Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Months with no electricity

Well, Hello again! After months with no electricity (in this century-believe it or not) it is refreshing to be here in Paro surrounded by bright lights and hot shower and internet and all the perks that come with having power supply.

The power went down during the flood and landslides that happened in Gasa in mid June and we are still living without it. But still I thank god that at least the road has been restored. We were without that for months also! Shocking, I know but what can I say. I wonder how fast these would have been restored if it had been another Dzongkhag like Punakha or Paro or the Capital. But I guess its understandable-its boring, economically unbeneficial, remote and useless Gasa after all!

My nostrils have been acting like chimneys for the fumes from the numerous candles we have burnt trying to brighten our dark nights and now I feel like my brain is clouded with soot. In my desperation I have even written a love poem for electricity:

I never knew how much you made my life easier
Whether at work or home(computers and kitchen appliances)
How you warmed my life(with the heaters)
And brightened up my darkest nights(with bulbs and tube lights)
How you never failed to entertain me every time I was bored(with TV and internet)
And filled my world with music(literally)
Being without you has made me realize
How much you really mean to me
I will never take you for granted I promise
Please come back for I miss you so......electricity!

Am I going crazy? I wonder! I have written a love poem for ELECTRICITY for god's sake. Hmmm...maybe I should visit the psychiatric ward. Of course it would make me happy if they decided to keep me there because at least I will be with my love(Hey! I'm not talking about a deranged man in there- I'm only talking about the power) Sigh...I am not looking forward to going back. Can you imagine that - no light, no computer, no internet, no TV, no washing machines, no hot water and the water up there so freaking cold. My hands are all cracked from washing clothes and doing the dishes but don't worry I'm not stinky. I have a bukhari after all.  

That's why I haven't been able write for so long. My sanity might be slowly coming back because I'm finally back in the civilization. Although it might also mean that they might not keep me in the psychiatric ward after all!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Land slide ahead

We have started the process of going to the Chiwogs to conduct Zomdue for the formulation of the 11th FYP and we started with Khailo Chiwog. Halfway through the farm road we could see a land slide ahead. My mind suddenly went to the walk through the short cut filled with small and big, green and yellow, assorted leeches and I gave an involuntary shudder. But upon further investigation we found that if we were able to remove a big boulder and we could pass through. Luckily I had three men (Gup, Livestock and Agri) for company and that which had always been a disadvantage worked to my advantage that day. Of course, I was not total useless – I stood beside them and gave them moral support J After that episode we were able to continue our journey without any obstacles despite the steep road and the heavy downpour.

The journey to have lunch was an even bigger adventure amongst a pool of very slippery mud, leeches and screams. Instead of the Ugg boots on my feet, the famous Gumboots would have been a better choice but I didn’t have the latter and I chose the former as protection from the bloodthirsty leeches. Somewhere along the way, the Gup who was piloting the journey, lost a shoe in the mud and walked barefoot onwards. In spite of everything, we were to find a little humor in that, although I am not sure somebody would beg to differ.

After lunch we made our way downwards again because that was where the meeting was schedules to be held. The participants included men, women, the old AND kids. Just as I was happy that I would finally be rid of the creepy leeches outside, we were swarmed by flies inside which I had to keep chasing away because they were so annoying. Sadly its numbers were intensified by a million fold with the serving of tea. Halfway through the meeting, it started to rain outside again and my mind wandered to the return journey and the disastrous road but I tried hard to bring myself back to the matter at hand.

Despite the murmurs and the kids fighting, screaming and making hell, we had an animated discussion with a very vocal group. They had no problems expressing their opinions, which was excellent for us and we were able to get very good results even though they had to run outside once as their peaches were being attacked by monkeys. It was a very different atmosphere from our usual meetings but in a good way. I had a great time and although I was looking forward to a similar adventure in the other Chiwogs also but except for the flies and leeches there were no other similarities (of course we got the same excellent results from the other Chiwog Zomdues also but who cares about that huh! Hehehehe)  

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sherig Century

Yesterday we celebrated Sherig Century, hundred years of Modern Education, in the School which was graced by Dasho Dzongdag and Dzongrab. They were mentioning in their speeches how far Bhutan has come on that road, the differences when they were in school and the current school environment. There indeed is a difference of the sky and the earth, and even for me who graduated about eight years ago, I can still see a lot of differences in the facilities available then and now.

But there are still some people who are bold enough to say there has been not much of a difference (they must be blind). When we were conversing, someone, I won’t mention who, said that the education system has not moved forward as much and there is not much difference then and now. He said that the color of the board has changed from black to green but that was about it and that it was time for Bhutan to digitalize the classroom environment in all the schools. I hope he was talking about Bhutan only though. I mean right now we are dependent on donors to implement our five year plans. We import almost everything and export next to nothing. And at this very moment we are facing a rupee crisis which we have not been able to solve till date! At such a time, when we depend on others for even the vegetables that we eat, such a dream seems unrealistic. I don’t know, that’s just my opinion.

Anyways, I don’t want to bitch about what other people might be thinking (says the person who’s already don’t bitching J) But on a serious note I think Bhutan has come a long way in terms of the education system and its accessibility. From having to walk for days to go to school, most villages today have easy access to schools and even when they don’t, schools with boarding facilities are always close by. There are computer and science labs in almost all the schools and most students are not so alienated when they come in contact with a computer.

There is a vast difference in the education system then and now, but there is an even bigger difference in the students. When we were studying in primary school our teachers used to thrash us for not knowing something, failing in a test, not writing homework, talking in class, chewing in class………all in all, everything! I had this Dzongkha teacher when I was studying in class six who would pinch us behind our arms till we were blue for not knowing one spelling. Irrespective I never once argued back and even when I would complain to my father, he would just scold me back. But students today make hell if you so much as pat them. Despite being provided with so many facilities, and that is also free of cost, I have often heard them complain about the things that are not available. And drugs, alcohol and creating mayhem seems to be a high priority instead of studies whereas appreciation and respect for teachers seems to be hanging near zero. Most people don’t realize how difficult a task it is to be a teacher. Lesson plans, classes, club activities, sports, question paper preparation and correction and the list goes on. I know how difficult it is because I tried it for a few months but I gave up because it was too much for me. But there are those who go on and we should be thankful for that.

As Bhutan completes a hundred years of modern education, I will take this opportunity to thank our kings for their visions, the Government for their hard work but most of all the teachers who taught me, my husband who is a teacher and the teachers all over Bhutan, who have made so many sacrifices and touched so many lives and changed them forever. It is because of them that we have achieved this milestone and hope that there will come a time when we will be celebrating a millennia.   

Monday, 28 May 2012

"Because I don’t want you to grow old and die"

Last night as we were going to bed my daughter said to me, “Mama, I don’t want to grow up. I don’t want to go to office or become a doctor (these are the things she says she wants to do when she grows up). I want to stay as I am right now.” I thought most probably she is sick of going to school and so I asked, “Why baby?” “Because I don’t want you to grow old and die”, was her prompt reply. I was absolutely overwhelmed with her answer and my eyes welled up because she said it with such seriousness I could see she absolutely meant it.

It’s amazing how much kids know about the process of life and also the amount of love all children have for their parents. You could be the ugliest person in the world but your child will always say that you are beautiful. You could be missing a nose for all they cared, and you would still be perfect. You could give them the worst spanking of their lives and still be sure to be forgiven. You could be the most hated person in the world but your child will love you irrespective. That is the innocence and the beauty of the love that a child has for its parents.

But as all god things come to an end it is absolutely shattering that this love will also come to an end. I know that this amazing love, this unquestionable surety with which she loves me isn’t going to last forever, that there might even come a time when she might start to hate me. I shudder at the thought, but for now I am HAPPY to bask in her love…….for as long as it lasts.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


I was just watching a show on TV called Satyamev Jayate, which is a new show being hosted by Aamir Khan. I was just surfing through and since there was nothing on I just decided on watching it and it was actually quite good. Today’s topic was child abuse and I was amazed to learn about the statistics and even more about the perpetrators. A few people came forward to share their experiences and it was very brave of them to relive their most horrid memories just so that they may be able to help so many others.

 I am a parent and this is a real concern for me. There are children all over the world, as young as a few months old, who are being abused by, in most cases, someone close to the family. Although this is not a new topic for me, it is still and I think always will be a great concern for me.  Of course I have taught my daughter not to talk with strangers and she even knows the emergency police line, but this is Bhutan and emergency response system, well!, that might take hours. So the best thing to teach my child would be how to avoid such situations. But how do we avoid it in the first place?

It fills me with dread to think about the thousands of kids who are being abused and choose to keep silent, firstly because they are too young to understand whose fault it actually is and secondly because they are afraid of what the consequences might be. In some cases even the parents are so ignorant that even when a child has been brave enough to confess about an abuse, they are too afraid to do anything about it just because of what others might think. But is there really something to be ashamed of? How is it the fault of an innocent child? It is only and only the perpetrator who should be ashamed and brought to justice. I can think of a few punishments befitting this crime but I don’t think the Government would agree to make them legal (if you know what I mean…).

These things are happening in our country also and I wonder how we can stop this. I know the incidences are not that much but it’s there and if we can do something now we might be able to make a difference. I don’t know what kind of laws are in place to combat these issues but I think I need to know and so I will. It would also be great to have a ‘Child Line’ in Bhutan that every child is aware of. These things are not in my power but I won’t just be giving up. If these are things that I can’t do then I shall do what I CAN do and contribute in my own small way……so should you!

Friday, 11 May 2012

On the third of May, we had to attend a meeting at Gasa to discuss the Key resource areas for the Gewogs and Dzongkhags for the 11th FYP. It was raining like everything depended on it and the road was so bad my legs had turned to jelly by the time I reached Gasa. And then there was no electricity due to some landslides for a WEEK. It’s amazing how dependent we are on it, cooking, entertainment and even work.  I thought I was going to go crazy after sometime because I had nothing to do, literally. So I went to the school library, got a book that i had already read and read it again. Even with a sparsity, both in numbers as well as choice in reading materials, the library does help a lot in a remote place like Damji.

When I went to Gasa again yesterday to attend a meeting with the auditor general the road was much better, all credits going to the fact that there has been no rain after the last horrible downpour. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call my journey anywhere near pleasant, I was fortunate enough to see a wild Takin on the way.  It was just standing by the road looking well fed and healthy, just taking in the morning fresh air or enjoying the view I think ;)   I would have loved to take a photograph and upload it here but neither did I have a camera nor do I have the expertise to upload it on my blog.

If we ever cared to look around there are lots of things to see and enjoy in Gasa. But everybody spend all their time, myself included, complaining about the rain and the road and the leeches etc., that we ever really take the time to look around. Just the ‘green’ is a sight during summer, then there is the wildlife-varieties of beautifully colored birds, Takins, wild dogs(which might not necessarily be good but…), deer and the occasional bear. If you love wildlife and don’t mind trekking then Gasa is the place for you and who knows you just might get a peek at the very rare snow leopard and red panda, which Gasa is said to be the home of, if you are lucky. I don’t know how I went from my unpleasant ramblings about my everyday nothings to promoting tourism but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t know what you are writing... hehehe

Of late, my habit of writing something down and then discarding it later has started again so today I just decided to type it directly to prevent that. Why I do that is beyond my understanding and control. Anyways I will sign off now because I really have a problem with when and how I should end my write ups. Ciao till the next time.

Monday, 30 April 2012

I am only human

All of us have priorities in our lives. I have always thought happiness to be my first priority and it still is but sometimes I wonder if I was sick would I be happy. So shouldn’t health be my first priority. If there was no peace here would I be happy. I don’t know. But I am not sick (at least for now) and I am in a peaceful country so for now my priority is still happiness. But for someone living in a country fraught with war, their first priority might be peace. For someone living in a prison, their first priority might be freedom. And for someone who is sick, their first priority might be health. It all depends on each of our lives, how we might choose what is most important for us.

But oftentimes we take things that we have for granted, things that have always been there, things that we have always been able to do so there has never been a reason to think about them.  I have never thought about being able to walk, to talk, to write and I have never been grateful for being able to do these. Instead I have wasted endless hours wishing for things I didn’t have, things that wouldn’t necessarily bring me happiness. And I believe that is what most of us do, we wish for a bigger car when there are people who just want to be able to walk. We waste piles of money buying things just to show other people (who don’t even care about you) that you are fancy when there are thousands who don’t have enough for one meal also. Most of us, we waste half of our lives wishing for luxuries which when we finally achieve does nothing but leaves us wanting even more.

I guess that’s why we are here, still a long way from enlightenment. I wish I could stop wishing for more. I realize it’s wrong, I realize I am being greedy because I already have so much but I am only human…J

Monday, 9 April 2012


Sex         – refers to the biological characteristics which define humans as       
                   female or male
Gender  – refers to the culturally based expectations of the roles and 
                  behaviors of men and women                                                                                                                                                        
                                                                         – Gender & Elections, BRIDGE

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when we say gender? Are gender issues just about women? If it is not, then why are most issues about gender related to women?

Well, let me share my opinions with you. When we talk about gender, the two words that come to my mind first are equity and women. Now I know, one of those two words is women, but gender issues are not just about women as most seem to think ( at least most people I have met seem to think so). The following are some statistics that might interest you.

Local Leaders
Parliamentary Representation
(Some of these data’s are old and may have changed)

(P.S: I had originally made a beautifully colored graph to make my stats look more attractive but I just couldn’t figure out how to get it in my blog. So I guess the table will have to do to get my message out…. J)

Looking at the table above, it’s easy to understand why gender issues are mostly about women. And this is not just Bhutan’s problem. Women occupy 17% of parliamentary seats around the world and out of the 180 heads of Government, only 12 were women as of April, 2007.

 If we look at the table, for the first few bars which shows parliamentary representation, leaders, etc., the male percentage is very much high. But when it comes to disadvantages, the percentages are sadly reversed.

I don’t know whose fault it is. It’s something that has been bred into us, if you know what I mean. For thousands of years, we have believed that the male are the superior of the two and it’s not easy to just wake up one day and change all that. I am someone who believes there should be gender equity but I have also been stereotyping, although unknowingly. I always bought my daughter something pink, with flowers and princess print on them and Barbies. And I bought blue for my nephew and trucks and Ben 10 stuffs. You may think that these things are very subtle and hardly matters but now when they talk, they say that pink is for girls and blue for boys, Barbie for girls and trucks for boys. It was not intentional on my part but sadly I was the one who shaped them that way – I bred it into them.

So if you are reading this, begin your journey with me. Doesn’t matter how small your step, just take it. Buy your daughters guns and trucks and boxing gloves. Tell them they are inferior to no one, so that one wonderful day, we may be able to change the statistics that I have just shown above.

I can’t say that I will change the world overnight, but I sincerely believe that I have begun my journey……


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Facilitation - a new skill

I am currently in Paro, co-facilitating a BRIDGE(Building Resources In Democracy, Governance and Elections)  workshop at Tashi Namgay Resort. Yesterday was the first day and it was a bit intimidating at first facing 31 adults, who work for the ECB while I, who works as a GAO, am trying to teach them something about election and that is also with Brian and Beatrice watching my every move. I am sure they could tell that I was a nervous wreck during the introduction and that did nothing to boost my morale either.

My nerves got calmer as the day progressed and after sometime I was doing fine(at least I hoped so....:)) But we have a very quiet group of 16 females and 16 males this time. At first I worried that it was me, thinking that maybe I was not clear enough or that I was not doing it in an interesting manner but they were the same when Brian and Beatrice and Tashi did their presentations also. I guess they were a bit shy since it was the first day yesterday and today they were a bit more responsive, they just needed a little push. We weren't getting any volunteers so we just got some people to do things and they did them quite well - I guess they are just not the voluntary type.

The two days have been hectic with early mornings and late nights, preparing presentations and trying out different ways because we don't have very outspoken participants. There's a lot of skills and preparation involved here and I don't know how the teachers do it day in and day out(no wonder my husband complained so much - it IS a lot of hard work). Tashi and I will be busy the whole morning tomorrow with the 'First Past the Post' mock election. Sigh....it's going to be another hectic morning and although three more co-facilitators will be joining us, they are just driving in from Thimphu in the morning so they won't have any preparation time. That just leaves us then.

All things said, it has been a very good learning experience for me and I am glad I got this opportunity. Hopefully I can become a workshop facilitator soon, then an accrediting facilitator and finally an expert facilitator. Its just wishful thinking, but hey, who knows! So keep your fingers crossed for me!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

I shall write for you

I am Tshering. Married to a handsome husband with a beautiful daughter. I have always been interested in writing something, anything, but never had the confidence to do so. Oftentimes I would write, but my so called articles were fated to end up in the dustbin because I never had the confidence to either show it someone or get them published somewhere. So till now my relationship with my writing has been one of getting it out of my mind and onto a paper which ultimately went to the garbage.

My dear husband always had more confidence in me and has always encouraged me to write. This blog was also his idea and he has been pestering me to write for ages now. He is currently in Gujarat doing his Masters and every evening when I call him he asks me if I had written something on my blog (So much so that I can even hear him in my dreams). I have been making up excuses till now, and finally, since I am really running out of excuses, I am attempting to write something. I have no idea what I am writing but when I call Sonam in the evening and when he asks me that question, I can finally say, "Yes, I have written something".

I guess since this is my first, I will just write a little bit about everything. Umm...lets see, I have talked about my family a bit, so now, I should say a little bit about my work. I work In Gasa as a GAO and we were the first ever to fill this position. As is our Government's policy, we were sent to the Gewogs with no idea of what we were supposed to do, no terms of reference and with a lot of nonsense fed to us about how "important" we were. So in 2007, I came to Damji and went to office only to find it locked without a soul around and only trees for company. Its almost been five years to that day and a lot of things have changed now. The trees, for instance, have relatively thinned, and a lot of infrastructures have come up. There's always one person or another standing around so you don't feel like you are the only person on the planet anymore. Yet, I wonder if I have made a difference or after five years of living here and working here and giving it your everything, I leave and nobody would notice. Or if people will remember me for something that I have done. I guess I can only wonder.

With nothing else coming to my mind I think I will sign off here. I am too tempted to delete the whole thing but I don't want to go through the whole process of being questioned and making excuses so I will let this one be. At least I am confident that ONE person, that is my hubby darling, will read it, so with that satisfaction I will have written something...today. Thank you Sonam for making this dream of mine come true also. If not for anything else, I shall write for you......