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Showing posts from October, 2009

PAYING FOR THE FREEDOM TO EXPRESS

One of the greatest Canadian parliamentarians, Edmund Burke, referred to press as the Fourth Estate, more important than three other estates in the parliament. I don’t know what the other three estates are. Maybe he was referring to legislation, judiciary and bureaucracy. Maybe I am wrong, so don’t take it seriously. Since I am just a casual writer, a reporter myself at one point of time, I thought I would share my own opinion about the newspapers’ role. I think it is especially relevant at a time when Bhutan Times has made headlines due to retirement of the reporters and an editor en masse. So, in the light of Voltaire, who said to Helvetius, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," the readers would have to tolerate me. Compared to many newspapers around the world, Bhutanese newspapers, except for Kuensel are still “ baby in the wood.” They do have their own share of faults but their virtues are far greater than their faults. T

ONE COW ECONOMY

Many years ago, on my way to my village, I happened to meet one of my village cousins playing with his friends. He insisted that I should meet his mother, my paternal aunt, who was at home brewing some ara. As custom demanded, I paid her a visit. Over few cups of ara, I wanted to find out how many cows she owned because cattle in Bhutan are treated at par with other family wealth. “ Hang ophey ya, wa bu-dang thurr shu cha. Onu bu nuu gurbu thurr phang gana, mala khung thurr rang (just have one cow that gives about one cup milk. Useless cow).“ When I was a little child, I remember that my grandpa had at least milking cow and many calves and bulls. I told my aunt that looking after one cow is not only waste of time, energy and resources but also destroying the life of my cousin. He spent his life running after a cow which gave just one cup of milk. When I suggested her to sell it off, she said that she had to keep the cow for the fertilizer. Th

BABESA BABESA! TAXI TAXI!

About two years ago, I had gone to taxi stand near Thimphu bus station to drop a cousin who wanted to go Paro during Tshechu holidays. I was taken with surprise when I reached there. There were many passengers and many taxis but interestingly, the taxi drivers, who had formed a syndicate to make profits during Tshechus holidays were refusing to ferry individual passenger for anything less than Nu. 400 each per passenger. Usual rate was Nu.100. Their charges were beyond the affordability of common people. No one wanted to budge beyond that rate and the passengers, mostly students going home to meet their parents were caught in between the unreasonable demand of the taxi drivers and their wallet contents. I realized then that Bhutanese have now bred a leech called taxi drivers. We have also given birth to cockroaches like public utility vandals who not only broke street lights but also made walking around our own neighbourhood unsafe. It is refreshing to know however, that new centenary

The grass is green but take a sharper sickle...

Weeks ago, my friend called from Bhutan asking me to give some money to his wife whom he said was in Bangkok for some business. After meandering through the Bangkok traffic during the afternoon heat, I was able to locate his wife sitting lost on a sofa of the hotel lobby. She looked relieved though when she saw me coming. She had come to Bangkok for Visa business . After loaning her 200 dollars, I offered to treat her with ice tea from a convenience store nearby. She looked troubled. When asked about the reason, she said that her US visa application was rejected by the US Embassy. She had paid Nu. 400,000 to the broker who offered to arrange for an invitation letter from USA. The broker’s deal was that if his client got visa, the full Nu. 4, 00,000 deposited while applying for visa with the broker got forfeited. The broker had guaranteed 99 percent that her visa would be through. Well, thats what business is all about. She had a deal with her broker that if the visa got rejected, some