Saturday, 28 February 2015

IT WAS NOT MARATHON, BUT SECOND LAP OF A RELAY

picture: google
At the end of last month, someone wrote that, after a month of marathon blogging, he felt a sense of relief. He wrote how he felt during his month long blogging, running out ideas and topic and sweating in the middle of the night. Somehow he managed to complete his writing marathon. It was commendable to be writing one post every day because it is not easy.

By then, I was also having my own writing plan. I had few New Year resolutions just broken and wanted to redeem by the beginning of February. How I broke my resolution was bit funny because the resolutions have not seen even the first day.

I had a list ready and daring to go when on January 1, a friend turned up and declared that resolutions are meant to be broken. It was not my intention to break them but, had to. Writing regularly for my blog was one of them. So, with my resolution broken without even beginning, I took a month long sabbatical from blogging. Well, not writing was easiest part. One day led to the next adding up to weeks and lo, a month was over. Not a single blog post.

This is how easy it is to lose what few good habits that we may have like reading and writing on daily basis or at least regularly. I didn't want that to happen. I had to pick up from where I left and that bloggers note saying he completed a month long marathon of blogging was just the perfect prod for me to pick up writing again.
picture: google

I declared, it was not a marathon he completed, I took it as a writing relay. I took the baton from him on January 31, and began my own writing run, not marathon but another lap of a relay. I was lucky to run the second lap, an easier one. I hope someone will pick up the baton from tomorrow and begin another month long third lap.

I call upon fellow bloggers to pick up another month long writing challenge from tomorrow, March 1. I was lucky to be writing the second lap. Like in real sprint relay race, those running the middle lap are slower that those who run the first lap and the last lap. The weaker ones are in the middle. I am one who ran the middle lap.

Honestly, it was not that easy writing every day. Avoiding writing on late nights was simply irresistibly tempting.  I did not have any obligations or deadlines like before. But I slogged on. And today, it feels good to have not abandoned writing in the middle. just Like a runner whose muscles are stretched and strained with cramps and lungs running out of air, ideas did run out on many nights, and  time was always against me but, like the runner who must keep running till the line, I also made a resolve to write and post one blog every night come what may.  

I must thank few friends who suggested ideas when I most needed. Often, when I run out of idea, like anyone else I try to think. The more I think, the more constricted my brain becomes of ideas. It was during those moments some of my good  friends came to my rescue suggesting ideas. They were refreshing.
 
picture: google
Well, let me tell one thing to my readers that, if we have little will and determination we can do things we want to do. We always claim to be busy and lacking time to do things. This is not true. The truth is we lack determination. You see, I did not post one single blog in January. I did not have time too, but more than the time, I did not have that determination. In February, I must say I had even busier days but, yet churned out 28 blog post for the month’s 28 days because, I told myself I am going to write everyday. This is the difference. But I must confess that, in doing so, I may not have interesting or readable stories and that was the flip side of keeping my self imposed declaration intact.

From now, there will be no daily blogs to bore readers but, like in the past I intend to keep trickling posts on regular intervals.

 Dear friends, some of you keep saying that, you are busy and have works to do, things to attend to, before picking up books to read or articles to write. Well, that day is not going to come. If you really want to read and write, do it now, make a beginning and make it happen.

Happy reading and god bless you all.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 28, 2015 09:00 PM


Friday, 27 February 2015

JUMDRE-MI-LUWA;THE LAW OF CAUSE AND EFFECT

source: google
My yesterday’s post was about the evidence that, there is life after death. Buddhists always believed in this phenomena and it forms the basis of Buddhists practice. Now, evidences of rebirth are filtering in even from nonconformist places that reincarnation and rebirths are possible and that there are ample evidences of life after death.

If there is life after death then, it is certain that, all will want to be reborn in a most conducive environment where there is no suffering and life is filled with joy and happiness. Who will want to be born amid sufferings and chaos where war, famine, violence and crime are a part of everyday life if we knew and also had a choice? What would be our choice?  Will we ever walk into suffering with open eyes? We do have a choice according to Buddhist belief. It is up to us which choice to make. This is called, ‘ Jumdre Mi Lu Wa,’ the incontrovertible truth of cause and effect.
 
source;google
I must again make a confession before further ado that, what I am writing is not a scholarly or masterly view expressed with authority over this subject. Mine is an explanation of lay man’s perspective. It will undoubtedly be filled with lot of deficiencies. I take full responsibility for any.

Well, let’s now admit from evidences cited in earlier post that there is life after death. And the life after death is determined by our actions in the previous life and, how and where we are born are because of the result of indisputable law of cause and effect called Ley Jumdre. Ley Jumdre is truth based on the wisdom of; as you sow, so you reap. Rimpoches and teachers often put it like this-if we sow maize, it will be maize plant that will grow and not otherwise. Likewise, if we sow seeds of love and peace, we can expect to be loved back and peace to prevail. Love begets love, not hatred. Peace will bring peace, not violence.
 
source: google
Now, if we are convinced with the truth of cause and effect-Ley Jumdre, which we should. Then shouldn't humans at individual level pursue actions that will result in achieving good after-life? If we are to invest through good speech, thoughts and actions for our future life, we would be mindful of our present actions. If we are all mindful of present actions, results for future cannot be wrong. Consistency in our actions will ensure that there will be no discord in family and neighbourhood. When neighbours and communities coexist in peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, the nation will be at peace and progress in humanitarian areas can take place and we can prosper. Extension of this at greater magnitude will be global peace and harmony.

 Can this be achieved then? Yes it can, I would say, if we are prepared to change ourselves at individual level. What and whose purposes do war and violence serve? War and violence only serve the interest of blood sucking war mongers, megalomaniac despots and corporate thugs. In the process, ordinary human beings lose the purpose of life and with it, the rare opportunity to achieve higher rebirths in this endless cycle of samsara, while also making our world a better place to live.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 27, 2015 10:40 PM




Thursday, 26 February 2015

IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH?

source: google
Today, I picked up a difficult topic for my blog on whether there is life after death. Right from the onset, I must confess, I am neither a science buff nor a spiritual master. Not even a serious practitioner but, someone who by the virtue of having been born in an inherited Buddhist society, believes that there is life after death. With time and maturity, this believe only becomes firmer with evidences around us.

I think science does not believe in reincarnation or that there is life after death. For centuries science always maintained that life ends after death. But, Buddhism I think maintains that death is not an end of life. That there is life after death and we have the potential to become enlightened or be born in any life form depending upon our present deeds and actions. Virtuous deeds lead to better rebirth and sinful and vice living leads to rebirth in lesser forms. For this reason, Buddhism advocates virtuous and ethical living to pave way for better rebirth that will entail less suffering.

I think centuries old Buddhist wisdom converges with modern scientific findings and discoveries on many issues. In most instances, what science today discovers, always had Buddhist answers and explanations too. This is truly amazing. What researchers are discovering and finding in laboratories, Buddhist masters have discovered and taught for hundreds of years from caves, hermitages and monasteries.

But on one issue, even with convincing evidences, science seems to be reluctant to admit to the existence of life after death and reincarnation which Buddhism believes firmly. Accomplished Buddhist masters reach a stage where they gain control over their mind and also their mortal beings. Highly accomplished Buddhist masters have reincarnated again and again to serve spiritual needs of people and liberate these people from ignorance and samaras.

The Dalai Lama is the 14th reincarnation, the Karmapas are 17th reincarnations, the late Shamarpa is 24th, Gyalwang Drukpa is the 12th reincarnation to cite few examples of reincarnation of accomplished masters.

The fact that there are convincing evidences of even ordinary people being reborn as human reinforce the fact that there is life after death and that life can be into higher realm or lower depending upon one’s conduct during their life time. It reaffirms the truth of cause and effect (ley jumdre).

As evidence, I would like to cite an example of an incidence in Bumthang that took place just a couple of years ago. A young boy behaved strangely from his childhood. He crawled on all fours and would often hit others with his head. As he grew up and began garbling few words he made sounds like a bovine and his bout of crying subsided when he was taken to a cow pen. Perplexed, the parents sought divination from some high lamas and it was found that in his past life he was mithun bull in a nieghbour’s house. As a child, he often disappeared from his home and he was always to be found in a cow shed. Strange, but it is a true story.

There are innumerable other stories of deceased people taking rebirth in neighbour and relative’s family. Some are even reborn in the same home. The evidences are identifying people and objects and recalling past life when the children were just able to speak few words.

Farther away, even in a society where reincarnation and life after death is not believed, a convincing case of life after death was reported recently from Israel-Syria border. A three-year-old boy said with accuracy of his previous home and that he was murdered in his past life. He took village elders to a spot where he said his former remains were buried. When the people dug up the place they found the remains of a human body. He then led people to a place where he said murder weapon, an axe was buried, and the search group also unearthed an axe. The boy had a birth mark on his forehead and he claimed it to be where he was hit in his past life. The skull had marks which bore the brunt of the axe on the same spot. What was even more baffling was that the boy led the group to the house of the murderer and identified him. The man confessed and was subsequently tried and sentenced. This incidence was recorded by a medical doctor.

I think these are ample evidences of life after death. Evidences of mind having potential to control physical remains are also amply documented over the centuries and even today accomplished masters leave us no room for doubting this belief. The most recent case was that of the mortal remains of Late His Holiness Geshe Geden Rinchen which failed to decompose and began shrinking baffling the scientific communities. The case of Hambo Lama Iteligov’s body still in lotus posture and without signs of decaying almost a century after his death in Russia have no scientific explanations whatsoever.

There are so many other stories of reincarnation that proves of life after death. I think scientific communities must acknowledge in the belief that there is indeed life after death. There are ample evidences the world over. There is no need for further scientific proof of something science cannot prove.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 26, 2015 11:58 PM


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A STREET WALKER

By the side of a narrow road,
In a far away county away from crowd,
Shanty houses line the street almost empty.
Shop owners are ready but customers are scanty,
Those walking the street, walk straight on the road.

The haste with which they walk is in urgency,
White scarves on shoulders, Tshangla, they speak with fluency,
The frills of the scarf sway to the tune of men’s step,
To the gentle breeze blowing over the area that is steep,
And to the Dzong, a shabbily dressed farmer scampers in urgency.

His white cuffs are soiled, his hair unruly
Rubber slippers clap on the heels cracked cruelly
To anyone smartly dressed he kept bowing
Partly ignorant, mostly innate goodness overflowing
A man of the village with a heart of gold, he is surely.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 25, 2015 10:30 PM


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

FIRST DAY IN SCHOOL-DO WE NEED TO RUSH AT ALL?

picture source: google
Around this time of the year, both parents and children go through anxious moments.  The result of the board examinations declared around this time of the year brings either relief or heartbreaks for parents. But, more than the result, the wait itself is always anxious.

After coming to terms with the reality of how the children fared in board examinations, another worry sets in.  Securing high marks cannot guarantee happiness or relief for the parents as they need to find resources to send their children to schools and colleges. Even with government supported scholarships, parents need to make substantial expenditures too.

For those parents whose children did not do well in the examination, the situation is even worse. Low marks means that they have to be sent to expensive private schools for further studies or drop school altogether. Both options are often hard to swallow.

And then it is time for new admissions for those children who upon acquiring the age of six get to go to schools for the first time.  Many complex issues arise during the time of new admissions. Parents need to produce some valid documents to prove that the child has attained the minimum age for enrollment.

From the time when parents bribed officials to exempt their children from going to school just a few decades back, parents now go to any extent to get their underage children admitted in schools. This is a drastic change in importance of school education between then and now. Today, many manage to submit fake documents but not all can do that. Most cases go unreported but, sometimes this issue come to light and serves as embarrassments to those involved at best.

While it would give temporary relief to get our children admitted in schools this unethical way, in doing so, we are also overburdening our children. This is something like exploitation in real sense. After a year or so, some parents manage to reconcile the tampered documents with correct ones but, others fail to correct them and hence become a thorny issue later.

When children are taken for the first time to schools, most children panic and will refuse to go to school unless a parent or a guardian is around. This goes on for few days for some, while it takes weeks for other children to get used to life in school. Children crying in school are a common thing. Most of us must have cried the first time we went to schools. At worst, the anxiety and stress makes these young children to pee and even defecate in the classrooms.

So it is important for parents to understand the mental state of a child.  We must let them attain proper age and mental development before we decide to send them to schools. Why deprive them their childhood by making them older fictitiously with tampered birth certificates? But, on the other hand, there must also be accommodating rules in admission criteria. For example, a child who is short of two or three months for admission age can best be allowed admission rather than make the child wait for another academic session by which time, this particular child is seven to eight months too old. Perhaps this kind of rigidity must be the reason why children are being admitted under aged with fake documents.

It is important for parents to understand that there is no need for us to rush our innocent children into shouldering responsibilities that they are not mentally and physically prepared to take. And let us not deprive them their right to childhood if we love them and yes, we all love our children right?
Gyembo Namgyal

February 25, 2015 11: 55 PM


Monday, 23 February 2015

SPINNING LEAVES AND SWAYING LEAVES

picture: google
Warming days is a sign spring is here
Soon there will be heat and rains will follow
For now buds on trees are bulging everywhere
Even blades of green grasses emerge from below.

It’s spring when the winds blow strong
Rattling roofs of houses and huts just to mock
Sometimes it   breaks and uproots trees that are strong
Sending panic and making feared souls run amok.

But today it was a gentle breeze and not gutsy wind
That could just sway the bamboo groves by the road side
It could neither break branches nor rattle roofs of any kind
But dislodge old leaves and deposit them far and wide.

Some leaves came down fast, spinning like turbine
Some dropped leisurely swaying and floating fine.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 23, 2015 11:50 PM




Sunday, 22 February 2015

A TRIBUTE TO NAGMO, THE DOG

It has been over three months now, I haven’t seen Nagmo. It happened once, that she disappeared for about a month. And when I thought she must have died, she came with wobbly legs and emaciated body. The rib cage bones were jutting out of her thin body. She was different from what she used to be in the past.

Nagmo is a stray dog living in the vicinity of a home some few hundred metres away from where I live. She is a clever dog. Dogs are supposed to be clever with animal instincts but, she was one who stood over the rest of her packs and those around our area. The entire fur on her body was black with a patch of white on her chest like that of bear, hence a farmer in whose place she often remained, named her Nagmo (literally meaning black female)

When I say this dog was cleverer than the rest, I mean it from what I observed about her. She was a stray and that means she have to be on a constant lookout for food. Unlike other dogs, she will never stay in one place and will always be on the move. She is an opportunist. When she comes looking for food, she does it with stealth. She always makes one round of any home she is visiting and if the doors are open, she will enter and eat anything she can find. She eats fast and as soon as she finishes or hears sound, she leaves the place and will never return for the day.

Even after having found something easy to eat from one particular place, she is that kind of dog with instinct that she will not come back often like other dogs do. Perhaps, as a stray, she must have learnt her lessons the painful way. Even when she is fed, she will not stay put in that place or come back as often.

The fact, that she was not sterilized despite repeated sterilization campaigns in this area is a proof of just how clever she was. When the campaigns are on, professional dog catchers were able to nab most of the canines but not Nagmo. A neighbour who is familiar with this dog said that, the she always disappeared from the scene every time sterilization campaigns were taking place in the vicinity and reappears after few days. She was also never put in the dog pound, when government made attempts to cage all the strays in pound.

She doesn’t bark much but she never allows human too close either. And because she was not sterilized, she always gave birth to at least half a dozen puppies each year until last year.

When she disappeared for over a month and reappeared again, it was obvious someone broke her leg then. And after that, she was never same again. She was no longer young and neither was she able to make full recovery from that gruesome injury.

For the last few months, she was not found in any of those places she goes to, looking for food. So it can be surmised that, she must have died or may be picked up by leopard in the night. The later is likely as her dead body was not found.

With her no more in the vicinity, my neighbours began mentioning her of late. They often say that, no longer do they find this clever dog around. This is an indication of just how clever she was for people to notice her in particular out of so many strays around. If she is dead, it is good for her soul. Bhutanese and Buddhists believe that next rebirths for dogs are as humans. I think, she will be one of those intelligent humans after being a clever dog too.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 22, 2015 09:30 PM


Saturday, 21 February 2015

A WEEK OF FESTIVITIES

It was a week of festivities in Bhutan with at least two major reasons for the nation to celebrate. First it was the Lunar New Year of the wood sheep called Losar. Not just in Bhutan, the day is celebrated by Buddhist the world over.

In Bhutan, this is the time of feastings and festivities too. People prepare days before every Losar for feasting and celebration. And these include buying meat in advance and loads of meat too, to see off a month long meat ban during the auspicious first lunar month. Families also converge together and traditional games of archery, khuru and degor are also prearranged between different groups.

Despite the festive occasion, I can certainly say that the enthusiasm for the festivials like Losar have gone down compared to the past decades in urban centres. But, out in the villages, people still celebrate with enthusiasm. For the third day, I can hear the celebratory shouts of archery, khuru or degor matches going on somewhere within the hearing distance.

In parts of the villages people in groups are said to be rotating each day between homes sharing the best of local brew warmed in butter and eggs.

The third day of the sheep year coincided with another important event in the country, the birth anniversary of His Majesty, the King. His Majesty turns 35 today and the entire nation not only rejoices his birthday but wishes him good health and fulfillment of his aspirations for the country.

This year, on behalf of the people, the Prime Minister made five pledges as offerings to His Majesty, the King and His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. In his traditional state of nation speech, the Prime Minister underlined the following five pledges:

-          A pledge to work hard by all civil servants and build a stronger and stable Bhutan.
-          A pledge to root out corruption and strengthen institutions that play as deterrent to corruptions like the national Anti Corruption Commission, the royal audit authority, the office of attorney general and judiciary. This was significant, given that the foreign minister flanking the prime minister was facing corruption charges.
-          A pledge for all the school children to read at least a book each month in pursuit of national aspiration of knowledge based society and also as a part of dedication to His Majesty, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s 60th birth anniversary, dedicated as the national reading year.
-          A pledge for each teacher to adopt a child from disadvantaged families and support the child for a year and come out with a report by the end. Something like a social responsibilities for thousands of teachers.
-          A pledge to restore thousands of hollowed and derelict choetens in the country in a year. Despite the need to restore these choetens, it would be important to do it in a way that does not attract another spate of vandalism. I don’t know why, but I still have some reservations on whether this will be worth after all.

There are two more days of the five days holidays for civil servants and office goers.  For farmers, preparations are on to begin tilling land for maize plantations in lower altitudes. For them, after two important festivities, life quickly reverts back to normal chores.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 21, 2015

11.58 PM


Friday, 20 February 2015

PATH TO RETREAT

From where the motor road ended,
A track begins in zigzag snaking uphill,
That takes to a place where elders reside,
Away from the hullabaloos, on the peak of a hill.

The climb uphill was not easy but arduous,
The legs become heavy, the loads burden us down.
Out of breath and chests heaving, every step is laborious,
Relieved it was reaching the knoll over cliff’s crown.

Glad it felt to throw the load off and lay down flat,
And catch my breath and let the heaving subside.
And lo, the sight that unfolded took my breath away,
Right in front is the entire valley sprawling on all sides.

The wind blows hard on this vantage point,
Where prayers travel fast written on wind horse flags,
So the knoll is strewn with prayer flags strung all over,
Blowing wildly in urgency, prayers spread from these flags.

From here the track just winds up further into the forest,
Of oaks and cypress in new flush and rhododendrons in full bloom.
The landscape is scenic and scintillatingly surreal,
There cannot be any reason for gloom to loom.

From there the elders took on,
Loads divided, the journey resume,
Not far is the destiny that is so serene,
And on the same track our return journey too resume.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 20, 2015 11:10 PM






Thursday, 19 February 2015

WELCOMING SHEEP YEAR WITH LOSAR

picture: Google
It was past midnight when I slept last night on the eve of Losar, the lunar New Year, according to Bhutanese and Buddhist calendar. The importance of keeping and celebrating the New Year, the traditional way was strong in my mind when I finally hit the bed after posting my blog. This meant waking up early and partaking in the preparation of meals that are a part of any Bhutanese holidays and festivals.

I planned to wake up early but sleeping late has had its effect on me. I woke up by the break of daylight after tumultuous dream that neither had beginning nor an end. I brushed my teeth and washed my face and then began preparing porridge, a traditional Bhutanese course to begin with.

A text message wishing me and my family definitely made my day. It was from no ordinary being. At a time when it was always you who have to make the first call, send the first text a message or be the first one to wish online to even closest friends, receiving a message from an illustrious and a distinguished personality like the former Chief Justice Lyonpo Sonam Tobgye was a humbling and an inspiring experience. I considered it as a good omen for a good day and a good year ahead.

And indeed, we had a good day. There were few visitors even when I missed my eldest son, a good friend and his family (a part of my extended family) on medical sojourn at Thimphu and of course the rest of my family scattered around the globe. Despite physical separation, everyone is included in my prayers made at the altar room. This was the least I could do.

I am gratified by those few visitors who came to my place today. In doing so, the feelings grow even fonder and just dropping by on an auspicious day like Losar makes the day even more beautiful.

The sounds of people celebrating a hit in an archery match or may be even Degor ( a game of throwing a circular stone) are obvious. It is a rare sound heard only during festive occasions like Losar today. In the past, winter months are a time when village folks have lot of fun with occasional archery, degor and Khuru matches. Honestly, today was the first day in many months that, a sound of celebration and jubilation was heard in the village. It brought back fond memories.

At the end of the day, I just thought that, despite the fast changes that are taking place, traces of everything that are good in our culture and tradition do exist even today. My only wish is; in spite of all these fast changes, may our timeless values survive for eons to come.

For all those who are inebriated, those wearing beer-goggles, those feeling tipsy or those completely sober, let me wish  you all a Happy Losar and Happy Lunar New Year of the sheep!!!

Gyembo Namgyal
February 19, 2015 10:00 PM






Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A REJUVENATING EXPERIENCE

Negotiating a treacherous narrow track over a cliff with a sack of rice on my shoulder, I felt relieved when I finally reached the knoll on top. My adrenalin was rushing and I was running out of my breath as I dropped the sack to the ground and sat down to catch my breath. My better half was following little distance behind and further behind was my 72-years-old mother in-law. They also have loads on their back.

We were on our way to reach my mother in-law to a community of elderly people who made a serene and a peaceful place in the middle a forest their place of spiritual pursuit away from the hullabaloo of the villages around. She wanted to be among these elderly people for a month. And this month, the first of the traditional lunar calendar is one of the most auspicious months which has the potency of multiplying any merits gained by manifolds. This month is also known as Bumjur Dawa, literally meaning that a single merit accumulated during this month can multiply a hundred thousand fold.

Since I really don’t know on this multiplication factor, I accept it. So I whole heartedly try and make it possible for her to pursue spirituality even if it was for a month.

Back at the knoll, the sight around took my breath away once more. The entire bowl shaped valley just sprawled in front of me. It was not just mesmerizing but inviting too. The villages far and near, the mountain that goes in circular formation and the Oori River meandering according to folds of those mountain bases are all beautiful except for that ugly sight of the gypsum mine right in the middle. An eye sore it is always going to be.

The knoll is a place where the wind blows strong because if its position. So, it is apparently an ideal place to hoist Lungdhar  (Wind horse) prayer flags. The entire place has been dressed in full with prayer flags that blew wildly in the strong wind current. Differing glow of print and colour of these prayer flags indicated its various ages. Some have begun tearing and the strong winds are found blowing them away piece by piece and in bits.

Just below is a new Gonpa under construction. The progress of the Drasha (Hostel) construction for monks is making a good progress and the place already endowed with scenic landscape is on its way to becoming an important spiritual centre in the dzongkhag.
 
pic. source: Google
What made the place so surreally beautiful are the innumerable rhododendrons in full bloom. It is all over the forest around us.  Just as we were about to resume our journey, a dog came scampering directly in our direction. Just few metres away from us it turned back and looked around the track. We knew it was a sign some people are following him. And few minutes later three elderly people residing in the community of elderly walked towards us. They have come specifically to help my in-law carry her belongings.

From that point, I and my better half returned back while the four elderly people began their walk back. On my way back I collected few saplings of rhododendrons which I planted around my place. I hope one day, these plants will all produce beautiful flowers of theirs. I felt rejuvenated with the experience.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 18, 2015 11: 45 PM


WISHING MY READERS A HAPPY LOSAR TOMORROW AND MAY THE SHEEP YEAR BRING YOU ALL HEALTH AND HAPPINESS THROUGHOUT THE NEW YEAR!!!


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

THE HAIRY ISSUE

Picture: Google
It is school time yet again. And yet again another pressing and thorny issue will confront both schools and students and that is hair, especially the length of hair boys can maintain while the school is in session.

The reason, many boys come to school with less than desirable hair dos. The length, the colour and the general presentations fall short of many schools’ authorities’ desire. It is often the first admonishing students get from their teachers on. To the students, this is seen as excessive interference on what is essentially a non-issue. Many see it as a means for teachers to exert their authorities. Both the teachers on the one hand and, students on the other feel they are right in their own ways.

I don’t know which set is right and which is not but, there certainly seem to be something right and something wrong in the both stand according to what little comprehension abilities I have.

When I say teachers or school authorities are right in taking particular interest on having students abide by a set of rules and conduct, they are right. And maintaining an ideal length of hair by the students is not just good to look at but it shows the inculcation of discipline. Discipline is an essential part of growing up to be not just physically but mentally strong and responsible citizens of the country.

Having said that, I also think students may be right to some extent objecting to something personal like individual’s hair. Certainly, there are obviously more important things to promote and inculcate in schools than be obsessed by something like hair. But, while students must have the choice to maintain their hair at an acceptable length, it must not be taken as a licence to colour bizarrely or style it as the want like punks and hippies.

Herein is a need to maintain balance, follow middle path. Teachers must be little lenient and allow children to maintain manageable and acceptable length of hair instead of forcing children to cut their hair like conscripted army recruits. Length of hair must not be a way to exercise authorities over children. Let’s be little democratic now. We certainly need to bring out responsible and capable children and what good will a haircut, the army style do? I think we do not really need teachers carrying scissors in the assembly session and scare students to hide even in cupboards to escape from humiliation.

This post is about how hair has become a big issue in schools. For now, this post is about boys’ hair alone. What do you, readers think? Please share your thoughts.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 17,2015 10:50 PM  







Monday, 16 February 2015

BUILD ROAD NOT CONTROVERSY

Just as I was thinking of the next subject to write about, Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) ran a story on some kind of controversy that halted the road construction in Shingkhar gewog under Zhemgang dzongkhag. Although, I am not familiar with that place, it was understood that the two part of the same village could not agree on the alignment of the road and the construction is now halted.

It is a sad thing to happen. By stopping the progress of the work, it is the people themselves who are going to be affected. There must be a solution to this disagreement. The villagers must and can find a mutually beneficial solution to this problem. Stopping the work is certainly not the solution.

One important step before proposals for an important project like road construction is considered is the public consultations. I am sure this must have been thoroughly done. If it was done, the best solution would be adhering to those outcomes irrespective of what the disgruntled people object to. But, at times, many of the projects appear to have deficiencies during that critical phase leading to problems during the time of implementation.

There are instances where, roads built in the villages could be more beneficial with little more consultations. For example, the farm road to Khangma village goes on the other side of the village with the village on another side. That road I think would really benefit people if it goes right inside the village connecting as many households as possible. Already people rue about this.

The road to Chimong gewog near Pangthang village is precarious. The alignment can be termed as poor with treacherous gradients and narrow width. That road also could have been better if there was proper planning and public consultations.

And the road to Chongshing gewog centre is likely to be an ecological disaster. There is realignment taking place right now but, even the realigned road is no better than the one that had to be realigned in the first place. Excuse me if I am wrong.

While, engineers are professionally competent, the views and suggestions of local government officials and village elders must always be given accommodation. What they lack in technicality is more than adequately compensated by their experience, wisdom and practical understanding of local terrains.

But the most important part of the consultation is getting the consensus of the beneficiaries without any reservations. They must be then made to abide by the decisions of the engineers in developing alignment based on technical standard.  And they must not be allowed to interfere when the engineers do their unbiased duty of aligning the roads. This would reduce conflicts later like the one in Shingkhar.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 16, 2015 11:40 PM


Sunday, 15 February 2015

BURNING TOWNS

Picture: Google
“There is fire in Sarpang town, my dad just left to the site,” wrote a friend of mine from Sarpang on my chat. Before I could ask her for more details, she was offline. About an hour later, BBS television confirmed the tragedy. The reporter who rushed from Gelephu base said that anywhere between 70 to 90 percent of the town have been reduced to ashes in a matter of hours.

This is another major disaster that has taken place in the recent times.  This is the second major disaster to have befallen residents of Sarpang town. The town had also been washed away by flood more than a decade back.

It is a reflection of just how vulnerable we are to this kind of disasters. Towns like this made of temporary huts are apparently a disaster in the waiting. The nation has seen fire disasters at Bumthang and Wamrong towns in the past and rebuilding them back had been a costly affair even with generous support from His Majesty’s Kidu.

When disaster strikes us, we raise various questions and point to many possible causes. This is at best desirable to know the cause but, does not serve much purpose. When disasters strike us, we must learn valuable lessons and try our best to avert such tragedies from taking place in future. In Sarpang’s case, the new town planning must have been expedited long time back ideally. But, there must have been valid reasons why the town planning got delayed thus far.

At times like this, the entire nation stands in solidarity with victims of this tragedy. In most cases of shanty towns, there are no insurance covers of those business establishments.  It is hoped that, those shops reduced to ashes in Sarpang have been insured. Terrible loss it is for the residents who lost their shops and homes, but at least if they are insured, getting back to normal life would be easier.

There may also be other towns like Sarpang that sit on the brink of disasters. These places deserve closer attentions from authorities concerned. Among them is certainly Pemagatshel town. The temporary sheds are all clustered together and because the shops stand on government land, the shopkeepers have no ownership rights. This also means they have no insurance cover as I understand.

Relocation to the new town at Denchi has been long overdue. The sooner, the go ahead is given to relocation, the better it would be for both the government and residents. Both people and the government cannot afford another disaster like Sarpang, Bumthang and Womrong to happen again.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 15, 2015
11: 40 PM




Saturday, 14 February 2015

BEAUTIFUL, BUT...

From that vantage point
On the road that was new but quaint
We give rest to our rickety old car
To gather itself for the travel afar
Like beast of burden all but gaunt.

The road was empty but overgrown
With brushes that looked like sown
For they are right on the road’s centre
Was it really a road or a jungle’s epicenter?
It’s road, the brushes are being mowed down.

While we rest and give rest to machine
We devour the sight of the landscape so pristine
The mountains all green as far as eyes can see
But a cancer like mine eats into the beautiful green sea
A sign of greed expanding its wings not so fine.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 14,2015 11:05 PM




Friday, 13 February 2015

VALENTINE DAY-A TRIBUTE TO LOVE

Picture: google
Valentine day is back again,
Romance blooming in the air,
People in love or looking for one,
Shower love, the best way you can,
If you didn’t, may today be the day.
For one more time relive even your lost love,
If you were ditched, true love awaits you,
If your love went unrequited, it’s not your fault,
If you are not loved, love back liberally.
Express love with no hesitation,
Shower all the love you have in your heart,
For in loving someone, your love will only grow,
And only in loving someone, you love yourself,
And for one day let there be no heartbreaks.
Love is a universal religion worship it,
It is a language all human heart can understand.
Love transcends time and distance, colour and race,
Religion and beliefs, language and laws.
It is a language our hearts speak without utterances,
It is the innate quality that we are born with,
Who are we to forestall its progression?
So let’s celebrate the sacrifices of Saint Valentine,
Let there be love like Romeo and Juliet,
Sha Jahan and Mumtaz,
Jodha and Akbar,
Paris and Helena,
Salim and Anarkali,
And our own Singye and Galem.
The legends live on in our hearts,
But all ordinary love stories,
Are as legendary as any of those legends,
For no love is small and no love is great.
Love is love and only hearts can feel it,
Love gives reasons for heart to grow fonder,
On weathered faces or radiant one,
On withered body or robust one.
Love is a balm for aching heart,
Love can heal a broken heart,
Love is ambrosia for wailing soul,
And can melt a stubborn heart.
Give your love the freshness of spring season,
The warmth of the summer season,
And the bounty of autumn.
Let there be fragrance of your love in breeze,
And blow away hatred and vengeance.
Grow love and nurture in your heart,
Share love and let it touch everyone’s soul.
Today, on this Valentine’s Day
Don’t let a heart go asking why?
Answer with nothing but, love and more love.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

Gyembo Namgyal
February 13, 2015
11:50 PM




Thursday, 12 February 2015

JITTERY TIME FOR PARENTS

Pic source: Google
February is a time when people in the villages have plenty of time to rest and relax.  It is a time to relax and have fun the village ways playing archery, Khuru and Doegor during the festive month. Not anymore.

Today, it is not a festive month. It has become a haunting month for parents who have children studying in classes ten and twelve. Although, the calendar’s most coveted festival; that of traditional New Year is overshadowed by the performances of children who appeared Bhutan’s common examinations.

So many dreams are broken this month and so many young souls are left crestfallen when the results of classes 10 and 12 were declared. Some are driven to drugs and alcohol from which they can never return to normality. Some are pushed to bankruptcy for which they will remain indebted for years to lenders.

The scenes are more of pain and frustrations than happiness. Parents are jittery looking for money to ensure the fulfillment of the desires of their children. Children are often oblivious of the reality. Already most parents have resorted to various means to have their children educated  by now.

Few are spared the need to worry of their children’s education. Some are exceptionally good at studies and handful are economically well off to be able to comfortably send their children to good government colleges and schools. For majority, it is still a painful time. Many farmers cannot send their children to private schools even when the desire for education still burns in those young souls.

T heir little land to avail education loan for their children. Already people are exploiting various means to make life easier for their children

Some have yielded to pressures from their children, parents and relatives, yet others have to go knocking o the doors of those who have.  For these categories of parents, to be freed from the shackles of the issue will remain not just a daunting task but one that will haunt for many years.

I saw many parents pour their frustrations. Some are being just casual of their high marks but most others are just the opposite. They toil, they work hard and the situation demands them to perform even better, not for their sake but, for the sake of their children.

Gyembo  Namgyal

February 12, 2015 11:58 PM


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A BLADE OF GRASS

Picture: Google
A blade of grass in the meadow
In the breeze it waves ceaselessly
Gently with rhythm in the morning air
In the afternoon it sways as vigorously.

An ant walks on to the tip of the grass
As if to survey the whereabouts of its members
With its antennae alert on all its sensors
For it lost its path and cannot remember.

Then a drop of rain falls from the sky
And it rolls slowly to the grass tip bent low
A bumble bee came buzzing past and a
Butterfly rode in wind to see what’s the glow.

The water drop falls finally to the ground
On to the back of the ant passing by
A cow came grazing but, missed the blade
To the setting sun the blade of grass waved good bye.


Gyembo Namgyal
February 11, 2015 11:10 PM







Tuesday, 10 February 2015

THE FIRST ARDUOUS WALK-A WALK TO REMEMBER

picture: google
Tshering and Namgyal were mere acquaintance during their training days.Tshering is from Haa in Western Bhutan and Namgyal is from Bumthang in Central Bhutan. Both had their separate friends in the training institute and despite being cordial to each other, their association cannot be termed as that of friendship.

But what happens next is a complete surprise. After the training, both were sent to a remote village in Pemagatshel in Eastern Bhutan to serve. And neither spoke a word of the local dialect Tshangla. So after spending some weeks at the dzongkhag headquarters, they finally embark on their journey to their place of posting in Dungmin village. It is the remotest gewog in the dzongkhag devoid of roads, electricity or any communication facility.

Both become dejected when they leave the last motorable road at the gypsum mines and start walking. Dungmin is officially two days away from the nearest road head. Tshering did spend some months studying in the engineering college in Deothang before quitting it. But Namgyal had never been to east in his life. Both came from rural settings but, what they are embarking on is something they have not even imagined in their life.

At the bottom of the valley, they have to cross a stream several times back and forth. After that, the climb begins. Both the young men sweated profusely and from time to time they had to take rest underneath shades of trees. After hours of walking they reach Tsebar village. They were extremely thirsty following the loss of water from their body through sweats that have drenched their shirt when they reached the first village.

So relieved were they to find a water tap in the middle of the village. Both the men were not accustomed to the tricks of walking long distances. So thirsty were they that they drank and drank until they felt satisfied. They thought this will energize them to make the remainder of the journey. How wrong were they, they could hardly walk few steps. So lethargic they have become by then that they could barely take few steps at a time before slumping to the ground. This was the first hard lessons they learnt on walking that, no matter how thirsty you are, you must refrain from excessive drinking.

From Tsebar village, they could see the majestic chorten on the ridge above. The chorten looked tantalizingly close and within reach but,  in reality, the young men felt as if the chorten was moving away from them. At last, the reach the small pass where the chorten stands. They circumbulate the chorten three times and then resume their journey.

These novice walkers thought that, walking downhill would be an easy task. They found out how wrong they were. For few hundred metres, the men walked light footed but then after an hour of walking downhill, they felt weakness and pains on their knees. The walk slows down but the sun will not wait even for the first timers and since it is winter darkness creeps in fast. So the young men must pick themselves up and push on. The two men learn their second reality that, walking even downhill on steep terrain is no easier than walking up hill as was widely thought.

They reach Dungmin by the sun down and soon the darkness was all around. The silence of the night was eerie as the village nearby sleeps early. They put up in a small office for the night and although they were hungry, they skip dinner. Soon, sleep overtakes their senses and they drift to dreams. Both the men sleep fitfully on the same bed, there was just one.

Both the young men were so tired but, the experiences of the day have impact on the mental state of the young men that they dream uncomfortably. And in the crucible of his dream, Namgyal  saw people of various sizes and shapes shouting at his face in unison as if conveying some kind of message in alien language. He woke up and opened his eyes to see what was happening. And yes, people were indeed shouting. He opened the window little and saw people carrying huge bamboo candlelight and walking away from the village. There were sounds of clanking of small bells tied around the necks of horses. Is he dreaming? He pinched himself to understand if he was awake. Yes, he was. He wakes his friend and they discuss why the village folks are running away in the middle of the night. They became panicky but, stayed put wishing for the dawn to break.

The following day, they learn that people from remote villages had to walk in the middle of the night to the nearest road point at Denchi to do shopping for even the most basic essentials and return back the same day. This was the ways of the village. By sun-down, the village sleeps and wakes up in the middle of the night to begin the day. There are so much to learn for these two men in the days and months ahead. Will they learn, only time will tell.

Gyembo Namgyal
February 10, 2015 11:58 PM




Monday, 9 February 2015

SOMETHINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID, OR IS IT?

PIC; GOOGLE
“I am leaving tomorrow. Will you not come to meet me? If you are coming, I will be home today, otherwise a friend invited me for early dinner,” told Doelma over the phone to a friend of hers. If Drimed ever goes to Doelma’s place, it would not only be their first one-to-one meeting but, also their last.

Drimed was unsure of whether to heed to her final call or just avoid the meeting with some excuses. What’s the point in meeting her in the penultimate day of her departure? Those unsaid words and feelings are now best  left to rest or else it will only lead to the opening of floodgates of built up emotions and will be the cause of further heartbreaks.

Yet, another side of him wanted to go and meet her even if it is for the last time. And the fact that Doelma asked him to see her cannot have been a casual reason. She wanted to see him of all the people. She must have mustered her courage to have called him to ask for the meeting, he thought. So, Drimed weighed the options and finally made a return call telling Doelma, that he is coming.

Over the phone, she told him that, everything had been packed, ready to be shipped. “I have packed everything and I had to borrow even plates from my neighbours last night. In fact, I am being funny to ask you to come here but, for the last time, I wanted to see you,” she said, when Drimed called back to tell her, he is coming.

“Will you also bring me some of your favourite songs in your phone? I always loved your collections,” she added.

Drimed made a quick revision of his lists of favourite songs and transferred to his spare micro SD card. But, he did not know what to take as a parting gift. He thought, if there is anything to be gifted it must be appropriate. So he scoured the market and bought a thanka scroll. He thought, it is the most appropriate gift as it also auspicious and something related to spirituality.

Dolma saw Drimed coming. So she went outside her rented home to receive him. The house was a small traditional one with two rooms and a separate kitchen. It is not a bad place except it hung little precariously on a slope. Outside the house some people are found basking in the afternoon sun while three children ran helter-skelter merrily.

As is customary, Dolema prepared an aromatic tea but, she had to run to her neighbour’s place to get a porcelain mug serve. When she finally brought the steaming tea, she said, she forgot to leave even those essential utensils unpacked and now she is not sure which boxes contained what.

Drimed sat on a dewan wrapped in cardbox papers for transportation as Dolema made herself comfortable sitting on the floor. For few minutes they sat silently not knowing how to begin. “So you are going tomorrow? Why do you want to go so fast?” asked Drimed finally.
“Someone found me a vehicle going that way, so I have decided to go.”
“Yeah, sometimes everything falls in the right places like it has happened to you. It is a sign, something good is in store. You are going and there is vehicle going that way. It cannot get better.”
“Yeah but, I don’t know if it is going to be for better or worse. I wanted to go at one point of time. But, I don’t know why, if I have the choice I would love to remain back,” said Doelma, her voice chocking.

Drimed could not say anything too. There was a surge of emotion welling up inside him too. And he wondered why he is feeling that way. They have become good friends over the time. They even began liking each other but, that is it. The two never had enough courage to make their feelings known to each other and it had remained that way to this day, a time when they are on the verge of going separate ways. But, even without speaking and expressing anything, both understood through telepathy what they felt for each other.

In their first and the last meeting, both are unsure whether to let the other know what is going on inside their heart. They also realize the futility of letting each other know of their feelings now.  So they decide to let their emotions fizzle out.

When Drimed came to meet her the last time, one thing he wanted to do was muster all his courage and hug her. But, when the time came for him to leave her, all he could do was wish her safe journey. The reason Doelma called Drimed was to tell him she liked him at least and plant a kiss on his cheek for being the most wonderful friend outside her family. But, when he finally rose to leave, she could not even look into his eyes as tears filled them. And long after the parting, both kept thinking of each other knowing that with time new friends will come into their lives and enable them to move forward.

What do you think of this story? Did Drimed and Doelma do the right thing by leaving their feelings unexpressed even in their last meeting? After all, they have not been able to let each other know of their true feelings when they were together. Will time heal their feelings by ushering in new friends that may give new directions in their lives? Are certain things best left unsaid for the fear of their repercussions? I leave this for my readers to decide.

Gyembo Namgyal

February 9, 2015 11:57 PM


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