June 30, 2009

Principle vs. Entertainment

I sleep till the late hours of the morning on weekends. This Saturday I got up a little early and turned on the television to find BBS rebroadcasting PM’s address to the Parliament. I suck at politics so I do not cling on to much of their speeches but this talk kept me glued to the screen. He was stressing on a disease that was catching up fast with the Bhutanese people.

It is indeed worrisome to note that people are anchoring themselves in the harbour of card games and trying to make a career out of it. I cannot help nodding to the words of the PM as he says that stringent measures and actions will be taken to curb this disease. Such issues, if at all should reach the Parliament, perhaps indicate we have a lot to worry about. I wouldn’t put my money in it, but yes sometimes card games could be the only trick left to bring together friends who are, by view of marriage and other sanctimonious relations to their own accord, alienated from each other.

Just then my cell phone tells me I have received a message. It’s a friend asking me to join for a game of marriage. I try to smile but there’s something else written on my face. The face of a man who is burdened by guilt provoked by the honorable PM lampooning card gamers or, to his eyes, gamblers. In sharp contrast to my earlier views, I seem to be looking forward to our gatherings. What the heck. I hardly meet my friends otherwise. It’s not utter gambling for there are no high stakes involved. Moreover, it’s strictly a socializing bout for a few hours. However, things start from the first step. Drops make up oceans.

Anyway, I got to my friend’s lair and there they were. I would be the sixth man. Four of them are married. One has a girlfriend. I am as single as the first digit of the set of natural numbers. The PM’s words rang loud and clear to me. You could tell I wasn’t enjoying as much this game of marriage as I used to before.

June 25, 2009

Keeping up with your resolutions

Got nothing much to do? You better follow up with your new year’s resolution. I remember sitting down one of the last days of 2008 and planning up my 2009. Then I remember tearing up two pages and penning something that would be simpler and easier to follow. I am embarrassed, but I shall share what was going inside my brainy head. For a man who is just better than an ant ( just in size though; how I wish I had its working capability), I can’t help marveling at myself that I came up with a dozen new year's resolutions. Lets read them and see my progress…

1) Finish a novel every two weeks (be a member first at JDW National Library)
Okay, I read 'Last man Standing' and 'Saving Faith', both by David Baldacci. I remember reading two more (got to check). That makes 4 books in 27 weeks. I was supposed to do 13 at the least. What a disappointment :(. I am not a member in that Library yet.

2) Prioritize your job responsibilities.
Whatever in God’s name did I intend by that? If only I was 6 months younger, I might still have those energy I seemed to have.

3) Stop beer or hard drinks.
Hah, you wish! Okay, it’s been some months with the hard drinks…but beer…umm…you know… socializing parties, gatherings…

4) No playing cards.
You got it! Not enough pocket money anyways. And with the 15% increase I better concentrate on things I spent thinking there would be a minimum 35% raise. By the way, however do you squeeze a 35 out of 15 to repay your debts?

5) Go meet a family every weekend.
Hmmm, need to get their contact numbers again. Man, I must really be turning into a loner.

6) Stop watching TV after 9:30pm
I must have meant 1:30 am

7) No druknet chat.
Let’s postpone it to 2010. I have some girlfriends there who can’t be dumped just like that (Being RUDE is not one of my resolutions).

8) No hurried eating. Eat slow and chew properly.
Hehe…I must have jotted that in purview of my emblazoning growth sideways. If at all, I have grown fatter; so I must be eating faster and chewing improperly. Check!

9) Stop wasting too much time on the internet (care for your eyes).
Not much help there too (but my eyes are fine for the time being).

10) Plan your living well.
I must have meant ‘get married again’. You know the plans involved in a rowdy bachelor’s life otherwise. Or next time I need to draft my resolution(s) in simple english.

11) Smile more often than naught.
I like that. Remember, only 13 muscles in place of 50. Salary hike is not helping much these days though.

12) Don’t waste time!!! Do something worthwhile!!!
I need to relook into the definition of ‘wasting time’ again. Either I am doing my best now or helping to waste your time also.

And that’s all. I must have been really serious while jotting them down, but now I get this gut feeling I need to get my conscience straight. Check your resolutions and see if you are keeping up with them. If you are then good for you. If not, lessen the number of your resolutions for next year, and make sure you use simple English. Good Luck!

June 23, 2009

Social obligation and its associated dilemmas

Being Bhutanese is one thing. Being a Sharchop another. Schooled and raised in Thimphu I could boast of being able to speak Dzongkha without the attachment of the vernacular accent. However, that’s limited to my speaking to friends only. Make me read Dzongkha and every soul could make a directional guess of my hometown.

Still, the glitch would not amend my whims of my being simply Bhutanese and anything else. Being settled in Thimphu for a score and a decade now and not having stepped to one’s hometown for the past 12 years would do this to you. But time would hammer its blow to remind us of our transcendental roots. It happened to me this Sunday.

An hour towards noon and the uncle is at my bed urging me to wake up. I squint through my sleepy eyes and can see that this man means business. He’s in a hurry and he has only time to be blunt. He reminds me that the clock is ticking and I am not getting any younger. I need a wife too and he has thought of a perfect match for me, his younger brother’s daughters. One is still studying so he suggests that I go for the elder sister. He tells me he has been working out on this for months now and he sees only flourishing prosperity in this sacred communion. Before I could reply anything he wants me to think and hence gives me 3 days. My answer in alacrity, he assures me, would only make me repent in leisure. I haven’t half recovered from the daze and he has zoomed out of the door.

Wow, this is the 21st century and I cannot get to pick my own wife? What’s worse, the daughter in question is my first cousin. Of course, by the standards of the average eastern Bhutanese, this bond is considered legal; or, to be precise, preferable. But I grew up here in Thimphu where such bonds are considered a taboo. Balancing yourself between having to fulfill social obligation and be at arm’s length from social stigma would indeed be a challenging feat.

Anyway I better get thinking before he comes calling again. My time is almost up but I haven’t an answer yet!

June 22, 2009

Smile nontheless :)

Well, I must have let myself get carried away and might have come a little too strongly on whoever seems to be playing with the minds of the corporate employees. Perhaps, were I sitting in that chair I would be compelled to bring forth changes that is best suited to the political interest. I just could not doubt anyone responsible for wanting to suck blood out of us because there are many things going on which we could not comprehend even if we put a hundred heads together.

What’s worse, to berate ignoble statements will only add salt to the frowning wounds on your face and I hear it takes 50 muscles to really frown at someone when you could actually spare yourself lesser energy by smiling, for it inflicts only 13 muscles (as shown in the pic obtained from the internet, but the number varies). Really interesting! On the one hand this revelation seems to tell us that we could be better off smiling because we will be causing less muscle fatigue. But for a fat pig like me I would rather frown because more muscle action means more number of calories burned. For a man who hates waking up early in the morning and doing exercises one could make up by doing simple things that would help you in burning more calories.

Yet again, we couldn’t imagine a world without smiles. However could we imagine ourselves getting bewitched by a woman’s frown? However could serious-faced-never-smiling politicians win elections? How could we otherwise make out friendship from enmity? How could we ever learn to forgive if we cannot see a smiling face?

So let’s smile; no one could ever know when someone will fall in love with it. And if you ask me about the fats accumulating within us…try chanting this every morning (don't depend on your frowns), “One who eats like a pig ought to look like a pig!” If it doesn’t work then go for, “Eat less to live more to eat more.” That should do the trick. Both hasn’t worked for me though, but it’s a good start. Good day!

June 19, 2009

Corporate pay hike; a dejection

As a kid I cried over the step-sisterly actions showered to Cinderella. The mistreatment by the step-mother to Hansel and Gretel, and of course the terrifying conduct of Snow-White’s step mother. I would look around me and think we are a lucky soul to be in a place where such conducts seem to appear only in fairy tales. Well, reading today’s newspaper (Kuensel: Crumbs off the table?) I am beginning to have doubts.

Months after the government civil servants received their pay hike the corporate employees waited in positive anticipation. But now we feel the pinch because it’s not petals they are thrusting at us, but a bag of thorns. The 15% salary hike, given the affordability of a company, still limits the corporate salary by 5% below the govt. counterparts. And to think the corporate employees enjoyed a 15% overall pay hike before. Why this decline from the profound grandeur?

The govt. gave us a jolt indeed before when they pompously declared that corporate employees were given higher salaries just because they wanted to attract employees for the upcoming new corporations; and now apparently that the corporate offices are filled to the brim the need is deemed no more necessary. That’s belligerent treachery. That’s tricking us. That’s accepting that we were lured just to fill the space and not because the corporate world demands greater work deals and contributions. Then DHI coolly claims on corporate salary hike, “There’s No Hurry!” Instead I would have loved to hear, “We need to hurry; we don’t want our employees to feel left behind. That’s our secret to their motivation!” That’s the justice I would seek. Why wait? Why the delay? Justice delayed is justice denied!

The advent of the new government has only given me the feeling of an encroachment of a step-mother into the lives of the 10,000 corporate employees. I feel corporate employees are somehow, with reasons unknown to many, looked down. This is not development. This is burying alive the motivational skills of the corporate employees; what use are corpses to ‘development’?

I only hope the news in the media was a misprint. But I really know now as to how one feels to be side-stepped; to be treated like a step-brother or a step-son in one’s own land. It’s painful!

June 17, 2009

The vertical confrontation (a short man's tall anguish)

I have always wondered if Bhutanese air was the main factor for stunted growth of its citizens. Then how could one explain the lofty mountains and the majestic trees?

The parents of a friend, who was in our office for his research, came visiting all the way from the Netherlands. We made ourselves comfortable in Hotel Serkhor and got about discussing our heights. Dutch people are reputably the tallest in the world. It was a significant moment; people of two extreme heights had gathered.

I stood a foot shorter than my Dutch counterparts. While sitting we could perhaps say our conversations were on a face to face basis. While standing up, definitely face to waist! They didn’t say it but I almost saw the sympathetic gesture in their eyes, given the doom we were cursed with to inhale the heavier, and hence more polluted, air lingering around our nostrils.

Our guests opined that the dishes in Thimphu hotels are mostly chilli oriented. Well, our staple diet was chillies and have fed on it since I was a kid. I was thinking I have had to bend down and nurse my aching stomach all the time preventing my bones to rise up straight, stubbing any chance of growth there would have been. What’s worse, I have had to carry my youngest brother while he was a baby. So heavy he was that he must have added to the gravitational pull my growth was already facing. He didn’t have to carry anyone so you might as well have guessed he’s a lot taller than me now. Perhaps, I viewed my thoughts out quite loud, for I saw their sympathetic eyes again.

Alas what could the father of my friend say? He gave me this ‘Forrest Gump’ look and shrugged, “Shit Happens!”

June 15, 2009

GNH and Banks?

This evening I stood in the never-moving line at one of the Banks in Thimphu. Believe me I have seen snails move faster. However, for a big-eyed man like me, slow pace in a Bank of all places is welcome. You get to see myriad people of different ages, genders, caste, creed, you name it… But one thing struck me as common - the bored look on their faces. Why so? Maybe it’s an answer to why money matters just wouldn’t make anyone happy. You ask about me, I could be the most serious client a bank has ever seen walk in.

Above all what I caught sight of the employees themselves chimed in me as most interesting. If there are any serious people than me then it was them. It’s almost 4 PM and they can’t wait to put the ‘CLOSED’ tag above their counter sill. I looked at the one in front of me. He seemed weary of the things around him. He was giving me this weird look. Was he shouting, “Why don’t you buzz off, it would be 4 PM any second for goodness sake!” to himself?

But I stood on. Instead I let my mind drift from the man in the counter to the aspects of achieving GNH. Was it possible for them employees? Everyday they deal with chunks of money, something most of them (and me for sure) would never make in their lifetime. Happiness is all about fulfilling their desire(s). You see that amount of money floating around you and you just cannot help wishing you could lay your hands on all of it. The thought of just not being able to amass that would add up to loads and loads of frustrations.

Look at me for instance. I have a small job. I don’t deal with cash on any moments of the day and at the end of the month I happily walk away with a decent sum. I have nothing to compare it with so I am happy. These employees have a house full of money in there and they know all they get is actually a drop in their Bank’s ocean. So these wants and desires could linger on…and GNH for them sounds like a far cry from realization.

But I could be wrong!

I don’t want to be rich. I just want some money so that I can buy anything I want! ;-)

June 13, 2009

Chat baby chat...

Who says chat has all the taboos associated with it? It’s a killer. It wastes your time. Leads to eye-sore and wrist pains. Well these are the common beliefs around. I beg to differ. If I am not chatting then I am lying on my bed, after a heavily stuffed dinner, and watching television for 5 hours at a stretch.

You ask me what the chat world has brought to me. It has brought me friends. Improved my English. Above all, the superfast typist that I have become is worth showing off. Not to forget it has also given me a nice paunch. The bifocals they made me buy too. But who cares; television would also have given me bad eyes and big belly anyway, but not the friends I get to enjoy.

More than 8 years into the Bhutanese chat world and I have fallen in love with 3 women. You think that's cheap? 8 women have fallen for me which makes it an average of a different woman every year. 4 guys have fallen for me too. I must have been a wonderful chatter using girlish nicks and acting one. Well of course, I just go steady with only 2 of these girlfriends and 3 of my boyfriends currently (girls get bored easily). I never met them, and never plan to either. And I am sure they suspect the real me too; but while we are at it, we are enjoying the cyber whims and fancy.

I must say 8 years is quite some time. It moulds you well and helps you blend with the air and be a good chatter. No wonder, the women I meet in the world cannot help wishing I was a tad younger than I say my age is (I must sound an old man, but very interesting to let go). Then there are those who wish I was a lot older so that it would do justice for them old women to flirt with me. Then these frustrating boys who can’t help wishing I would give them my number and say yes to their coffee dates. Best of all I enjoy girls wishing they had met me before, much before they got married or engaged.

Whew, the charms of chat! But if you ask me, I can’t help wishing either…that I was half the man I portray myself to be in there!

(Disclaimer: Though depicted as fun it will be unwise for students to take up chatting seriously because one could put one’s career at stake. Same goes to office goers. Too much can be dangerous. Just like water; it may be a life-force, but you can still drown in excess of it)

June 12, 2009

Sneeze freeze...

You can’t touch your chest with the tip of your tongue goes a statement in the list of science facts I chanced upon. Neither can you lick your own elbow. But what does say you would be doing is that you will be definitely trying out if you can or cannot as soon as you read the challenge. There, I got you as well. But I am bogged by another science fact that claims you can’t sneeze without closing your eyes.

Impossible to sneeze without closing your eyes? All right that was all scientific. I wonder who were paid to do such researches. Maybe they just didn’t come across a man with a tongue long enough. It’s not in me to brag but I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue. I am sure more than half of you cannot do it at all. It’s not a thing I enjoy doing given the weird taste I get especially when I have just blown my nose. But yes, science does not claim this feat unachievable nor does it laud men who can do it. Perhaps they would if only I had a tongue like that of a frog’s so that I could not only smack my chest with it but also swap the fly lying on the tip of my elbow.

Lets get back to sneezing. I tickled my nose with a ticklish stuff and yeah three test runs and I am surprised that it is true. I couldn’t just sneeze whilst keeping my eyes open. Wonderful science discovery. But I am more impressed by what my friend had to say.

My third year in college and I was accompanying a friend to the bank. Just as we got out of his apartment I had the good grace of sneezing. He swore light profanities at me instantly. Whatever provoked him to say that only added brine to the being within me that he just wounded. Never sneeze when you are venturing out, he tells me, it brings bad luck. I shrug it off. Anyway who enjoys being called a jinx? Approaching the premises we indeed find the bank closed. My friend scowls at me. I would have bought his story if it hadn’t been a weekend.

Well, I would not have had a doubt it at all cost, until yesterday. Rushing home after office I happened to sneeze just as I was getting behind the wheel and starting the engine of my car. I wondered if it would bring me bad luck. I shrugged it off. It wasn’t a new venture. I was headed home, what possibly could go wrong. I take the usual twirl around the town and into the expressway as I zoom home. The taxi that I just overtake seems unimpressed and honks at me. I meet his gaze through my rear view mirror and nearly stick out my tongue at him. He honks again. I hit my leg on the gas and try to speed up, but he seems to catch up with me easily. He honks again. I look at him through the mirror and see him pointing at me. Getting him, I stop to find that one of the wheels is just punctured. Believe me, you will not enjoy replacing a punctured wheel on an expressway, that too during rush hours.

Well sneezing without closing your eyes is one thing, but doing so just as you are venturing out, another. Anyone who can vouch for this doubt of mine?

June 11, 2009

Ode to my Party...

What came as a nasty debate between the DPT and PDP enthusiasts in Bhutan Observer during the pre-election drama prompted me to write the following in retaliation to those who seemed to slander the party I favoured then. Why shouldn't I? The Prime Minister was probably going to come from my constituency. I look at the government now and wonder if something is amiss. The reforms they wanted to make, their forewarnings on corruption...were all promising. My hopes on them slowly dwindle as they allow themselves to meddle in trifle issues and all they seem to have achieved in the last one year is cement the members' own perks and priveleges. Hence the following may just be read and considered posted solely for literary interest and not to favour or agonise any of the parties...for what I felt strongly a year ago need not necessarily blind me still. I am a voter, hence I have to keep my eyes open.
A calm day thus as the grasses lay asunder;
And the trees could sway none under
The scorching sun with such threatening
A sight, none ere reckoned so frightening.

“Burn ye all!” the sky seem’d to say;
In fear did meek men cower and pray.
T’was beyond doubt the house that lends
Shelter to all would be in wrong hands.

For giants they came rolling and upturned
Leaving no woods and stones unturned.
In the name of the mighty “democracy”
With whims, hopes and dreams crazy.

The welfare of a nation well under heat,
And as all people concerned looked beat;
As it seemed lost for whatever hopes soared,
Just then, not afar five majestic lions roared!

These five lions did roar on a calm sunny day,
Shook the nation, made it’s people sing in gay.
Thank’d the triple gem for their prayers answr’d;
Thank’d the king for the democracy he usher’d.

The reins once more to the people, behold!
Weak, strong, worthy (or not) brave or bold,
A driver which out of people’s choice
Could finally be made heard of voice.

Hence the five roared to form a strong one,
It’s glory seeming nothing else could’a won.
To help democracy hold it’s roots strong,
And in the process see nothing goes wrong.

To cherish a national dream did they a party form,
Crystal clear in their goal, aspiration and norm;
Selfless contribution intended as their talents untie,
Whims of Corruption and ill-bearings utterly anti.

Noted have the lucky people of the party’s masterpiece
It’s promise to carry on a Nation with “Equity and Justice.”
Your free advice on a failed democracy well bought,
Please note to counter this have we your help sought.

The sections of the mass you chose to represent,
Even that Shakespeare of the East who is present,
Are well capable above standard as he would assert,
For all are no less than flowers in a looming desert.

The veracity of the mighty Druk Phuensum Tshogpa,
The vanity of oh my oh Druk Precious Tshogpa;
You have kept our hopes and dreams afloat,
Be assured you have earned my sincere vote!

June 9, 2009


Two old couples prayed in their ramshackle. They prayed when they were kids. They prayed when they had met. They prayed when they married. They prayed from morning till dusk. They prayed until they had grown so old and feeble. Yet again they prayed.
The One whom they prayed for looked down from heavens above. Angels danced and sang around Him in utter praise. All music sounded in despair whenever the couples made their prayers heard. The angels pranced at the din, deemed it soothing.
“Praise thee, O’Lord that Who knows all. Tell us what the couple prays about. ”
The Great one peeked from his throne to the hut below.
“The couple reminisces about how their love grew with age and cannot separate. But if they must die, the woman prays she go first for she loves him too much to bear his loss and live in his absence.”
“Oh, how touching,” the angels wept. “Pray tell us what the old man thinks.”
“The old man prays she die first.”
“But did You not say they loved each other equally,” cried the angels in unison, “Now why should he want her to die first? Very selfish, very selfish!”
“My children,” boomed the Great One, “Judge him not, for he loves his wife just as she loves him. He knows he will suffer a lot to miss the woman but knows better that she would suffer the loneliness more were he to die first. He prays they live and die together, but were it not to happen he prays she dies first for he doesn’t want her suffering the pangs of solitude he would suffer!”

"Then what plans have You for them?"
"Why, I shall douse their candles together!"