Monday, November 14, 2011

This troubled world of ours

‘Life isn’t fair,’ so they say
Brimmed with uncertainties and risks all day
Today is a day full of joy
Tomorrow it might be the battle of Troy

Far away in the continent black
Wells are dry and fleshes are slack
Sun burns, earth cracks and guns fire
A blind eye turned to a need so dire

Congo, Somalia, Libya and Iraq
Land of bountiful military barracks
‘Life is precious,’ so they say
Yet treated cheaply every day

In the land of Opium Poppy
With Int’l attention rather sloppy
Long after the fall of Osama
Can you bring peace to the land, Obama?

Panic and fear reign over the cities
With no one calling for peaceful treaties
Fingers fixed on triggers of gun
Down to rubble the cities burn

High above in the land of snow
Nuns and monks never know
When they might self-immolate
With the situation so desolate

Far in the rich lands of west
People lead a life of boundless zest
Money, power and ego’s life
And it leads to strife so rife

Far away from the lands of sin
Here I’m in a paradise clean
Fortunate I’m to be here
Livin’ to the fullest a life so dear

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Euphoric Nostalgia of My Alma Mater

As the alma mater of my two elder brothers, Jakar High School welcomed me with a homely reception. The sense of my immediate intimate connection with the school and the surrounds was palpable. The school simply had this unique aura which made me feel home right away. Although signs of changes were obvious everywhere, yet some features were intact which I could spot from the photo memoirs of my brothers.

When I packed my bedding and took a cab to Jakar from Chumey, I had this peculiar feeling inside; a feeling which can only be felt and cannot be expressed. As a young kid I grew up watching my mother bade good bye to my two elder brothers and my father who would pack up their bedding on a pony and make the trip over the ridges to the school. My father knew the shortcut through the jungles to the school like the back of his hand so it helped him save a good amount of time from his busy farming schedules. As far as memories could go, I recall my father returning home sometime in the evening with a pine needle between his lips and a golden eagle feather tucked neatly through his woolen hat. He would give it to me as his present and sometimes I would get a pheasant’s feather.

The first time I visited the school was in 1999, when I represented the then Chumey Junior High School in an intra-dzongkhag literary competition. Years later, the changes were apparent. Old buildings had gone and new ones had taken their places. The school had become a wonderful learning institution in a beautiful environment. The lush green grasses, apple orchards, Pine Hills and cypress trees all intensified the beauty of the already picturesque surrounding. I fondly recollect the lighthearted moments spent with friends in the canteen, on the playing field and among the apple trees. When exams would knock our doors, we would playfully climb up on the apple trees behind our dormitory with our books and would relish fruits. When we returned, we wouldn’t have opened our books!  That was how our days would end every day.

One thing we would always look forward to was the weekends. Weekends were the best time to hitch a ride home and relish dearly-missed, delicious, home-cooked meals.  Sometimes we would be forced to return to our dorms after several hours of wait in the town. Cabs would come aplenty but we would never have fares. The fares would be long gone at Aum Durpa’s canteen which we would frequent very often to remedy our hunger pangs.

During two years of my study at the school, I had the privilege to interact and learn from a host of teachers. Some of them had been in the school for the last several years. They were the builders, in fact the nuts and bolts of the school. They kept the engine running and I was glad to be a happy passenger. At the end of my two-year journey I had more than I could ask for and more than I could carry. My intellectual load was in excess of what I had initially anticipated. I had made the best bargain.

Fifty years on and the school continues to serve the nation to its hilt. Jakar alumni are serving the nation in various disciplines. Annually hundreds of students come in crude and go out refined. Teachers—the unsung heroes—impart knowledge selflessly. Today as I congratulate and wish happiness on its fifteeth birthday, I salute each one of my teachers. Wishing Jakar Higher Secondary School success in every endeavour it undertakes to do. TASHI DELEK

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mission RIM

It was in the fall of 2003 when I first heard of the Royal Institute of Management or RIM. One of my elder brothers had topped the then RCSE examination and what he told us soon after was that he would be undergoing a yearlong training at the RIM. The training was Post Graduate Certificate in Development Management (The equivalent of Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration now). I could still vividly recollect how I would relish the thought of sitting the ‘dreaded’ RCSC one day and even try topping it.

As years peeled off the canvas of time, the subject of RCSC would be on many aspiring civil servants’ lips. However, the scenario in the past was different. The picture was optimistic, not so bleak like now. The RCSC hurdle was just a formality and anyone appearing it would land themselves in a comfortable 9-5 job in the coveted Royal Civil Service. They would then be respectfully and fondly called as ‘Dashos’, by many and with envy by few!

When you sit for your board exams, it always comes with a sense of high trepidation. After you have completed writing, you anticipate and worry till the very last day. The worrying thought of not achieving the cut off percentage, and worst still the risk of having to repeat for a second year befriend you all through your holidays. Nightmarish recurring dreams would wake you up in the dead of the night and would make you realize and repent the importance of revision, keeping formulae on your fingertips and knowing the dates by heart. The more you take yourself back to those frantic preparation days, the longer it keeps you awake with all those crazy thoughts swimming abound. Sometimes it makes you hate yourself with such strong conviction.

So when I wrote the final exam of my University degree, it marked the end of those long sleepless nights. It was the end with a long-awaited relief of a hectic, monotonous routine, on the one hand; on the other hand, it was just the beginning of another phase of preparation for what could undeniably be regarded as the most important exam of my entire life. RCSC then and now called as Civil Service Common Examination (CSCE) has always been on my mind.

“Hey sun-gay, what are you going to do after you finish your degree?,” my college friends would ask me. “Well…I have this common exam to write and if I get through I will be joining the civil service,” I would reply expectantly. My Indian counterparts would marvel at my prospect of joining the civil service because for most of them it remains a dream and just a dream. Thousands compete for few slots and only the best get through. Here in Bhutan at least we don’t have thousands competing but the battle is getting tougher with each passing year as colleges and universities both within and without churn out an ascending number of graduates annually.

RIM celebrated its Silver Jubilee on 10 August 2011. As I listened to the Guest of Honour, His Exellency Lyonpo Yeshy Zimba, I learnt that the institute has groomed hundreds of nation builders and that hundreds will be groomed in the coming years. Come December, I will be completing my yearlong grooming session and the year next, I will embark on a nation-serving journey. As months pass by and as the time to serve the nation comes closer, I am elated for having achieved this long time dream—in fact a dream concieved the very moment I heard the name RIM.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Journey of my life (Part III)

It was a cold February day. The distant high reaches were all blanketed in a uniform layer of snow which fell the other night. The azure sky with white peaks below provided a picture-postcard view. Despite the picturesque environment, my mind was elsewhere - drifting somewhere in a faraway meadow like a feather blown helter-skelter.

The class 12 results were out and the marks were not in the least what I had expected. That churned a storm in my head and an endless bout of melancholy in my heart. Nonetheless I made a journey to the capital hoping against hope that I could somehow squeeze myself into one of the many undergrad courses being offered by the premier learning institute in the country. But that dusty gusty day of April at the YHSS ground sealed my fate and closed off the door to Sherubtse – the peak of learning.

Two months after that unforgettable day at YHSS ground, I was in Chennai amidst the hustle and bustle of a fast-growing metropolitan city. Patrician College of Arts and Science, located right in the heart of the city, was to be my host for the next three years. The initial days were quite unpleasant with no friends and very less talking. The temperatures soared way over 30 degrees on most days and it was like stepping into a furnace. However, time whizzed by as it always does and slowly I began liking the entire set-up – the city, the college, the college mates, the lecturers and the heat, of course.

Even in my wildest and craziest dream did I not figure out the reality of myself studying in a catholic co-educational institutions thousands of miles away from home, yet the feeling of being home ever present. Chennai had been a wonderful home away from a home. With each passing exam, we would eagerly look forward often with dread to the three-night two-day journey back home by rail. And once inside that machine chugging all along its tracks, it was always a potpourri of feelings.

Patrician college has been a wonderful platform for learning. This is evident from its motto- To seek, To strive, To find. Of the many special memories the college has given me, the lifetime privilege of getting to attend a talk by HH The Dalai Lama and a handshake from the Indian Missile man and former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam will forever be etched in my mind.

Another sliver off the glass of memory from Chennai is romance. With both bitter and sweet memories in store, it will be hard not to reminisce those episodes where Cupid started shooting his arrows indiscriminately! And after being struck by one, life turned out different-it took a fairy course and I loved it with all my senses. A number from a friend, a text message next, a call and it would always be followed by a rendezvous either by the beach or at the movies. With text message exchanges that would cross way over to the other side of the mid-night to calls that would create a void in your account to AWOL from class to a pick-up at the rail station followed by a walk to the beach…I recall it all and I cherish them all because they have all left an indelible mark. All goes well and it is a date on the terrace on a moon-lit night with curiously excited mosquitoes bearing witness to all that would ensue. We were lovers wed on a starry south Indian night, each having taken our own vows. The ‘Yes I do’ reverberating in tandem with the breeze; both lost in reverie. We were love-struck. 

Although love is a sacred union akin to marriage, a love triangle never is. So one fine December day, after a good six months, my romance took a tail-spin and all that remained was a broken heart and a bruised ego. However, Cupid shot his arrow after a yearlong hiatus and the wounds began to heal and the heart started to love…and it still loves.

On a steamy May day, I bade farewell to a place which was my home for a good three years. And with me I brought home a degree which I felt would ensure that I will go on collecting even sweeter memories down the line. 

Today as I write this from my room here at the Royal Institute of Management, my mind slips from my grasp and hurries to the beautiful beaches, ultra-modern shopping malls, theme parks, water worlds and a lot more places I’ve been to and had the memories to bring from. As I end my journey to this point with this post I look forward to a more intriguing and eventful journey ahead.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Journey of my life (Part II)

That winter passed like a flying swan. Within the folds of the speeding time I used to go into the woods to collect firewood; other times drive the cattle into the jungles, read a novel under a shade. And as spring signaled its comeback after a nine-month hiatus, I used to till the garden and prepare the beds.

As snow melted and ice thawed, it was already time for me to begin my next schooling year. With a profound sense of nostalgia hanging in the air over the eleven year study at Chumey Middle Secondary School and everything that unfolded there, it was rather emotional to shift to another school in the valley. Jakar Higher Secondary School was my next seat of learning and for the next two years I would be within her holds.

The cold wind from Kikiphu and the gentle breeze down from the Chamkharchu make it a cold place in early spring and late summer. Few blocks away from the school lives Aum Kezang. We would fondly call her Aum Durpa because she is from Dur. Aum Durpa’s canteen was the place where we used to go searching for warmth and warmth we did find in her gigantic samosas, hot coffee, hastily prepared noodles and grotesque dumplings. It became our popular hangout spot even during odd hours until one cold evening when the school councilor took us all out to the Vice Principal’s office where each one of us was lashed with a pair of fresh spring willow whips. We made a hasty retreat to our dorms limping. But even after the whip lashes, we never stopped crossing over to her canteen and relish what she prepared best. We were always able to eat on credit and as days accumulated into weeks and weeks into months so did the figures in our accounts.

It was in Aum Durpa’s canteen that I was introduced to Premier League Football and where I developed an instant liking towards Manchester United. Six years past, I remain a staunch supporter of the Red Devils.

When you’re in class 12 you are supposed to give up everything—less plays and plenty of books. It’s a high hurdle that only with more time spent with books will help stretch your legs and cross it triumphantly. With a strong resolution to leap high over and across the hurdle, I began preparing in earnest even before it was autumn. The board exams would be held only in December. “Let’s make hay when it shines,” I told my friends. As we delved into the intricacies of Accountancy and the brain-twisting Calculus, December was already on our doorsteps. With December came the slicing cold. With our body fully covered from head to toe we took pride in the amount of mid-night oil that we burned.

D-Day finally arrived. Some were nervous, some scared. Some forgot; some even did not read to forget. For the next two weeks it was all books. And when it was finally over, we celebrated round a bonfire of papers. As the smoke rose high we all released a sigh of relief not aware that after two months there will yet come another D-Day which will shape the rest of our lives.

To be continued……….

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Journey of my life (Part I)

When I look back and play those old dusty reels in my mind, I cannot help but recline in my study chair, look up and release a muffled smile. My journey into life thus far has been a potpourri of sweet and sour memories. I shall embrace and will play on those good old pleasant tapes but will hurl the bad recurrent ones into a bottomless pit of oblivion. The present, most often than not, compels us to look back at the path we have plodded as we travel this tentative journey of life. And it is always with a profound sense of nostalgia that I look behind and beyond my shoulder.

I came into being on a warm May Day in a mammoth three storey house on a serene peak bordered by giant pines and majestic oaks. One fine day, few months into my tender age of six, my dad lifted me like a ball of wool on his well-worked shoulders and headed to Chumey Primary School, three kilometers away for my admission. I was summoned by the headmaster, who made me hook my right arm across the summit of my head and touch my ear on the other side. Little training earlier with my father came in handy and I was in. Little scared, yet I managed to answer a couple of questions that ensued. That frosty March day marked the beginning of my eleven years at the school. (The school was later upgraded to Junior and then Middle Secondary).

Primary days were fun and carefree. No exam fever and no last-minute rush to cover the pages. In fact, it was the proverbial happy-go-lucky days. I was a regular in the school play ground pandemonium. Like every other little kid, school days were fun. I did not care what went inside my mouth along with that mixture of boyo and hastily fried chana; sometimes I chew my eraser, other times grind sand and dust firmly held inside the ‘world’s biggest pocket’. Occasionally bouts of belly-tearing ache would follow rigorous intakes of unhygienic concoction from the ‘biggest pocket’. I relive the memories of marble and hopscotch (‘am I right) that etch the canvas of my mind from the days of yore, when eating anything edible and looking untidy used to be the order of the day.

Time rolled by slowly and steadily and we were already two years into the new millennium. Elsewhere many things unfolded. The famed WTO twin towers in NYC came down a year before and 9/11 made its entry into English dictionary. Afghanistan metamorphosed into a modern day battlefield. Extremist Taliban dynamited world’s largest Buddha statue in Bamiyan. World heavy weight champion Lennox Lewis knocked out Iron Mike in boxing’s greatest showdown, and 17th FIFA World Cup came to Asia for the first time. I was but all eyes and ears.

As years passed on puberty peaked, testosterone rocketed, and I became a habitué of a discreet, comfortable cluster of dwarf bamboos few yards outside a snaking wall. Passion rose, but marks plummeted. All things-good or bad-should end, so did the covert romance when we bade farewell. My schooling at Chumey Higher Secondary School would go down in the annals of life as the most memorable.

To be continued........ 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Television, newspapers, magazines, and other media pay too much attention to the personal lives of famous people such as public figures and celebrities. Use specific reasons and details to explain your opinion (Do not exceed 350 words)

This essay is my first assignment in RIM

The mass media, needless to say, is the main source of information for the general public. Newspapers, television, magazines and other media serve as watchdogs for the public, but more often than not they compromise on facts and quality and focus more on getting stories that sell like hot cakes. They intrude and infringe on people’s privacy. They pay too much attention on celebrities and important public figures sometimes at the cost not only of these figures but also that of the ordinary people.

To inform the masses is the main objective of the media, but it is quite another to grab readership and make quick money through sneak-peek stories. Intruding into the privacy of celebrities and public figures is a pet project of all media personnel. They have no qualms about crossing the forbidden threshold and grabbing stories which will set readers alive. Readers enjoy reading the gossip column as much as writers love writing it. And all of us, being gossipmongers in our own right, further aid and abet it.

Media personnel are hunters, celebrities and public figures the hunted. They hunt the celebrities and public figures during the latter’s weddings, honeymoons, vacations and during some of the most intimate moments. They space and air but the paparazzi give them little. Some people enjoy living in the media glare but most do not. It becomes hard for them and their families. Most cannot stand the pressure and succumbs to persistent attention and scrutiny. Princess Diana would have been alive had it not been for a bunch of paparazzi who chased her to death. The immutable force of the media also drove the Tiger out of the Woods and ruined his marriage. It also sidelined him from golfing for over a year. Currently, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in the news more than he would like to be because of a sex scandal.

Here in Bhutan, we do not have tabloid newspapers. What a relief it is for our celebrities and other vulnerable people!

Media is a great force. It can make or break a person’s life; or worst end up misinforming the mass. I feel that television, newspapers and magazines should not bother and just do their job professionally. They can play a very positive role for the society in many other ways. Let celebrities and other popular figures live in peace.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Heart broken Angel

Here is a poem which I penned down one spring when I was nine months shy of my High School Graduation. The event(s) which brought about the 'poet' in me is but poignant. I still very vividly remember the cool Sunday morning when I upholstered my self on a comfortable 'V' of a willow and let words flow spontaneously, I wrote like a man possessed!

Lo! And behold, the divine goddess looks
Upon the craggy deep nooks
Scanning for the love she’d lost
Will she find her at any cost?

                                    She listens near her window pane
Trots up and down the narrow lane
Looking for the invaluable gem
Will she ever find the same?

“The goddess”, is what everyone called her
For she stood divine and tall
Oh! Now she’s amongst grotesque creatures
Without her loving features

Almighty lord! To thee we pray
With our offerings in here tray
Thou grace her find her lost love
And guide her along the unlit curve

Rain your blessing on the poor soul
Remedy her heart drenched so cold
Free the shackles of despair so strong
Prithee! Empower her nothing goes wrong

The blessed angel closed her eyes
Brimmed with ceaseless brine, she cries
Eyes open and pearls cascade down her face
As she slowly dragged off with an unsure pace

Afar in the lovely dark woods, magpies chattered
Heard it was down in the meadows scattered
Didst it eye the lone lover’s love??
For the corn in the fields were to serve
The leaves danced and the birds sang
And then, the distant church bell rang......

Friday, February 25, 2011

Facebook, reducing people's face time with book

Social networking sites are a huge hit. Even before they officially go worldwide, they hit the jackpot! So huge are the number of active users worldwide, they acquire cult status so soon, rather prematurely. The status quo is such that without social networking sites our life becomes humdrum. And with the ever increasing population of netizens, we inject new life into these sites.

Soon after Bhutan crossed the threshold of the 21st century, it found itself entering an entirely unique world-a world of sophisticated users of Charles Babbage’s invention-and catching up with the rest of the world. These ubiquitous machines are portable and performed miracles.

Reading they say is a noble habit if not the noblest. Books they say are men’s best friends. Book-Best Offer on Knowledge, so have I read when I was but a young kid. Today we are in for a completely different scenario. Social networking sites like Facebook have taken centre stage and have sidelined books into dingy corners where they silently collect dust. It’s a pity pages cannot talk, for if they do we would have a different tale to tell.

Reading habit in Bhutan amongst children is very dismal; amongst adults it’s no better. It is too disheartening. Books have lost their charm except for few bookworms who prefer to lie on a couch, sit in the shade or best, lie on a reclining chair and read their favorite authors. It is now not untypical to find the majority with laptops and mobiles and computers- all too busy social networking rather than reading books. This is an eye-sore. Reading has become obsolete. Books remain where and how they are-untouched and unread! Best-selling authors fade and their bestsellers go unheard.

I had my first tryst with Facebook when I was in my first year in college. I was fascinated. I would send messages, chat with my friends, find lost friends, and meet cousins, stalk on my exes and remember my friends’ birthdays. The very day I joined, I sent 50 ‘Friend Requests’ to both known and unknown.

Few months after registration, I came to realize it was eating a good chunk of my time daily. The more you ‘Facebook’, the more you want to. It is addictive. Zuckerberg has flavoured it with a pint of Nicotine. For many, checking Facebook for messages and updates is the first thing they do in the morning even before they head to the washroom. We have now become so dependent on Facebook that a few days away from it gives us withdrawal symptoms.

Young kids should be reading but their ruling passion now is Facebook. This generation has been weaned on computer games and Facebook. They are completely oblivious of the book resources around them. And therefore they are ill-informed. Occasionally I have this recurring feeling, ‘If now is not the right time to wean them off Facebook, then when?’ There is no time like the present.

Recently decades-old regimes in the Arab world have fallen. Facebook played a pivotal role. Global thinkers have called youthful protesters who used Facebook to organize massive protests on the streets as ‘Facebook children.' No wonder “Youth and technology” have been defined as two of the most powerful forces changing the world today.

People who work in offices are also deep into Facebook. Non-Facebook users are few and far between. Some ministries have banned Facebook during office hours. A very wise move indeed. But more often than not, public servants, or any office-goers for that matter, signing in into Facebook, MSN, Twitter et al the first thing in the morning is a daily ritual. And since June 2009, people have begun managing virtual farms in their offices. Wish Farmville could solve the problem of food insecurity and poverty!