Saturday, September 29, 2012

Free Smoking Area

I loathe visiting hospitals and i am sure most of us abstain from going to the hospitals if we are not too sick. But Choden was sick last week and i had to accompany her to Wangdicholing Hospital. When your near and dear ones are sick, you would even call up a disqualified Shaman to do whatever was not done.
By the time we reached the hospital, there were people already in a long queue waiting for the doctorji!
I volunteered to stand in the queue while choden took rest on a chair nearby. After about few hours, we finally had our opportunity. "Tell everything", i had whispered to Choden since a conference with a doctor is almost next to impossible these days. Despite, tell me when often do you see a friendly doctor?
"What happened?", the doctor asked as if he was presiding over a state funeral.
"Sick, doc", i chipped in. She helped me by explaining her symptoms.
"When did it happen?"
He checked her blood pressure. "Quite low", he murmured.
He then scribbled that famous doctoral diagnosis on the paper. I curiously bent low to sneak what he was writing down. We can only wonder why doctors can't write neatly.
"Thank you, la", i uttered as we stood up. He wouldn't even look up at me. :)
Frankly speaking, doctors in Bhutan are overburdened. But who aint overburdened?! We are all paid in equal measures for our work and the least we can do is apply some Grace in our work. Well you must have heard, doctors in Bhutan are underpaid comparatively. On the other end, no one is overpaid. Few months back, there were talks about why we should increase the salary of our Tshogpas in the LG. They claim that they do most of the work: calling up people for the meeting, carrying our notices to each doors, chaperoning Gewog guests etc while Ap Gup would sit in his chair! Ditto in the hospitals. Ask a sweeper how important his work is.
We are all imbued with notions that only the work that we do is important, other works are not as important as what you do! These days, it is more difficult to get a decent appointment with a doctor than the PMO.

On a lighter side, have you ever seen a good place to light up a cigarette? Do drop by the hospital side in Bumthang. They have a huge signboard attached to the main gate that reads: FREE SMOKING AREA!
(I regretted not taking my camera but i guess that signboard would be still there for years!)
I wanted to remind it to the doctor but the sight of that doctor frightened me and i thought might scold my poor vision. I re-read it. No mistake. I read the Dzongkha version: Tamku thung me chok(in Dzongkha)!
 A year ago, the famed National Referral Hospital in Thimphu had a signboard in its 3rd or 4th floor
 reading: ENT and Throat! I assume it is still there.
The Main Gate to Hospital

Area to light up...he he.
That is all for today. Good day ahead! 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

God Gives and God Takes!

I fondly used to call him Jamtshen and all of his friends in sixth grade, did so. Except for the tainted mucus that incessantly hung around his nose, he looked beautiful. Jolly always, he was quick at his work but i must admit, most of the times, he made silly mistakes.I often sent him out of the class so that he could blow away those snarling mucus before it hit his notebook. A year ago, he surprised me with an english song "Oh, my sleeping child..". The next day, i had sung the song to Choden. She thought i was being too romantic:)
 Few days ago i reminded him about that incident and he had blushed at the thought.
Also few days back, we had a lesson on solar energy where i was required to explain them briefly about the solar system. I had told them that life is possible only on earth. "But Scientists are trying to find out if human life is possible on moon". There were lots of discussions amongst them to that hypothesis while on the other hand, i wondered if i made wrong announcements for those sixth graders.
" Imagine half of us staying on earth and half of us living on moon". You might have to write letters from moon to earth some fifty years hence, i had courageously told them.
"Sir, i will write a letter and send it in a pipe!", Jamtshen had told me. The class burst into peels of laughter.
He thought earth and moon would be connected with a long pipe. 
Few lessons back, i have boasted of being immortal. "Nga dhi naam ya mi Shi marey(I wont die anytime)". They didnt believe it anyway. They said i was much older and i would die before them while Jamtshen and his naughty friends would make fun of my age.
Yesterday, i had the last class with them. I had taught them about different sources of energy and after the lesson, as usual, we had the Spelling Test. For every science word that they mis-spelt, i pinch them on their ears. I use the highest of my fair play spirit that i pinch the ears with absolute equality so that they won't compare how bitter the pinch was. But yesterday, Jamtshen had two mis-spelt words. I held his ears and acted as if i pinched it very hard. His desk partner, Pema Khando, is very good in studies but had mis-spelt the word "magnetism". SO this is an occasion to let the bright students learn the art of mutually sharing the punishment. I twisted Pema's ears till he growled with a loud "oouch!" Jamtshen had laughed at his partner making such a noise.
We had signed off our day with mutual greetings. Today, as i went to the school, i saw students in class six. I peeped from the window and saw one of them crying. Thinking that he was unwell, i went into the class and to my surprise, most of them were crying too.
"What happened?", i demanded to know.
"Jamtshen shi nu la!". Did i hear it ? "Gachi lo?"
One of the boys stood up and told me the same. 
I went numb at the news. I have had  lots of surprises in my life and against each surprise, i have dealt it so coolly.
But this one, i couldn't. I was shivering then and thought i might break down as well.
I excused myself from the class and just then the assembly bell rang. The Principal formally announced the passing away of Jamtshen to the whole school.
We hurriedly gathered in the MP Hall and lit butter lamps and had lengthy prayer for the deceased. My eyes moistened as i prayed for his soul.
So this is what happened so suddenly in my school. The teachers went to pay our condolence to his home and as i saw his corpse, i was too overcome with emotions to share.
He was aged 11. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Thrue Baab Celelbration

Frankly speaking, i didn't know the actual time of Thrue Baab this year. I stayed glued for an hour with the BBS but they didn't say anything about it. So i asked my mother if she knew when the Thrue Baab was since she never forgets to listen to the Radio especially during her morning break from the chores. She didnt know too. She was disheartened that the BBS(Radio) didn't inform anything on that and i thought it was an intentional lapse from the government.(Remember, Thrue Baab once got erased from the list of National Holidays?)
So, I woke up early and took bath(hot water!) and did shout "Thri, thri ,thri.." . Wanting to sound more cultural, i opened the window in my bathroom and as i poured warm water on my head shouted "Thri ,thri...". Choden warned me that i was disturbing the whole colony. I loved that idea. Afterall, Thrue Baab comes once in a year and all the Thrue Baabs, i have always celebrated it with victory.
For the breakfast,there was ceremonial "Thuep" session where 4 of us sat cross-legged on the floor in a tiny circle and had our pudding. 
I put up my Khuru on the "Choesham" and urged it to ask blessings so that i would hit dozens of Khareys! I hit two, one of it got nullified since one of the opponents also hit the target. "So, you hit five times yesterday night huh??!", i kidded with my opponent who went on too regular with his Khuru. That is only the way to pull his legs and mentally divert him from hitting more on the target.
All in all, it was a great day for all of us. be continued...:)

Monday, September 10, 2012

At Home...

I availed my leave today since i felt sickly. As i woke up today, i felt too defeated and i bet, most of us have had this experience of being bogged down by the seasonal cough and cold. I had to cleanse my throat by gurgling with a glass of steaming water. I was high on temperature. My nose ran like a monsoon rivulet. I had grabbed every cloth piece at my sight and sneezed away those loosely sticky mucus while Choden had looked at me with bewilderment. I requested her to write my leave application to which she denied. 
"You will learn!", i cajoled her.
"I dont want to learn", pat came the reply.
 "I am too sick to write anything", i moaned at her. 
Moments later, she came up with a paper and a pen and gave it to me. "Here! Write it yourself. Principal might know my handwriting!"
Today,she is tending to two patients at home. Sera and i. While i dont make much fuss since i am a matured father now but Sera does. She would ask hot water now and then. She would want her mom to be beside her every minute! In the living room,she would lie on the Sofa complaining about her sickness while i would lie on the Diwan adjacent to her complaining about my runny nose. Sometimes when we accidently cross our eyes, she would giggle at my sickness. I pretend as if my headache would blow off any time. She is watching TV just now while i am trying to update my blog since i haven't written anything during the last sunday.
Infact, i had wanted to write about things happening around here but there isn't anything worth sharing except gas cylinders!
Regarding the gas cylinders, i am amused to find out how difficult it has become to refuel the gas. Couple of days back, i had to wake up at 2.30 am and drive some 20 km to the nearest gas station since we got the information that the cylinders have arrived in the town. Waking up at 2.30 am and driving more than 20 km just for the sake of buying a gas?! When i reached the station, i was surprised to see a curly line of empty cylinders already in the queue. My position was at 107! Luckily, on that day, there were two trucks with filled cylinders and finally when i got the refilled cylinder, i was overcome with victory. I smiled to the less fortunate people who have lined up in hundreds behind me.
Perhaps, they should learn to wake up early, i thought to myself.  I pitied their sleeping habits! 
It was 10.30 am by that time. I had to call my Principal to grant me casual leave.  

That is all, folks! Good day:)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vocational Skills and the Economists?

So we concluded the monsoon football tournament with loads of fun. Sonamkuenphen HSS took away the Rolling Trophy while Aman Kora were the Runners Up. We could hardly get few days for serious teaching since it was time for the Dzongkhag Sports Meet. More than 130+ students left to Ura MSS and are yet to return to the school probably with lots of medals.
There were other important issues which i would abstain from revealing for the interest my School. However, we also had a visit by a personnel from BCSEA which i thought was worth writing down. He had come to find out how the Vocational students were faring in their course since you know we have Vocational Skills as another optional subject other than IT and economics for classes 9 and 10.
 Personally, i have felt that this optional subject is of great use to our students in the sense that they learn skills which could stand in good stead later in their future. Nevertheless, it looks like we are erring here to simply conclude that the students are doing fairly good. The other day i have asked few of those students whether or not they have learnt some skills by that time. They have blushed with sarcastic smiles. It is rumored that they got their syllabus only in the month of august!
Well, the sad story is about the economics students. While other peers play with their chisel or wrench or heck-saw, the eco-students flirt with the old economics textbooks that is devoid of any practicals. They memorize terms and graphs that they barely understand. On the third side they have their IT classmates who go to their posh IT labs fully equipped with computers. If you see the marks scored in IT and Vocational papers, it is shameful for comparisons. Most of the IT and Vocational students got more than 80 in
mid-term exams while hardly few students could get 50 in economics. For one thing, we assume that globally IT is one of the most difficult subjects to deal with but as you see most of them scoring above 80, it looks like it aint simply IT. We have IT toppers who could hardly understand the language of computers! He he he. We have Vocational skills toppers who could hardly fix some broken taps in the school campus! For teachers like you and i, it is fine so long they score good marks but for what purpose?
And two days ago the person who visited from BCSEA had asked me if i had anything to tell about vocational paper since i am the exam-secretary in the school. I had gone blank. What to tell?
In carpentry, students were asked to name few tools used in carpentry for 20 marks! Ditto with Plumbing.
Some papers had 40 as their full-mark while some had 60, some had 80 and one of them had 100. The
 on-going marks given were too prodigious to be true.
"We do not prepare any questions for the vocational students. The VTI does that", i had answered him.
Later it was found out that the VTI had complained to him about the lesser number of teaching hours allotted to them.
At one time, i had sarcastically joked to some eco-students that they should also go to their labs! In the beginning of the session i had the conspiracy theory- i urged most of the students to either join vocational skills or the IT students. "Do away with economics. You wont fetch good marks in the exam!"
I haven't regretted it thus far.:)
It is a sorry state that we treat our students so unfairly. The ministry is too busy to handle this since they are too occupied with the thoughts of our next elections. And now, the BCSEA sends their personnel to
 case-study as if our students were some guinea-pigs!
That is all for today, good day readers!