As Bhutan is gearing up for the third parliamentary election which is to be held this year, we have already started seeing a lot of public debates and discussions on social media about which party should be elected next and why. With about five political parties already registered to join the race this year, it is certain that the road to the parliament will not be as smooth as it is supposed to be. The general excitement and anxiety are already running high among the political parties and their supporters as we start preparing for the Big Day to cast our votes.
Shrouded in the surreal beauty of Nature, our rural villages have their own unique way of life that never fails to fascinate new visitors. No matter how sophisticated are the facilities and services in the cities, the villages always leave us with unique experiences that can never be acquired in the towns and cities. So every winter, I make it a point to send my kids to their mother’s village to enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding environment and understand the cultural and social values that define people’s way of life in the village. I take it as part of wholesome education since children get the opportunities to learn about both rural and urban lifestyles. There are some children in the cities who still wonder how beaten rice or butter/cheese are made in the villages and on the other hand, there are children in the villages who still wonder how people in the cities cook rice just by inserting cables into the wall. I don’t want to deny my kids the opportunity to look at life from all angles so that they can have the bird’s eye-view of the world around them as they grow up.
It is very sad to know that out of 361 suicide cases recorded by the Royal Bhutan Police and health facilities across the country from 2009-2013, 66 percent of the victims constituted married people. This means that it’s not only youth who are dying by suicide in Bhutan. Many parents are also killing themselves every year leaving behind their innocent children at the mercy of the surviving parent or their relatives.
“Passengers and crew, prepare for landing!” the pilot announced over the microphone as we finally closed in to touch down at Manila International Airport on the night of 3rd December 2017. I was part of the 7-member team from Bhutan to attend the 5-day training on Cross-sectoral Project Management at the Industrial Advanced Academy of the Philippines (IAAP) in Manila. I was filled with excitement as the aircraft landed and taxied to the gate since it was my first time to be in the Philippines, the Pearl of the Orient Seas. We got the first taste of Filipino hospitality when the airport staff treated us warmly as we made our way out of the airport. Unlike in many countries, the immigration formalities were so simple and efficient. We did not have to even process for Visa on Arrival since we were going to be in the country only for five days. Outside the airport, the staff from the Institute were waiting for us as expected. They warmly greeted us and escorted us to the Institute with a short stopover on the way for the late-night dinner. It was already about 1 o’clock in the morning when we reached our destination. It was a long day for us but we had a lot of fun.
Today, I was truly honored to receive the prestigious Bronze Medal and a certificate of recognition signed by His Majesty the King as a token of appreciation for my ten years of dedicated service to the Royal Government of Bhutan. As an ordinary civil servant, I really feel blest to be recognized for whatever little contribution I have been able to make through my organization over the past decade. As His Excellency the Minister of Education, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk who graced the award ceremony said, the medal and the certificate do not only represent the success of my career so far, but they also serve as a great source of inspiration and motivation for me to continue to work hard and contribute more to the country in the times to come.
Against all the odds, the world has made a significant progress in its fight against HIV and AIDS over the years. As we observe the World AIDS Day today, it’s appropriate that we reflect on how we could continue to work together to save the world from the disease and initiate care and support systems for those who are already living with the virus. But before that, it’s important that we have a clear understanding of what is HIV and AIDS so that we can effectively work together to create public awareness on the prevention and treatment of the disease.
In life, everything happens for a reason and divorce is one of the events that does not happen by accident. In a marriage, problems can build up overtime if the spouses do not know how to respect each other’s boundaries. No matter what, having an open communication is key to sustaining a happy relationship. If the spouses choose not to share their feelings with each other, it can build a wall between them that can gradually push them apart. Interacting with those people who have divorced, I have come to understand that the lack of open communication between the spouses, lack of commitment and infidelity are some of the most common causes of divorce in Bhutan.
The successful completion of 3-day Krodikali Retreat at Chubjakha in Paro on 12th November 2017 marked another milestone in my spiritual life. After receiving the highest Krodikali initiation (Throema Wangchen) from His Holiness Garab Rinpoche last year, it gave me a great sense of accomplishment to attend the retreat for the second time this year. Starting from the evening of 9th November 2017, we all embarked on a unique spiritual journey closely guided by His Holiness Garab Rinpoche who supervised our practice throughout the retreat period.
Exactly one year after attending the 3-day spiritual retreat in Paro, I am once again taking a short break from the worldly affairs to explore myself and the world around me in the surreal wilderness of Chubjakha valley in Paro. In the hassles and bustles of busy city life, it gives me an immense sense of relief to break away from the madding crowd for a moment around this time every year to embark on a spiritual journey which is being supervised and guided directly by His Eminence Garab Rinpoche. This year, I am once again blest to get the opportunity to be part of thousands of devotees to attend the retreat from 9-12 November 2017.
Pursuing happiness in the materialistic world is like chasing our own shadow. The more we move forward, the further it goes. No matter how much wealth we accumulate at the end of the day, we will never be able to attain the level of happiness we desire. It will be an endless race. The real happiness actually comes from within, not from outside. If we learn how to be content with what we have, we will never have to look for happiness anywhere else. The world we live in can be defined by how we perceive it. If we look at it positively, we can see the real beauty of life around us. But if we view it negatively, that will shut all the doors to happiness.
There is no doubt that archery has been an integral part of our social and cultural life since the time immemorial. For centuries, it has significantly contributed to the development of social, communication and interpersonal skills that have united the people from all social strata regardless of who they are. Besides, it has also served as the most important weapon during conflicts and wars especially during the theocratic rule between 1616 and 1907. Probably because of such a special historical and cultural significance attached to it, the game was declared as our national sport in 1971, the year in which Bhutan became a member of the United Nations. Since then, it has gained special attention even from the outside world. Today, the archery competitions and tournaments still form an important part of major celebrations such as religious festivals and public holidays. However due to the new innovative ideas that have emerged along with rapid globalization, the traditional bows and arrows that are made of bamboos and reeds are slowly getting replaced by imported modern equipment such as compound bows and arrows that are more sophisticated and powerful than the traditional ones. As a result, the safety at the archery ground is becoming a bigger concern over the recent years.
In the midst of catastrophic natural disasters and deadly human violence that are already taking their toll on human civilization across the globe, another sickening sign of impending apocalypse seems to have emerged on social media today. Whether it is real or a hoax, many media reports suggest that a spate of teenage suicides around the world over the recent years could have been instigated by an online pressure group through the deadly game called Blue Whale which allegedly pushes depressed and vulnerable children to kill themselves. Although the real existence of the game and its links to the recent teenage suicides have not yet been confirmed by police in any country, the governments, agencies and institutions in many countries have already started warning parents to be aware of their children’s online activities. According to Hindustan Times, a school in Punjab in India has even introduced a rule that requires all its students to wear short-sleeved shirts so that the Blue Whale tattoos, one of the signs of the child’s participation in the game, can be seen. This shows that just as in any other country where the game has created a wave of panic, India has also been hit by this social hysteria especially after some of the children who committed suicide across the country were suspected to have participated in the game.
Not everybody in this world is born with a silver spoon in the mouth. All of us have our own share of problems to deal with as we move on. Nobody has had a perfect life so far and nobody ever will. The path to success does not run straight. It zigzags through the moments of pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, and peace and tragedy. As a result, it’s not uncommon for us to fall down when we stumble upon some unforeseen obstacles on the way. Yet it is not the end of everything. Every time we fall down and get up, we get up with new experiences and wisdom that make us a stronger person. Our success really depends on how well we can pick ourselves up whenever we break down and clear the obstacles that have caused us to trip over so that we don’t stumble upon them again in the future if we have to walk the same path.