December 26, 2016

The walk and the talk

It was during 2013 election. I was placed at one of the extreme places of Zhemgang, along with complete knots of strangers, to dispatch my duty as polling officer. Little did I know that the road less trodden would flash as fond memories today.

The first few hours of the journey wasn’t lively. So it took a while to break the ice.
Gradually, as we pushed further into the wild, close we felt and so full of live, the interaction became. Among us was a guy with an extensive experiences of travelling the pockets of our country, which made our journey increasingly exciting.

Our presiding officer stealing some furtive glances.

His stories were mainly that of pain and gain. Sacrifice and struggles. Tears and smiles. Diligence and reward.

As I kept listening to his account I could not help but relate it to my own life. I felt blessed to have been raised by a decent parents. However, his story had me wondered immensely on the sacrifices and struggles every parents make to comfortably raise their children, which to many of us remain frozen with time.

Once I jokingly confided that every time I receive my salary it puts me in a heavy state of dilemma. He seemed to have stirred by the funny remark and asks for the justifications.

“I am puzzled as I know not what to shop at the month end- cooking oil or an underwear”.

To my answer, he breaks into a wild laughter and forgets the lengthy trial ahead of us. On resuming his wisdom packed wrinkles, he rivets on setting priorities in life and leaves me with the same choice again- whether I should buy a cooking oil or an underwear.

“Life is not easy”, he further continued with a deep sigh as we ascended the hills. Coincidentally, and to his thoughtful tone, I said that my dad must have walked thousand miles to earn a handsome travel allowances. He paused for a short respite, dabbed the sweat and rejoined circuitously, “How do you feel cruising all these greasy and narrow paths?” Then he chortles expecting some response from my side.

My lips were half asunder as if to speak, I drew in a long breath but it escaped into a silence instead of a response. 

Noticing the silence, he adds that the real pain is earning by self and making a wise choice.

True to his words, evoking the yesteryears, I would almost achieve buying everything that came my way. Making a choice was easy then. I just had to make a list and wait for the money from home.

Meanwhile, we wait for our friends to catch us and watch the light slowly fade down the horizon. Together, off we went to lodge at our designated place and called it a night.

An elder by age, experience and wisdom, he revealed out some of the findings and interventions of his experiments with so called survival and living. Moreover, his story of becoming a sole breadwinner and taking charge of his families emboldened me to rethink and live life more meaningfully.

October 19, 2016

Lab diary

Recently, I joined my school as research student. Now, I am affiliated to reproductive science lab, graduate school of bio-agricultural sciences.

Looking back, learning Japanese language in a span of four months was fun as well as pain in the neck. In fact, a good success story for beginner like me.

Since the program was designed like a crash course it helped accelerate my language learning skills. Many tireless efforts and unwilling sacrifices were put into it to keep up with the daily lightning speed lessons. However, at the end it paid off well. At least it doesn’t make me feel alienated now.
from google
On the contrary, working in the lab for past few days had been a different story. At the very start, getting to know about the laboratory life posed a great challenge as everything was brand new. Let alone other tasks even a simple chore like borrowing books could not be performed on my own. I felt naïve and wondered if it was going to perpetuate.

Deprived of guidance, I kept reading all day long often going oblivious of my own purpose in the lab. On few occasions, a sentence or two would go around. That was it. Like working bees, hardly anyone had time.

Soon things started to fall on right track. I was assigned with my lab tutor.
Because professors have tight schedule almost every day- lab tutors are vested with a responsibility to handle the newbies. From general rules of the lab to conducting student practice, they play the role of professors, and often runs errands.

Interestingly, they can be compeers and not necessarily seniors. In the due time, such mutual relationship gradually eases the confusions and working in the lab becomes so much fun. In other sense, there is no need for excess coaching class once the master course begins in full swing.

As we are all put together in the lab- doctoral, master and few final year students, it creates an ideal place for breeding different ideas. Not only does it foster good learning atmosphere but also presents cross cultural exchange opportunities to better understand the diversity of the world. Furthermore, collaborating in team helps to gather all the pieces together and solve the puzzle.

Working in a group comprised of different levels also translates to learning from anyone- PhD or master or final year candidate.

My first lesson came from a final year student. It was about animal duty- changing of beddings, replenishing food and water for the rats and mice. Additionally, she also briefed on the records that has to be maintained in the animal room, and report any emergencies to the staff.

Championing the art of animal duty is essential, perhaps compulsory, because the entire experiment can fail miserably even if a single animal is let loose. So as a member of reproductive science it is indispensable to master the task, especially the animal handling. Most importantly, getting conversant with the rodents behavior allows for the smooth conduct of the practical.

While I remain as an ardent learner today, I pledge to commit with indefatigable stamina and make the best use of finest minds here. 


September 20, 2016

From Kheng to Japan II

I awoke betimes to the melodic tune of Tequila Sunrise by the Eagles and perfunctorily glanced outside. It was a day unlike any other days, stiflingly hot with mundane affairs taking on its turn gradually. Before long, I made my morning toilette and went to a sumptuous breakfast followed by a brief respite. My three days sojourn had me completely bury the beautiful memories of gorgeous Himalayan air hostesses.

As the clock hands drew close to noon, I readied all my travel documents, baggage, and sundry other items. Just then, my newly met Indian acquaintance sent a message that he was coming to pick me up. I still had luxury of time before he could locate me at the Bhutan embassy. Hence, in gratitude for my host’s generosity, I struck on a conversations and acknowledged him (Drimpon Lobzang) for being a Good Samaritan. After he had primed with his sapient advice and fatherly guidance, I took to my leave assisted by a police officer. We ambled leisurely over to the embassy gate and savored the AC there with some light banter.

No sooner did we close our chitchat then a cab pulled up to the gate. It was my friend. Together they helped me load the bags and before the engine roared to life once again, I waved goodbye.  We drove along the busy and heat laden roads of Delhi and made a halt at serene place where we heartily pitched in to the lunch. An hour’s drive eventually ushered us into the Indra Gandhi International Airport. The temperature soaring, air terminal teeming with lives, we stood waiting restlessly for another one and half hours.

The check in commenced at 5pm. We were put in a long file and the verification went on. Just as my turn came, it took a little longer to authenticate the passport. Shortly, having rejoined some of the queries, the man at the counter handed in the air ticket and let me through the gate. He probably didn’t know on the existence of small Himalayan kingdom, albeit Druk air’s frequent fly to Delhi international airport. It had me vexed for some time and wondered why my lecturer, then in college, asked us which part of India was Bhutan.

Eventually, all the hassles comes to an end. And with a nonchalant gait, I walk to the departure lounge and wait for the take-off.

Few hours into the waiting, the giant Japan Airlines (JAL) loomed within my sight and an elegantly decked crew members showed up before the queue. For a moment, I was lost in their flamboyant parade and kept staring at the hourglass shape -from their neatly kept hair do to the seductively manicured toenails without even batting my eyes.

“Well come to Japan airlines” interrupted a comely stewardess, steering me into the flight. Once inside, I tried riveting all my attention in finding the seat number but only to baffle myself in a sea of heads. My previous knowledge of travelling in Indian jet airways failed miserably. Subsequently, a swift query to the flight attendant helped me settle the search. My embarrassment put to an end, I reclined comfortably at the window seat.

Indian Standard Time 7 pm, all passengers onboard and my journey from Kheng to Japan continued. A little later, with an air of complete confidence, I pulled up the screen from my right flank, plugged in the headphone and observed the flight navigate over the route map until a pacific slumber sent me into a good night.

The following morning, I watched the aircraft fly over South China Sea and had a hunch that we were getting closer. Quite later, an announcement emanated from the cabin gently reminding everyone to remain seated and fasten up the seatbelt. Shortly, the engine ceases.

With a polite sendoff from the flight attendant at the exit point, I hastily disappeared among a concourse towards immigration section- no grooming, nothing.

The clock read almost seven in the morning then. I began to fret because my next flight was just two hours away. Gradually, as more and more people thronged in front of immigration, the tensions mounted further- the likelihood of getting my residence card stamped within a stipulated time looked bleak. Worsened by the circumstances- I moved out of the line, beseeched a lady in-charge and confronted the dire situations. She promptly acted to my urgency and delivered the card. Impressed at the first sight by the lightning speed response, off I went in search of the departure terminal again.

It brings me a good dose of laughter to think of how I nearly exited at Tokyo instead of Chubu airport. Fortunately, a janitor came to the rescue and escorted me lest I go amiss of the track.

After being in flight again for another two hours, ultimately I was alighted at Chubu International Airport. As I had been already informed by my professor that she would be waiting at the exit gate, I rejoiced at a feeling that I have done it after all the struggles. I gathered all my items from the luggage room and followed the exit point. Hardly had I stepped out, I spotted a placard which read “PELDEN NIMA, NAGOYA UNIVERSITY”. It was my professor. As every Japanese would do, I bowed in reverence and thanked her for every support.  

She drove me in her private car until my residence and handed over to the staff for registration. I gave thanks once again for all her troubles and checked in the room utterly exhausted but with hopes and dreams.

August 8, 2016

The Japanese way.

I am almost 5 months old in Japan. Let me share few of my unique reflections so far.

It is universally acknowledged fact that punctuality is everything here. So I will not shed light on it, for it may appear redundant to many.

It isn’t astounding to see people automatically queue up for anything that could possibly create a mass havoc, be it in a spacious supermarket or rush-hour traffic. Initially, I wondered how such a great feat could be achieved with a swift spontaneity while in some parts of the world even with the draconian measures and directions, people fail to heed and create scenes now and then.

Moreover, it is uncommon to see pedestrians violate the traffic rules here. So far I have not been a witness to any pedestrians crossing the road at a point other than designated areas or traffic signals. Such is the level of mental faculties Japanese people have evolved.

Another trend that calls for attention is their prompt response to works like fixing potholed roads or malfunctioned conduits. It would not be too much to say the road that suffer cracks or potholes at the dawn are fixed by the dusk, if not on the other day. Furthermore, it is assured that the work doesn’t create any conflicts with the usual activities and keeps it going round the clock. And the fashion in which they dispatch the duty is just awe-inspiring- systematic, safe and elegant. Any passerby will involuntarily stop to admire it, sneak a look, and fancy the same in their home countries.

I now conceive why Japan is labelled as one of the safest countries across the globe. Initially, I had no idea how backbreaking it is to fetch a sim card here. Back in Bhutan, getting a sim card done is not a big deal so long as you have the device and someone known Bhutanese. It may scarcely take around twenty minutes to settle upon few procedural works that would ask your personal details. Next, you’re all ready to hit the line.

But Japan works in mysterious ways. Nothing comes in easy  package here.

Weeks back, I was stumped to the brink of quitting the sim card. At one time when I went for a credit card, they inquired on my phone number and on another occasion, credit card when I applied for a phone number. At first, I found it crazy of Japanese to have created such a protracted procedures and incommode customers by asking series of documents. Gradually I took to the credence that similar process had better be introduced in Bhutan too, for what seem like tedium to customers at the outset, the larger purpose at the end of the day is to keep troubles at bay.

A population of near 130 million and a top consumerist on the index, it is surprising one will hardly butt against trashes. Take a stroll along the street or travel in the subway, there is no refusing the roads and underground pavements are well-kept. Talk about cleanliness and it will be difficult even to spot dust on the leaves. It took me at least two months to marginally begrime my white shirt and shoes.

Believe it or not, street dogs are hardly seen around and ass are retained in the zoo for display. Not to mention the warm charisma of sober Japanese, even late night drunkards are well disciplined and intend no harsh feelings for anyone stranger.

A fascinating country where every waking hour is a new soul awakening experiences, I shall keep turning until the last page and remain inspired for the rest of my days. However somewhere deep within, the place I call home is dearly yearned.

June 10, 2016

From Kheng to Japan

Well, now I run out of confidence to write and feels like my creative muse had just deserted me. It has been a huge break. I could not keep up with the consistency and perseverance of writing. So it nearly left me delete the blog account.

Anyway, I shall write succinctly about the journey I embarked from a remote land of thunder dragon to the shipshape land of sunrise.

On the morning of 30th April, I flew from Paro to the capital city of India. Akin to maiden travelers the thought of boarding plane did fascinate me as it was my first time in Druk air. However, I was constantly bothered by series of works awaiting at Japanese embassy, New Delhi.

Exactly at half past eight, the mammoth dragon took to its flight. It was an emotional farewell to my beautiful motherland.

Sometime from the take-off point, high above in the heaven, I was slightly disturbed by the turbulence and could not resume the catnap. The man in the cob web had maneuvered the giant dragon to quite an elevation and all the passengers on board were deep in slumber except for the roaring sound of the engine.  Just as I peeped through the glass, a mellifluous voice broke open from the cabin. It was the mention of the mighty Himalayas on the flanks blanketed in clouds and snows.

Alas! The joy of seeing it with my own eyes from high above defied the very striking expositions of geography lessons, and was unmatched in any way. Not even the hour glass figure of stewardesses that walked past the aisles could gain my attention, for the drifting clouds over the mountains were truly a fairy tales. But such a fine sight disappear in a trice only kept me panting for more seductive voices from behind the cabin.   

Two hours later, I landed at IGIA New Delhi, India. Oh my god, Delhi was at the peak of its heat confused by the chaos of commuters. While on the other end, I was equally confused by the backbreaking articles and followed suit. Fortunately I stumbled upon few Bhutanese students, and with their firm assistance I gracefully checked out of the airport. We had a brief refreshment in a New York minute and headed our ways.

Beaten by the searing heat of Delhi and hefty stuffs to watch out for, prudent than usual, off I went to Bhutanese embassy in Chanakyapuri to put up rest of the days. My pidgin Hindi didn’t allow the cabbie to ponder I was someone more than a foreigner.

Yes, I was dispatched straight away to Bhutan embassy. No sooner did I tip the driver for his honesty, then a smiling face greeted me from the gate. An army, probably in his mid-thirties with a prizefighter figure was taking charge of the day. Having explained him about my purpose, he hospitably ushered me in. Once inside, I could barely believe I was on foreign soil because almost everything was Bhutanese- little strings of prayer flags, building architectures, faces, dishes and even the settings of the work place.

The clock neared noon just when I was about to check in.

Realizing I still had some time, with quick shower and hearty lunch, I went to Japanese embassy and handed the visa application form. It hardly consumed 15 minutes to wrap up since it was a government scholarship, and not even a dime was charged.

Relaxed I felt, and returned to my room desperately looking forward to the day of departure from Delhi. All my struggles for the day finally paid off. Thereafter, I didn’t feel the tick of time until on the evening of 3rd April.

That night before I hit the bed, a singular sense of joy overwhelmed me, marking the start of my journey while the unbounded ocean of knowledge ahead stimulated my intellectual clits. Just then the soothing voice of the air-hostess invaded my thoughts and broke the reverie. 
I wondered if she could be more alluring than the mighty Himalayas. be continued 

May 1, 2016

To all the teachers of Bhutan.....

May 2nd marks the birth anniversary of our third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who insightfully played indispensable role in shaping Bhutan through modern education. And for all his worthiness and unmatched timeless deeds, the day is celebrated as TEACHER’S DAY in Bhutan. To ‘The architect of modern Bhutan’, we owe you a boundless gratitude.

On this special day, I wish all our teachers a happy teacher’s day.

It’s no denying that a teacher is an artist who inspires creativity, a constant warrior relentless in pursuit of a better world and a steadfast surrogate parents committed to the lives of countless souls.

I am well aware of sacrifices and compromises every teacher make just to keep going the lamp of learning in every child. It has been my three enriching years into the world of teaching coupled with bitter sweet emotional state. And the most beautiful feeling I realize today is the learning I pursued in every moment of my waking hours to keep my learners inspired. At the end, it was comforting to see my hard work pay in a form of success and bettered human beings.

My humble gratitude also goes out to teachers dotted far across the wilderness who are committing day in and day out to bring the best in our children’s lives keeping every personal chores apart. I know how grueling it is to sit for another two or three hours and prepare for the next day when you are already beaten by the day’s activities. I admit to the fact that teaching is not a cup of tea as others put it.

Moreover, it is not just students but the entire society that benefits out of your hard work. So dear teachers let us not leave the task unfulfilled. Together we will push and add wings in the lives of students.

Even as I write this little note, I can already feel the air of celebrations and a song that almost all the schools in Bhutan will dance to as an ice breaker today. I can picture the adages and catchy literary works dancing on the lips of some students ready to pounce the mic, let burst and garner rounds of applauds from fellow mates. Some would even be up by this wee hours thronged with excitements.

How I wish I was the part of rare jubilations.

I take this time out to remind all our students of their purpose in school. Work hard and be curious because even a falling apple has the power to enlighten the world. Praise not your teachers with exorbitant gifts on this day but with punctuality and readiness to imbibe from them anytime.

As I reluctantly put end here, let me leave some lines for our industrious teachers:
No matter how digitalized the world become, the joy of learning from a teacher can never be beaten by anything.

Let us consume ourselves to light them. Let us put in efforts to inspire them. But Let us not forget to celebrate success together even its decades later.

Best regards
Pelden Nima
Graduate school of bioagricultural science
Nagoya university, Japan.

February 19, 2016

Truncated history of Dobji Dzong

I never grew up listening to the myths and ancient histories relating my village because my parents were always on move. And, as I have not spent good deal of time with natives there, little do I know about the place and often feels humiliated for lacking nitty-gritty information regarding my own birth place. More so, I have never heard of my father making sufficient mentions of histories that my village is copious in. So, I always felt short of snippets concerning my little hamlet whenever someone intriguing posed me queries.

However, my father has a disposition to re-count tales whenever someone new enters as/into our family member. The last time I heard of him was when my brother brought in his wife.

He would share several pleasing chronicles of his own life and move us to tears when he narrate on privations he suffered as a tender boy. Of the many, I will be particularly thrilled by the stories that revolved around Dobji Dzong and feel wondered over the controversies that transmitted from our ancestors.

Few years’ back I ran into a close descendant of Dobji Penlop swapping several ancient conversations involving our village. It was considerate of him to shed detail lights on the history of the Dzong. But unfortunately my recording gear ran out of storing space and I could only take the abridged narrations.

It is no exaggeration that Dobji dzong was once a deadly dungeon for wrongdoers sometimes in the late 1970s. People of the time dreaded the fortress because of the brutality the convicts suffered inside the confinement. It sent a chill down the spine even at the mention of its name and the lethal criminals were compelled to serve their sentence term inside the castle. Once inside only god knew what happened.

Oral history has it that ever since it was put into use as solitary confinement, nothing set ahead well in that entire stretch of region. There was ill-timed downpour seizing all kinds of crops and fruits. Later it was dismissed and converted into seats of learning for monks. Thenceforth it was believed to have bettered the situation. Today it caters to some fifty monks as a Buddhist school.

What many are informed of the dzong is the fact that it was built by Lama Ngawang Chogyal in 1531 following a spring originating below the throne of a great saint Jetsun Milarepa in Tibet. But in my conversations with the close relative of Dobji Penlop, it was actually Jetsun Milarepa who dictated to build the dzong.

Legends say that Milarepa halted for a night there. Next day he was supposed to proceed to a place named Tsamda Goenpa. When people from Tsamda region beseeched him to move the following morning, lama flatly rejected and, in cross legged position, insisted on remaining there. When finally the plea failed to serve its purpose, they forcibly tried to pull out lama and vexed needlessly. But firm he stood thrusting his right leg into the earth and kept their collective forces away never moving an inch. Later on, lama prophesied to construct the dzong at the current location and the name came to be known as “Drobdrek” which in English translates to “resist”.

Quite afterwards Lama told the locals at Tsamda to carve an effigy as his substitute and fixed it in the monastery.

The other marvel is the Lama’s natural spring which is located precariously at the base of the hill on which the fortress is perched. Widely known and esteemed as the elixir, it has drawn a lot from around the country and never did it shake people’s faith in the healing power of the tiny rivulets. Subsequently, to make it accessible to wide range of audiences it was aired up on BBS. Today, around five cozy wooden tubs are installed to have laid back hot stone bath.

And to help the Dzong with monetary growth, a charge of Nu. 500 is levied per day inclusive of room fees, fire woods and stone gathering.

A fortress once operated as solitary confinement is now fascinating people from all walks of life. It has caught the attention, especially of old and the ailed.  

Historians believe Dobji to be the first model Dzong.