26 August, 2010 – For a child, the popular book Gulliver’s Travels is a larger than life adventure, with fascinating fairytale like events and characters. To the adult, Gulliver’s Travels is a satire on human behaviour; in particular, the European government and petty differences between religion.Like Jonathan Swift’s book, which appeals to children, western nursery rhymes and cartoons, among others have been associated with satire, lampoon and parody of events, establishments, and people.
The popular Baa, Baa, Black Sheep, which most Bhutanese school going children are familiar with, is believed to be either about the slave trade or the medieval wool tax in Britain.
Bhutan may have a limited number of its own nursery rhymes, but they’ve been created by adults. A few may have deeper meanings, but not as subtle as the Western literature, which are submerged in complicated metaphors for correctness.
The popular rhyme, Chap chi chap dhay that children in the late 80s sang in reverberation in classes, accompanied by physical dance like movements may sound like voices of dissent today.
The song is about a rainy day and children wanting to play in the rain. But they are reminded of their parents beating stick. So they plead with their parents not to hit them, because they already know the lessons that were taught in school.
The voices of dissent can be heard in the lines. These lines give us a peek into the system that existed then, when children underwent a rote system of education, the corporal punishment, and the pressure exerted at home. The rain comes and children are excited to play, but their parents would rather have them study.
There is humour and satire in it. But, according to the writer of the song, Thinley Jamtsho, secretary general of DPT, the rhyme when written was not written as a critique. There was humour, and we tried to put in different sounds to make it interesting for the children, he said. The lyrics came naturally, and no criticism was intended.
Thinley Jamtsho said it was written, based on the environment of the mid 80s. He was developing child centred teaching methodology for Dzongkha, as part of a new approach to primary education project of the education ministry.
As part of the project, other rhymes and songs were also created, most of which were about health and sanitation, numbers and alphabets, and names of flowers.
Similarly, some Bhutanese oral tradition genres, like folk tales, have meanings deeper than just morals. Tales that village elders narrated to their children in the past could have been created to satirise or critique the existing systems.
Dorji Penjore’s Voices of Dissent in Bhutanese Folktales, which is a centre for Bhutan studies research paper, explores the social context, which led small common people to express their dissent through folk tales.
If we analyse folk tales, we can see that they were invented or composed by common people, from the treatment meted out to elite like lamas, merchants, astrologers or ministers, he said to K2. They end up vanquished in the end.
According to Dorji Penjore, after the unification of Bhutan, two and half centuries of civil strife and political infighting followed, during which common people were coerced to pay taxes in commodities or as labour, provide military service, transport loads and fulfill other state obligations.
Folktales provided them space to ridicule, satirise and take revenge on the elite, he said. And, when shared with children, the children were indirectly taught of the realities that the adults were facing their daily lives. It prepared them for the adult world.
Folktales were earlier generations equivalent of universal education, and served in many ways to educate and inform their children about the nature of the world, he said. What was transmitted to the children, the adults would have been facing in the daily lives.
Apart from making their children aware, the folk tales carried a deep sense of a want for a better system or a change in the system.
The happy endings of most Bhutanese folk tales involving village characters represented ideals or aspirations, said Dorji Penjore. A least likely person, who could be an orphan, poor man’s son, lazy boy, becomes the king, while the king loses his throne. The lazy boy and the king provide a prototypical version of the reversal of fortune, where the political hierarchy is overturned. They fulfill in folk tale creation what cannot be foreseen in social actuality.
Other oral genres like the tshangmo or proverbs are humourous and satirical. In the case of tshangmo, 50 percent is satire, he said. A tshangmo can either be praise or critique and never neutral.
Dr Tandin Dorji of the institute of management studies in Thimphu, who had done his master’s research on Bhutanese oral tradition, shared a similar outlook on folktales and other oral genres. Rich people were portrayed as cruel in the stories, he said. The chieftains were powerful, while the farmers were suppressed and levied heavy taxes.
It was, however, not as complex as western literature, or as critical, he said. It was mainly for entertainment and transmission of knowledge.
Dr Tandin however said that the critique or satire would be limited or present only in a few stories, because predominantly folktales and songs were for education or entertainment purpose. This can be because the ones, who created them were the elite, and critiquing the system would be critiquing themselves, he said. But a few may have nonetheless critiqued or satirised. For example, Drukpa Kuenley, through his action, critiqued the conventional and traditional approaches of the monastic body.
Meanwhile, the presence of deeper meaning in oral genres only makes the oral tradition richer, and calls for the preservation of such genres through documentation, according to researchers and writers.
In Thimphu, a housewife, Karma feels that her memories of folktales and other oral genres are slowly being erased. Its been two decades since Karma last narrated folk tales to her children; and now she can barely remember the tales her village elderly narrated, as they broke piles of corn from the cob, to entertain and to keep the children interested and awake.
You should remember these tales long after we are gone and narrated to you children, her elders had said to her. But, as she tries to recollect, when K2 asked, she’s at loss as she mixed two folk tales, and is not sure if the animal in the story was a cow or a horse.
By Kinley Wangmo
26 August, 2010 – The Miss Bhutan beauty pageant has now taken a typical reality show turn. For the past two weeks, all 18 contestants from across the country have been living under one roof in the capital and getting trained to groom themselves.With alarms going off at 6:30 am every morning, they say they are on their toes until 10:00 pm six days a week. Once done with breakfast, they spend almost an hour on make up and dressing up for their class, smiling all along. Smile when you talk, when you walk and when you stand, said all the contestants in one voice.
Sonam C Retty, who is representing Punakha dzongkhag, said that they live like a family. I dont miss my family badly, because everyone has been good to me and the atmosphere here is homely, said the recent graduate.
Each room in the three apartments the girls are living in is named after the five elements: Water, Earth, Iron, Wood and Fire. Even the three apartments are called hardworking, determination and punctuality.
These three elements when combined result in success, organiser Karma Tshering explained on naming the apartments.
About four contestants share a room, with each of them getting their own bedding and toiletries. The organiser provides the rest, such as meals, to them.
We point out the faults, if we notice one of us is wrong, instead of gossiping, Dechen Wangmo, from Tsirang dzongkhag, who has also registered for the national graduate orientation program.
Another contestant, Kinley Wangmo, representing Zhemgang, adds that they never try to hurt each others sentiments.
The youngest in the group, Tshering Yangki, 18, from Trashiyangtse, said they live like sisters, helping each other with hair and make up. We style hair for each other and share ideas on style too, she said.
Organisers have listed many in-house activities, pageant coordinator, Sonam Pelden said. They are asked to read poetry and extempore to improve their language, the coordinator said. These young girls are also encouraged to talk in Dzongkha.
She said that punctuality is given importance, with 10 percent of their scores dependent on punctuality. Three warning cards are set to make them follow the rules, she said.
That was also one of the reasons for putting them all together in one place, said organisers. In the last contest, they said punctuality was often a problem, with several turning up late for their classes.
No strict diet regime is followed for them as well, although they all make sure that they eat the right amount, with right contents of calories and fat. Even as they are having a wonderful time living together, they said they are learning a lot. It helps us to be confident, said Tenzin Norden from Haa. We know how to sit, pose and talk with people.
But if we want a beauty with brains, then they might as well pay some attention to brushing up their knowledge about their country. As public speaking and personality grooming counsellor, Savio DSilva, said, The ladies are excellent and talented, but lack knowledge on Bhutan and its culture, he said.
By Yangchen C Rinzin
26 August, 2010 – Little troops regulating traffic around school campuses are a common sight in the capital and a few other districts around the country. But a private school is Thimphu is a step ahead, because they restrict vehicles with a particular-coloured number plate from entering the school area.Government vehicles are not allowed to pick or drop Druk school students to school.
Accompanied by two teachers, four student captains and four cub packs(scouts)regulate the traffic congestion in their school parking. When parents or drivers come to drop their children off to school the troop check the number plates.
On school days by 7:30 am the traffic regulators put on their traffic shirts and caps on top of their uniforms, and put down the parking safety cones and signboards to mark entry and exit areas.
From Monday to Friday the assigned teachers and the students of Druk School keep order and discipline, and all the vehicles entering Druk School parking must follow it. And parents and drivers are following the stringent rules.
Before there were parents, who used government vehicles to drop their children,said Dechen Namgyel, teacher and traffic coordinator with Druk School.
Whenever we came across one, we noted the numbers, announced in the assembly, informed the children being dropped by government vehicles that it is not allowed, and finally informed the concerned parents not to continue.
The action has had a positive effect. Now we hardly see government vehicles dropping school children in our area, and this is our little part in stopping corruption in our country.
Apart from curbing corruption, the primary target of achieving an orderly traffic for the safety of children, especially during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, has been achieved.
Almost 300 vehicles drop the children to school every day. A system like this, where teachers and students jointly control the flow of the vehicles, helps a lot in avoiding possibilities of vehicles hitting small school children, when they are large in numbers around a school campus, said Dechen Namgyel.
We also help children get off the cars and carry their school bags and lunch packs, therefore maintaining a smooth and a continuous flow of all the cars.
He also added that the parents dropping their children have been very cooperative and they have also received a lot of positive feedbacks from the parents.
By Phuntsho Namgay
26 August, 2010 – Contrary to the general perception that the way a majority of the youth in the capital city wear their hair copying womens favourite Korean actors or that of their favourite football players, many Kuensel spoke with argued was to match their facial appearance.Most agree they stayed with the trend, feeling the pressure from their peers, lest they feel ostracised from a crowd, who keep up with the latest trend.
But it is without a doubt that most youth today style their hair to impress women.
A 21-year-old school dropout Pema said it was for the love of his wife that he always maintained a mafia hairstyle, where the hair is gelled to one side of the head. My wife loves my hairstyle and I love it for that, he said. Besides, he said, it complemented the tatoos that covered a major portion of his body.
Another 21-year-old, Kiran Chettri sports the stallion hairstyle, a style that is gelled up to a spike from the centre of the head, while those on the sides and back are glued to the scalp.
Other hairstyles dont go with my facial structure, so I go with the stallion look, he said. Moreover, the hairstlye is the only one that draws attention and compliments from girls.
Karma Yeshi, 23, does not want his hairstyle to be associated with those seen in Korean flicks.
My hairstyle is a creation of my own, he said. Im not a big fan of Korean hairstyle anyway, and it annoys me when people think I copied one.
Doma, 18-year-old girl said hairstyles play a very small part whe
n choosing her man. If he is handsome and bald at the same time, it is fine for me.
But for Tashi Lhamo Dorji, a Class X student from from Yangchenphu higher secondary school (YHSS), the spiky hairstyle that actors from a Korean drama film- Boys Over flowers and Your Handsome are some of the favorite hairstyles that she liked.
Another student from YHSS said she prefers boys with short and clean hair. For me men look good and tidy with short hair.
By Kuenga Tendar
26 August, 2010 –
My child gets a lot of nosebleeds. What should we do?Most children will have nosebleed at least once – and probably manyduring early years.. This is neither abnormal nor dangerous, but it can be very frightening.
There are many causes of nosebleeds, most of which arent serious. Beginning with the most common, they include: Colds and allergies: A cold or allergy causes swelling and irritation inside the nose and may lead to spontaneous bleeding. Trauma: A child can get a nosebleed from picking his nose, or putting something into it, or just blowing it too hard. A nosebleed also can occur if he is hit in the nose by a ball or other object or falls and hits his nose. Low humidity or irritating fumes: If your house is very dry, or if you live in a dry climate, the lining of your childs nose may dry out, making it more likely to bleed. If he is frequently exposed to toxic fumes (fortunately, an unusual occurrence), they may cause nosebleeds, too.
Do. . .
1. Remain calm. A nosebleed can be frightening, but is rarely serious.
2. Keep your child in a sitting or standing position. Tilt his head slightly forward. Have him gently blow his nose if he is old enough.
3. Pinch the lower half of your childs nose (the soft part) between your thumb and finger and hold it firmly for a full ten minutes.
Release the pressure after ten minutes and wait, keeping your child quiet. If the bleeding hasnt stopped, repeat this step. If after ten more minutes of pressure the bleeding hasnt stopped, go to the nearest health facility.
Dont . . .
Abnormal blood clotting: Anything that interferes with blood clotting can lead to nosebleeds. Medications, even common ones like aspirin, can alter the blood-clotting mechanism just enough to cause bleeding. Blood diseases, such as hemophilia, also can provoke nosebleeds (which is very rare)
There are many misconceptions and folktales about how to treat nosebleeds. Heres a list of dos and donts.
19 August, 2010 – The ongoing Yangphel archery tournament has a team made exclusively of lefties. They may look an awkward bunch when taking aim, but theyve made it to the knockout round and, if lucky, as lefties are traditionally believed to be, they might make it all the way.Spectators flock to see Club Ace archers take aim and look on with mixed feelings. Its interesting to watch them, but what if the arrow goes astray?
The players, however, are in their element. Theyve used their left hand since they can remember. For them their left is their right. They said that they felt lucky because, even though they were average players, they had reached the knockout round. Even otherwise, they said, theyve been lucky as any other person.
Club Ace archer Rinchen said the members are from different teams, but for this tournament they got together to form the only left-handed team. We thought it would be unique, said Rinchen.
In Bhutanese society, left handed people are believed to be lucky. And if a family has three members eating with their left hand, then its believed the family will never face a shortage of food.
Ugyen, 20, plays guitar with his left hand but, so far, hes never heard that being a southpaw (a term used for left-handed people, especially in sports) is lucky. I was in junior high and a new teacher, who played guitar, came to our school, he said, adding that, because of the remoteness, not many people played musical instruments in Yonphula, Trashigang.
I was inspired and watched my teachers fingers carefully, as he shifted them from one chord to another, he said. Then I reversed what I saw so I could hold the chords with my right hand and strum with my left hand.
Now, playing a right handed guitar with his left makes Ugyen cool among his friends, who remain baffled at his dexterity. How do you do it, they ask Ugyen time and again. For them to play with the left hand would be like speaking backwards, which takes skill and time to master.
While lefties are considered talented or lucky, living in a right-handed world can sometimes get in the way of doing simple things like peeling a potato; or get teased for looking awkward while doing something with their limbs. Some potato peelers have blades, which only right-handed people can use.
Hunting for the left hand side of the table so as not to knock elbows with others, and trying to squeeze in fingers into a scissors handle are a few disadvantages.
Likewise, left handed archers have to order special bows. The stores hardly keep left-handed bows and it takes about two months for a set to arrive, said Pema, a Club Ace member, who has a family of left-handed and ambidextrous (using both hands) members. In a compound bow, the making is such that the arrow has to be placed on the right side, said Pema. Traditional bows can be used by either hand.
From over 900 archers from 155 teams participating in the Yangphel tournament, about two dozen are left-handed.
Left handed tennis and basketball players also need coaches to pay extra attention to the way they hold the racquet and swing it, or the way they shoot the ball. But this also gives an advantage.
National tennis coach Tshering Namgay said the left-handed player had an advantage over the others, because they couldnt predict what the left-handed would do. Hes also noticed that lefties are good players.
In boxing, the southpaw stance give the left-handed fighter advantage, because the other fighter is accustomed to a right-handed player and therefore faces cognitive difficulty. In such situations, the Bhutanese saying never have a left-handed person as your opponent rings true.
Scientifically, a person is left handed for neurological reasons. The wiring of the motor abilities to the brain is awry, but with no negative effect on the body, except that the person has his or her motor abilities refined in the left side of the body.
Left handed people use their right side of the brain. The rest use the left side, which is usually the dominant brain in use, which explains why there are more right-handed people than left-handed ones. About 15 percent of the world population is believed to be left-handed.
Doctor Tashi Wangdi of Thimphu referral hospital said that research done by neuroscientists found that there are two parts of the brain, and the left cerebral, the dominant part, was linked to analytical thinking and speech; while the right side of the brain was linked to intuition, artistic and musical abilities.
However, it did not mean that the left-handed person would be musically inclined or artistic. This depends on individual abilities, he said.
In Bhutan, children are usually encouraged to use their right hand when they show signs of using their left. Doctor Tashi Wangdi said that children, who were encouraged to use the right hand would not face any repercussion, because they would be using their brains anyhow.
According to the doctors observation, in Asia there was a preference for children to use their right hand. There is a cultural bias, he said.
Pemo, a 28-year-old, is ambidextrous. She writes with her right hand but uses her left hand to do the rest. My teachers in school made me use my right hand, she said.
In Europe, left is associated with negativity, because of the general perception that right is right or positive or correct. Left hand shakes are a sign of disrespect.
Even in Indian culture, the left hand is associated with negativity for the reason that its used for cleaning after bowel movement. Eating food in India with the left hand can attract disgusted or curious glances.
From a Buddhist point of view, the left hand is considered pure, because it is least likely to be used in committing sins, such as slaughtering animals, according to Ugyen Dorji, the principal of astrology school in Pangrizampa, Thimphu.
It is also a popular Buddhist belief that gods reside on the left shoulder, while demons reside on the right shoulder, for the same reason that the right hand commits sin.
By Kinley Wangmo
19 August, 2010 – She is slim, tall, beautiful and an upcoming star in todays Bhutanese cinema. At just 22, Tandin Bidha, the young actress has already acted in seven movies, has another three in store, acted with veteran stars and has been nominated for best supporting actress for the national film awards.The cheerful actress from Paro has always been into acting. I was always passionate about joining the film industry although I didnt have any professional training, she said.
Her interest and acting skills were showcased in the many plays and skits she participated in as a student in school. Ive played a number of roles and in different capacities, she said.
In 2005, she was discovered by director Tshering Wangyel, who offered her a supporting role in his film Home Sweet Home. Thats how I got the opportunity to become who I am now, she said, with a smile on her face. I always want to thank my aunt Passang Om through whom I met director Tshering Wangyel.
Later, she was introduced to the Bhutanese audience as a lead actor by Talop Wangchuk in his movie Ya Ma So. She said. I can never forget this in my entire life.
I know I belong in the film industry, she said. The best part of being an actress is you become responsible for a character you play in a movie.
Vivid, young and energetic, the actress reveals she wants to be known as a versatile actress by the people, when she her days as an actress is over. Id love to be the sweet girl next door and also a hard core fighter but always with decent role, she laughs. But that doesnt mean I am choosy. As long as the script is good, I dont mind playing anyone dramatic in the movie.
While she says she is not choosy, she prefers roles where she does not have to cry a lot.
She considers herself a responsible daughter and an actress. Shed like to be able to inspire people through her roles. I can now advise people and family and they actually listen to me, she laughs.
At home, Tandin is helping her father with his business. Im looking after my families resort in Paro whenever I dont have a tight schedule, she said.
Tandin said her life has changed ever since she joined the cinema world. Being once known only as Tandin Bidha in her corner of Paro, she has a nationwide fan following now that appreciates her. Im proud of myself because now they like me and I have thousands of fans, she said. She derives her inspiration from all deserving actors and actresses in Bhutan.
The young merry actress thanks all her friends, who always encouraged her to become an actress; and who believed she was born talented. Before signing out, she stops to say that the film industry needs more intellectual and highly professional talents, so everyone must take a chance. Passionate, interest and high determination is all you should have to become an actress, she stops.
Yangchen C Dorji
19 August, 2010 – Movie-goers love to see the lush green mountains, the colourful gardens, and the beautiful riverbanks where lovers sing and dance. Beautiful places appeal to the Bhutanese audience. But movie makers are finding it increasingly difficult to find such locations, which have not been used before.Film makers are often left with no choice but to shoot at a location, which has appeared hundreds of times in different movies, sometimes as the films primary location and sometimes for just a quick transition scene.
Unlike in Hollywood or Bollyhood, Bhutanese filmmakers are finding it hard to find the perfect on location (main location) with at least one movie being produced every month. The on location is the most important part of a film, but its becoming somewhat of a hindrance.
Kuenselphodrang, centennial park, botanical park and the Thai pavilion are some of the hot places in Thimphu, but directors are questioning themselves for how long can they keep using these places.
Rinchen Namgay, an actor and producer, said if the scene demanded a rich family house, it was hard to get one that depicts luxurious or well-furnished house. Some people do hire their houses, but most refuse, said Rinchen Namgay. We have to request so many times.
According to comedian Gyem Tshering , the request extended to just shooting a house from the outside, which was also mostly refused. Facing such difficulties, most director mentioned that the Bhutanese film industry lacked a good movie studio. If we have a studio, then we can set up the location and how we want the site to look, one of the directors said.
Tshering Penjore (Paco), a writer and a director, said that, as a country, Bhutan still had places, which could be explored by moviemakers. He also mentioned that the lack of electricity and transportation in some locations were some of the factors that hindered shooting.
Moviemakers, however, said that getting permission from the government or agencies concerned to shoot at a certain location was difficult and added to the existing problem.
There are lots of bureaucracy and rules in the process of getting permission, filmmaker Tashi Gyeltshen voiced. Most of the officials are scared of permitting us to shoot a film in the park, for instance.
Feasibility in terms of finance was another factor that determined the shooting location. There are limited places to shoot, because directors and producers chose locations, which are close to the capital. Moving away from the capital increased the production cost, since the whole crew had to travel.
Punakha, Paro, Thimphu and Bumthang are the places most frequented by moviemakers.
The lack of a good studio meanwhile restricted movie makers from producing a movie other than a commercial one.
We land up producing only commercial movie, because we dont have a studio to create scene of 1980 and produce an epic film, said Tashi Gyeltshen.
By Yangchen C Rinchen
Should the government reintroduce the controversial pentavalent vaccine?
| I think pentavalent vaccine should be reintroduced in Bhutan. Government wont issue vaccines deliberately to kill the infants. Moreover, government is providing it for free.
Tandin Dorj, 35, Businessmen/b>
|The vaccine should be reintroduced to determine whether the vaccine is responsible for the death of the babies or just a misinterpretation.
Rinzin Dema, 24
|I am not aware of the issue.
Tshering Wangckuk, 19, corporate employee
19 August, 2010 – Its for the hot and the cold, and for those with a stick or full figure. Its the cardigan that goes all the way to the thighs.For hot summer days, when the sun is sure to burn your skin, a thin, cool and bright cardigan can protect your arms; and you can still be a fashionista.
For those, who dont mind the sun or have a dollop of sunscreen on, sleeveless cardigans are for you.
For those heavier towards the bottom, they can appear less heavy with these cardigans; and, at the same time, show off some curves.
This seasons cardigans have feminine cuts and can come with or without several buttons. They are thin and can be worn over a top without bulking you up.
The long summer cardigan is the ultimate this season. Its cool and carefree and goes with just about anything.
It can be worn even when the temperature shoots up, said 23-year old Sonam Choden.
Ugyen Choden, a school student, said she found the cardigans comfortable, long lasting and a comfy wear, especially on rainy days.
Cardigans are definitely a yes for those corpulent figures. Most of the girls in town say they like the cardigan and its designed in a way that saves them from feeling self-conscious while wearing skinny jeans.
Kezang Dechen found it hard to hide her thunder thighs under her short shirts. She usually wore XL shirts, which made her look like an old woman. I used to believe Id look slim with a big shirt, she said.
It was then that she noticed the cardigan and how it made her appear slim. I was so fascinated that I got three, she said. It came down till my thigh and now I dont have to worry about how I look.
The sales shops around Thimphu sell cardigans brought in from Bangladesh at reasonable prices, ranging from Nu 190 to Nu 350. The other shops in town have them too, but at a slightly higher price of about Nu 450 to Nu 700.
According to shopkeepers, most girls prefer sleeveless, buttonless cardigans.
By Yangchen C Rinzin