Introducing myself

This post might look strange but a regular reader of my blog asked me asked to clarify about myself – because, apparently, there are some confusions among those who never met me, between me and other namesakes (those who are also called Dorji Wangchuk). In fact, many people ask me about a book, which was written by another Dorji Wangchuk (dean at Paro College of Education). The confusion is further aggravated after I entered the teaching profession – when I got associated with Sherubtse College. And also, of late, because I have been writing extensively on education and teaching.

So, first of all, I am not a career teacher. I have never been one until my short stint in Sherubtse where I taught three classes for three semesters. I never studied in Sherubtse either. I used to joke with my students there that I didn’t qualify for Sherubtse but became qualified to teach there.

My background is in engineering. All my formal education, except the current one, is in technical field. Right from the primary classes to matriculation from Kharbandi to Dewathang Polytechnic and to advanced university studies in Italy, I did carpentry, welding, metal works, electrical engineering, telecommunication and microelectronics. Furthermore, in the school I went (Don Bosco Technical School in Kharbandi) from 1974 to 1982 I also studied English, History, Geography, Physics and Chemistry, which gave me some grounding me in language and literature. It is pity that these subjects have been removed and technical and non-technical fields are so compartmentalised nowadays.

I started my working career as a junior engineer in Radio NYAB in 1985 and was part of the team that launched the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) – a year later. In 1987, I was awarded a fellowship to undergo higher studies at the University of Bologna (Italy). I returned home in 1995 with a laureate degree and resumed my job in the BBS. I worked as head of transmission, project manager, chief engineer, general manager leading the team that brought both FM radio and television to Bhutan between 1999 to 2002. In 2003 I moved to documentary production and journalism – producing some 25 documentaries and hosting 112 shows on BBS – Q&A with Dorji Wangchuk. I resigned in 2006 to start Centennial Radio and pursue an independent career. I also wrote some 120 columns – mainly for Bhutan Times. My freelance life was, however, short-lived when I was called back to the government again – as the Director for Royal Office for Media, His Majesty’s Secretariat from 2009 to 2013.

After my service at the Palace, I taught for three semesters in Sherubtse College and then worked as a Dean at Royal Thimphu College for one year. These two places inspired me to go back to classroom and that is when I started working again towards another advanced degree – but this time in another field – communication. Speaking of my zeal for learning, it is not for the fancy title (I have the “Doctor” title from my degree in Italy, which I never used – or cared for). I am pursuing this academic works in communication to consolidate the rich professional experience I accumulated in engineering, mass media, public affairs, governance, etc. into some scholarly works that could contribute to the national narrative – and to the discourse on nationhood and nation-building.

What next? Well, honestly, I haven’t really decided what to do next. I have done a lot in my life, and been through a lot too. I guess, as John Rambo puts it, I will take my life day by day. It is still an open book. But a story worth a read.

Don Bosco boysIV - Version 2
Barefoot and broke, Kharbandi Technical School, 1979
Student_Dewathang_1985
Sportsman of the Year,
1903990_10154715711815153_6559796854393848296_n
First job, Radio NYAB, 1986
11102999_10155554987420153_5996986538093325351_n
Footballing my life away, Italy, 1990
sdr
Launching BBS TV, 1999
BBS Days 001
Larry King of Bhutan, Production meeting for Q&A with Dorji Wangchuk, 2003
IMG_20171217_152309_674
First International win, Tokyo, 2003
17133_388691300152_1115854_n
Meeting Indian Premier, Delhi, 2009
b9d4d-20111118-gj1_4425
Praying with HM, Japan, 2011
cropped-mg_33881.jpg
Teaching in Sherubtse, 2014
Photo on 30-11-2017 at 5.30 PM
Young scholar, Macau (China), 2016 – till date

Wise Man and Lama

The newly-built road to Lamga seems painstakingly carved out of a rocky vertical cliff that one miss could take you flying straight down to Harachu river. However, my host and driver, Chorten Tshering, is hardly bothered by it. He is rather proud and happy. “When I first landed here as a groom, I was asking God what I had done in my past life to be transplanted all the way here from Mongar?” he says with a beaming smile. “Now I don’t even think of my native village anymore.” sdr

Chorten Tshering, popularly known as Kota, married into a family in Lamga and is now the de facto leader of the community. His father-in-law, Mindu, who died two years ago, had led them before him. My association with this community started in 2008 when I was volunteering for Tarayana Foundation that was building them homes, sending their children to school and teaching them health and sanitation among others. The Lamgaps are simple innocent folks who depended on Mindu for every wise decision. And with him gone, Chorten Tshering and I decided to fill the void – as wise men of the village. Sharp, quick and resourceful, Kota learnt to drive in few days. When the Gewog Administration implemented the farm road in the valley, he befriended and invited the bulldozer driver and the site supervisor in his house and lavished them with food and drinks. Although Lamga has been trailing behind other villages in every aspect of modern developmental works, it became the first village to be connected with a motor road in the valley. “The government may provide the budget but it is the hands of the people on the ground as to how the road should be built. If we treat them well, they would go an extra mile to do a good job,” he explains. Even before the road was through, he bought a used Bolero and was ahead of the game.

Lamga village is located at the southeastern end of Athang Gewog. Beyond the village is the massive Black Mountain range and further towards the east is the Mangdechu valley. To the south is Tsirang. It is a new settlement of Phobjibs who made there their permanent home after the government asked them to choose between Phobjikha and Lamga. Until then, they moved between the two distant places in the bjasa-guensa (summer-winter) tradition – a practice that has been long been discontinued in other parts of Bhutan. hdr

Moving to Lamga, however, posed a challenge they forgot to consider. They needed to appease their deities regularly. There are at least three rituals to be conducted every month. “During the monsoon, we do the rituals under the tarpaulin sheets in a pouring rain,” explained Daw Gyeltshen, the village Tshogpa. Few years back, on the insistence of Chorten Tshering and Daw Gyeltshen, I initiated a community temple project.

When I say, I am doing a temple, I am not doing everything. From my experience doing my first temple in Rukha, you only need to put in, may be, a third of what it might take. The rest is something that the community will do on their own. As a net result, you have the people that contribute in equal measures and feel proud to be a part of the whole process. This is called empowerment. In Lamga, the same modus operandi was followed. I provided the three main statues, fuel for the wood working machineries, royalty for timber, some cash to the chief carpenter, the roofing materials. The villagers happily go into the jungle to extract the timber, find boulders near the river and carry them to the site, dig muds and pound them for days and months till they have all the four walls. Compared to what I put in, theirs is a much larger share.

As the Bolero pick-up truck negotiates the dusty hair-pin bends taking us the village, we see a huge smoke of incense shooting up from the site where the new temple is built. As we get closer, we see the whole village lined up to greet the chief guest (me). “Sorry to keep you waiting. There was a road block above Samthang,” I tell the people as I jump out of the car. I then walk and greet one woman after another – with each of them offering me a basket of raw rice, three eggs and three incense sticks. This is a traditional way of welcoming an important guest into a village. We all gather in the temple that is under construction. All around us, the place has been cleaned, decorated and done up really well for my impending visit. My heart is overjoyed to see the progress at the site. They have worked hard.sdr

“Thank you everyone, for this most heartwarming welcome to your village,” I open my speech. “Allow me to tell you that it’s a very humbling experience and totally undeserved for something so little that I have done for you,” I continue. I updated on the statues of Tshela Namsum (Tsepamay, Namgyelmo and Drolma) being completed in Gangtey and Tashi Yangste and ready to be transported to site. I conclude with a renewed commitment to see to the completion of the project.

“The main purpose of this temple is to serve a place of meeting – as social place. Otherwise you people will never get together as a community.”

When I am done, Chorten Tshering and Daw Gyeltshen share on the recent visit of His Eminence Lama Gangtey Tulku, who came and blessed the place. “That’s wonderful,” I interrupt them. “However,” they continue, “this spot is nam droesum sa droesum (literally, three skies and three earth*) and so it is quite an auspicious spot.”

Wow! What a coincidence, I thought

 

* Nam droesum sa droesum refers to a place where two rivers meet in mountainous area and thus creating a spot with three valleys and three skies. The local belief is that such places have excess of cosmic energy that ordinary dwellings would perish. Only spiritual structures can come up and that too initiated by accomplished masters.

~~~~~~~

mmexport1519380755046
Statutes being currently consecrated in Gangtey Gonpa. The Zung was granted by Gangtey Tulku
cof
After the roofing works, the temple can host the rituals and ceremonies for all time to come

cof

sdr

 

My Story, Our Legacy

Extracts from my opening and closing remarks at the 4th Bloggers Meet/Conference, Feb 2, 2018

Friends and fellow bloggers,

Thank you for sacrificing your weekend to be here at this 4th Bloggers Meet. I apologize for all the confusions surrounding the venue and the nature of this Meet. Since we are in the election season, we have made this Meet for registered members only. So, this is not open to public like other meets . I know many out there will be unhappy about this. My apologies to them.

The Community of Bhutanese Bloggers is a loose collection of writers who use the web to tell their stories. It is non-political, non-religious and non-commercial – with no affiliation to any individuals, groups or organizations. All expenses for the meets and conferences are borne by few of us. And despite that no incentives are given out for attending these meets, we have participants who travel from other districts.

The theme of this Meet is My Story Our Legacy. This was chosen to reflect the historic times we are going through. Few people today realize that fifty or hundred years down the road, our future descendants will scramble to look at this period for written records and references. Even if we don’t write on events of great historical importance, the written records we leave behind will be told as stories one day. In fact we often use the phrase, dhi gang ngache ghi pham ghi kad su. (those days during the times of our forefathers). So, what we write,  whether they are worth of being read or mentioned, will be talked about and read. So I invite you to be mindful of what you write and share.

My Story Our Legacy was also coined out of the belief that the story of a nation is nothing but the stories of ordinary people. We all have a story to tell. Today, we have three speakers – three storytellers who I believe are also creating their little stories in their own little world. Pawo Choyning Dorji is a filmmaker – photographer who tells stories through pictures, Amrith Subba is spreading the love for sharing and compassion and Tshering Pelden writes about everything from ants to drayang girls. My thanks to them for accepting to share their stories today.

Lastly, the question: what is your story?

For me, writing has been a way to share my life, beliefs and my concerns. It has served as a place where I could offload my feelings and frustrations, share joys and sorrows, and drop ideas and inspirations. It takes time, of course. And sometimes I have even wondered if anyone is even reading them. Yes, I know this hollow feeling of talking to a wall – especially in your early years of blogging. But do not despair. Keep writing. Keep going. Keep flowing. If for nothing, one day you will also turn 50 like me. Your shoulder will get frozen. Then you discover that a physiotherapist is your fellow blogger and is ready to do the magic on you.

Yes, this is a true story.

Also few days back as I walked away from one of these physio sessions, a young woman walked up to me with a beaming smile and went on with something like, “Sir, you don’t know me but we are friends on Facebook and I follow your writings. I work as a nurse in the …. section. If you need anything there, just look out for me. It will be my pleasure to serve you”.

It is these pleasant and unexpected encounters that make your life worth living, pains worth taking and time worth spending on this small activity of sharing called writing.

Happy blogging to all

 

27971718_933452686818383_2071982206161975660_n