29 November, 2008 – The long-awaited recreation complex built by the Youth Development Fund was formally opened yesterday by Her Majesty Ashi Tshering Pem Wangchuck. It is an extremely valuable facility and could have a very positive impact on our social trends.The first priority is that the complex has to be used for youth. With the extreme shortage of facilities for all forms of public activities, there is already pressure for the central facilities like the multi-purpose hall to be used government conferences and functions. It must not be hijacked by officialdom, which actually needs some good facilities of its own.
We hope that the YDF complex will be a hub of healthy and creative activities. It is designed to accommodate a wide range of sports with space for other activities like yoga, tutorials, and the creative and performing arts. Bhutanese youth are not lacking in talent, and certainly not in confidence, so the creative arts scene music, drama, dance, film, painting could emerge as an exciting new wave.
The pressure is that YDF needs to raise maintenance funds because it is not cheap to maintain such a facility. The additional pressure is that YDF needs substantial funds because the complex must not become an elite facility. It needs to cater to youth who cannot afford to pay membership fees.
Students, by and large, have the education ministry to organise some activities but have a lot of free time. Young professionals are on the lookout for social activities outside working hours. They are all in need of extra curricular activities.
But a bigger problem is the out-of-school unemployed youth. This is the group that tends to get involved in drug and alcohol abuse and other social problems. It will also be a greater challenge getting this group engaged in useful activities.
This is an experiment that has implications outside Thimphu. With towns sprouting in every major valley, the dzongkhag communities are looking for examples to follow. Every urban centre has youth looking for recreation. A successful youth centre would be a fine example to urban societies around the country.
What the YDF complex needs is professional support a professional management and support from all organisations, government and non government, that deal with youth and youth issues. The concept of volunteerism is wonderful but not practical at this early stage of development. Such a centre cannot be run on good will alone.
We keep in mind that youth is a current priority.
Our youth we can have but today
29 November, 2008 – It was a night of some super-wacko sonic head-banging experience for Bhutanese rock music fans. Even as the mercury dipped, the music soared, rocking the audience, who with hands in the air cheered on the first live rock concert by one of India’s top bands Parikrama (‘orbital revolution’ in Sanskrit).
It’s not everyday that you see Bhutanese going wild. Then again it’s not everyday that Parikrama performs in Bhutan. The biggest show for the celebrations, the band took the crowd into a trip with their more than 12 rock songs in two hours.
While there cannot be a Parikrama rock concert without Pink Floyd and AC/DC, they pushed the envelope here as well. Famous numbers like The Wall, Highway to Hell, a slower version of Sweet Child of Mine and Cold Play’s Yellow floored the crowd.
“This is for you, the people of Bhutan. You are the beginning and the end,” screamed the lead vocalist Nitin Malik to the audience. “It was a pleasure performing here in one of the best places on earth.”
The current kept flowing, despite the “electricity problem,” as they performed more numbers from their own compositions. Lead guitarist Sonam Sherpa, with his glossy mane gleaming, paced the stage and strummed endlessly, merging seamlessly with the others.
And the roar from the crowd showed that they did strike a chord. Parikrama served up an exquisite *****tail of hard rock, tempered with Indian instruments and garnished with a dash of gratitude to god, that swept the audience off its feet.
The 17-year young band has more than 230 concerts and 1,000 odd performances to their name. The “India for Bhutan” concert was organised by the citizen’s initiative for coronation and centenary celebrations (CICCC) and the Indian Embassy.
As the crowd left, some of them said, “I’m not into rock music but I enjoyed today’s concert,” said a private employee Shivraj. While another corporate employee said, “It was cold but the concert – hot and I loved the way they sang ‘Yellow’.”
By Sonam Pelden
26 November, 2008 – The international GNH community has descended on Thimphu this week for the fourth international GNH conference. This is a response to a resounding call for GNH conferences to return to Bhutan at a time when they are being taken around the world.Now that it is here what should we expect the conference to achieve? What do the gathering of more than 100 people from 25 countries and numerous organisations have to say?
In reality we should not expect too much more than some sound feedback and ideas. Many international participants believe that they have much to learn from Bhutan. Having been excited by the concept of GNH, coming at a time when the world truly needs an alternative to existing paradigms for change, they think we might have the answer.
The more relevant question, therefore, is what do we have to show them? This is the real issue and this is what we should be reflecting on or agonising about. The world wants to know how GNH is working in Bhutan. The GNH journey, which the prime minister called a pilgrimage, is the move from a concept inspired by the fourth Druk Gyalpo to scientific indicators to policies and practical programmes in the development process.
What we do need to do in the GNH discourse is to face the painful truth. GNH is the value system, that has preserved Bhutan through the centuries, which the fourth Druk Gyalpo articulated through intuitive and reasoned wisdom.
At a time when that value system is under attack from so-called development and progress, how do we preserve GNH? It has already been accepted that we need the intellectual and academic construction to analyse our society today, to direct national policies, and to identify priorities.
On the instructions of the government, CBS has today come up with an early set of indicators, that at least show the current state of Bhutanese society. But that is going to be a slow process, characterised by lack of communication and coordination.
We see gaps between the GNH philosophy and indicators, indicators and planning, planning and implementation. Even as we enjoy the benefits of the GNH brand around the world, we are doing very little to make it a reality.
It appears that, while international conferences are very useful, national dialogue is vital. It is time to start talking to each other, listening to each other, and to re-think our national priorities, based on real indicators, to bring GNH alive.
The plain fact is that human beings are happy only when they are striving for something worthwhile
The poor turnout at the recent IT fair said otherwise.
24 November, 2008 – Is it the exams, cash or lack of awareness that the weeklong Information Technology (IT) fair at the Yangchenphug high school ground failed to draw visitors.Stall owners said it was a wrong time to organize such a fair and that most wont have cash in the middle of a month.
After fashion, its IT thats in today. But it fails to trigger an interest unlike fashion though both have a few things in common: Short life, constantly change and help keep you connected with the society in different ways.
There will come a time when we will consult our physicians online and where we will attend meetings in another place by sitting at our desk. We know that IT is the future but we also know that IT is not accessible to everyone.
And what we need is more awareness to garner an interest for IT among the people especially the youth. Are the authorities listening?
By Sonam Pelden
24 November, 2008 – To look beautiful can be painful both physically and economically. Never mind the cost or the pain, to get rid of the daily hassle of applying makeup, our women both young and old are now going for a permanent makeover.Permanent? But, dont we believe in and live by impermanence?
Also known as micro-pigmentation or cosmetic tattooing, it is a form of tattooing, in which pigment is implanted into the upper layer of the skin.
The only two salons offering this service do eyebrows, eyelids, under eyes, lips and moles. A package, that includes all the services, costs Nu 950.
Tashi salons owner Tenzin Lhaden said that she started this treatment four years ago after she learnt it from her salons previous owner. My customers are usually women in their 30s and 40s. It takes about five hours to tattoo the eyes, eyebrows and moles.
But its semi-permanent. It lasts about two to three years and slowly fades, said Tenzin.
What about the pain? Oh, it is painful but, to look beautiful, they go for it, said Tenzin. She said that she changes needles for every customer and has so far received no complaints of infection.
Medical experts warn that, after the procedure, the colour will likely look dark and shiny, and the surrounding tissue will be swollen and red. Cold compresses can reduce swelling. Antibiotic ointment must be used to decrease risk of infection. Complications are rare but can include infection or allergic reactions to the tattoo dye.
And, as you put away your eye pencils, liners and, well, the natural look, what will be next on the agenda? Going under the knife?
By Sonam Pelden
24 November, 2008 – Care for newborns starts right after their birth. Neonatologist at the Thimphu referral hospital, Dr Kinzang P Tshering, tells us more about how newborns should be taken care of at home.
Breastfeeding is the most important care for newborns. We recommend mothers to feed their babies within an hour after birth. In general, mothers should feed their babies as and when the baby demands, but we advise that newborns should be fed a minimum of eight to ten times a day with two to three hour intervals between each feed.Babies show signs when they want to be fed. They show a suckling reflex when their mouth or face is stroked, smack their mouth and cry when hungry.
Never resort to bottle-feeding
Bottle-feeding is harmful and hygiene cannot be maintained. Very often mothers face problems while breastfeeding but there is help available.
You know that your baby is well fed when:
- the baby is calm after feeding
- urinates four to five times a day
- there is weight gain
Hygiene is another important care for newborns. We dont advise newborns to be given a bath everyday as its a cold country and it can cause hyperthermia. But clean their body, eyes, and cord with plain warm water. A full time bath can be given 12-24 hours after birth. Some bathe their newborns twice a day, which is not necessary. We suggest once in two days.
Applying lots of powder on newborns is also not advisable because the skin needs to breath, plus it has chemicals and can cause allergies. Instead, use baby oil and give gentle massages. Always keep the baby warm by using extra blankets and keeping the room warm.
The most common danger sign in newborns is neonatal jaundice, which occurs when the immature liver is not able to deal with the high level of bilirubin in the blood. Although its very common, unlike in an adult, neo natal jaundice is not dangerous.
Consult a doctor if your babys skin turns yellowish after two-three days from birth. Phototherapy is used to remove toxins from the babys body when they suffer from neo natal jaundice. If brought late and in severe cases, belurumin can enter the babys brain and permanently damage it.
Sleeping: In the first month babies sleep more and wake up only to feed. If they dont, then the baby may not be well. Some babies sleep during the day and stay awake during the night but they will start sleeping at night after a few weeks.
Danger signs if your baby is sick:
- repeated vomiting
- swelling of the abdomen
- too lethargic
- get fits
- skin infection
- severe jaundice
- severe redness around the naval area
24 November, 2008 – If you want to help your preschoolers to learn then the answer is LET THEM PLAY. Play is young childrens work and it encourages their brain development. Through play children; learn math and science concepts, test ideas and learn about the world.
gain increased motor strength and muscle skill through physical activity
practice and improve their vocabulary and communication skills
gain thinking and problem solving ability
explore and develop creativity and imagination
build concentration skills
relax and have fun
learn how to make friends and get along with others.
Encourage your childrens learning through play by;
letting them explore with their bodies and senses. Let them see, hear, smell and touch new things only if it is safe of course
watching your child play, learn about their interests and provide new language and activities. For example if they are building with blocks then talk about colour, size and shape or how to make a strong construction
arranging play times with other children. Children learn from each other as well as from adults and they need chances to practices social skills such as sharing and solving conflicts
making sure children have space and time to play both indoors and outside. Dont let bad weather stop you thats what coats and gumboots are for!
providing play activities like
- paper, crayons, paints, cardboard boxes for creative activities
-old adult clothes for dress ups, dolls, plastic cups, plates, old phones for pretend play
- wooden or plastic blocks, toy cars and animals for construction play
- fun story books with colourful pictures for reading
- old tyres, tree stumps, pieces of rope etc to make obstacle courses and swings outside
- playing music in the house and encouraging singing and dancing. Make musical instruments like a pot lid and stick for drum or partly fill a juice bottle with rice to make a shaker
- filling a large bowl with water and provide some smaller containers and cups so children can practice pouring and learn about math concepts like full and empty.
Have fun playing with your young children and watch them learn at the same time.
Jane Blanch is an Early Intervention Teacher for the Ministry of Education in New Zealand.
24 November, 2008 – Thinley Tenzin, 38, from Thimphu, runs a footwear shop in the heart of the town. He shares his views on fashion and todays dressing trends.
1. How do people usually dress during winter?
I think, to keep themselves warm, they usually go for warm clothes.
2. What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion, I guess, is knowing how to carry oneself.
3. What do you think is the latest fashion in clothes?
Knee length boots, tight jeans with warm jackets for women.
4. And for men?
5. And what do you have to say about this new trend?
Well, they dress according to season and place.
6. How important is it to be in tune with fashion?
Important enough for you to get along with the society.
7. How much do you think girls spend to look good?
I guess about 20% of their salaries.
8. Should one be fashion conscious?
Yes, one has to be.
9. And why is that?
To fit into society.
10. Whom do youth imitate most in terms of dressing?
I think they are influenced more through TV and movies.
By Yeshi Dolker
22 November, 2008 – If people outside the country logged on to our discussions today they might get the impression that our society has suddenly developed a problem of drug and alcohol abuse. Even some Bhutanese tend to forget that it has been brewing for a long time.Alcohol has always been one of the main killers of Bhutanese people. Drug abuse began soon after Bhutan opened up to planned development and has deteriorated in recent years with more out-of-work youth living in the larger urban centres.
We also know that the problem will continue to grow.
All this was – and is – inevitable. There are no societies that are free of alcohol and drug problems. It is a question of how serious the problem is and, more important, what is being done about it. Bhutans problem is smaller than most countries as far as the numbers are concerned. In terms of implications it may be far more precarious.
Theoretically we know what needs to be done. We know that, in the long run, education is the only real solution. But we need a series of parallel measures to be taken: treatment, rehabilitation, and counselling, for example. We also know that such services require trained professionals.
Pragmatic wisdom says that it is more important to give youth choices than advice. It is important to tell youth not to do drugs but it is more important to give them something else to do. This is perhaps the most important issue in the long term.
This is not a new revelation. The discussion on the need for healthy distractions for youth has been going on for more than a decade. We know that we suffer a severe shortage of facilities for sports and games, arts and entertainment, and other avenues where youth can be creatively occupied.
Our problem is that we are short of both professionals and funds. More serious, we might be short of the will to tackle the problem. For example, the Bhutan Narcotics Control Agency, established specifically to deal with substance abuse, was given a budget of Nu 150,000 to deal with the problem. Considering that senior officials use cars, that cost more than 10 times this amount, just to drive between their homes and offices, this may indicate wrong priorities.
But, for a generation in transition, this is the right time to act. As we begin the 10th development Plan, youth could be raised as a specific priority, starting with the budget allocation.
We can never solve our significant problems from the same level of thinking we were at when we created the problems
22 November, 2008 – Our womenfolks attire this season leans definitely towards the cowboy look. Slim jeans tucked into bewitching and bold, knee-length suede boots, topped with waist length jackets, are the latest trend that has wooed Bhutanese women today.And no one seems to mind that this rough yet feminine look has become almost a uniform for outings.
Says a 24-year old corporate employee, Everyone is wearing it and its okay as long a youre comfortable in them. An airhostess, she says that this trend of dressing is very much in beyond borders too. They dress like this these days in Delhi too.
Another civil servant Deki, 25, says, Its the in thing today but you need to know how to carry it off too.
This dress code is not just reserved for a stroll or outings. And, although skirts still outsmart jeans, most partygoers do turn up in this new look for parties too. All you need to do is remove the bulky jacket and youre ready to hit the floor!
The take on this trend however varies. There are a few like Yangchen, 26, a corporate employee, who would go for converse, jeans and a pullover any day. Be different, thats fashion for me.
Young men like Chimi Rinzin, 18, a student feels that girls are overdoing their dressing. Short jackets look good but jeans tucked into their boots make them look like jhobs.
Its like a fashion show going on, I think our girls are being too modernised, chips in his friend Sangay Dorji, 18.
But, whatever the takes may be, one thing is for certain. As long as its in fashion, our womenfolk dont mind spending. A pair of such boots and a jacket ranges from between Nu 800 and Nu 15000. It keeps you warm, so why not indulge in something that keeps you warm, says Deki.
Sure, as long as you are comfortable in them, whats the harm in being in tune with fashion. After all, when you feel good, you look good. Right?
By Sonam Pelden