The tradition of consulting astrologers has always been an integral part of our social and cultural life for centuries. Even today, many people still continue to believe in the astrological findings and consult astrologers whenever they feel inadequate in their efforts to pursue their dreams. Besides, we also consult astrologers when a child is born or when a person has died to see what the future holds for him/her. This practice and the belief it generates gives us a psychological comfort and satisfaction. The astrologers believe that the movements and positions of the stars and planets significantly influence the way we think and act. The predictions are therefore derived from the careful observation of the movement and position of those celestial bodies in our solar system. In the modern era of advanced science and technology that promote logical thinking and reasoning, it sounds like a fairy-tale to believe that our life can be predicted when we do not even know what will happen to us the next moment.
The advent of social media has significantly revolutionized the way we relate to others. It has become easier than ever to find people with common interests and connect with those whom we love and care. The entire world is growing up online. Due to the absolute convenience and easy access the social networking sites offer, social media is becoming one of the most widely used tools for marketing or information-sharing. Today, many people are using social media like Facebook and Twitter even to organize informal gatherings and to share the event with the public. However with so many young people growing up online using social media, their personal safety is becoming a concern for parents and teachers. The recent rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Gomtu is a gruesome reminder that social media can be dangerous if you don’t know how to use it responsibly.
When I started my blog three years ago, I had never expected that so many people would be interested in my writing. Although I am still far from becoming a professional blogger, it is amazing to see some of my articles often appearing in the private newspapers in Bhutan. When I write articles, I never dream of earning money from blogging. I take it as a platform to either document my personal experiences for my own future references, or to shed some light on certain socio-economic and cultural issues. But when some journalists send me private messages requesting for my permission to publish some of my stories in their paper, it makes me feel great. As long as they feel my articles are worth publishing in their paper, I have expressed no objection to their requests until now.
Due to the lack of commitment on the part of the concerned agencies to produce reading materials in accessible formats, the visually impaired people in Bhutan still do not have access to public libraries and other resources. As of now, we are able to access only the free materials published online such as news articles and stories. The major publications such as books, magazines and research articles are beyond our reach. Forget about having the library books and other publications in accessible formats, we don’t even have enough textbooks that are accessible for the students especially those studying in higher secondary schools and university colleges. The publishers are too concerned about the copyrights that they are not willing to share the electronic version of their publications with the visually impaired readers. A library is the most popular source of information and knowledge but without accessible materials available, there is no way a visually impaired person can access it.
I love women not because they are simply beautiful outside. I love them because they are equally beautiful inside. I should say that they are the most wonderful creation of God, for they have the heart that can accommodate this entire world. If you don’t believe it, just look through the eyes of your mother, sisters and your wife. You would definitely see your world in them. Yet, we often fail to recognize the role they play in shaping our world and subject them to unnecessary pain and suffering. I don’t understand why some men treat women just like sex objects when the same gender has given them birth, raised them with love and care, and left them with a promising future to lean on for the rest of their life. It is true that for centuries, these beautiful women have lived together in harmony with men, peacefully submitting to the demands and orders of men and fulfilling their duties prescribed by the society without any complaint. But even today, we often fail to acknowledge the love and sacrifices they make every day just to make this world little safer and beautiful for us to live in.
When I was studying in Khaling, we had developed a unique code-language that enabled us to communicate privately amongst us. Being visually impaired, it was of great advantage for us because we could safely talk about anything without the fear of being intercepted by teachers and other staff of the school. We always felt safe to converse in our code-language because nobody outside our circle of friends could comprehend it.
In order to celebrate the auspicious Dawa Dangpai Losar, I and some of my visually impaired friends got together and went to Paro with our families for a dry picnic today. It was a great occasion for all of us to have quality time together because in the hassle and bustle of busy urban life, social gatherings are becoming rare nowadays. It was also a wonderful opportunity for our kids to have outdoor fun together despite enjoying delicious foods brought by different people. We had planned this event since a couple of months ago and we had been looking forward to this big day for months. But the bad weather over the past couple of days caused some worries in us that we may not be able to execute our plans. However when the sun came up this morning, I knew we were finally on our way to Paro. My children were equally excited about it.
In Bhutan, we generally believe that there is the right time for everything. If that hour of destiny does not strike, nothing will happen even if the situation pushes you to the furthest edge of your life. But if the right time has come, nothing can stop you from facing the reality no matter how bitter it might be. I think because of this belief, we can cope even with the loss of our loved ones quite easily. If we are not destined to die at that particular hour, even death seems to forget its purpose. I have faced a couple of situations where I could have been either injured or even killed. People may call it a luck but I believe that the right time for me to die had not come then. Following are a few episodes of my life during which luck was in my favour.
As a child, I was very active and agile. Climbing rocks and cliffs used to be my favorite adventure although the elder people in the family wouldn’t let me do it fearing I might fall down. I know I was not good at climbing trees but when it came to cliffs and rocks, I could climb them without much difficulty. Even the smallest crack lines on the rock’s surface would be enough for my hands to get a grip and I could balance my body quite easily as I pulled myself up. I often used to compete with myself on climbing some of the small cliffs and rocks in the village whenever elders were not at home. Probably because of being blind, I was not afraid of heights.
Children are generally fussy eaters. They always have to be coaxed into eating with us during the usual mealtimes but again, they don’t easily eat what they are served. All the parents would have experienced how difficult it is to make children eat healthy foods. My children still refuse to take many vegetables especially the ones we don’t take every day. I don’t know why but potato has become their only all-time favorite vegetable. We have been trying every possibility to make them take other vegetables as well but we have not been able to change their food habits as we have wanted.
We have been lately talking about inclusive education in Bhutan and some of the schools have already been modified to accommodate children with varying abilities in the same learning environment. But no matter how accessible the general infrastructures of the school might be, or how well trained are the teachers dealing with students with special needs, I think the goal of inclusive education cannot be achieved if the school curriculum is not inclusive. When we talk about inclusive education, people mostly think about only accessible physical infrastructures within the school campus and disabled-friendly facilities and services. But we have never thought of the curriculum which is the backbone of formal education system in the country. I feel that our school curriculum is very rigid at the moment. We are expected to learn what is prescribed in the textbooks and not what we are good at or what we love doing. When the curriculum is developed, the needs of persons with disabilities especially the visually impaired children are never considered. As a result, the curriculum is largely visual-based and hence, the visually impaired children are deprived of the opportunity to participate equally in the classroom.
In the BCSE and BHSEC results for the academic year 2016 declared recently, the Bhutanese students who had appeared for the exams have seen the harvest of their year-long hard work and struggle. But as usual, not everybody is lucky. While those who have qualified for higher studies are busy celebrating their achievements with their families and friends, others are going through a terrible time. Many anxious parents are seen rushing for admission in the private schools or exploring other viable options for their children. It is a crucial turning point for the students and everybody is deeply concerned. But I don’t believe that the failure of the present should ruin your aspirations for the future. You may not be good in academic studies, but you may be excellent at something else. Just turn around, focus on what you believe you are good at and start working on it. Someday, you will have the future as promising as that of anybody else. Academic excellence is not the only secret of success. Many successful people in the world do not have even a degree. So just keep your head high and always stay positive. Sitting down and crying over the spilled milk won’t get you anywhere. It would only destroy your dreams.
As the Capital City of Bhutan, Thimphu has been undergoing a major transformation over the years with numerous developmental activities coming up in all corners. With various modern facilities and infrastructures in place, the city has been considered a safe haven for thousands of Bhutanese people who come here for education, employment and business. However, with the rising cases of senseless murder, burglary and robbery over the recent years, I think Thimphu is now losing the glory of its past. There are many people who no longer feel safe here today.
Television has become an integral part of our life at home today. It has become so ubiquitous across the globe that it is hard to imagine life without it. Nowadays, most of us have at least two to three television sets at home. The advent of television era has definitely changed the world and how we view it. While television has opened our door to the outside world, it comes with both necessary and unnecessary channels. Just with the point and the click of a button, the viewing options are endless. There are literarily hundreds of channels to choose from. Cartoons, cooking shows, news and other entertainment shows fill up the airwaves. With so many channels available to turn to, choosing the appropriate channels especially for children is increasingly becoming a concern. Some studies have indicated that television is bad for children since it often promotes violence and aggression, be it through cartoons or movies.
About two weeks ago, I was utterly shocked to receive the water bill for December 2016 amounting to Nu.1,014. There was no way it could be justified because I have a small family and the level of water consumption is comparatively low. Suspecting false reading of the water-meter, I and my wife went to Thimphu City Corporation to complain. We waited at a counter until a grumpy woman pushed aside the shutter and demanded what we were there for. When we told her our problem, she directed us to the nearby counter. She had no warmth in her voice. She sounded very rude and straightforward. But we chose to keep quiet. However, we found the real angel at the adjacent counter. A beautiful lady with a charming voice named Pema greeted us warmly and politely asked us what was the problem. When I told her the entire story, she immediately agreed to crosscheck the reading and kept my contact number to call me back. Later that day, I received the call saying the reading was correct but the water-meter was found to be running abnormally fast. I was advised to consult the plumber from the National Housing Development Corporation which I immediately did. The plumber confirmed that the meter was malfunctioning and agreed to replace it. The next day, the plumber replaced the malfunctioning meter and also fixed a leaking connection. The water problem was solved, but I was worried the City Corporation might make an issue out of it because I had not sought their consent to replace the meter. I was concerned about how the reading can be continued.