the kidney transplant, the character holds a huge sum of money.
And after watching the film, I had these sickening feelings. Firstly, if I were in a miserable situation I would only resort to this demented idea of organs selling business. For, I would think that there’s no other approach and alternative for me, except this damning way out to sell my own kidney. Secondly, the way this character grasps a huge sum of money after the kidney transplant only intensified my desire and greed. Plus, it grotesquely disrespects and demeans the stature of human beings as it glorifies money over our own organs. Above all, this gruesome storyline is very unlikely Bhutanese. 
I understand the predicament of this character, but the director should have thought other alternatives. Mind you, this is Bhutan, not India or other countries. Bhutanese are, generally, generous and helpful. That being said, our society is very protective and people in destitute and wretchedness are never disregarded.
Also, today there are many established NGOs in Bhutan and still many are coming up. The government in partnership with these NGOs has been relentlessly working towards addressing the problems of the underprivileged ones in multi-pronged strategies by providing necessary and timely interventions/aids. And this kind of film only spreads misleading message that our country is another failed state-that our country has no systematic mechanism for the people in wretched conditions. Moreover, it would arouse anger in viewers and drift them apart from the government.
Perhaps the filmmakers were insanely inspired by the Hollywood and Bollywood and were trying to apply their ideologies here to make this film more dramatic. But they should have realized that the reality in Bhutan is starkly different. They should have been mindful that the films they produce have a huge impact on their viewers and that Bhutanese viewers are mostly semi-literate and can hardly think critically.
BICMA, the censorship body, perhaps is also dreadfully failing its duty. I think this authority too lacks expertise to censor the content and impact of any production on its viewers. The BICMA should be mindful that this kind of film only misinforms, misguides and misleads its viewers. I, as a responsible citizen, earnestly throw this urgent suggestion that please recruit some professionals to censor the films.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is my English strange?

Last week, I was watching the English segment on BBS TV. The TV anchor magnificently began the programme in pure British accent. She, then, fluttered her accent to American and more head scratching…sob, sob, she was caught into Drukpa accent. For the record, she was not even remotely aware of it. I don’t mean here to criticize her flamboyant anchoring style, but from this watching I just observed that how lost are we into different accents that we do not really distinguish. Or we’re rather not bothered; perhaps, we consider it least important or simply unimportant.

It’s little weird, but even we write we’re unsure of the American and British English. Labour or labor, realise or realize, criticise or criticize, centre or center...all mixed up, yuck! This probably, though woefully evidences that ours is lousy English-khutta bhache ko, broken English. If you flutter in your English accent and are unsure of the British and American English spellings, I wouldn’t blame you. I will tell you why. Listen.

As was the good intentioned national education policy, the education ministry strictly monitors the school curriculums in British English. We’re to follow the British English, stringently and religiously, both in spoken and written. You agreed with me? True enough, but the funny thing is that teachers in Bhutan were mostly Keralan (Indian). With them, they brought their own accent in English. They taught us lowe for love, yam for m, yan for n. Interestingly, they’ve further puzzled us with their typical Keralan da and ta suffixes. Good examples here, correctta for correct, notda for not, youda for you, okda for ok. It is what it is. Cliché, but true.

We’re also taught by Bhutanese teachers. At times Dzongkha lopoens did. Teacher shortage, they reasoned. But their accent has been badly marred by their non-stop doma chewing habit. Doma in their mouths, they say somm for some, wherrr for where, fayav for five, colock for clock. And each time they speak, they pause. An example here, “I, uh, will, uh, ahem, ahem [he spits in the dustbin and comes back] beat you, uh, if you eat doma,” he would bark good words at his students. Very ironical, right? And a slightly bizarre observation here: the way he frightens his students, he too murders the English language, for god’s sake.

Dzongkha words, like divine saviors, jump in between his English lecture and speech to replace the missing English words. That’s how the notorious Dzonglish came to existence. The brutal truth is that now we came to this sad conclusion that we cannot do without it.

You may not agree with me on all this. But you can do yourself a favour. Go to your home, swivel in your sofa, pick up the TV remote and flip the channels. I bet you that you will find almost all the TV programmes are American. Or put on your PC, open the Microsoft office word and you will see that also in American English.      

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Joy to Behold!

Lingshi, the land of medicinal herbs, is also blessed with beautiful landscapes. Lingshipas depend on wages earn from collecting medicinal herbs and extraction of cordyceps. This place is also rich in cultural heritages and sacred places.Some beautiful photographs of Lingshi for you below:

Photo Courtesy: Sonam Dendup

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Something quite out of the ordinary

Tashi Choezom, a teacher at Norbuling MSS, Gelephu, is my childhood friend. Last month, when I visited her place I was profoundly moved by what she is doing. At her place, my eyes feasted upon two little gorgeous kids stuffing themselves with delicious food. They looked identical: a boy and a girl. They’re chubby, neat hair cut and have dimpled face. I thought these kids are her students but just out of curiosity, I asked her. Tashi replied me, “I’ve a Mahabharata [long story] to tell you about them,” adding that these two kids are twins.
                                                               Pic: Tashi Choezom
Early this year, Tashi Choezom accompanied one of her school colleagues to Chuzargang, about two km away from her school, as she desperately needed a babysitter to look after her kid. The day has turned beastly hot. After applying sun block cream, they walked down the rice fields fighting against strong sun, leeches, insects, mud and sweating all along the rough road.
“People of Chuzargang are mostly poor,” said Tashi adding, “They solely depend on rice and maize which often being rampaged by wild jumbos and boars before each harvest.” She also discovered that shortage of drinking water is another major problem in the village. “I was shocked to find out that only elderly people live in the village. All young people have left for Thimphu and Phuentsholing,” she told me.
At the end of the day, they reached one bago, a hut roofed with banana leaves, walled with flattened bamboo which looks like crumbling down at any moment. A nervy-looking couple, seemingly drunk, marched out of the hut after they saw people outside. The world’s poverty was inscribed on their faces. There’s nothing inside the hut, just a frayed rug, a few kilos of kharang, a pair of mattresses, and a kerosene lamp.
When Tashi inquired about the babysitter, the couple (originally from Zhemgang who resettled in Chuzargang) instantly dragged out two kids from their hut. They’re twins, just seven-year olds. Apparently, Nima and Dawa looked unkempt, starkly hungry. Tashi and her colleague were stabbed at seeing this. They couldn’t imagine employing one kid of lesser fortune to babysit for another of greater fortune.
It’s even more shocking to Tashi on what this man had to plead them, “I don’t want any wages of my kids. Lopoen, jus take them away with you. Do whatever you want to do to them. I cannot raise them. We don’t have foods. We don’t have money. Look, we live in a wretched condition. I don’t want these two kids of mine suffer with me without food, without cloth, without education. Just take them away!”
To Tashi, it seemed like she had just stepped into a poverty-stricken state. She never knew that people in our country are so poor. She discovered that these people live unconnected and miserable in a perpetual expectation of external interventions/aids because their situation has become intolerable and out of their power. So, they came to this sad conclusion of surrendering their own children.
Tashi gave another curious look at the young twins, this time rather empathetically. She discerned that the twins were malnourished, without basic necessities of life and everything about their life was a struggle. And unhesitatingly, she took an audacious decision to adopt the twins. That evening, Tashi bathed them, and offered good foods. It’s perhaps the first time in their entire life they’re filled with good foods, clothes and sleep.
One weekend, Tashi took them to Gelephu town, bought them clothes, school uniforms and done nice haircut. Then, she talked to the school principal and enrolled both of them at Norbuling MSS in class PP.
Initially, she had difficult times as the twins have experienced behavioral and emotional problems and slight personality disorder due to lack of love and care from their biological parents. However, Tashi’s unwavering parental care and support enriched their life.  
                    Pic: A new family (From the left: Tashi, Phub Zangmo and the twins)  

Nima and Dawa’s arrival was boon in disguise for Tashi. The twins created a family in her house. Earlier, she was mostly alone, understandably reckless and lazy. Now her lifestyle is changed completely. She wakes up early to wash and cook for her kids and helps on their home works besides doing shopping for them. Above all, Tashi loves all this!  
Today, Nima and Dawa have grown up strong, beautiful, smart, and well-disciplined. Their favorite leisure time is watching TV besides reading. When asked whether they miss their parents, they replied me, “No!” Surprisingly, both wanted to become teacher because they think that teachers are happy, rich and kind-hearted people.However, the twins are in a dilemmatic situation. They’re not yet registered in the general census. But Tashi is trying all in her power to register their census as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Phub Zangmo, another teacher of Norbuling MSS is bearing the expenses of one of the twins.
Next week, Nima and Dawa will be sitting their life’s first exams. Let’s wish them a very best of luck!