Sunday, 24 June 2012

As the Historic Wangdue Dzong Turns into Ashes.

My internet was slow. I tried to open the facebook and kuenselonline simultaneously at around 8:00 pm but facebook took longer time than usual to open. The kuenselonline kept loading and then came a heading, Wangduephodrang dzong fire!!!. I coulnot believe at first and thought it might contain a story of past incidence but when the page was fully loaded, it was appeared to me like a worst nightmare but it was fact. The historic dzong that peacefully perch on the hill resembling a sleeping elephant was engulfed by fire and was razed to ground as the day ended. It was the most tragic incident in the recent history of Bhutan, which caused the loss of a precious jewel that had been passed down to generations for the last 37o+ years.

I captured this image last year in Sept. 
Every Bhutanese know the history that Wangdue Phodrang dzong was founded in 1638 by the Zhabdrung and was Bhutan's second capital until Trongsa was founded in1644 with Wangdue Dzongpon as the head.  Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel met a young boy named Wangdi playing in the sand by the Punak Chhu and named the new dzong Wangdi Phodrang (Wangdi's Palace) which was later changed to Wangdue. The dzong is a dramatic example of Bhutanese architecture and it houses the monastic body and administrative offices of the district until the unfortunate fire incident reduced to ashes on this ill-fated day of 24.06.2012.
This is what happened today. What will we have tomorrow???

I was emotionally wrecked. My mind remained adle for long and body numb before the reminiscence of days I visited the dzong overwhelmed me. Wangdue being my district, I felt that we the people of Wangdue are really unfortunate though the loss is unbearable for the entire nation. I have been to the various temples within the dzong during my school days in Bajothang and I could clearly remember how I use to watch the historic Wangdue Tsechu in the courtyard of the magnificent dzong.  

This natural forces really creates a havoc. Some ten years ago, I witnessed three buildings being razed to ground near the Punathsangchu bridge. Last year in February, fire rumbled down the administrative block of Bajothang school, where I completed my schoolings. And today, it took away the entire dzong leaving Wangdue void and empty.

I made a call to home only to discover that they were deeply saddened. “I always offer butter lamps to pray for the good. What shall we do.” My sister was helpless. My brother who have studied near the dzong since his fourth grade till he passed class 12 long ago was equally in deep agony. The tweets and facebook status shows the sentiments of fellow Bhutanese but we are all helpless. The only hope is that let pray not such an incident happen in the future.

However I am deeply touched by the concern shown by His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Fourth Drukgyalpo. I came to learn that even before BBS could break the  news for the nation their Majesties has reached the scene to encourage the people for fighting the fire and of course consoling when it they failed.

The only good news was that the Precious nangtens are being saved.

Lets hope that the same masterpiece will soon replace the remains of the priceless asset which we lost today. There is a need for the present generation to take extra steps in preserving other such monuments.  

"As the elements of nature razed to ground my #WangdueDzong, My heart ached an unbearable pain and eyes shed voluminous tears. M so silent." - My only tweet for the day and incident. 

God Bless Bhutan.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Trip to Mussoorie- A Special BirthDay Treat.

Whenever I return home for the vacations from the college in India, I feel a great sense of joy once I pass by NJP and start seeing the lush forest and rolling hills to the north. The much-travelled endless Indian plains finally comes to an end as I reach the Phuntsholing gate. The next journey as the bus ascend uphill to enter the core of Bhutan not only relieves me of the stress I had in the college but also the fact that my home, the embodiment of peace is one step closer, the journey though in times is nauseating, it however remains the most cherished one. Added more the joy is by the fresh cold air that is devoid in the cities and the enthralling beauties of the mosaic of forest types that keeps changing as the elevation rises.

I am almost saturated by the same mundane for the last three and half years. I never changed my room, lectures seemed monotonous, but the final semester of my four year course of B.Sc. Forestry gave me an opportunity to visit Dehradun where all the forest based research activities are being carried out in India. Set up the Britishers in 1800’s the buildings are still at their best without much change in architectural designs and it was indeed a good experience to finally see the real forestry practices which otherwise was mostly learnt theoretically in the college.
image from google: could not capture a good photo of my own.

Ranchi has been unbearably hot without rain for overtwo months I felt it would be a good opportunity to relish some favourable weather in an exotic location, but my assumption tuned out to be wrong, as Dehradun is equally hot as Ranchi. However, our trip to Mussoorie Hill Station on 21/06/2012 was an amazing experience.

Located at an elevation of over 6000 feet, Mussoorie,popularly known as the Queen of Hills, is one of the most famous hill stations in India for both foreign tourists and Indians. The road after leaving the plains trespasses through the woods and ascends upward with numerous twists and turns, just like the Bhutanese roads. Owing to its excellent condition, I hardly felt any bump despite the vehicle travelling very fast. The route was very busy with thousand of cars moving up and down, as it is vacation season for the Indians. Though the hills are deeply encroached, natural forests are also found in abundance, which is why the air is cool and refreshing.
our own Dochula: source linked.

Reaching Mussoorie, which is perched on the top of the hill, I am reminded of our own Dochula pass. The difference is that Mussoorie tuned out to be inhabited and densely populated and often polluted by thousands of cars coming and leaving every day during the peak seasons but our Dochula is a pass which is still in its pristine state exhibiting the spiritual identity of nation. There is a stretch of shops, which sell varieties of items and numerous hotels and restaurants to cater our needs. The hill gives us a spectacular bird eye view of the Dehradun plains on one side and to the others we can see the Himalayan mountains and hills.

Besides there are many other sites to visit nearby like Kempty fall which reminded me of the landslides in Bhutan which block the roads with queue of vehicles though its due to narrow road and heavy traffic in this case. Others include the artificial Mussoorie lake, Camels back road, Municipal Garden, Gun Hills etc. As we returned back, the moment yet took me back to my village when I saw the sun about to roll behind the hills to the west. Generally, sun sinks in the plains in India.

People describe it as a natural paradise to sleep sound and peacefully and it is one indeed but its sustainability is a great threat due to reckless throwing of garbage, the ever increasing number of visitors and threats of decreasing forest coverage. Sadly, I couldnot locate a single Cedrus deodara tree which I longed to see for long as it is confined only in the western Himalayas. Yet, with nostalgic reminiscence and euphoric aches in heart, it was a pleasant birthday treat for me.  Yet I am little worried for the coming days. HOPE!!!!


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Summers Heat and Day Excursions, Now the End.

Today we had a longest day excursion covering more than 200 kms to and fro to the natural forest in the state. Jharkhand is known for its rich forest and natural resources if not for its unstable political scenario which saw as many as 8 chief minister within first ten years of its creation in 2000. Saranda forest is one of the famous subtropical sal (Shorea robusta) forests in Asia due to the profuse regeneration, but unfortunately most of forests of the northern states of India are infested by naxalite which pose a great threat to the commuters/government official/tourists etc and Saranda forest too has fallen prey to the maoists. I came to learn from the professors and seniors that in the past, they use to carryout hand on training and campings in the core of saranda sal forest but that was some 30 years ago, after all this college which I am studying is one of the oldest forestry college in the entire south Asia.

This entire semester, we had been visiting many forest-based institute and other forest areas to put into practice the theory we have learnt for the last three years. Although the activities and visits were in times exciting and sometimes boring, the intense heat has ruined our interest most of the time. For the first time in four years, I experienced unbearable heat in this place called Ranchi, which was considered as summer capital in the past. There has not been a single drop of rain for the last two months and mercury has risen above 40 degree Celsius. The ponds have dried, and the ground remained as barren as winter, and I have heard that in the nearby places, people have even evacuated their flats owing to scarcity of water.

However today’s excursion somehow gave me a sense of joy as this is going to be the last local excursion for us. The journey was too long and heat waves were really torturing but seeing the framers toiling in their dry field, rishaw paddlers striving so hard for earning their breeds and tribal peoples slogging in the intense heat, I reassuringly comforted myself in bearing the last heats. Of all the moments, the moment, under the shade of Eucalyptus was more nostalgic and mesmerizing.

The time has changed a lot since the starting of our semester in March. During those days, the forests were dry and brown with their leaves shed. Slowly they turned greener and later we could see beautiful pinnacles in the florescence of sal trees. Added to the greenery were the colours of Jacaranda and other wild flowers. Now the sal trees are in full ripe bearing their spectacularly winged seeds in abundance. The purples of Jacaranda has given its way to the saffrons of Delonix and Cassia.

Excitedly awaited is the exotic tour to the Doon Valley for the next couple of weeks starting 16th this month :) . By then let me hope that the monsoon has come and given a fresh look to this arid environs.

How have been your days this summer? Has monsoon reached your places or is it as hot as I described here? 

Friday, 8 June 2012

When Loss is Gain.

Without much gain for so long, rather life filled with monotonous events often causing despair and resentments, I wish some good fortunes in the days to come, so that I can proudly claim that when loss is gain, it is not loss.

Written by his Excellency the Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Pavan Kumar Varma, “When Loss is Gain” is his first work of fiction, apart from the many famous book he has written. The story is set in contemporary India and Bhutan, thus linking the bond of Indo-Bhutan Friendship.
Author with the Book.

For Anand, who works as a lawyer for his best friend Advaita’s law firm in Delhi, the loss that he incurred in the beginning turns out to be a huge gain at the end. His work environment takes such a twist that his friend Advaita with whom he worked and backed like an equal shareholder tries to ignore his hard work and dedication, which causes Anand descent into drinks. This leads to alienation from his wife Tanu with whom he could not raise a child. His state of mind is further disturbed and bereaved when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and that he can live only few more months. As he lost his health, fate gave him such a quirk that his wife too leaves him for Advaita, thus not only losing his wife but also his highly respected job, and very soon his battle to live.

Anand is now passing through a complicated phase of his life with a death sentence ahead him. Without anyone at his beck and call, the pain of loneliness was more excruciating that his disease. Luckily, his doctor sent a copy of his biopsy for further examination and it was found that the test for cancer was negative, and his doctor declared that Anand is not going to die and can lead normal life and this was his resurrection from the intermediate state he passed through.
Where divinity leads our way.

With the new life, Anand didn’t want to get into the old business so he rejects all the offers before proceeding to Wangsisina in Bhutan for a recreational trip where he meets Chimi, who later became his close friend. While in Bhutan, Anand was mesmerized by the serene of flowing river, the laughing cliffs, the peaceful environment and most importantly the jovial dwellers. It was during his stay in Wangsisina that he met Tara, an Indian woman who preferred to discover solace by becoming a nun after she experienced almost a same fate (with regard to relationship) as Anand.

It is intriguing to discover how the novel ends after dilemmatic incidences that both Anand and Tara undergoes in a bitter-sweet romance, before the two could finally leave Bhutan and settle in India to raise a family, thus completing the circle with a ultimate gain.

The book is richly nourished with spiritualism and culture and carries a deep message of life and death, loss and gain, happiness and fulfilment, sorrow and joy, and also animates many Hindu philosophy together with a note from the preaching of Drukpa Kuenley, the divine madman. 


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Green Economy: Does it Include You?

The celebration of World Environment Day 2012 marks its 40th anniversary since its first inception in 1972 by United Nations General Assembly. Year after year, decade after, a relentless effort have been put by the UNEP to stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. The day unites the much dispersed populace of the world and brings together for a similar understanding, the conflicting developmental dissent for a common environmental cause.

Despite these efforts/endeavours, world is faced with serious ailments to its pristine environment which ultimately leads to the tragedy of commons when drought hit the fields, floods sweep the homes, poverty drains the communities and famine cripples the nations. The major economic crisis for the nations and communal sufferings are but result of adopting weak developmental paradigm that involves the use of natural resources beyond its threshold limits. And when we realize the importance of healthy environment, it is like the same mundane procedure where man deteriorates his health to make money, and uses the money to restore the health back.

So far 39 slogans have been adopted by the UNEP for this important day, so considering the necessity of economic development besides the conservation of environment, the theme this year is “Green Economy:Does it Include You?” In its simplest form, UNEP defines a Green Economy as 'one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.'  After all, as Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed” so equitable sharing of the limited resources for our needs includes us to be part of the Green Economy.

One of the best ways of adopting green economy is to reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Today, carbon emission is posing a great threat to the world climate. Like the man trapped in the glass enclosure where temperature is high and moisture is low, where fresh air is minimal but the carbon dioxide exhaled expands, mother earth is passing through a critical stage due to global warming. As the trees get chopped for various reasons, the level of CO2 increases, which is again enhanced by the burning of fossil fuels, automobile exhausts, industrial gases and change in farming practices and land use patterns. Addition to it the other greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide, methane, water vapour, CFCs and depletion of ozone absorb the infrared radiations thus increasing the global temperature hampering the two constituents of weather, temperature and rainfall, the most.

A great deal of effort is being put by government of Bhutan in adopting a greener economy. Constitution mandating 60% forest coverage for all time to come to committing to remain carbon neutral all the time during COP 15 meet at Copenhagen; following a Gross National Happiness paradigm for development through sustainability to phasing out Ozone depleting substances.  Besides our schools in the country are setting a good example by adopting activities like plastic ban in the school compound and replacing ball pens with fountain pen/inkpens, which are a greener move. The recent declaration of Tuesdays as Pedestrian Day encourages our city dwellers to develop the habit of walking which have many advantages like burning some calories, saving fuel expenses, enjoying the serene environment and in a greater extent, reducing carbon footprints thus going green. So many become a part of going green.

However, thousands of forest areas are also being burnt down every year, which not only threatens the lives of many wild animals, and biodiversity but also pose a deleterious impact to one’s own life. So, the big question of whether we are included in Green Economy needs a critical contemplation before we answer it yes.

Earth has been formed four and half billion years ago, and it has been dwelt by millions of creature one after another but none of the bygone/extinct creatures has caused a devastating impact on the nature of mother earth. Why on hell the so called human beings at this age are so greedy to leave nothing for the future dwellers to come.



Monday, 4 June 2012

Happy Birth Day, Mewang Gyaltsuen.

A Haiku..., 

From heavenly realm
Through the paths of rainbows
Goddess descended.

In her modest form
Embodies sacred wisdoms
Of great simplicity.

As kings companion
As Himalayan jewel
You are radiance.

For Wangchuck’s lineage
For subjects prosperity
You shouldered the crown.

For your mental peace,
Sound health and lengthy life 
We citizens pray.

Wishing Her Majesty, Gyaltsun Azhi Jetsun Pema a very

Happy Birthday
on this auspicious occasion.

May the triple Gems bless and assist Her Majesty in helping His Majesty the King in guiding the Nation to achieve eternal Peace and Happiness.