Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Socialist Beggar
This article was written long time back when we were send for mock reporting during the Journalism course from the media house I am working today.
A loner and a chronic bachelor, Dorji, 84-year- old is originally from Lingzhi.  Wearing a green check gho, with a blue coat stays near the main traffic of Thimphu city begging for money with some good motive.
It was astonishing for me to know that the amount collected after staying in heat for a longer duration would be contributed in Lhakhangs and guendeys. It was awe for me to give him Nu 5 only.
Hence I added twenty more as a contribution for his splendid deed.
As pedestrian adds some money on his Khadim shoe cartoon box, he smiles and thanks them with a prostrating posture.
Begging has become his way of life. “Aftermath  of begging; surviving on others hard earned money might have bad repercussion, therefore, I contribute most of the amount collected for religious ceremony in Phajoding,” he said.
He visits Phajoding once in a month; coinciding with a auspicious day, just to contribute the amount he collects. He feels it as a practice of dharma, by contributing that begged amount for religious purposes; since human with love and compassion only contribute.
Quenching his thirst by a bottle of coke, he said that he came to Phajoding when he was 14 and his life was similar to a monk. His life was similar to those who were in the retreat center, in a room like a small cell, filled with incense smell and brightened up with lit butter lamp.
His parents died long time back and he had been staying with his nephew in Phajoding, who died four years back due to lungs failure since then he had been a loner. He lacked smile on his face, face which was basked under sun; crafted with lots of tanned wrinkles.
He spends his night in some alley of lower market, which at times is very difficult for him to sleep; due to cold winter breeze. “But I am fine today since a stranger gave me his coat, gho and a pair of shoe,” he said. He said that with his new attire he can at least resist the cold winter.
Soon, he will go to Tshaluney; as an aid from Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, where he will chant baza guru and Mani till his last breathe.
However he said that he had never thought of wearing that red robe like other monks.  For him practicing Buddhism doesn’t mean to wear that red robe and be in Lhakhangs or dratshangs forever. He prefers to have pure mind and soul.
For now I can say he is a socialist beggar.

To be continued…

Dedicated to the 60th Birth anniversary of Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck

I am posting my article after two years.  I dedicate this poem to our Beloved Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

His Majesty Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck
Homage to the Legendary King of Bhutan

We pay homage to Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck,
Leader who never commands but lead his subject.
We pay homage to a living Bodhisattva,
For his wisdom and self less sacrifices;
Even for the nature.

An inspiration for his heroic deeds.
We pay homage to the catalyst for peace.
For his spirit as same as Ling Gesar Gyalpo
Leading the arms on foot through rugged terrains.
In Cold Winter December 2003
Militants suffered a shellacking.

From Duar war at, the then Dewangiri
And operation against the militants at Dewathang
People out there still feel his sedulity.
Homage to assiduous leader for his vision and farsightedness.
Long Live Fourth Druk Gyalpo!

Fifth Druk Gyalpo Pronounced:
“There has never been a king like His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck in our history and there will never be a greater king ever again.”
Let the country be bless and bestowed,
Under your leadership for aeons.

Friday, January 4, 2013

14 Year old Lhaki’s hope of a full vision is dashed after her referral is denied

llkLhaki Dema loved to dance and she never missed any dance competition. Four years back when her right eye became blind she stopped dancing.
Her father Sonam Tshering said “for her dance competition I had to buy her a new dress and shoes annually.” But her interest in dance got lost and she avoids being with her friends and prefers to stay in her room, all alone.
When Lhaki was 11 years old her right eye got infected. It started turning red, watery and got irritated. “I can’t even face sunshine and I get giddiness too,” said Lhaki.
As soon as her eye got infected she was taken to Paro hospital and was admitted for two weeks. After that she was referred to Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), Thimphu.
“Even after staying for around two months, doctors in JDWNRH could not cure my daughter’s eye,” said Sonam Tshering.
On asking about the eye specialist who checked his daughter’s eye, Sonam Tshering said “I don’t remember the name but heard that he was the senior doctor.”
Even though doctors in Bhutan could not cure his daughter’s eye, Sonam Tshering fervent with hope felt that one day his daughter’s eye will be normal like before.
Therefore he asked them to help him to take Lhaki to Bangkok. But “after several visits to the doctors in JDWNRH, they gave a cold response,” he said.
Today Lhaki is using a black spectacle to cover her damaged eye.
“Every day I dream to have my previous eye and every night I pray God to cure my eye,” said Lhaki who will be in 6th Grade next year.Her parents have even noticed that her studies have suffered as she gets giddiness regularly and suffers insomnia.
“Before my daughter used to assist me to cross the road, but today I have to hold her hands and help her cross the road ,” said the father.
Meanwhile Lhaki shared that she gets a bright blurry vision and stressing her left eye too much makes her tired and suffer from headaches.Lhaki is the only daughter and the youngest in her family, which makes her parents feel more depressed and helpless.

At one time her father thought of donating his eye to her and he had even suggested the idea to the doctor when she was hospitalized in JDWNRH.
“But I am not sure whether they heard me or it fell on deaf ears,” said Sonam Tshering.
Meanwhile Health Minister Lyonpo Zanglay Drukpa said that referring a patient to Bangkok is beyond their scope. “We have certain guidelines to be followed while referring patient to international hospitals,’ he said.
He added that the health ministry is there to help them if they come to visit the hospital once again. He said they would like to see the patient’s case and ask doctors to revisit it and advise parents on how to go about it.
However the Health Minister said that out of various departments in JDWNRH, the ophthalmologist department has highly qualified doctors.

Home Ministry to help Sonam Tshering and family with Citizenship Identity Card

imagesFollowing a story in The Bhutanese  this week, Sonam Tshering, and his three sons who were stateless for more than two decades will soon get their Citizenship Identity Cards (CID).
At the moment the Home Minister, Lyonpo Minjur Dorji said that the ministry is looking into the matter.
“If they are genuine Bhutanese then we are very supportive in this case. We are there to help them to get the Bhutanese Citizenship,” said the minister.
Immediately after this paper reported the matter the minister talked with his officials on how Sonam Tshering and his family remained without citizenship.
The home minister said that anyone who had problem with their citizenship comes to him or else to the concerned office.
He said Sonam Tshering had never approached him on this matter though he was there with the ministry for more than four years. The Ministry is presently verifying the matter and they are very supportive about getting citizenship for Sonam Tshering and his sons.
While the Home Ministry does all the bureaucartic work of verification ultimately only His Majesty the King can grant citizenship.
Sonam Tshering, who had his census with his wife’s family, did possess a citizenship identity card (CID) in the early 1980s when he shifted to Paro, and settled with his late wife.
He paid me-threy (tax) regularly through his cousin Tenzin Yeshi for the purpose.
One random day he found out from his cousins that he and his family didn’t have census. So, he went to see what actually happened. He found that their census was out casted.
He immediately put up an application from the gewog office and forwarded it to the dzongkhag office.
Unfortunately, that year his wife and daughter died in a bus accident (where 18 passengers died) but his son Nima, 7 survived the accident. With that trauma he could not proceed to make the census for them. He was trying to make census for his family before the 1990s problem.
After the trauma Sonam Tshering resumed his efforts to make CIDs for his family. He went to plead for a proper census to the Zimpon’s office. The office gave him a letter and was sent to Kidu Office to get the work done.
From there he was asked to go to the home ministry (MoHCA). He said there was a clerk with a bald head to whom he handed over the letter. The officer told him they would call him as soon as work’s done.
After he waited for almost a year Sonam Tshering decided to go meet the clerk in the ministry.
To his surprise the clerk was replaced by a new clerk, Rinzin and his assistant Karma. They didn’t know about the old clerk’s whereabouts.
Sonam Tshering submitted all the essential documents to the old clerk which included around 25 letters from kidu office.
A shattered Sonam Tshering recalling his miseries said “The letter had a sign from gewog gup, Haa Dzongda and some important kidu officials”.
“Without an Identity card I was prohibited to enter dzong even if it was for an official work. I used to be a chimi (local government representative) of our village,” he added.
Clerk Rinzin helped him make a blue Identity card which helped him for a time being. After a long wait, finally he and his son were called for an interview where they were made to sing dzongkha songs to check the fluency of national language, and had to go through other modes of test.
Even after three years of waiting he didn’t receive any calls or mails from the office claiming that the concerned officers are on tours or busy with official works.
When he finally went to the Zimpon office he found out that his letters and the interview he and his family went through three years back, got invalidated and was cancelled.
While in the process to propose again for census, he was called by Bji Gup to give them the census where he and his family’s name was recorded and said that after four months they will get the census. But they didn’t.
Sonam Tshering said his family can’t do anything to achieve their dreams without proper citizenship.
His children cannot apply for jobs and are therefore compelled to do farming or remain dependent on their wives and their families.
Sonam Tshering lives with his second wife in Jagathang Nagikha village under Lango gewog, Paro.

Bureaucratic bungling leaves a family without Citizenship

Sonam Tshering and wife Phub Zam
Sonam Tshering and wife Phub Zam
In a process where even blame got lost, a man and his family remain without a country even though they spent half a lifetime in the very country they live in
Such a thing is citizenship, people may spend a life time in a country but they will be proven an alien on the very land they walked since birth. And all this is because of the invisibility of a piece of document called the Citizenship Identity Card (CID).
And in a very real instance, Sonam Tshering, 59 born in Bji gewog under Haa dzongkhag lived an almost full circle of his life in Bhutan. But legally speaking, for more than two decades he and his three sons are stateless.

Lost CID
Till the 1980s Sonam Tshering had a CID during which he and his late wife shifted and settled in Paro. Those days his census was with his wife’s family and his cousin Tenzin Yeshi used to look after it.
His brother-in-law used to collect me-threy (Tax) from them regularly. Therefore irrespective of the tax, he always thought his census details were stable. Later, his cousins found out that he and his family did not have census and called him to look into it.
When he went there to see what actually happened he found that they were not on the census list. To make his census he put up an application from the gewog office and forwarded it to the Dzongkhag office.
Unfortunately his wife and daughter died in a bus accident (where 18 passengers died). However his son Nima, 7 years old then survived the fatal accident. With that trauma he could not proceed to make the census for them.
He said “I have been trying to make the census for my family before the 1990s problem”.

Lost documents and changing officials
A helpless Sonam Tshering went to plead for a proper census to the Zimpon’s office. The office gave him a letter and he was sent to the ‘Kidu Office’ to get the work done.
From there he was asked to go to the home ministry (MoHCA). Those days he said there was only one computer and in front of that there was a clerk with a bald head, to whom he handed over the letter.
The officer said the office would call him as soon as the work got done.
Sonam waited for a month and that month added to a year, still nothing happened. So he came back to see why there was such a delay.
Later when he went back he found that the clerk was changed and didn’t know about his whereabouts.
The new clerk Rinzin and his Assistant Karma had replaced the bald clerk. He was told that the former clerk had around 25 letters from the kidu office and it was locked in the box and it was his work to complete all the pending works.
Sonam Tshering was shattered as it was the only hope for him to get a Bhutanese Citizenship. “The letter had a sign from gewog gup, Haa Dzongda and some important kidu officials,” said Sonam Tshering.
“Without an Identity card I was prohibited to enter dzong even if it was for an official work,” he said. “I used to be a chimi (local government representative) of our village, then.”
Clerk Rinzin however helped him make a blue Identity card which helped him for the time being.
After a long wait, finally he and his son were called for an interview where they were made to sing Dzongkha songs to check the fluency of national language, and other modes of test were also involved.
“The then clerk Sangay Dorji said that we will be called back and we kept their contact numbers also,” he said.
Even after three years of wait he didn’t receive any calls or mails from the office. Sonam Tshering said that the concerned officers are always on tours or busy with official works.
So he once again went to the Zimpon’s office, where he came to know that his letters, the interviews he and his family went through three years back, got invalidated and was cancelled.
In a process to propose again for a census, he was called by the Bji Gup to give them the census.
He and his family’s name was recorded and and he was told that after four months they would get the census.
“Nothing happened till date,” said Sonam Tshering.

Life without a country
With his meager income he came from Paro to the capital city, Thimphu to legally attain a citizenship under the Bhutan Government.
All his relatives have Bhutanese citizenship and he feels like a foreigner staying in Bhutan.
He said his family is deprived of essential facilities that the government will not provide without citizenship. Without it every attempt to make a better future for his family is blocked.
He could send his three sons to study till Class X but after that they had to give up. His elder sons could not qualify for higher studies while his youngest son who is 25 years old now, had to compellingly drop out from school.
“My Youngest son Sonam Dorji discontinued studies and joined a monastic body in Nepal as he knew that without CID he would not be able to go for higher studies,” said Sonam Tshering.
Without a school leaving certificate, Sonam Dorji wouldn’t be able to meet his family. “Immigration officials usually become skeptical when they meet people without CID,” he added.
His elder son Nima, 26 after working for about six year in Bhutan Telecom resigned out of frustration. “As a temporary employee he used to earn Nu 3000 monthly which was not sufficient as living standard is very high now,” he said.
Bhutan Telecom offered them a job as their part of land was taken by them.  But without a CID, Nima was not recruited as a permanent employee even though they got an offer.
His eldest son Dawa, 30 also had to resign from the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA).
“He stood first position and was qualified to upgrade his qualification in India but without CID he was prohibited to go,” said Sonam Tshering.
In addition Dawa enrolled himself voluntarily in militia during the militants’ problem in Bhutan.
Sonam Tshering said there are many limitations in their lives without a CID. Above all he said “we are not eligible to vote for election and for next 2013 election we hope to vote if we get CID.”

Hopes and Dreams
“My Family, they can do anything and can achieve their dreams,” said Sonam Tshering. But without a proper citizenship they are handicapped.
His children cannot apply for any job vacancies. Hence they are forcefully dragged into farming or remain dependent.
“If I get my Identity I would aspire for kidu land and do farming as usual,” he said.  He stays with his second wife at Jagathang Nagikha village under Lango gewog, Paro.
Some of the government officials The Bhutanese talked to said with no proper handing-taking process in any department it created drawbacks.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Happy and safe but polluted and sad

Photo courtesy: Tashi Tshering, WWF Bhutan
The Lunana Community is without any doubt happy, and hugely relieved that the imminent and immediate danger to their settlement is contained many thanks to the project which lowered the levels of the Thorthormi and Rapsthreng Lake.
Be that as it may, the community, in the aftermath is however in gripes with the polluted and unkempt environment left behind as residue of works undertaken by men, machine, animals and temporary campsites.
The highlanders are unhappy to see their pristine and virgin landscapes turned into a ramshackle ghost terrain.
Lunana Gup Gyenpo Tshering said that the project has immensely saved the nation from Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) calamities, but it polluted the gewog and left the paved path and wooden bridges in poor conditions. He said villagers are unaware of the cleanliness so they are more concerned about limited tsamdro which is insufficient for their cattle as of now.
The Gup said every day more than 100 horses come to project campus and feed on the limited tsamdro.
“The tsamdro which will be sufficient for a year is finished in one month by cattle which are assigned to work for the Project,” he said. On top of that people in Lunana are left with limited timber.
The assigned project will not maintain the rickety bridge and roads, instead we need to propose government for the budget, said gup Gyenpo.
The gewog has around seven wooden bridges starting from Laya till the gewog which are all in bad conditions. People can however use them to travel through.
“At the moment we don’t face much problem since we didn’t experience snow fall this month,” he added.
In addition to that all the Lunaps travel south to buy grocery and household items as it is always been an unavoidable and necessary practice to hoard for storage in the cold and remote regions.
In the previous year Lunana experienced heavy rainfall by this month but the present year saw no snowfall, which made hoarding activities easier.
The gewog has three villages, Relo, Hayde and Thayga consisting in total 45 households.
“It might sound trivial to pick on the issue but it had polluted our pristine environment,” the Lunana gup said. Lunana is one of the famous tourist sites so it needs to preserve its environmental attributes.
On the way to Lunana one can see worn-out clothes, fast food packets and wrappers, pet bottles and human excreta disposed at irregular and inappropriate intervals on the paths. Instant action is impossible but the community people plan to clean the area and burn all the waste disposed.
Gup Gyenpo said it’s impossible to clean all the area as it’s a seven to eight day walk from the gewog therefore they have to leave some places polluted with wastes.
However he said that they didn’t put up the issue to the dzongkhag as it’s a National project which by all means benefitted the nation as well as neighboring regions.
Lunaps aspire to have proper road facilities by the 11th Five year Plan as they are the only gewog deprived of one. Very soon Laya, Soe and Naro would get their road facilities.
“With road facilities in the gewog we can reduce inconveniences and address the issues at gewog level,” said the gup.
Meanwhile the project to tame two dangerous lakes was completed successfully.
More than 300 workers, for about three months every year for the last five years worked under conditions as freezing as two degree centigrade. The team successfully drained out the same volume of water that gushed downstream in 1994 GLOF.
The mitigation team this year reduced the water level of Thorthormi by five meters. Almost 17 million cubic meters of water drained into the Phochu through a 10 meter-wide channel, which reduced the same level of risk such a volume of water could cause downstream.
The lake is harmless for now but the remaining water in the lake can cause GLOF depending on external and natural factors such as earthquakes, rock slides and avalanche.
The Nu130mn worth project was successfully completed, but it also came at the price of three workers who lost their lives in 2010 and two workers who lost their toes to frostbite.
The Thorthormi glacial lake in northern Bhutan is considered the country’s likeliest climate-induced disaster. The lake, perched at a height of more than 4,400 meters, is swelling because of melting ice, and is in danger of bursting its wall.
It was in 2008 that the Bhutanese government decided to start an operation to reduce the possibility of a GLOF after Bhutan’s first proposal to artificially lower the Thorthormi lake was accepted under the national adaptation programs of action (NAPA) in 2006. Under the project, supported by the United Nations Development Program among others, the government aimed to lower the water level of the lake by five meters or 17 million cubic meters of water in four years.
The decision followed a study which showed the lake was expanding and if the lake bursts, it would threaten communities in the Punakha-Wangdue district and Choskhor valley.
The international mission led by Bhutan›s department of geology and mines to mitigate the risk posed by Thorthormi lake ended in November 2011. The team deputed to accomplish the mission was back after the third and final phase of the project. But the mission was far from accomplished.
Operation Thorthormi was delayed by a year and the actual work on it started only in 2009. Since then, the water level in the largest glacial lake in Bhutan, measuring 3.42 sq km was reduced by 3.68m, 1.32m short of the target.
The team members of the mission confirmed that Thorthormi Lake and other ponds in the Thorthormi glacier are expanding. A past study conducted with old satellite images of the other lakes in the same vicinity showed that annual retreat rate of the glacier is about 30-35 meters each year.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Silver Jubilant on my Birthday
It’s just an anecdote to mark my Birthday. I didn’t realize that I was 25 on 25th September, silver jubilant this year. I should have thrown a huge party for that but I never realized that. It happens with me in my every birthday.
Silver jubilee and I didn’t realize to celebrate with a huge blast. However I enjoyed with my two lovely friends with a red wine. Indeed it was a wonderful one with lots of hilarious talk and at times nasty also.

Simply Me

I am 25 but I still crave to be with my Dad.
Snooze even if clock strikes till 12 noon
Again experience those Nocturnal wanderings.

But I am 25 and no more like yesterday
Mom’s lap would be replaced by pillow
Her lullaby replaced by collections in my cell phone.

Now I am 25, my lap is for my little niece
My dweeb Shoulder is for my siblings.
I am a crying shoulder for them, now.

25 now, but still rags my brain for answers
Is that hard to hear or not at all existing?
Or am I just wandering.

I think too much on repercussions
It’s been 25 years but still not sure about it.
Till date there is always an opposite of what I did?

To whom I truly love them
They are the sheer back-stabber
Now I am silver jubilant so I will say

They didn’t need to cut me off
I didn’t even need their love
Now they are just somebody that I used to know.

I am 25 and I am not living that way
I learned to be tactful
Now I am more mature and responsible woman.

Now don’t lure me as true feelings exist only in dreams.
I am 25 and knew the reality
It is no more a fairy tale.

To those who loves me for now
I plea to remain the same forever and
Be happily Ever After.