Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Morning Sun: A reader’s perspectives rather than A Review

Having read the first two books of Monu Tamang (The Joy of Beautiful Dreams & Chronicle of a Love Foretold), I had an urge to read his next publication. It burnt me equally as him on seeing one of his Facebook posts earlier this year about the book manuscripts being lost to some burglar along with his laptop. Like many others, I made sincere silent prayers of its recovery. I know for a writer it would weigh heavier in heart to have lost 100 words of manuscripts than physical objects worth Nu.1000 or so.
The editorial duo Ngawang Phuntsho sir and Benu seems to me an unbeatable literary mammoth in partner. The former is a pro Bhutanese blogger and a writer whom I have been following since last couple of years ago. I still owe him immense gratitude for sharing (with me) one of his published articles on traditional knowledge of environmental conservation. One of the finest CNR alumni Mr.Benu is a wealthy literary personal who never turns down anyone seeking help from him in literary circle. Besides editorial assistance I am greatly indebted to him for his advices and guidance.

The Story

Narrated in first person’s point of view, the story revolves around fate and fortune of Sonam Yangki. Abandoned to death right after birth in cold November, a child would have found no way of survival had it not been for her grandmother’s rescue. The protagonist struggles through thick and thins of life right from her childhood. Upon severe physical and emotional abuses from guardians and employers, she runs away only to get clutched into the jaws of next living devil.
From street Doma seller to hotel dish washer, from Dasho’s housemaid to night pub singer, she knocked every opportunity to get knockout the very next time. Throughout the story, readers can seldom find her parents (guardians) in sober state battered to unconsciousness by liquor day and night alike. Despite all these upheavals in her life, she portrays the strength and power of a youth to fight and survive rather than resorting to the life’s end. The story reads painful to the extent of her parents mortgaging her for some amount to one inhumane army officer.
Life is an enveloped letter. Nobody knows what life has in store for us in times to come. Sonam meets with a gentleman by the name Tshering whom she ties her knot of eternity. Their love story defines fate, faith, trust and determination against all odds along the way. In order to make ends meet they venture into several business and eventually runs tourist lodge at last.
Their long genuine prayers and wishes are answered when gifted with their son Golu. However, he is suffering from Cerebral Palsy which does not allow him to develop mentally and physically in par with other children of his age. As the smile of brilliant sun illuminates Golu’s face, Sonam gives biggest motherly smile to her son and closes the door as she exits to her duty.

What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development. Cerebral Palsy primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Though Cerebral Palsy can be defined, having Cerebral Palsy does not define the person that has the condition (CerebralPalsy.org).

Why should we read this Novel?
Sonam’s bravery through her struggle portrays strength and power of the youth to fight against all those odds in life. This teaches the readers to have determination and optimism amidst thick and thins of life rather than resorting to unhealthy habits and finding life’s end.
Prevalence of social issues like child labour, rape, assaults and battery are depicted through her stories which as a reader we must always be conscious about it. There are many victims suffering such cases under the perpetrators escaping the surveillance of existing law and order of the humanity.
Venturing into different business, Sonam and Tshering endures several losses before getting well established. They fall many times before holding their heads high, persevering through hard times show entrepreneurial and risk taking attitude.
Last but nonetheless, acceptance of the child with special need and social stigma against such patients are well drawn through Golu’s situation. We must learn from the protagonist how supportive she is to her child with special need. With increase in such cases among new born, discrimination and social ostracism from family and friends may happen. Thus, it sensitize in subtle words to avoid such discrepancies.


Grab a copy from the nearest bookstore and enjoy the reading.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Dogma at the rescue of last pond

The brook ran perennially across the village fresh and abundant. The water ponds were evenly distributed clean and clear for the cattle. This abundance of the water was enjoyed for time immemorial as privilege in the village. People planned nothing for future, but to enjoy what is abundant in nature now. To make the matter worse, destroyed it. This is the SUSTAINABILITY issue.

Man could write no words, read no sentence, understand no concept and fear no writ. He had but only greed on the razor blade of heavy axe and long sword. If it meets the end, he would care nothing but to chop down whatever stands before his might.

Slashing-and-burning, trees were fallen and vegetation removed just to feed the hungry mouths for a year round. The hamlet like never before received erratic rainfall and untimely harsh weather events. The barren earth exposed to harsh weather, beaten by the heavy monsoon downpour caused stretches of landslide giving birth to gullies and uneven landscape. The harsh realities were given no attention. People thought it is as usual manifestation of seasonal weather events.

Over the years, the community observed decrease in water volume. People living downstream fell sick all of a sudden. Ponds started drying up. People had to rush for the water stock, and the long queue was soon joined by the cattle and horses exacerbating the situation. Acute shortage of water had bred confusion and conflicts within the close community. Myriads of problems aroused over the years and long built harmony and relationships were ruined over the quest for water.

Famine and the death wreaked havoc in the village, yet, knew no cause and remedies.

The man still with an axe started clearing the trees and destroyed all the catchment areas of the ponds. Within no days of his destructive force, his limbs got swollen and numbness ruled his body. Almost crippling to death, he had rashes all over his genital parts with tanned skins of the balls.

Upon consulting a veteran shaman of the nearby village, the cause of the ailment was pronounced for the very first time. “The deities and spirits residing in the areas are upset of your destructive activities” and he continued “ If only you appease him through reforestation and cleaning of the catchment areas will you be released from this deadly ailment” advised the Shaman.

The community immediately gathered their unanimous forces to do the restoration activities and thorough cleaning of all the water catchment areas. Hundreds of trees were replanted, human wastes were cleaned and necessary rituals were performed to appease the non-human spirits of the place.

This has seen swift recovery of the patients and after years of reforestation the flow of water was restored. People rejoiced the prosperity and learned the lessons enabling harmonious co-existence with nature. Babbling brook was heard, the birds chirping and people prospered.

Monday, May 1, 2017


Chapal Chaser

My niece is almost 8 years old. Yet she is a CheyChey for many.

She underwent heart surgery when she was bearly 2 years old. She still carries several marks of stitches on her tender chest.

We seldom meet. The first thing she usually ask me after hug is to draw and do the narration of my sketches.

I can not deny but to sketch stick boy and do a illustrative narration.

After more than a month we meet today.

I had to do yet another narration with my stick boy that represents me.

I was 8 years old. Matured enough to be independently away from parents in boarding school.

Incessant summer rainfall has subsided. A calm afternoon could hear nothing but a roaring seasonal river few meters from the hostel.

In tattered and faded cheap school gho, I went to play with the current of the river.

I had nothing but a pair of dirty Bata chapal.

Sitting by the angry river I tried to challenge the current of the river against my muscle.

Only to see my chapal disappearing in the muddy river that seemed to be angry at my challenge.

I had no options left than either to run after it or walk rest of my school days bare foot.

I choosed the first; to run after it until I get it off the rushing river.

With one bata Chapal held below left arm. I did marathon until I saw it disappear amidst river boulders.

I choosed the first option to get it. And I had to walk barefoot rest of the days.

Fear of friends insulting me. Embarrassment circling my cheek. I had left but no options than to ask seniors to give me their spare slipper.

Twice the size of my feet, but I believed something is better than nothing.

I had it under my feet until I got touch with my Apa. Who immediately bought me a brand new Bata.

Such narratives supported by illustration proved to be the best of ways to teach the children.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Happiness and Drukyuel: a Quest ensured

Happiness and Drukyuel: a Quest ensured


Virtually comatose! Of farm chore
She rest her elbow on a fragile window pane
To the creeping clear dusk circle
Trying to decipher, the language of chirping birds
The melodious calls are clear and timely
She knows what a little bird conveys; a Happiness

Burnt-out! Of weeding the last terrace
She holds high her ailing rough chin
To the resounding prayers of a hermit atop
In reverence, she lowers her gaze in folded palms
To the calls of prayers echoing through the sleeping valley
She knows what an old hermit transmits; a Happiness

Dead beat! Of gathering the firewood
She throws her neck left gently
To the fluttering prayer flags on a gentle hill-slope
In nostalgia, she reminisce her late paramour
To the peaceful messages of her departed soul mate
She knows what he wants to convey an inamorata; a Happiness

Fatigue! Of backbreaking labour at neighbor’s garden
She rest her dust-ridden head on home-made pillow
To the rhythmic late night flute from the farmhouse
In rejuvenation, she coos an old lyric of native singer
To the flawless tone of six-eyed reed instrument
She knows what it spreads at this late hour; a Happiness

Rejuvenated! Of all the peaceful thoughts of live in Drukyuel
She prostrates in gratitude to the God and Monarchs
Hanging from her old beam parallel
  In tears of ecstasy, she chants the prayers of eternal blessings
To an omniscient almighty and an unparallel leadership of kings

She knows what quest they fulfill; the Happiness

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Internship: Hands-on experience

Field placement/internship program for the final year students of College of Natural Resources has proved to be very important and useful for the students. This program enable students to get hands-on experience in the field/organization, develop professional work culture and ethics, build network with professionals in development agencies and understand partner organizations’ roles and responsibilities.
The B.Sc. Sustainable Development final year students on completion of 2 months of internship at various organizations presented their report to the college today. Students were placed in seventeen different organizations (NGOs, International Development partner organizations and Government organizations) according to their interest and the availability of intern opportunities. The presentation is assessed by Dr.Rekha and Mr.Tsho Tsho (lecturer) in presence of B.Sc.SD programme coordinator Mr.Tandin Gyeltshen.

The students presented on their intern organization, intern activities, experiences gained and the feedback for the future interns. Some of the highlights made from their intern activities are on the consumerist society, inculcating GNH values in business ethics, women empowerment through entrepreneurship, impacts of substance abuse on youth, importance of media in democracy, roles of international development partners in enhancement of rural-livelihood, sustainability of development aids/supports by the international partners, waste management, youth entrepreneurship, rural-urban migration and impacts of CSO to the society.

The students found the internship program very useful not only in getting hands-on experiences but also in developing professional work culture with the organizations. While learning new things undertaking their tasks, they have also helped and contributed to the concern organizations in many ways. For the successful completion of internship program, they acknowledged the college management, supervisors and partner organizations for their valuable support. Having understood the importance of internship program, students recommended the college to maintain this continuum.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Raju’s integrated farm: A breakthrough an apocryphal


Farmer’s Name: Dil Bhadur Mongar (aka Raju)
Age: 42
Education: Class V (dropout)
Village: Zomlimthang
Geog: Gelephu
Dzongkhag: Sarpang
Business: Integrated farming
A proud farmer

His love for greenery has always encouraged him to take up vegetable farming at his home. Adjusting from his personal loan, he started a small vegetable garden around his house which has eventually stretched to about 1.5 acre of land now. A father of two daughters has initially started the vegetable farming in 2015 with an objective to attain family vegetable self-sufficiency.

Motivated by the successful vegetable farmers across the globe, Raju is confident enough to achieve national vegetable self sufficiency by few years from now if more people could put in effort as him. He says looking at the growing demand trend for home produced vegetables in the town, he does not have to worry about finding the market for his products.
Maize plants in orderly row

Born to a middle income family, he works in one private company which helps him financially to support his investment in farm inventories. According to him as long as farmers make a smart and selfless investment in initial stage of the business, one can reap a good profit within a season or two for vegetable growers. Although he has no formal training from government and relevant sector, he explores for knowledge on vegetables from social media sites and seeks constant guidance from agriculture sector and other successful farmers.

He grows about 20 varieties of vegetables in a season, he also have about 1500 poultry birds and four cross-breed jersey making him one of the most sought after farmer at Gelephu.

Sl.No.
Vegetable/crop
Quantity/season
Price/unit
Total amount
1
Maize
1000 pieces
10
10,000
2
Sponge gut
100
10
1000
3
Beans
200kg
40
8000
4
Bringer
250kg
30
7500
5
cucumber
750 kg
30
22,500
6
Bottle gut
400 pieces
30
12,000
7
Bitter gut
300 kg
30
9,000
8
Spinach
1000 bundles
10
10,000
9
Lady finger
200kg
50
10,000
10
Pea
30 kg
45
1,350
11
Palak sag
400 bundles
10
4,000
12
Coriander
100 bundles
10
1,000
13
Radish
400kg
30
12,000
14
Garlic
20 kg
200
4000
15
Ginger
1500 kg
20
30,000
16
Cabbage
400kg
25
10,000
17
Cauliflower
400kg
40
16,000
18
Broccoli
500kg
40
20,000
19
Tomato
200kg
30
6000

Total turnover
1,94,350
Total poultry bird
Laying bird
Price/egg
Monthly income

2600
75 % of total birds = 1950 birds(laying)
6.5
12,675*30 =380,250
Total turnover/month
380,250
Return from jersey

No. of cattle
Milking cattle
Yield/day
Price/L
Monthly income
4 (cross breed)
2
7*2 cow=14L
Nu. 35
14*30*35= 14,700
Total turnover/month
Nu.14,700

The total turnover from the vegetables in a season comes around Nu.1, 94,350, about Nu.380, 250 and Nu.14, 700 from poultry and livestock monthly. The vegetable seedlings are also sold with the demand from other farmers. With recent plantation of chilli, he hopes to distribute the chilli seedling to others interested in taking up chilli plantation to cope up with import ban on chilli. He grows vegetables throughout the seasons which give him a lot more than calculated estimates of return annually. He sells most of the vegetables to the vendors which in turn take to local vegetable market at Gelephu. The business being in its initial stage he still is in investment phase where he spends major share of the return in the farm.
Bountiful bottle gut

The byproducts of the cattle and chicken are used in the field as manure without having to use fertilizers. Even the husks of the maize and the remains of vegetables are without wastage used in the field as manure.

Raju attributes his success to his own interest in farming that has always encouraged him to breakthrough an old apocryphal of poor farmer. One of the success factors he states is that of hard work. Right after his duty of the office, he gets into the field and work till late night justifying his dedication in the work. Idea exchange with the lead farmers and other agriculture experts is also found very important in getting immediate solution to some of the issues with plants and the pests.
Poultry farm

Hiring some labourers with reasonable wages and temporal recruitment of young school going children during vacation has created employment opportunities from his farm. He also supplies vegetables to people nearby in relatively lower price benefiting the local community. The increase in family income has not only enhanced the living standard but also improved the nutritional value of the food. It has created many socio-economic benefits while at the same time gearing towards self-sufficiency goal of the country.

He has a plan to extend the farm and increase the productivity in coming years with improved seeds and mechanization. Mushroom cultivation is also on top list of his plan in near future. However, some of the challenges faced are water scarcity, poor seed qualities and pest infestation.
A most moment for a farmer is the harvest time

Being a lead farmer, he receives distinguished guests and spectators to his farm. The Dzongkhag agriculture sectors also sent farmers on tour to the farm and learn new things on farming strategy through knowledge and experience sharing. Upon close interaction and observation of Mr.Raju, one can comfortably make a statement that “Raju works like a coolie. Raju lives like a Raja”.

Hardwork paid well

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Mr.Raju for taking time for my interview and allowing me to make a field visit to his integrated farming. 




The Morning Sun: A reader’s perspectives rather than A Review

Having read the first two books of Monu Tamang (The Joy of Beautiful Dreams & Chronicle of a Love Foretold), I had an urge to read his ...