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Showing posts from November, 2009


During one of my trips to my village, I happened to attend a community gathering. During casual conversation with villagers, the host treated us to some homemade ara. However, I was impressed to see that some of the people I had known drinking during my earlier visits were not drinking during that gathering. As a matter of courtesy, I asked the host if the people had stopped drinking ara. If they had stopped drinking, people certainly had become wise. To my utter surprise, the host told me that most people had stopped drinking ara but have started drinking beer. In fact, it had become a fashion for people to drink beer . However, what concerned me was that the switch from ara to beer was not supported adequately by income. If little money that they earn are spent in paying for beers, it doesn’t make any sense at all. Many villagers had credit with the shops and it was mostly of beer. The village Phajo was known to be one of th

The Rice-ing Prices

Sometimes in sixties, when Sey Dopola was Tashigang Dzongpon, every village under his jurisdiction were required to contribute labour to work in his farms and orchards. My maternal grandfather, along with some of the people from the neighbouring villages had gone to serve during their turns. Every morning they carried their own pack lunches to work but they were disappointed to see that their pack lunch went missing almost every day. The theft was reported to the Dzongpon when people no longer could tolerate having to stay hungry during hard labour. After some discreet investigation, they found that the culprit was a person called Dorji from Dorey. In fact, he was among those workers. During investigation, Dorji confessed his guilt. However, Dzongpon refused to believe that a single person could eat the food of so many people. So, the Dzongpon took him to kitchen and made him cook one big pot of rice of five dreys . He also gave him three long guteys

Respecting the Otherness of Others

I was reading through Bhutan Times and I was shaken beyond words to see some of the ideas being injected in a reputed newspaper like Bhutan Times. Here are some extracts from the article, “The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan and the policy of secularism” “….Buddhism was the religion of the State until the introduction of the Constitution of Bhutan in 2008. Under of ideology of secularism, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan disowned its state religion and in so doing may have symbolically diluted its allegiance to the Deities of the nation. Buddhism is physically represented by the Central Monastic Body headed by His Holiness Jhe Khenpo and the religion is inseparable from the Deities that protect it. Till very recently Buddhism was the centre of governance. It also remains as the way of life for all Bhutanese except for the Hindu immigrants who mostly populate the southern part of Bhutan during later part of the last century. The Central Monastic Body is the repository of Bhutan’s cul

Everyone can't be a captain, some got to be crew and businessmen

Way back in 2007, I had an opportunity to be part of City Carnival organized by Katha in New Delhi. There were writers, readers, critics, fanatics, artists, movie buffs, movie makers, activists, social thinkers, singers, dancers, translators and researchers from across twenty two countries. There also were hundreds of teachers and college students from across India joining the carnival. Katha is a non-profit organisation, working in the broad areas of language, culture and translation as well as poverty alleviation. Founded in 1988 by Geeta Dharmarajan, a very graceful and sweet old lady in New Delhi, it aspires to help to help attain lifelong learning and earning opportunities and also attain one's potential. It is well known for its endeavors to spread the joy of reading and knowing. It is one of India's top publishing houses. During our stay in Delhi, we were taken on tour to Katha School, located inside the slums of Govindpuri. There were some on

Of corporal punishments, Dzongkha Lopens, Tae-Kwondo Master and Basketball Coach

When I first began my school in Damphu some two decades ago, I used to be shit scared on Mr. Alexander and his wife, Mrs. Devi. While the gentleman was known for being brute, the lady was known for her tongue. I still can't forget these two people. I passed my first few years of school life with sore bottom from KHEMPA “judgment.” Then came the Dzongkha Lopen Phub Gyeltshen with full display of his doma tainted teeth. He was very generous with his sticks. Soon he was replaced by Lopen Dawa, who was really good, if not better at breaking tree twigs on the students’ bottom. I used to be a recipient of mistreatment of both the gentlemen. Then came junior schooling. Things started to change. I graduated from KHEMPA to bamboo and cane. Like school children who pass out from kindergarten to primary school and then to junior and high school, the punishments also seem to move up the ladder. First came the khempa, then the b

The Bakasura

During one of my tours to Samtse, I wanted to try some Indian food on the other side of the gate. Walking into one of the hotels, I asked the man in the counter if I could get some rice and mutton curry for lunch. He looked at me and said, “If you eat more than three plates of rice, there isn’t enough.” I was amused and at the same time it made me wonder what had prompted him to ask me that particular question. So I asked him why he had asked me that question and if I looked really voracious. He said that many Bhutanese eat many servings of rice. He said that some of the Bhutanese, especially those “Resettled ones” eat at least four servings and then bargain for price like bargaining for clothes. Well, I guess that’s what Bhutanese are good at.