A piece of memory from the Blessed Rainy Day 2016

Happy Blessed Rainy Day. Poster courtesy: askideas.com

As Bhutan observed Thrue-bab or the Blessed Rainy Day yesterday, three of my visually impaired friends and their families joined me at my house for a simple meal. Keeping in mind the spiritual significance of the day, we all chose to have a simple vegetarian meal to join the nation in observing this year’s Thrue-bab. Although the Blessed Rainy Day is traditionally supposed to be a feasting day for the common people as it marks the end of the farming season and the beginning of the harvesting season, it is also believed to be an auspicious and holy occasion for Buddhists. On this day, it is believed that the rain will be blest with elixir and has the supernatural power to cleanse all our sins and bad karma if we take bath during the most auspicious hour specified by renowned astrologers. So since it is a holy occasion, even those friends of mine who were not vegetarians agreed to stay clean for at least this Thrue-bab yesterday.

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How can we ensure free and fair election if we don’t know our candidates?

As Bhutan gears up for the second Local Government Elections, those of us who have registered for postal ballots are having a tough time to decide our vote for the right candidate. In the absence of live coverage of the campaigns and public common forums on BBS Television and other mainstream media, it has been difficult for those of us who have been away from our villages for a while to personally know our candidates and understand their commitments for our communities. I am just wondering why the mainstream media are not giving as much importance to the local government elections as they usually give to the parliamentary elections. Since each vote can make a difference, it is important for us to have access to how each candidate in our Gewog/Chiwog is campaigning and what kind of future he/she is promising for our parents, grandparents and relatives in the village. This would also ensure fairer elections since we would be able to choose the right candidate for the right post without having to consult someone in the village.

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Beware of internet hoaxes

Over the past few years, the internet has been flooded with various hoaxes that can be easily construed as true by gullible readers. In the modern era of information overload, it is increasingly becoming difficult for us to sort out the fake information from the hoaxes. Most of the internet hoaxes appearing on social media come from the fake or satirical news sites. The hoax sites usually do offer a disclaimer to indicate that the stories they publish are not to be taken seriously, and hence, it is very important to check out the disclaimer notes of the specific web site to determine the authenticity of the stories.

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Trying to turn a new leaf in life

Photo of myself and other three friends with our root Lama, Lopen Singye. Picture taken In Paro.

It has been almost one year since I seriously started considering to redefine my spiritual path. My religious root has been quite complicated. I was born Hindu but grew up in a Christian family. My uncle and his family had already been devout Christians when my father joined them in late 1990 after he suffered a stroke and became partially disabled. So with the hope of getting rid of his disability, he decided to turn to Jesus Christ for solace and blessings. When I joined them later, I was also persuaded to attend the church and join their congregation for prayers. I was told that I could regain my sight if I truly believed in the supernatural powers of Jesus Christ. So I also started going to the church and prayed with others. But the moment I was back in the school in Khaling, I forgot everything and attended the daily Buddhist prayers with the same kind of devotion and belief. So I think I should say that during the school days, I was a Buddhist and during the winter vacations, I was a Christian.

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The importance of tourniqueting as part of the first-aid treatment during medical emergencies

Nobody is immune to natural disasters and accidents. We would never know what kind of fate every new second might bring on us. Hence, it is very important to cling to the blessings of God everyday and stay prepared for whatever tragedy that might cross our path. What makes the situation worse is that accidents mostly happen far away from the medical facilities and it is often difficult to get immediate medical attention. Therefore, in order to save time and to save lives, it is always important to be equipped with at least a few first-aid techniques. The most important thing to remember during any accident is not to panic. This is the moment when we are required to make the most rational and critical decisions and hence, panicking would never help us get out of the situation safely.

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Five inspirational stories that might help you start your day with a positive mind

Life becomes so dull at times that we often need external inspiration and motivation to push it forward. I believe that positive energy is something that can be transferred from one person to another but we should know exactly how to tap it. Whenever we feel low and desperate, all we need is someone who can give extra thrust to our life through their experiences and stories. The real beauty of life lies deep within the layers of problems that engulf us and to get to the core to conquer this precious jewel, we often need some external forces to push us from behind. At the end of the day, a positive mind is what matters the most. The following five inspirational stories may help you change the way you look at life.

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International Youth Day 2016

Group photo of Youth Center Division Officials at Gedu Bhutan on the way back to Thimphu. Image courtesy: Ms. Rinzin Wangmo

“We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we just borrowed it for the future”. This was the key message conveyed to the youth of Bhutan during the International Youth Day celebration at Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. Personally, it was a great privilege for me to be part of the team from the Youth Center Division, Department of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education to leave for Samdrup Jongkhar to coordinate the event. Against the warning of incessant Monsoon rain and the threats of terrorist attacks in the Indian State of Assam, we hit the road on 7th August 2016 from Thimphu to celebrate this year’s International Youth Day with the youth of Samdrup Jongkhar on 12th August 2016. The International Youth Day has been observed in Bhutan since 2010 to recognize the potentials of young people and to celebrate their key achievements in various fields. But for five consecutive years, we celebrated the day only in Thimphu and hence, those youth living in other Dzongkhags could not get the opportunity to be part of it. So this year, for the first time in six years, we decided to take the event out of Thimphu. In line with the UN theme for the day “Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty by Achieving Sustainable Development through Sustainable Production and Consumption”, we decided to collaborate with Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI (, a civil society organization that focuses on GNH-based developmental activities especially in rural communities to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. So this was the main reason why we chose to travel all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar to celebrate the event this year.

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Remembering the friends of persons with disabilities on the special Friendship Week

Photo of a young man walking with his visually impaired friend on a forest path using the sighted guide techniques. Image courtesy: Google

With every single help you offer us
Comes a blessing that brings a smile on our face;
Thank you for being part of our lives
And helping us understand how beautiful is the world around us.

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The secrets of success in business

Starting and managing a business is not as easy as what we generally think. It requires adequate knowledge and experience on business management to be a successful business person, no matter how small your business may be. If you look at other countries, you would find people taking up numerous business management studies and training before starting a business of their own. Just selling away what the customers come for, or just having enough financial resources alone does not make you a business tycoon. It also requires a lot of commitment, hard-work and patience to be able to take your business to greater heights. But in Bhutan, I have observed that most of the people get into business without any such preparation. Hence, they lack the knowledge and experience to run a business in a systematic manner. People do not know the core ethics that should guide the business such as customer service, social and communication skills and so on. As a result, they end up driving away their customers instead of serving them with all their heart and paving the way for future visits. Speaking from the experience of an ordinary customer, I believe that if you adopt the right strategies, there will be certainly no shortage of customers, regardless of the location of your business. The following few tips might help you succeed in business.

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A humble man with big dreams

Photo of Mr. Tashi Namgay, the Founder and Executive Director of Bhutan Kidney Foundation. Image source: his Facebook profile.

Having gone through several ordeals in life, Tashi Namgay has finally earned a smile on his face that can melt the hearts of many. He is a man who has found the extraordinary courage within himself to walk the path not so commonly walked by his contemporaries. Today, he is admired by many people for his noble initiatives and contributions to the society, firstly as a social worker and secondly as the Executive Director of Bhutan Kidney Foundation, the non-profit organization he founded in 2012. To me, he is a great source of inspiration especially for young people. He bears testimony to the fact that nothing is impossible if we are truly determined to achieve what we aspire to achieve. This is a story of how determination, hard work and love for humanity can carry a person far into the realm of happiness and contentment.

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Three great lessons we can learn from successful people

Success is definitely not a magic word. It does not happen overnight. Yet we see so many stars and champions in the world who have transformed themselves into extraordinary beings. They were not born genius. So what are their secret mantras for success? People say that successful people do not do different things’ they do the same thing differently. Well, I think that’s true. If we look at most of the world champions, we would find that they don’t do different things but they adopt different strategies to do the same thing. Science says that when we are born, we all are blest with equal number of brain cells but as we grow, some people overtake us in rational thinking and creativity because how fast or healthily our brain grows depends on how much we use it effectively. Hence, it is apparent that success mostly depends on how effectively we mobilize our internal resources to meet our targets in life. I believe that we in fact have everything within us which, if utilized properly, can certainly carry us afar. But the sad thing is that in the midst of worldly affairs, we often miss the opportunities to look at ourselves and recognize our own strengths. Looking at the lives of a number of so-called successful people in the world, I have come to believe that the ultimate success could be determined by the following three main factors that can even be termed as ‘Secrets of Success’:

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Lost in the woods: A brief but tense ordeal

Photo of twilight. Image courtesy: twanight.org

It was a cool winter evening in Samtse. The busy day was coming to a rest and the world was sinking into the west. The birds were chirping from the bushes and treetops as they prepared to settle down in their nests. From the distance, I could hear people calling out for their goats and cattle as they gathered them for the night. I was on my winter vacation and I was living with my uncle and aunt since my late father was living with them at the time. As the world was closing its door on us, I was still at the village spring to fetch water. The spring was not so far from my uncle’s house but the path ran through some bushy areas across a narrow gorge. I think it took me over 20 minutes to make a round trip and I had to do that several times a day since we didn’t have regular water supply at home.

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Manju, the baby-sitter

Until the recent past when there were no enough schools in the remote parts of the country, most of the girls used to be sent out to urban centers by their families as baby-sitters. Drowned in poverty, the parents did not have any option but to send out their girls with the hope that they might earn some money for the family. As a result, many girls as young as 6 or 7 years old landed up in different families in the towns and cities as baby-sitters. The girls were usually paid a very nominal monthly wage in addition to free logistics such as food, clothing and accommodation. But the girls never got to see how much they were earning monthly since it was said to be directly given to their parents/guardians. Some of them worked for years even without any pay other than free food, clothing and accommodation. I think they were basically treated just like slaves. Some host families might have treated their baby-sitters well, but many of the former baby-sitters I have met so far do not have good experiences to share.

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What is it like to be a sleepwalker

One cool evening in Khaling in 1990, I woke up to the long shrill of a whistle. When I came to my sense, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. I could hear people talking and rushing somewhere. I was seated on what was supposed to be a doorstep but couldn’t figure out exactly where I was. The repeated whistling sound indicated that it was time for something but I had no idea what. I stood up from where I was sitting and tried to explore around. I had no idea where I came from and where I was. I was totally disoriented. I noticed that one of my slippers was missing and no matter how much I groped around, I couldn’t find the missing slipper. Finally the school captain called my name and asked me if I was not going for dinner. Only then I realized I was just in front of the school kitchen and that the whistling was a summon call for dinner. The captain was a low-vision student and I let him look for my missing slipper, but he too couldn’t find it. So I had my dinner without my slippers on and as I was having my meal, I didn’t stop thinking about what could have happened to me that evening. After dinner, I went to the hostel and tried to piece together all the events of the day I could remember in order to solve the mystery of how I got in front of the kitchen from nowhere. Suddenly I realized that I could remember everything that had happened until the evening study hour that day. I vaguely remembered resting my head on the study table feeling tired and bored. Then my memory had stopped thereafter. I got a feeling that I could have dozed off during the evening study hour and that I might have sleepwalked out of the academic building when the bell rang. I immediately rushed to the classroom and found my missing slipper stuck under my table. It soon became apparent that I had walked out of the classroom into the kitchen premises in my sleep. When I look back to that incident today, I still wonder how I could have walked so safely in such a trance. There were a number of obstacles such as rudimentary bridges, pits and bushes of nettle plants on the way which I could have easily bumped into, but the fact that I could stick to my path despite being blind and that too in a state of subconscious mind is really a kind of miracle. That was my first ever sleepwalking experience and I wish it to be the last as well.

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How would someone without sight communicate with someone with hearing disability?

As a blind, I think nothing is more difficult than having to communicate with a deaf person. Whenever we the disabled people from different parts of the country come together on special events such as the celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities and other disability-related programs, we the visually impaired persons and the hearing impaired persons reach a real deadlock not being able to communicate and interact with each other. On one hand, the hearing impaired persons can’t hear what we say and on the other hand, we can’t see the sign language they use. What makes the matter worse is that we the visually impaired persons do not have the concept of sign language and hence, we can’t even gesture what we are saying to them. To someone who can see and hear, the situation may look so funnyand unique but this is a reality.

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