Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan II

In less than 3 days, my article titled “Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan” generated a staggering 30,507 pageviews. The visitors, broken down by countries, were as follows:

Bhutan                          23,229
India                               4,145
United State                   2,747
Australia                        1,696
Thailand                            692
Nepal                                 480
United Arab Emirates        346
Malaysia                            265
France                                179
United Kingdom                158

But what was even more extraordinary was the quality of comments generated by the post. The post generated 68 comments – sadly, most of these comments missed the point I was trying to make.

My post wasn't about what Aamir Khan was wearing – I wouldn't give two hoots what he was wearing - it had to do with when and where he was wearing what.

As members of the civilized human society, we are expected to behave and conduct ourselves within the bounds of civility. Those who choose to live outside the boundaries of social norms, and those who behave with lawlessness and disregard all that keep the human society civilized and orderly, they have no right to claim to belong to a civilized society.

Dresses certainly do not make the man – but knowing how to dress and what to dress, given the occasion, distinguishes him from the uneducated and the depraved.

Underpants is an acceptable clothing under certain circumstances; in some occasions and places, nothing but swimsuits are acceptable – Hawaiian shirts are standard apparel for beach side walks – being suitably clad for the occasion is what sets the humans apart from the animals.

Aamir Khan is nothing more than a flash-in-the-pan and his two days’ visit is inconsequential. He brings no value to Bhutan or the Bhutanese people.

What I am upset about is his insensitivity and his total disregard for the country’s rules. If he didn't know, he should have asked and if he didn't ask, his promoters should have told him.

He and his promoters – the UNICEF – have paid scant regard to the established rules and decency that every Bhutanese, including visiting dignitaries, are required to observe. They have trivialized the institution of the Prime Minister of Bhutan. As a Bhutanese I am not going to remain gawk-eyed about this affront to the highest executive of the country’s government.

They must be reminded of their uncouth behavior so that they know we Bhutanese will not remain muted, if slighted. We will defend our right to be treated with respect, in our own country. In future, UNICEF must learn to elect their Ambassadors who are better schooled in decorum and social grace.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shame on UNICEF & Aamir Khan

UNICEF has been in Bhutan since 1974 – and yet, after 42 years of being in the country – they remain oblivious to the country’s culture, tradition and etiquette.

Indian actor Amir Khan can be forgiven for his poor sense of dress - after all he is merely an actor not generally known for their sensitivity to cultural etiquette or social grace. But what is UNICEF’s excuse for allowing their Regional Goodwill Ambassador to present himself so inappropriately dressed in the presence of a Prime Minister of a country? UNICEF’s officials in the country should know that such informal dress (jeans) and head gear that resemble those worn by the underworld thugs of Mumbai, is not allowed inside the Gyalyong Tshokhang.

How can UNICEF be proud to present such a shabbily dressed, culturally insensitive person to be a torchbearer of their organization’s cause? They should have had the common sense to inform their Goodwill Ambassador that the organization would be better represented, if he exhibited a level of social etiquette, in particular, when presenting himself to the highest executive in the country.

Shamefully uneducated and insulting!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Et tu, BBIN MVA?

So the wailing has begun!!

Way later than I had expected - but it has begun and it will only get more and more cantankerous, with the passage of time. It had to happen. Because the disaster that was inherent in the road-widening project touches every section of the Bhutanese society - not just the motorists; not just the tourists - not to forget the environment!

According to Kuensel’s 20th October, 2016 news report, 750 of the usual 1,000 tourists could not make it to Bumthang during the Tamzhing Phagla Chothpa, because of road block. That is a whooping cancelation rate of 75%! This is serious bad news. And it will get worse, if we do not see the writing on the wall, and act hastily and decisively.

According to the Kuensel news, the Bumtap hoteliers hope that things will improve - provided the road contractors and the Department of Roads are able to keep the roads open during the Jambay Lhakhang festival due to take place soon - a real crowd puller. That is rather wishful thinking. In nature nothing can be taken for granted and we have messed with nature big time.

What the hoteliers forget is that if incessant rains do not cause roadblocks, sunny conditions will cause dust to rise and cause misery to the tourists. Their troubles are just beginning!

When the government announced the road widening works early last year, I pleaded that we should not do it because we do not have a need for it - not as yet. I had proposed that even if we have to do the work for whatever reason, we should do it in manageable stretches of 20 – 30 KMs at a time, and not dig up the road all the way to Trashigang. I have written close to 20 articles on the subject. Please read my articles under the label “Tourism Industry” listed on the left. In those articles, I have predicted exactly what is now happening.

The government has said that the road widening will be completed in 3 years. I have said that it will take 20 years. Now, one and a half years into the works, I get the feeling that the roads will never be done.

For the past one and a half years since the road widening works started, I have been trying to see a reason, a purpose for such a huge road running from west to center to the east. There are no factories en-route and economic activities in this region is practically zilch! The volume of traffic is more towards the south rather than to the center and the east. Then where is the need for such a gargantuan road that we can ill afford to build or to maintain, thereafter? I was totally nonplussed - until the embarrassing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement imbroglio during the 6th session of the second Parliament.

Some have said that it was the hand of providence - that caused the drama and theater surrounding the on-again, off-again ratification of the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement during the 6th Session of the second Parliament. I am beginning to believe that there may be hell of a lot of truth in that. Since that peculiar affair, I began to wonder:

Can it be that the road widening works is linked to the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement initiative?

If it is, then we are in serious trouble. I have this sickening feeling that we have yet again been had!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Rotray Club of Thimphu's Project of Compassion & Healing

The Migraine Treatment Clinic of the Rotary Club of Thimphu was successfully concluded at the close of day on 10th October, 2016. It began on the evening of 25th September, 2016. This was a humanitarian service initiative conducted in collaboration with the National Traditional Medicine Hospital (NTMH), Kawajangtsa.

The team that worked on the Clinic - some Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu with NTMH officials posing with Dr. Yu
Dr. Yu Huang shut down her successful private practice in Boston, USA to heed the call of many Bhutanese suffering the dreaded illness called migraine. Every day, she worked from 7.30AM in the morning till 11PM in the night – almost always missing her dinner. During the two weeks period she administered acupuncture to close to fifteen hundred patients. The NTMH’s resident Dungtso’s (traditional doctors/healers) worked tirelessly to keep up with the marathon consultation and treatment that, at times, seemed near impossible to manage. Rotarian Sonam Wangmo was roped in to act the Sergeant-at-Arms, to bring some semblance of order in the management of the crowd thronging at the doors of the consultation and treatment rooms.

Dr. Yu treating a policeman and a Gomchen - ably assisted by the resident Dungtso Dorji Euden

 The Rotary Club of Thimphu would like to believe that the project was a success; that it has brought relief to many and liberated a few from the pain and the discomfort of suffering the dreadful disease. Even if 10 people are cured of the disease, we are satisfied that ours have been a worthwhile cause.

The Clinic has served the Royalty, the commoners, monks, nuns; a traffic policeman, including his officer. I am proud to have been associated with the project that has, according to daily reports, cured a number of people of migraine, back pain and a host of ailments that the Clinic was never intended to treat.

The acupuncture’s curative powers have now been firmly established in Bhutan. We wait for the day when this form of ancient Chinese treatment is accepted as a mainstream treatment by the Health authorities.

There are many people who suffer illnesses – for reasons that are not of their doing. It is a mystery – why one has the gift of life, and yet has to suffer pain and agony, to live it. But one thing I know: no one suffers because they deserve it.

The Rotary Club of Thimphu would like to be able to conduct a follow-up Clinic next year. Dr. Yu is willing and will try to get some more acupuncturists to join her during her second trip next year. Until then, here is wishing a good and painless life to all those who came to the Clinic with hope and optimism. 

Project completion dinner for Dr. Yu and her husband Sanjun Chen

A grateful patient's touching gesture:
Of the many cases Dr. Yu has treated, one was an 18 years old boy who suffered a chronic case of Cerebral Palsy. For most of his life, the boy was tied in a contorted knot and could not move or sleep properly. Speech was strenuous. Two acupuncture sessions later, the boy loosened up and could flex his fingers and arms. Movement was not easy but he could now move. And he could sleep.

In gratefulness, as physically and verbally constrained as he was, he communicated to his mother that he would be happy if she could invite Dr. Yu to his home for dinner. That was touching - Dr. Yu had her last dinner in Thimphu with the boy at his home - she departs Thimphu today morning. A touching send off from a grateful patient!

The boy got one last session of acupuncture at his home yesterday night - from a visibly moved Dr. Yu.