As a Khengpa (a person belonging to the Kheng region of Central Bhutan) I cannot help but feel a sense of affinity towards anything even remotely related to Kheng. Thus, when it was announced that the Bhutan Bird Festival would be held once again - after having been suspended for the past three years due to COVID-19 pandemic, I decided that I want to attend the festival - if for nothing, at least to add to the number. Even better, my two American guests also agreed to attend the festival - all three days - from 13th to 15th November, 2023.
First thing upon arrival at Tingtibi on the evening of 12th November, 2023, I headed straight for the festival grounds - to check things out. I did not get past the Welcome Gate - one look at the Gate and I was dumbstruck - my heart sank and I remained rooted to the ground where I stood - incredulous at what I saw plastered all over the Gate.
There were a total of 10 images of different birds and animals depicted on the vertical and horizontal posts and beam of the Gate. To my absolute horror, 5 of the images – or 50% of the total images portrayed - were images of birds and animals that are TOTALLY NON-EXISTANT in the country - let alone Zhemgang District!!!
How is it that any sane person can be capable of such incredibly shoddy work - particularly among people who pride themselves as sane and with eyes wide open? I mean such atrocious blunders can be attributed to mindless zombies - not to educated people with weighty responsibilities. I cannot believe that the whole of Zhemgang Dzongkhag does not have people who can differentiate an African Elephant from that of an Asian one; a Pallas’s Fish Eagle from that of the Bald Eagle; A Black-necked Crane from that of a Red-headed Crane? Where were the Forestry officials in the Dzongkhag? It is fantastic that they do not know the commonest of the most common of the country’s birds and animals.
Waste of precious time notwithstanding, it was so shameful - even worst, it was soooooo telling on the Bhutanese character - clueless and yet adamantly moronic; unwilling to put one’s best foot forward, and yet vehement that rest of the world is steeped in mediocrity!
One has to wonder: Will the Bhutanese people ever improve?