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.