September 27, 2013

With Balay Balay and agay

I never did realize the fun of mingling up with aged people until lately. I always looked for a way to shrink away and even if one turned up, I was so indisposed to their candour that I rejected it flatly. However this time by default, I was conferred good opportunity to sit around with oldies and celebrate the day together. Perhaps, I should remember the day as the best ever celebrated blessed rainy day. 
The day cracked up with greetings from the sun rays gently warming up the air inside the room. No sooner did I freshen up than a neighbour next door invited me for lunch. I felt as if I was home with my own parents. With a pot of porridge I bided farewell to breakfast followed by some preparations for the day. Lunch hour was in air when a man of late sixties and seventies joined us with their wrinkled face and eyes pocketed deep inside.

It wasn’t until some thirty minutes before that they broke the ice when they were poured with a cup of locally brewed chankey. The two senior old folks were comfortably seated with their backs leaned on sofa as if in charge of the day. First they started with some historic background and significance of the day and after which came the joke of the annual bath by the senior citizen. We all burst out laughing to the joke, but he interjected and helped himself with another round. But he didn’t even show us the slightest hint of intoxication and maintained his pace. 

“Agay, how many children have you produced” asked I with a grin. “I didn’t marry” followed the reluctant reply. I stopped inquiring further dreading the sombre looks of the agay. Later I knew from my neighbour that agay never paired up with any women. As the conversation heated up, all of us were well acquainted and I did not dread any longer.

The other man took us back to sixties when Bhutanese were still not exposed to wearing underwear. He even narrated his first incidence with a women and how he got rid of virginity. Compared to agay, he was fortunate enough to be partially schooled. Often the man blended in some English words in his joke which puzzled agay. But every time he uttered an alien word, he made it sure that it reached agay’s ear in translated language. Noticing this, I laughed hysterically and seldom did the man stare me with his uninviting eyes. 

Next he narrated about how he earned the sobriquet “Balay Balay”. It was told so lively that it almost took my breath away. Agay nodded to his joke but never displayed adequate smile.
So often their conversation followed light arguments which left us ambivalent on whom to referee.

By then the clock on the wall chimed five times warning us with the sundown. I went to thank agay for his good humor but not until he wakes up from his snore. Uncle Balay Balay stood till the last bottle.

I called off my day pacifically with blessing and memoirs carved on my heart.

September 8, 2013

Election outcome

Election 2013 needs no translation. It will go down in the history of Bhutan. The world’s tiniest opposition party ever mounted swept away most of the constituencies emerging as the ruling government. All in all, it was the nation and her people who sprouted as the winner.

I had the privilege of contributing to the success of the election. I was stationed at one of the remotest place. It took us two days to reach. The expedition was the longest walk that I ever embarked on. Besides, Exploring nature has always been my hobby. It has inspired me to remain content with everything. Of all, nature’s composure has always elated me beyond the horizon. 

On reaching the destination, I was stunned to see only few houses. I bothered about the voter turnout the next day. Hardly fifty of them turned up on poll day. The voting was successful one despite the harsh weather.

What profited me? 

The long habituated inclination of smoking was finally put to an end. Since I was disconnected from hustle bustle life, I had no access to any smoker friends even if I wanted to. The unavailability also aided me to get rid of it.  Moreover, election commission of Bhutan for the opportunity and for sending me afar. 

In the course of responding nations call, I also tended to my wish and emerged as winner. Should it been not for the election I would still be continuing? Not only did I quit but banned too.

Still today, I joyously celebrate the victory.


September 4, 2013

My humble supplication to education consultants

It is everyone's dream to at least earn a degree qualification these days. Perhaps, earning degree has become more like a fashion. Bulk of Bhutanese are scattered across India for study which stretches from Darjeeling in the north to Tamil Naidu in the south.

Many self financed Bhutanese enroll through education consultants to avail higher studies. 

As a privately operating firms, I know it is the game of survival. But at the cost of lucrative business, one should not go to the extent of making false promises and let others fall prey to it. 

Aspiring Bhutanese students wanting to pursue tertiary educations are enrolled in various Indian universities and abroad by the consultants. Besides admission and seat confirmation in the college, students are equally enlightened on the scope of the courses. 

In addition, they also shoulder the role of escorting and reaching the students securely to their respective destinations. I well understand how demanding and worrying it is to take care of large numbers, especially susceptible youth along the hostile environment.

To compensate the kindness, a huge sum (Nu ten thousand) is charged as a consultant fee exclusive of traveling and food expenses. 

Likewise, other formalities are also duly fulfilled to secure the candidature. Once done, it becomes final and binding. The changes in the decision afterwards seem almost bleak. On few cases, documents may be considered but not the cash. This slightly harbingers their hunger for the money. 

In the summer of 2008, when I was unaware of how to go about, I resorted to consultant for admission in India. I recall it unmistakably how on Google earth the physical ambience of the college took me by surprise. Even the footage of cooks serving meals were shown. It was great then.

With stacks of curiosity, I left for college through the agent.

Alas! in reality it was a different story. Still today, I don't have a memory of any single day where we were served by the cooks. Later, I knew it was done to attract students. In fact, we were also once called to act in-front of the camera to lure another batch. 

Since the consultants bear the task of enrolling students at the start, I wish they could at least assist us in the end. Because by the time we apply for the certificate, some are already into job or undergoing extended training. So it becomes quite difficult to physically make a presence due to work obligation or other reasons. 

In desperate circumstances like this, I strongly feel that consultants can play our part. Moreover, as they directly deal with the college administration, I see more probability of getting everything done. Just in case there is a fuss over a petty issue like applying for convocation certificate, the college should also not accept a candidate enrolled by the consultant. 

When admission could be sought even without setting foot in the campus, what is that makes the ending so hard. Why isn't there a mutual consensus between the consultants and the college?

To wrap up, I don't mean to defame any consultants but it is a genuine plea to not forget us in the end, for we believe a little helping hand from your side can ease all the inconveniences.