Friday, December 28, 2012

Alcohol free Bhutan will remain a distant dream

The other night, I viewed a program on our national channel and the title translated loosely would read, “In-house Talk”. It aired some youth who were the push-out(s) of rehab centre. Even those recovered lots insist on having an in house rule for the sale of alcohol in our town and cities. 

The program circum-navigated around alcohol!

Firstly, our bars and hotels boldly inscribe, “NO ALCOHOL BELOW 18 YEARS”.  Let’s say that this rule although in place, has minimal enforcement. This social ill will remain as long as the Bhutanese mindset remains what is generally perceived- “As long as I get the money, who cares about age?” If alcohol has become a social ill, why a host of breweries are allowed to operate? Does it mean government should blame the consumers of alcohol? Or our government has no say on the three major breweries operating in the three major-border towns? Or does it generate revenue for the government at the cost of its citizen’s health and well being? Ours is a miniature society that seeks happiness for all citizens and if alcohol is abundant, may be the happiness thing is out of bound. 

Secondly, my nature of work left me for four years in a remote village. The warning, otherwise seen in bars and hotels doesn’t apply in the rural villages. It’s because people begin drinking even before they reach their teen age. There are a host of reasons why people resort to drinking in rural villages. And for the urban dwellers, may be you know why people drink? If our country seeks the youth to be productive and responsible citizens of tomorrow, then close down all breweries. How many of our people prefer Ara over beer and Bangchang over whiskey? A very negligible lot! Perhaps, this is a million Ngultrums question?  This is the highlight because, it talked of Ara. Ara these days is the drink of the country bumpkins I guess. Townspeople rejoice in hard drinks and beers. 

Thirdly, the program highlighted on the economic impact and deaths by alcohol far exceeding by other causes. This is costing our government exchequer dearly. In financially difficult times, it is important that spending is curtailed. And the Bhutanese I know spend on alcohol than any other things. If alcohol in not available, where is the need to spend? None! On the other hand, I know there will be a thriving black market but is doing something good worth the effort? If it’s good then I grudgingly believe it’s worth doing it twice. Alcohol free Bhutan will remain a distant dream if production (Local or commercial) is rampant. There is no way that people can be held responsible for consuming alcohol if production houses operate with no government intervention.

Food for thought: Alcohol doesn’t answer all questions but it certainly helps forget the question.
Good day folks!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The world is flat, hot and crowded-Doomsday Pre-pers

The first force that led to the flattening of the world is the fall of the Berlin wall. This event signified the end of the cold war and enabled people to open their minds to free-market capitalism. This released up pent up energies of millions of people from India, Brazil, China and the former Soviet Union. The people from these countries were introduced to the concept of capitalism. The falling of the Berlin wall further enhanced and changed people's mindset about the world. It allowed for the concept of a single world market with global policies.

The major flattener occurred on 8/9/95 when Netscape went public. Netscape and the web improved people's means of communication. The digitization that took place meant that everyday occurrences could be shared to other people throughout the world through file sharing, music sharing etc. the development of internet email browser technology enabled quick and cost-effective communication throughout the world.

The next flattener is outsourcing. This is a process whereby businesses transfer their non-core business activities to other companies or individuals who are willing to effectively do them. These non-core activities include book-keeping, customer service etc. for instance, the United States benefits from outsourcing its non core business activities to India. In India, there are many unemployed but educated individuals. Due to advancements in technology and communication, jobs can be outsourced to India and done at lower cost than would be done in the United States. Similarly, Bhutan too has some out-sourced agencies from abroad.

Human civilization and their unending thirst for power, energy and resources led to the exploitation of natural resources on earth and it continues to grow. The demand for energy is making the human race devise alternative sources of energy. When human activities continue to grow on an unimaginable scale, the massive effect that earth undergoes is rise in global temperatures, decline of resources, massive poverty, natural disasters etc. thereby, making our planet hotter by the day. Here in Bhutan, it is recorded that Gelephu is getting hotter each summer with low humidity, when other low lying areas have their humidity high. One sure sign of climate change and the earth getting hot is the melting glacier. What can be more evident than melting glaciers indicating climate change and what causes these glaciers to melt? The rise in global temperatures perhaps. Keeping this fact in mind it is needless to say that this world of ours is hot! 

The story of our species is one of remarkable success. From a starting point in Africa, our ancestors spread across the planet, harnessing local resources and adapting to the harshest environments.

As human beings prosper and mankind leaps forward with every passing moment, our mother earth shrinks by every passing moment. So what can be done to make space for all the people living on this planet are in the conscious mind of every human being occupying a space in on this planet! Therefore, it is very much obvious that this world is flat, hot and crowded. The doomsday is obvious! So guys have your fingers crossed.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


It is obvious that we find solace in loneliness. Melancholies are just a part of being human and may be there’s more to life than just being alone, aloof. Sometimes but most of the times, life’s greatest mystery and puzzles can be solved and answered to during these melancholies. What exactly is melancholy then? Is it a state of mind or just an approach to being left undisturbed? Or is it a moment of self realization? Does it make one understand the real purpose of life as an individual? Does it drive away negative energy to make one’s existence meaningful? So on and so forth…

When we keep our heads on the pillow and when we call our day off, do we ask ourselves, what have I done today? Did I make some mistakes today? Did I make someone happy? Did I hurt someone? Have I learnt something today? Etc…

The day’s obvious questions would be answered and for the one’s left unanswered it is a moment of reflection to be careful for the next moments. What is the reason for one’s own actions if it’s ‘Perfectly ordinary’?-Oscar Wilde. Getting out of the ordinary and making it extraordinary is what everyone aspires for. 

Listening to others is a good virtue and its naïve. But what one does after listening is of importance. It’s my life! I decide what happens in my life! I am the master of my own life! I chose to live in a way that I like not what others like of me! I seek company, like every social animal not advisors and dictators. This is what I suppose is the mantra. The naïve will always opine it as a lopsided perception on life. Come on, after all we are all different. No twins share the same thoughts. “We are close and that’s why we are worried about you” a popular Bhutanese advice in friendship, family and in offices. ‘How worried’, that is for the time to tell. When one worries, you worry the others making it a perennial worry-rumor, hence giving birth to what we commonly put, ‘My worry has become a funny gossip’ for people around me. When this happens, people choose loneliness and seek melancholy; after all, the greatest advisor still remains the pillow. 

The world has turned its back on you and you are left behind! Does that mean you are neglected? The strength lies in moving forward with added zeal picturing what one needs to do never bothering or yet caring for others who despise you. Togetherness is short lived, ultimately everyone must choose their path of self determination, and this may differ with different social bonding. One must know, not all elderly are wise and not all young are fools.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How many seasons old are you?

There is always something about the seasons that make us feel and ponder that we are growing old not just by years but by seasons as well. A friend once remarked, “I am 27 winters old”. And I am 27winters, one summer and a spring old to be precise. For me the warmth of the sun means hope. The warmth of the border towns means hope. The warmth of the sun on a freezing morning also means hope. It lights up every possible humans, possible because some are not humans. Pardon me for this rude remark. 

When basking, I over-hear people talking good things, all lovely. Such is the power of the sun. The winter sun means getting together outside the hearth for a friendly chat with a cup sweetened with some cream in the coffee. Isn’t this thought nice? The thought of this will stir some hope perhaps, only if you are a human, LOL! Families bring their chores out in the sun. When I was a tiny-tot, I vividly remember my ma bringing all the laundry, dishes and even pets out in the sun for a warm motherly wash. How sweet of her! Washing machine, during those times was a thing of the future and considered a luxury. 

Image courtesy: Google
Office goers in their warm outfits with a muffler tied around their necks will be a common sight. People do look respectable when they robe themselves for winter. Shops will be closed early, few can be seen in the streets which otherwise would be bustling, the interiors and the panes of cars would be dotted with dews and Lorries would be kept roaring and early risers would see smokes indicating heat from every houses. Our towns and cities will experience skyrocketing electricity bills all in the name of warmth and heat during this cold season. And when the cold creeps in, people would stack loads of firewood near their houses, around their walls etc… If we look at some distance, we will see things blur because of the winter mist and gardens will be dotted with marigold and cosmos, mostly. 

Come be a part of this freezing season, celebrate life and make the most of this season. Warm it up in your own little ways and make every effort to keep yourself warmed up so that the cold remains cold, outside. This holiday season in the cold can be enchanting and we will remain awestruck with the surprises it brings along. So, enjoy the season and who knows one may realize that winter does hold potentials of wonderful experiences and perhaps in the midst of the cream coffee while you are basking in the sun, a friend might appear for some company and you might want to ask, “How many seasons old are you?” Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life is not just a bed of roses!

A journey of thousand miles must begin with a single step, said Lao Tsu, a Chinese thinker. When steps become perilous and path one under takes becomes a hindrance with whatever reasons, it makes one feel and question, “Am I doing the right thing or am I in the right direction?” Many a friend of mine often question me, what is it that you want from this life and what do you expect out of this life? It is a reasonable question; perhaps they are right when they ask this obvious question. 

Now, let’s dwell for a second on this, what is it that you want from life? 

I am educated, I have a job and living a contend life. Now what? The most obvious step my buddies tell me is get a wife, settle down, have kids. Live for the ones that you made a family for! Then what? What after? Is this what one wishes for? Well that depends on individuals. Some may immediately do what is suggested and even parents would like to see their sons and daughters do the same, because the reason is, “who is going to look after you when you are old, fragile and sick?” Or consider this, “Children of your friends are almost ready for schooling and what about you?”

Picture courtesy: Google images
Bon Jovi yells, “It’s my life” and Smokie sings, “It’s your life”. Given the present situation, are families, kids, home everything that one expects out of this brief called life? Or is there another realm of life that one needs to explore to make-life-large? This remains buried deep in our subconscious mind. 

People can have varying differences and opinions on life and everyone knows how to make it large. A simple life on the other which I am living now attributes to what? Does simple living mean staying aloof, avoiding company? Or does it mean to have little of everything or does it mean to do what one loves doing? Life being a bed of roses is momentary and can lead to disillusionment. Certainly the thought of being unhappy stirs fear and we do anticipate such thoughts.

Sometimes I do think that good times will last forever, but I easily succumb to pressure during difficulties. I do not put in the required hard work and efforts because I break down easily. I am told, “Facing difficulties with courage and accept success without letting it go to its head” then I can experience real happiness, contentment and peace in life. 

To sum up, life is beautiful just as roses but it has challenges which are like thorns and have to be faced and overcome by all. Those, who accept these, challenges and succeed, are the ones, who know how to live life in its true sense. Enjoy life but also be prepared to bear the pain. Thus, life is and should not be just a bed of roses; thorns are also a part of it and should be accepted by us just as we accept the beautiful side of life.