Saturday, May 7, 2016

In Celebration of Teachers’ Day - Remembering My Teacher

I was kept too busy to post an article on Teachers’ Day. I wanted to post my following mail – written on 21st March, 2016 to my old teacher - after having been totally disconnected with him for over 46 years. I started to look out for him ten years back – finally I traced him through a Church in England.


Dear Sir,

Thank you for your mail and please accept my apology for the delayed reply.

I did not really think that the person on that Church’s web site would turn out to be you - but I asked any way, since I was in search of you for the past 10 years or more. In truth, there is no specific reason why I was looking for you - except that over the years, as I grew older and wiser, I have come to develop a huge respect and regard for you - as an immensely dedicated teacher who, I came to realize, had given so much to that small school in Gawpey, and its students. I was fortunate to be your student and somehow I believe that without you coming into my life at a time and space that you did, even if for a very brief while, I would not be the person that I have grown to be.

In particular, without your punishing ways and unrelenting attention, I would have never made it through my studies - considering that I had discontinued studies for three years – to sell tea and peanuts to Nepali workers crushing stones by the roadside - before joining Gawpey! Consider that after having missed schooling for three years, I had to relearn grammar, including adding sums all over! You single handedly resuscitated me and put me on the road to education and learning. With your uncompromising and strict disciplinarian ways, I went on to excel in my class, year after year! You pushed me so hard and remained so steadfast to my need for special attention that I not only passed my exams in my first year in Gawpey (Class III), but I passed it with flying colors – with a class position of 4th in my final exams.

Once in a while I think of the times when I was studying in Gawpey - as your student. I reminiscence of the times when you singled me out for special punishment - duster on the head or cane on my butt - the habitual mischief-maker that I was. One time you kept whole of my class standing in the sun – all day long - because someone had hidden the school bag and all the books of Gado Tshering – now Gup Gado. If you recall, you were a bit surprised that not one student dropped to the ground - in exhaustion or as a result of heat stroke.

I still find it hard to believe that you had the time and the tenacity to set all the question papers for the whole school - from Class II upwards --- and mark them all too. The dreaded weekly inspection of our exercise books would cause me to contemplate absconding from school … since I was subjected to vigorous amounts of whacking on the butt – because I could never keep my books clean.

Thank you for asking about me and about my life’s journeys. The following is not the whole story – but the most significant of it.

I have not been the typical success story that every one would want to write back home about. But by my own reckoning, I have done pretty well in life - better than most - not perhaps the run-of-the-mill variety of financial or entrepreneurial success, but the kind that fills one with intellectual and psychological satisfaction.

I started life in the Bank of Bhutan – at a salary of Nu.123.00 per month (US$1.83 at today’s conversion rate) – net Nu.121.00, after deduction of health contribution of Nu.2.00.

Because of my late mother’s failing health, I sought an obtained employment in the Export Division of the Ministry of Trade, Industries and Forests. I was posted in Calcutta, India since my mother required treatment in a particular hospital there. During my tenure there, I headed the export section of the Division and played pivotal role in the Trade & Transit Agreement with Bangladesh. I was part of the team that determined land and riverine routes through which to conduct export/import trade from and to that country. The variety of products we exported those days – to countries such as Switzerland, Germany, US, Singapore, Dubai, Sweden, and Pakistan etc. is unmatched even today.

I was cheeky enough to try and export gum rosin to South Africa at a time when the whole world was baying for the blood of the apartheid regime in that country. The entire world had set a complete and total embargo on the country.

Talking of apartheid, one new human conduct came to be described by an American journalist – as a result of some incident in Bhutan surrounding the selection of our archery team to the Olympics (the journalist was in Thimphu at that time). The totally infuriated journalist coined the term “apartheid in reverse”.

I trained in diverse disciplines such as insurance, standardization, pre-shipment export cargo inspection, export-import documentation, shipping and forwarding, stevedoring, and chartering etc.

I must be among the very few in Bhutan who has traveled around the glob on one single ticket and continuously for 48 days.

After resigning from the government, I pioneered the computer trade, desktop publishing, office automation business, ham radio etc. I am the first in the private sector to host a web page when Internet was introduced in Bhutan, in 1999.

Currently I am the only photographer in Bhutan who earns a living making photos. There are a number of books to my credit. Two more are due for publication.

After a long and joyous journey, there is one thing that never changed – you tried but you couldn’t either. You may recall that you used to send me to the Pachhu way down in the valley - with a large metal bucket, to carry it back fully laden with boulders from the river bank – in an attempt to make me improve my spelling. Everything else in life has taken a 360-degree turn – but my spelling skills still remain the same – atrocious!

Please convey my best wishes to madam Joyce – I remember that she was working at the Gidakom Hospital – when you were dating her.

Please accept my lifelong respects and hope that one day you will come back to Bhutan and I am able to see you once again.

I still vividly remember that last walk you made me walk with you – in the garden just before you moved to Ugyen Academy. If that walk was not necessitated, may be my life would have been completely different. But whether it would have been as fulfilling or as rewarding as it has been so far – I will never know.



  1. It's a really powerful and meaningful letter, Yeshi Sir... I am sure your teacher must have been truly impressed by it. Wish u the best of luck for your upcoming publications.

  2. That is so wonderful letter for your teacher who guide and teach you meaning of life.I appreciate you and I salute your teacher.

  3. Beautiful letter for your teacher. I wish I get student like you wholly. Salute you and your upcoming TWO publications. Thanks