Sunday, 10 February 2019

A Student Whole Life

The journey we embark on from the day we are born continues till we die. And in between we have so many ups and downs. All those ups and downs teaches us so many lessons in life making us students our whole life.

And for the last 7-8 months, I have been into an utterly distasteful truth of life. I was shattered. But then I had to rise up and learn to fight for myself. I had to exhibit the strongest and bravest side of me. I won't claim myself to be a strong warrior, very different from others. I honestly believe that everyone of us have this spirit to fight the worst battle of life when the situation really demands. We just feel that we are not ready but that isn't the case. We really are!!

For me, one huge driving force in all these mess was the massive love and encouragement poured in for me to walk through this darkest tunnel. I really consider myself lucky to have so many beautiful souls around me in such times who sparked hopes for sunshine and reminded me that good things were on their way into my lives. These helped me immensely.

And yes, not forget one's own beliefs and positivities. My friend always told me that positive thoughts attracted the positive things in our life. So true for me!! And secondly as a Buddhist, prayers are one huge weapon. I had my beloved Rinpoche who provided me the most effective and correct weapon in this battle.

So way forward now, let me be a better person who can help others. Let all those terrible months' lesson be a great wisdom.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Honoring the Special Teachers

In our schools, May 2nd has always been the best day to express our gratitude and respect for our beloved teachers for it was marked as the Teachers’ Day every year. And this year, I have been very very fortunate to have been deployed for the service of our Ex-Indian teachers who was in our country for the celebration of Teachers’ Day to commemorate the golden jubilee celebration of India-Bhutan Friendship. I am so glad to have met so many teachers who had served our country as early as 1962, when Bhutan has just started something called ‘Modern Development’.
Teachers' Day 2018

Meeting and interacting with them, I remembered those times in school with my teachers especially Sir Pradeep, Mam Sreekala, Sir Basanta, Sir JC Kumar and Sir Joby Joseph. They all have left Bhutan now but what they gave us can never be forgotten. The language they speak, though we don’t understand but it sounds very familiar as we heard it so many times.

The Ex Indian teachers who were in the country were all retired ones who came in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and served our country for around 30 years or more and finally superannuated and went back to their homeland. Having stayed and served in remote places of the country, they know our local dialects and I am amazed as some of them can even recite our Buddhist prayers. They say they heard it recite by their students every day for so many years. They are deeply rooted with our culture and tradition. Some of them served as the warden and matron in the boarding schools and they have stories of how the Bhutanese students were naughty and tough to deal with but now they were all their fond memories in Bhutan.
Mr M.K.G. Kaimal (left) and Mr R Krishna (right)
Both of them came to Bhutan in 1962

The teachers who were the guest of honor were even taken for sight-seeings in Thimphu and Paro. Like Bhutanese they group together to sing our Popular song “Gawala Keybala Dugo”. One special teacher I would mention is Sir M.K.G. Kaimal who is popularly known as Lopen Kaimal in those days. He was the first batch of teachers recruited in 1962 when Bhutan started the first five year plan, where education was the only pioneer for a modern Bhutan as envisioned by the Late third King of Bhutan. Lopon Kaimal who is now 79 years old says it was not easy to come to Bhutan then. There was no motor able road and the education system was an infant. He faced so many difficulties, not only professionally but in his personal life too, as he had to get out of his comfort zone and get into the lives of Bhutanese who were then very different. But his dedication to serve this small Himalayan Kingdom in shaping its future made him learn the local languages, know his students and their parents and most importantly give them education so that our country could have our own standing man power to take Bhutan into the modern development. He recalls our Bhutanese people calling him, “Jaga na tang tang (Black Indian)” but he fired back and told them proudly, “Nga jaga men. Drukpa een (I am not Indian. I am a Bhutanese)”. Perhaps it is not the citizenship on paper that gives a nationality of an individual. It is the dedication and determination to serve and give the best to a country that makes you a citizen of a country. Of course he is originally from India with Indian gene and heritage but what made him Bhutanese was nothing else than giving all of his working years in serving our country and our people. He was mistaken for a Bhutanese by many as he went to school wearing our national dress (gho) and spoke our own language. Now, isn’t this incredible? On the last night dinner, he narrated, “I had to walk twelve days on foot from Indian border to reach my posting of school in Bumthang. Though born in India, we have spent our whole life (33 years) in Bhutan. We have shared our happiness and shed our sorrows with the innocent, kind and generous people of this country. You may ask how come you came here and served this country for so long where there were not even roads; leeches, torrents and animals challenging anywhere you traveled in the country and scarcity of food (shops were very rare). It was not because of the money we were paid or any promises that made us come back after our vacation but purely because we were deeply attracted by the innocence and purity of the heart and pristine beauty of the country. Initially we went back and thought not to return because of the hardships but once we were in India, we got homesick and there was no other way than to come to Bhutan and continue our struggles and we all can see the result now. This nation’s beauty and people’s innocence kept calling us back. After the retirement in 1995, we had wished so many times to come to Bhutan but we couldn’t. We are very glad that the government of Bhutan remembered our contribution and invited us here for the celebration.”
Mr. and Mrs. Simon with Mr. and Mrs. Bhutia
PC: Navaneethan Sir

All the teachers expressed their unlimited joy and contentment. They said they cannot describe how they feel as they saw their students doing so good and extremely well by serving the country in various posts with such dedication and determination. “As a teacher, seeing your student doing so well is the best reward ever”, said Mr. Shashi Kumar, one of the ex-Indian teacher. “After my retirement from Bhutan, I worked in Maldives and Africa as a teacher and I must say that there is no student-teacher relation like the one we find here.”
Our guest of honors at the Kyichu Lhakhang

We have our ministers and Dashos paying respect to the beloved teachers and this just shows how much of contribution they have made for our country. During the week-long stay in Bhutan, their schedules were completely packed as they had to attend all the official programs and on top of that so many of their ex-students were rushing to meet them. They were taken out for lunches and dinners by their students. After the May 2nd celebration which was covered LIVE by the BBS and social media flooded with the news of the return of their teachers in the country, lot more other students came forward and paid their respects for making the difference with such noble profession in their lives. And that moment of reunion with their students can never be put into words. It was what made most of them profoundly happy and proud.
Their Majesties with the teachers

Not to forget the biggest happening in the midst of all these celebrations, nothing could be compared to the moment when His Majesty and the Gyaltshuen walked into the celebration surprisingly at Changlimithang on May 2nd. Their Majesties interacted with all the teachers who were the guest of honor that day. They were hugely touched as it was a dream-come-true. One of the teachers said, “I never imagined in my wildest dreams also that I would meet the most humble King of the world. This is truly the land of Gross National Happiness. Under such a king, Bhutan has always seen happiness and will be happy forever.”

The retired teachers served in various parts of the country and shared their wisdom. They challenged everything and made things possible for their students. Being miles and miles away from their own family, they found a new family in the students (who some of them describes as their children). Years after years, Bhutan became their second home and leaving Bhutan seemed really painful. It was already thirty or thirty five years when they realized it was time for them to retire and return. Now back in their homeland, they miss the mountains, their ever-ready-to-learn Bhutanese students and the kind and generous people of Bhutan.