Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Being Part of My Daughter’s Experience


I love growing up with my daughter – by being part of her daily experiences. Unless I am rushed by an inevitable meeting or work, I make sure that I attend her school’s morning assembly because getting to stand in line with students and say the Jamyang Soeldeb (Prayer to Manju Shri) and National Anthem is a rare opportunity. And I take it solemnly. I have recently been transferred to Ministry of Labour and Human Resources and this gives me time to do that. The walking distance between her school and my office is only four minutes.

This morning, she woke up early, which gave us time for her bath as well as have a relaxed time for breakfast. After getting ready for school, she still had time while I got ready – so she used it to read a story, ‘The Folk Museum’ by Madam Chador Wangmo. She sure does like the imaginations it gives her.  

So we arrived at her school on time today. She could join her friends to sing the nursery rhymes which gives students a nice warm up before starting the classes for the day. I don’t know about other schools but Early Learning Centre (ELC) has the schedule of singing nursery rhymes before the morning assembly. After the assembly, they recite poems or rhymes that have good themes. This morning, they sang quite a few but the one called ‘I like Myself’ by Karen Beaumont caught my attention quite hard. I felt tears well up in my eyes as I listened to them repeat it in chorus after Madam Namgay.

It immediately made me look back to my own childhood. Did I have such a time where teachers told us that we are all different and we are all good in our own ways – and that we must love what we are? It was a different time then, but both teachers and parents did their best. It also made me feel a profound gratitude for my teachers and now hers. It is from them that we learn quite a big share of what life is and how we must see it and live it. There are people who have good things to say about ELC. But there are also those who think that it is academically backward compared to other private schools. But I made my choice of sending her there because I don’t want her to miss the joy of her childhood in the rush of being schooled. She probably does not read as well as others her age. But that is okay because she will read on her own pace. But I do want her to love reading so that it will give her the benefit of knowledge that only reading different books can give.  She is a difficult child sometimes. But that is okay too. If she were tame as a toy, I would not have the experience I now enjoy.


Here is the poem. I hope you will be moved by it too and you will feel inspired to tell your children what it says so that they know that they are lovely the way they are.


I like myself! I'm glad I'm me.
There's no one else I'd rather be.
I like my eyes, my ears, my nose.
I like my fingers and my toes.
I like me wild. I like me tame.
I like me different and the same.
I like me fast. I like me slow.
I like me everywhere I go.
I like me on the inside, too,
for all I think and say and do.
Inside, outside, upside down,
from head to toe and all around,
I like it all! It all is me!
And me is all I want to be.
And I don't care in any way
what someone else m
ay think or say.
I may be called a silly nut
or crazy cuckoo bird-so what?
I'm having too much fun, you see,
for anything to bother me!
Even when I look a mess,
I still don't like me any less,
'cause nothing in this world, you know,
can change what's deep inside, and so....
No matter if they stop and stare,
no person
ever
anywhere
can make me feel that what they see
is all there really is to me.
I'd still like me with fleas or warts,
or with a silly snout that snorts,
or knobby knees or hippos hips
or purple polka-dotted lips,
or beaver breath or stinky toes
or horns protruding from my nose,
or--yikes--with spikes all down my spine,
or hair that's like a porcupine.
I still would be the same, you see...
I like myself because I'm 
ME
!


When I was a student, many years back, I read that it is not always possible to repay the kindness to the same person. But we can pay it back by passing it on. I think love often lives that way too. I think we can spread love, care and kindness through our love for children. Because if they are brought up in the abundance of these emotions, they know them and they will reciprocate the same. And that gives each of us a role to make the world a better place!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My trip to South Korea


As part of the GNH dissemination workshop series, I was nominated along with three other colleagues to travel to Malaysia and South Korea in March this year. I was in a dilemma about whether to join them or stay back – because my second child had just turned one year. But having watched so many Korean dramas from being a girl to now, I was tempted to visit South Korea so much that I wanted to join them. And so I did! My husband, my mother and my niece had to take extra responsibility of caring for him; putting babies to bed and soothing them back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night is quite a tiresome job for non-mothers. But my boy being a very amiable baby gave them little trouble. 

Our counterpart in Malaysia had arranged so many meetings – from meetings over breakfast to lunch to dinner besides presentations to different offices and gatherings, we were left tired to our bones on our last day there, which was 23rd March 2017. Our flight to Seoul from Kuala Lumpur was on 24th March, very early morning – which gave us only two hours of sleep. Having had a late supper with our friends in Malaysia, we hardly caught that two hours of sleep before we left for the airport. [The RGOB’s rule of having to buy air tickets through quotation victimizes us into having to take inconvenient flight timings – and budget flights]. On the flight, I had to even ask for medicine from the flight attendant for my headache.

At the end of six hours flight, we finally landed in Seoul. And a staff of our coordinator there took us in a taxi at a frightening lightning speed because we had to make to the meeting that was already in full swing. And between bright flashes of light, we were escorted on stage at the 2017 International Buddhism Expo in Seoul in our dream like state! But it was worth all of these small troubles.

What struck us in particular was their trust and integrity. We were told that if you forgot or left something somewhere, it would still be there, untouched, if you visited after a few days. And they are so polite to each other. Or maybe, it is just that the accent and tone of their language is like that.
One night, we had to catch the last train back to our hotel from dinner with our counterparts there. We rushed and just to make sure that we did not mistake between the outbound and inbound trains, we asked two young boys at the station about whether we were going to the right route – and they were so polite to us. They spoke passable English and were interested when we told them that we were from Bhutan. I still remember how they told us to listen, to concentrate on the announcement of our station because they had to leave two stations before ours. And in the entire duration of our stay there for four days, we did not see the owner of our guesthouse. The reception remained empty all the time. Such is the trust! 

And one night, as we returned to our guesthouse after dinner, there were two men outside fretting and restless. Our coordinator had blocked their car. They had waited for one hour! They did not see the phone number left on the dashboard. We were surprised to see that there were no screams of anger and blame. They parted bowing to each other and in smiles. 

But Bhutan has much to offer too. They may have symmetrical lines of skyscrapers with shopping malls and hundreds of cosmetic shops but I doubt they ever saw a clear blue sky! Or breathe clean air free of pollution. 

Our friends/coordinators in Malaysia. They truly made our trip meaningful



At the Dharma House Society in Malaysia


Probably the only Bhutanese to be at the Seoul Tower in kira
 






Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Small things matter


I am driving to office and it is already past 9:00 a.m. I must tell you, it is not easy juggling between works and caring for children. I try to do everything from changing baby’s nappy to feeding him with the minimal haste and then, I rush to office without looking in the mirror to check my hair.

And just when I have gotten out of home on my way to office, I must endure the Thimphu’s traffic that is getting worse by the day. It is much thinner after 9 in the morning and 5 in the evening though. But this morning, there was bit of indecision on my part as I was at the round about near the Ministry of Information and Communication’s gate. I thought I could pass, but a taxi driving from below sped up as if to compete with me to check who could reach the round about first. You won’t believe he maneuvered past me by giving the scariest glare. And this look hurt me. I completed the rest of my journey to office churning thoughts upon thoughts of how such small things matter in our life. If only his look was a bit gentler and kinder, we would have both gone our ways feeling good in our hearts.

A few weeks ago, I took the way from India House to get to my office and a lady driving a brand new Eco Sport comes from the opposite side and though she crossed half a meter into my lane, she drove past me with the loudest honk, blowing a shrill into my ear drum. I am a very sensitive person. Such honking seems like a sharp scream into my ears with the biggest tantrum possible from a person. I wonder if it is so difficult for us humans to be a little less righteous and cross at the smallest disturbance in our life and be a little more caring and considerate. Would it cost us a lot to change a bit in our attitude to see people the way we want to be seen by them?

I think if we start now, it is not too late.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Pain of Growing Up in Thimphu

I look back at my childhood with blissful happiness filling my heart and if I could, I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and live there again. Cornfields, and a small orchard of different tropical fruits surrounded our house. During summer, the air was filled with sweet natural odour from fruits and flowers, and our ears were naturally lent to music from different insects and birds. Right next to the fields lay abundant forests, unrestraint and free. We feared of the tigers, wild boards and foxes. We lost a few cattle to tigers, and corns and paddy to wild boars. It was hard work but we reaped abundant grains, vegetables and fruits. Some might think it is a life without happiness, filled only by backbreaking work. I don’t doubt my parents toiled, but in all my childhood, I did not see sadness creasing on their faces. In fact, my mother told us that we were blessed to have abundant food.

As children, what is more important is a good place to grow up—with free spaces to play and run around, shout and scream all to our hearts content, soil our clothes, dig mud, jump in the muddy puddle, or play with insects, or anything natural without an adult’s interference. And that is exactly what I had as a child. I pity my daughter who is supposedly born in a better time. I empathize her when she laments of getting bored every single day.

I let her go to our neighbors’ houses to play with their children. I take her to my friends’ house whose daughters are her friends. I take her to the park. I play with her numerous times everyday. But she sinks in boredom the minute I have to attend to something and can’t give her company. Is it really because she is accustomed to the fast images of electronic games and videos? One day, she comes back from a neighbor’s house and tells me this: “I told my friend that I will come back, but she asked me not to. Why is it mummy?” I have to give in to her requests, but I do fear that the neighbors may not like to have her come to their houses frequently. When she sees their kids playing outside, she rushes out but her excitement gets crushed when they refuse to play with her. As a mother, I want to bring her back inside and pamper her right away, but this is how she must grow up. So I hold my heart tight and let her stay—praying that she will pick up the right social traits and she will grow up strong.


I am not boasting when I say I might be one of the many mothers who give a major chunk of her time to her daughter. I do. And yet, when she rolls in the boredom she says she is in, I can’t help wish we had a free space where she could enjoy everything I did as a child. She might have different dresses and food. She might have heard different fairy tales that I knew only when I could read myself and watched them come live without having to imagine but she still does not have what a child needs. I do not blame her for being bored. I do not blame her for getting restless. If only I could let her grow without the fear of cars running over her, or a stranger carrying her away, she would have what I did as a child, and I could simply watch her grow. But it is a deprivation, the price today’s children pay for growing up in a town, blessed with bountiful modern gadgets.