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.
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.
With just one more day left for us to bid farewell to 2016, it’s now time to look back and reflect on some of the major life events that defined our life this year. It’s a perfect opportunity to celebrate the successes and churn out the lessons learned from the failures. For me, I should say I have had a satisfying life this year both at the professional and personal level. As we stand at this juncture of time, I just would like to look back on the year and revisit the steps I have walked over the past twelve months before I walk into another new stretch of my life’s journey in 2017.
On 3rd December 2016, Bhutan joined the global community to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on the theme “Achieving 17 Goals for the Future We Want”. This theme recognizes the role of these recently adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals in building a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities around the world. Unlike the past years when all the relevant agencies used to come together to celebrate the day, this year’s celebration stretched out to reach larger audience in different places as different agencies came up with their own programs and activities to observe the event. For instance, the Disabled Persons’ Association of Bhutan (DPAB) and the Special Education Division of the Ministry of Education went to celebrate the day at Tendruk Central School in Sibsoo under Samtse Dzongkhag while the other Disabled Persons’ Organizations like the Ability Bhutan Society and Draktsho Vocational Training Center had a grand celebration in Tashi Taj Hotel in Thimphu. Likewise, the relevant institutes such as the Wangsel Institute for the Deaf in Paro, Muenselling Institute of Khaling and other inclusive schools around the country celebrated the day in their own locality with various exciting activities.
I was truly delighted to be part of the Bhutanese delegation to participate in the Australia Awards South and West Asian Regional Alumni Workshop which was held in Kathmandu, Nepal from 17-18 November 2016. There were five of us from Bhutan who were selected to take part in the workshop themed “Education for All”. Although the Bhutanese team members were new to each other, we quickly developed acquaintance and made up an excellent team.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
Although I have been blind for over 26 years now, I have got enough opportunities to interact and socialize with different people in the world. I have realized over the years that the real beauty of the world does not have to be perceived only through eyes. Along the journey of my life, I have come across different people who have helped me see the world in many ways. But over the years, I have also met some innocent individuals who have asked me some of the funniest questions without knowing that I am blind. I have had funny encounters with children as well as adults and I often giggle to myself when I reflect on those experiences. Following are some of the funniest questions I have ever been asked by both innocent children and adults.
- Are you the bus driver?
- Uncle, why are you sleepwalking?
- Do you have a stiff neck?
- Is there any car at the back?
I must be really grateful to social media for connecting us to various people who matter to us regardless of where we live. After almost ten long years, one of my old college friends Mr. Anis Alam finally managed to trace me out on Facebook and I was literarily replete with joy when his message popped out on my timeline two days back. When I was studying BA English at PSG College of Arts and Science (PSG CAS) in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu in India from 2002-2005, Anis was studying BSC Micro Biology and he was one year junior to me. He is from Manipur, North-East India and probably due to our similar skin colour and cultural difference with Tamilians, he soon became close with Bhutanese students and we began to interact more. Eventually he became my immediate neighbour in the hostel by the time I reached my final year and he became one of my best friends. So I was really delighted to receive a long message from him after such a long gap. His message has indeed taken me more than ten years back to relive the sweet memories we had together in Coimbatore. I have copied his message below.
As the month of April draws to a close, it’s time for me to look back and celebrate the end of my two years of blogging journey. I started my blog in April 2014 for which I still owe my friend Riku Dhan Subba special gratitude since it was he who always encouraged and motivated me to start blogging as he thought the world deserved to hear my stories and experiences. So finally I gave it a try in April 2014 and looking back from where I am now, I can clearly feel I have become more visible than I was two years ago. It’s amazing to know that many people have come to know me just through my blog and it makes me humble when people say they read my blog regularly and that they draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from my writing. Today, blogging has become an important part of my life because I can’t afford to leave my blog unattended no matter how busy I am with other assignments. I think what started as a passion has now become a kind of social responsibility for me now because I can feel the pressure if I don’t update my blog for a week or so. I feel that only through active blogging, we can engage the readers and followers of our blog meaningfully and that’s what I have been trying to do over the years.