Friday, July 26, 2013



                                                                                                                      26th July 2013
Dear Dechen,

It has been such a long time. I know I am starting my letter with this sentence every time. I ought to feel a little guilty for not being regular. But honestly, it doesn’t mean that I have not been involved with you, or have been less attentive to you. Like I told you, you love your grandma and you are having a very good, fulfilling days with her. I don’t have to worry that I have to leave you everyday because I am a working mother.

Not many days ago, I read an article called Marriage in Buddhism where it talks about marriage, divorce, child rearing etc. It says that what kind of person a child grows up to depends entirely on the parents and in modern times, because both the parents are working, children do not get the attention, care and love as they ought to get. It even advises that in such a situation, a mother should choose to leave her job. That inflicted a bit of guilt in my mind, probably because I have been having such thoughts myself. However, it is impractical. You will know what I mean. But of course, it doesn’t mean that I don’t give you my love and care. I play with you as soon as I get home. We are together, building a house, making a swing for your doll, or building railway tracks. I am praying that, it isn’t less than the amount of care and love that ought to be given for a child to feel loved and cared. I do hope and pray that you will grow up to be the most sensible person.

Anyway darling, you have grown up so much. You speak Sharchop as well as English. Sometimes, you seem to speak it even better than English, though latter was your first language. It excites me to watch you play with your grandma, conversing in Sharchop. I also feel more comfortable now talking to you in Sharchop. Before I was uncomfortable because I had been speaking in English with you all along. For example, last evening, you were making a swing with a piece of cloth by tying one end to your bicycle and you were saying, ‘chhing nang phi’, to your grandma. I was surprised. This word is not something you will pick up easily. And again, you said, ‘thrik ken la’, when she warned you that you might fall down from the stool you were standing on, and fiddled to help you.

You are growing up in a fascinating way. This morning when your daddy and I were leaving for office, you gave us a hug and a kiss and said, ‘I love you’. This is how charmingly cute you are. And you melt our heart. We love you so much darling. And I tell you, you are everything we got.


Love, Mum.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Women aren’t seen equal to men – and it will take sometime

I personally feel that in Bhutan, there isn’t much gender discrimination. I say this from my experience and not from any research. However, it seems, in reality, it exists and the notion of gender in-equality is implanted in us through our culture and it will take sometime before it changes. For example, during the recent parliamentary election campaign, when a woman politician was taking part, an old woman from a village was heard lamenting that it is sad to see that we have come to a time where, we have to rely on women to be the leaders! This made me feel a bit sad. I have always been aware that the gender in-equality in Bhutan, if at all existed bred through our culture and tradition – yet, it threw me back a bit when this reality was heard spoken.

We have the age-old saying that, ‘men are nine steps ahead of women’ (if I could translate it roughly). A household is usually headed by men, and when it comes to the meals times, they are served first. This tradition isn’t very common in the urban areas and among the educated lots but it still exists in the villages. A descriptive analysis of the data from Gross National Happiness Survey 2010 shows how gender difference is inculcated in our mind through our culture: Out of 7142 respondents, 62.6% agrees that women are more suited for domestic work than men, while only 28% of them disagrees with this statement. 79% of these respondents agree with the statement that ‘Females tend to carry drip, so certain customs like women & girls not being allowed in certain parts of lhakhang, or to touch the bow before a man’s archery game, are valid’. It is such cultures and traditions that we are bred through that make us think women are unequal to men by nature.

On a similar line, out of 7140 respondents, 30.5% agree that education is more important for a boy than a girl. Again, 30.5% of 7132 respondents said that on the whole men make better leaders than women do. This is a high percentage and if we must achieve the equality we talk so much about, I think we should change this mindset.

Break down of the responses:

1. Women are more suited for domestic work than men
Response 
Frequency
Percent
Agree
4469
62.6
Neither agree nor disagree
666
9.3
Disagree
2001
28.0
Don't know
6
.1
Total
7142
100.0

2. Certain customs like women being not allowed in certain part of the lhakhang is valid
 Response
Frequency
Percent
Agree
5661
79.3
Neither agree nor disagree
588
8.2
Disagree
701
9.8
Don't know
192
2.7
Total
7142
100.0

3. Education is more important for boy than a girl

Frequency
Percent
Agree
1243
17.4
Neither agree nor disagree
685
9.6
Disagree
5190
72.7
Don't know
22
.3
Total
7140
100.0

4. On the whole men make better leaders than women do

Frequency
Percent
Agree
2177
30.5
Neither agree nor disagree
1068
15.0
Disagree
3840
53.8
Don't know
47
.7
Total
7132
100.0


Monday, July 1, 2013

Now, I am ‘Mama’

My two and half year old daughter has started calling me Mama now. She started it yesterday. At first, I thought she wanted to eat because we refer to food as ‘mama’. When I asked her if she wanted to eat, she said ‘no’. And then, she indicated that she was calling me. When she called me that, she had a different tone of voice and she seemed to be pleading me for attention. I was surprised that she should coin a special word that is something like a codeword between us to mean something.

Now she seems to have forgotten the word ‘mummy’ altogether. She calls me Mama. But, again, when she wants some special attention – something like a cuddle and some extra pampering, she calls me ‘Mama’ in a long, begging tone. And I melt. She knows exactly how to capture my heart. I think it is also this special bond – the change in the tone of our voice and the imploring looks that only mother and daughter understand, that make us feel closer to each other than anybody else.


We were going out to give some food to the dogs and she wanted me to carry her after we had descended two levels of the building. When I asked her to walk, she went, ‘Mama, up. Tired.’ I couldn’t help but carry her. And then, she insists that she is still a baby. I remember writing in my blog around two months back that she says, she is still a baby. She still clings on to it. She sure is still a baby to me and I can’t really imagine when she will be all grown up and walking out of home to settle down on her own. If there is one thing I wish were permanent, it is that she be my baby all our lives. She will be in a sense, but it won’t at all be the same, except for our love. And another thing – we will still sing together in a very rough loud voice and we will forget the rest of the world when we are together.