Articles by: Nopkin
I am on Facebook and suddenly a chatbox pops up “Hi Sangay”. I respond and we exchange pleasantries and I feel glad that she is doing good. We chat for some time, updating each other what we have been up to during these “so many years” since we last came across each other…
But the queer thing is, I am not sure who she is exactly because she shares the same name to another friend on my list. On her profile picture, all I can see is a cute little baby picture, a boy I think. When I click on her profile, I am greeted by the same baby, but bigger. On the cover photo, he looks cuter!
“You cute little thing, who is your mommy?”
I wouldn’t simply ask her who exactly she is because that would sound odd. So I do a bit of exploring on her profile page… clicking here and there trying to find one photo of her. I can click on her “About” page and make out who she is, but the first tempting thing is obviously to click on her “Photos” and instantly see the face.
But lo! there is not a single photo of her. All I see is the photos of her baby in different positions and angles, of different occasions and in different expressions, and believe me not a single photo of her!
Well, my dear Friends, if your profile looks same it tells a lot of things; that you are a loving parent and love your children very much; that your world simply revolves around them; that you exist simply for them… which is much appreciated and that’s how every parent should be.
But that wouldn’t mean that you have completely vanished and all you are now is what your baby is. So come on friends, put “your” photo on the profile picture at least. That is your identity!
His Holiness Lam Namkhai Ningpo is in Perth, Western Australia from 16-24 Jan 2013. Among other programs, the Rimpoche will offer Wang, Luung and Chabdro to the Bhutanese community.
I was reading a news article in Kuensel online. I had to read this particular sentence at least three times to get the meaning:
In 1987, His Majesty’s command, conveyed through his secretary, ACC officials, during the rebuttal at the Mongar court, said, reemphasised the strict order to restrain allotment of commercial plots, until the government drew up a policy and procedure, and until they were put in place.
It made made me remember a short story my Dzongkha Lopen narrated to us in primary school.
Once upon a time, a Bhutanese man journeyed to India to trade his goods with salt. Carrying his goods were five of his finest yaks. On the way, one of the yaks which had white tail, died.
When he reached India, he missed his family and began to imagine how they would be getting worried about him. So to make them not to worry, he sent a letter through someone who was going back to Bhutan.
In the letter he wrote:
Nga na tsha mey, yak nga kar shisong
Translation: I am ill. No salt. All five yaks died.
When the family read the letter, instead of giving them peace of mind, they became very worried. The yaks were only their livelihood and on hearing that they have all died, the whole family cried thinking that they had no other means to survive. But most of all, they imagined that if their father did not survive the illness they had no one to earn their bread. In short, the family was put through lots of misery after reading the fateful letter.
But after few months, the man returned home all well and healthy, his four yaks carrying loads of salt.
What he had actually written in letter was:
Nga nat-sha mey, yak nga-kar shisong
Translation: I am all fine. Yak with white tail died.
Using correct spacing between the words was all that mattered
Hello all, hope all of you are well and healthy by the grace of Almighty God.
Some of you have looked for me here at Nopkin.com. One of you even emailed me concerning my whereabouts. Thank you for all your love. Let me inform you that for the last few months or so, I was into a hiding in a bunker located beneath the ground. You know why? The thing about the world ending by Dec 21, 2012 really got me. I completely believed it and I prepared myself to survive the Doomsday in the bunker and went into hiding on Dec 20, 2012.
My bunker was a dingy little room but big enough to house myself plus my food stock to last at least five years. I had stocked ten quintals of rice, five quintals of potato, 20 kilos of onions, ten kilos of salt, 100 cases of beer and some other essentials. I had also few books to read (one of the books was a potato recipe, to cook myself different potato dishes), a computer and lots of movies to watch. With this, I was prepared to survive in the bunker for five years come what may.
When the clock struck Dec 21, I woke up and said prayers for the whole morning until breakfast time. Then I had breakfast which was boiled potato with some salt and chili pickle. After breakfast, I again said prayers for all the sentient beings. Then I watched a few documentaries about 2012. In between I had fallen sleep and I dreamt about home.
I was woken up by a big crash of noise of something falling off and crashing on the floor. There went my only glass I had brought to drink beer! I would have to drink my beer with bottle, I thought to myself.
I was then convinced that that was the moment of a blazing meteoroid crashing onto the earth and the earth falling into pieces. But I was relieved that my bunker was strong enough to protect me and nothing happened to me. Pew, the crash could shake off only a glass of the shelf, I thought to myself.
Best of all, I survived!
I continued living in the bunker for few more days. I watched movies and read a lot of books. One of the books I read with great enthusiasm was the potato recipe. For the few days I lived in the bunker, I managed to follow the first recipe to cook potato curry. I thoroughly enjoyed my newfound skill and cooked myself potato curry at every meal until even my fart started to smell potato curry. Then I turned page 2 and tried a different recipe, which was Alu-Dam.
On the evening of Dec 24, I could not control my curiosity to peep outside and see what had become of my mother earth. It was difficult to make up my mind because I didn’t know what to expect. My heart started thumping. Finally I made up my mind and I slowly stooped through the tunnel.
When I reached the last door, I started hearing something like people singing. I began to imagine that aliens had completely taken over the earth and they were rejoicing. The song sound very familiar though and when I listened very carefully, I heard the faint “Jingle bells, jingle bells…” I became more curious and slowly took my eyes towards a small hole on the door. At first it was difficult to see anything. But the pupils in my eyes slowly began to dilate and I could to see lights of different colors, and of varying sizes. Many of them were bright, and few were twinkling.
I kicked the door as hard as I could and it broke open. Then I rushed outside and jumped with joy yelled on top of my lungs, WE SURVIVED!
So my fellow Nopkins and Nopkinmos, and my fellow Bhutanese in general, let us always be positive. No matter what miseries or sorrows we have to go through at the moment, we will get through at the end. Come to think of it… we have survived Fire, Storm, Earthquake, Bird flu, Swine flu, Y2K and even the 2012 Doomsday.
We will definitely survive Rupee Crunch!
May God bless us all!
A man was having a throat problem and could not speak properly, he could only whisper. It was Sunday and the hospital was closed. So he went to doctor’s house to ask for advice.
He knocked on the door, and the doctor’s wife opened it. Since he could not speak, he whispered to her, “Is doctor in?”
The wife pondered for a while and whispered back, “No… come in!”
I have just imported all user data from the old site the new one! That means you can login to the new website using your username and password from the old website, no need to register again! Your profile info in the new website shows only the basic information though, like username and name and you would probably need to update the information like about you, date of birth, contact info, etc which you can do on the “settings” section.
Important thing, your password might have probably changed during the process of transferring the data. So in order to retrieve the password, click here: Password Reset Link, and enter wither your username, or the email that you used while registering to the old nopkin.com. The new password reset link should be emailed to you immediately.
Next thing on my to-do list is of course import all the contents like articles, jokes and their comments. Yes I know the new nopkin.com, without all those contents that we all have contributed over the years, looks so hollow. I definitely share some of your feelings on how we have already started missing the old nopkin.com that we have become so familiar with. For one I have been feeling all khali-khali looking at the new nopkin.com without those wonderful articles and jokes. It is almost like my other half is gone missing so suddenly, no offence to my wife of course in saying this
In the meantime, please login to the new nopkin.com using your same username and password, and update your profiles. As you can see, there are more things you can do on your profile, like add more than one pictures, etc., and of course please do post your articles.
Will keep you posted on the progress.
Hello everyone, welcome (again) to Nopkin.com!
I am glad to say that Nopkin.com, as a simple website, has survived this long by the grace of all your love, and has given us a platform to share our thoughts, laughter, fun, opinions, love and sometimes even anger. I humbly take the credit as the mere creator of this website but otherwise it’s you all who have kept the site alive all these years with your wonderful contributions in different forms.
But now you are all familiar with the greenish and not so aesthetically pleasant Nopkin.com that has always been, with its other limitations like lack of adequate user-friendliness. I had always wanted to give it a facelift, but one way or the other I always proved myself time and again that I am really nopkin. But I am glad to have finally done it!
So what you are seeing now is the new face of Nopkin.com! I know it is not a great design, but I have always believed in simplicity when it comes to website interfaces and that content is the king.
In the meantime, I will be bringing all the contents (articles, jokes, comments, user details) from the old website and put them here!
So, I welcome you all one again to the new Nopkin.com and wish you happy reading and writing!
Today I met someone. His name is Jay Long.
Years ago, I remember reading a news in Kuensel which said that office buildings with modern facilities will be constructed around Tashichhodzong to house all the 10 ministries. As per the plan, the area occupied by office cottages around the Dzong, the army camp towards the north and even some areas below Zelukha school were allocated for the big construction project.
The idea was quite noble so to say. I felt great to read the news. I thought that it would create a convenient working environment and I imagined all the ministries' staff working within the same vicinity which would lead to good coordination.
Now after five years everything has remained same. What happened to the noble plan?
Well, I have no reason whatsoever to lament on it for it is a forgotten story anyway. But every working day when I commute to office, something always reminds me of it.
My office is located in one of the cottages near the Dzong. For I am yet to buy a car (first I have got to build a garage then buy a car… lol), I walk from home to office and back everyday. I stay in Zelukha and walking is no big deal; it only takes 10 minutes to reach office and 15 minutes while going back.
My walking trail begins from Zelukha along the shortcut through the school to reach the highway above the Dzong, and there is another shortcut through the army camp to finally reach my office. It is when I reach just above the Dzong that I am reminded about the forsaken project.
The area is a vast stretch of land which looks like a wasteland where there was once some kind of old civilization. There are numerous stretches of excavated grounds, the edges of which are twice as tall as my height. My trail passes through these grounds and edges. But there is a detour to avoid this trouble of crossing the tall edges and I always take the detour.
By the look of it, the construction project was already initiated and much effort had gone into excavating the ground. I have no idea why the project was shelved, not that I care. But it always pricks me… with millions of ngultrum at stake, why wasn't the plan made full-proof before plunging into implementation by starting the excavation work? If it was shelved midway due to “lack of resources” (the reason which seem to on tip-of-the-finger always), what a waste of already lacking resources this project was!
There was a light snowfall in Thimphu. It started from yesterday night. When I woke up in the morning, the grounds were still white, but it has started to melt. I had a quick run-around for some hazy shots.
I landed at Paro airport on February 1, 2011. Since then I have been busy getting myself settled, or resettled I should say. My homecoming began with a positive note with the coincidence of Bhutanese new year no sooner than I landed. I had a quick Losar at Paro with a relative of mine and journeyed to the homely haven of Thimphu.
In Thimphu, I have been busy walking hither and thither, going to different offices to reinstall myself to the system and society; getting a SIM card, activating my ATM, visiting and calling up friends and families, joining office…
Just yesterday evening I was at one of my friends place. No sooner entered, he asked me whether I “still” drink beer. I said nothing has changed in me but in fact everything is “same same”, as a Thailander would say. That was a funny thing to ask on his part, as if I was supposed to have changed something in me. On the contrary, I observed some noticeable changes in some of my friends who joined me for the evening. For example, two heavy-weight drinkers have cut down the liquid while the then light-weight drinker has started body building and liquid consumption at the same time.
I have missed walking down the Thimphu streets and I am giving my full energy in doing so these days. And in the process I have discovered how disorderly and pedestrian-unfriendly the sidewalks are; you walk so majestically along a sidewalk and the very next moment, it ends very abruptly and you are lost where to walk next, you try to cross a zebra-crossing, a car honks at you and you have to give way to it, you have to constantly look down to where you place you step lest you plunge into a drain… If I were appointed Thimphu Thrompon (pew!), I would have two priorities on my agenda; give a nice re-do of sidewalks at least on the main Thimphu street, and construct a good public toilet.
Pa-tsha, my favorite veg
I have also missed vegetable shopping. More so because I missed some of my favorite vegetables like Pa-tsha and Damru (I call them vegetable because they are found in vegetable market… lol). It was a good feeling to walk around the Thimphu vegetable market last Sunday and hunting Pa-tsha and Damru, forgiving the skyrocket prices.
And with this, I am now fully resettled (I am beginning to lose count of the number of times I have had to resettle) and happy to be back to where I belong.
Bangkok is one place that can give you an environment to weave so many stories. From its name itself people play with phonetics to come up with amusing connotations. And another thing Bangkok is famous for is the night life. I am sure any average person who visits Bangkok will have his share of visiting the infamous and nightly places like Patpong.
But if you keep these notorious notions aside, Bangkok truly is an amazing place. I had an opportunity to stay there for few days on transit to home. There are many places to visit like the multistoried shopping complexes like MBK and Siam Centre, the hustling wholesale market of Bobae and colorful China town, to name a few. I am sure there are thousand other places that are worth a visit; a taxi driver was showing us a map designed for tourists and he was “lecommending” many places that we should visit. Even the names of the places sounded exciting.
After flying in from far flung places, being in Bangkok definitely makes you feel more at home because, for one, you are closer to home in terms of distance. But to an average Bhutanese, the closeness is more than this. For one, Bhutan is no more an alien place to the people of Bangkok. In fact, instead frowning and asking, “where is Bhutan?” which usually happens when we travel out of the country, their face lights up when we mention our country. So it feels good to know that they know where we are from and the very next moment, there is a development of good connection. “I love your king Jime,” they say and we feel glad to hear that. In fact our king is so popular in Bangkok that it is not uncommon to see his photos in some places. For example, a photo of our king proudly adorns the wall of Bangkok Apartment hotel front office. The hotel is famous as a haven for Bhutanese travelers. When we present our passports for registration, the counter lady gives a warm smile and exclaims, “Ah Bhutan!” and pointing to our kings photo, she goes on to say, “Your king is very young and handsome…”
And then if you are hustling in the shopping complex like MBK, you have one out of ten chances to bump into a fellow Bhutanese. We were once walking around the glitzy shops when we heard a familiar tone of someone speaking Dzongkha. We turned around to see a family of Bhutanese walking just behind us.
Next, you come across a Dzongkha script written on the wall of one mobile phone shop. I went to the shop and casually commented that her shop looked beautiful with all those scripts written in different languages. I pointed to the one written in Dzongkha and said I could read it. “Bhutan!” she exclaimed and I could see that her hospitality knew no heights, even after knowing that I wasn’t there for any buy.
Next I was in a shoe shops. While my wife was almost berserk grabbing every shoe and trying it on her foot (well, no more elaboration here because it would need another chapter to talk on women and shopping), I was just staring at and admiring a shoe with no intention of buying when a salesman came along and commented, “Lekshom duh la…” His Dzongkha accent was even better than mine!
Talking about accent, Thai people have one of the most peculiar tongues in the world. When they talk English, they talk as if they are singing! In a way it is very soothing when they talk. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that they talk correct English. Even our not-so-good English becomes worse after communicating with them for sometimes.
When it comes to written English, there are boards that read very funny. For example, I came across this particular cautionary message written in one antique shop which read, “Please handle with care because they are fragile. If someone breaks it, you will be charged.” I thought I would better run out of the shop lest I be fined if someone breaks any of those expensive antiques.
But in most cases, we could communicate well, be it with salesperson, taxi driver or even a common man walking in the streets. At the end of the day, the purpose of the language it is how well the message is communicated to the other person, no matter whether the language was broken or straight.
Of course there are few salespersons who speak good English. I came across this one lady at one garment shop who could speak almost perfect English. Incidentally, her right eye was heavily bandaged and as she spoke, she twitched her face with pain. But without talking, we could do no business and I could see that she was going through so much pain. What happened to you eyes, I asked her casually. She answered, “My eye is broken…” and then I realized that in Bangkok, people not only have broken English, but also broken eyes.
There is an interesting news headline in BBS website. It says:
The condom man wins ABU prize.
Hello everyone out there, I am extremely sorry there was a problem with Nopkin.com (for the last one week or so, users were not able to login and post articles/comments). Something went wrong somewhere and it took sometime for me to figure out. Sigh!! it is resolved now.
Now everything is OK. No worries!! So welcome back and rock the site again.
In the meantime, I learned a new joke. Wanted to post in the “humour” section but I shall post here as a welcome back note to y'all:
“If your boss says nothing is impossible, tell him to wear condom after sex.” HAHAHAHAHAH!
Tata bye bye!!
Bhutanese ladies demonstrate how those hats and masks are worn
29 August, 2010. When we say we are from Bhutan, the person whom you are talking to either gives you a blank expression or brightens up his/her face. Blank expression because s/he doesn’t know anything about Bhutan, most probably s/he hasn’t even heard the name which transpires to an inevitable question, “Where is Bhutan?” Then we have to begin with “Bhutan is a Himalayan kingdom located between India and China…. bla bla bla…” On the other hand, if the person knows Bhutan, s/he knows very well and in fact would already be a Bhutan aficionado. And between these two cases, it is difficult to come across anyone that comes in between.
Simon Teoh has never been to Bhutan but he knows about Bhutan very well and in fact he is doing his Phd on GNH and tourism. Any average Bhutanese will be amazed and humbled by his knowledge about Bhutan. He says, we need to showcase our rich culture and it was taken positively by the Bhutanese community. So with his initiative, this Sunday will remain as one of the most memorable days of most Bhutanese in Perth, or perhaps as the only day on which we got the opportunity to wear our national dress and to do a Bhutanese dance. Our sincere gratitude to him for initiating and coordinating everything to pulling of a successful and fun Sunday that was. We wish him mountains of luck and extend our goodwill.
The occasion was Bhutanese cultural event by Bhutanese community in Perth, Australia at Murdoch University.
Another fan of Bhutan is Michelle Hogan. She was dressed in Kira and as she walked gracefully, I could see her being showered with compliments “you look beautiful!” By the way, she is a supporter of RENEW program and has been to Bhutan numerous times. She has a website called My Secret Bhutan. An amazing thing about her is she has a great collection of Bhutanese artifacts and souvenirs. There is pair of Tsholam, a dramnyen, dapa, Brokpa and Layap hats, handicrafts, wooden artifacts, a prayer book, wooden cup, bangchung, lemon grass spray, books and pamphlets on Bhutan… This collection of hers was a big hit among the people and they were found touching and tossing the items for hours.
Michelle’s Bhutanese artifacts collection was a big hit!
Michelle and Simon
Mike Wood is the owner of Peregrine Adventures and sends tourists from Australia to Bhutan. He has so many things to talk about Bhutan as a tourist destination and shows a great collection of photographs.
A Bhutanese representative welcomes the guests. He begins his welcome note with a homely “Welcome to Bhutan”.
We had prepared two Bhutanese dances. The first one was a dance to a boedra song with music from background. It was supposed to be our maiden dance. But it was the second dance that connected with the audience. It was a dance to a popular song “Zambuling lu gang yang yoe..” which we sang ourselves and danced. May be this is an indication that dancing to music from background, especially to rigsar songs, with monotonous tempo and steps will never even come closer to the charm and beauty of our true traditional way of singing and dancing together.
Another big highlight of the day was Bhutanese food. Every Bhutanese household brought at least one food item and was the result was an array of delicious dishes laid on the table. At the end of the day, nothing was left except the empty pots!
Screening of the movie “Travelers and Magicians”
As it can be seen, the show was not run to a packed hall. But my all standards it was a decent crowd. The audience included lectures and professors, work colleagues, classmates, friends… But the important thing is, the show was a big hit and people loved everything that was Bhutanese. I happened to eavesdrop into a questionnaire which was distributed to the audience as part of Simon’s study and one particular question was, “Describe Bhutan in three words”. One respondent had written “Tranquil, happy, friendly” and had added that s/he would most likely visit Bhutan.
Some more photos of the day:
Preparing the hall
Whose shoe shines more…
What can I say… lol.
We always believe that the young citizens especially those below 18 years old are a gullible and vulnerable lot and the law should protect them from the harms of adults' waywardness of life. It is not uncommon to see gatekeepers checking the proof of adulthood to let people in to the areas meant only for adults. But how would it feel if someone says you are below 18 simply because you cannot prove it by means of a mere ID when the signs of adulthood are visible all over you? Unless you are suffering from Progeria, you feel insulted and it gives all the more zeal to push in pass the gatekeepers…
There is this friend of mine who, by the way, is a lecturer at Sherubtse. Needless to say, he is way over 18. It so happened that during one Saturday night out, he was filtered at the gate of a casino hall while all of us were freely let in. I don't know how that happened. May be he looked young that night. Anyway, we were so excited to get in and we didn't bother much on him because we thought that he would manage himself by showing some sort of ID. After all he is not a below 18 kid anymore.
Once we were inside, we waited for him to emerge from the gate. But it looked like he couldn't prove his adulthood. One of us went back to check what was happening and later he would narrate us a story that our man boy was pleading to the gate keepers to let him in and finding it impossible to bulge them a bit, he got frustrated and blurted out, “Come on man… I am 27!” Needless to say, he didn't see the light of the hall that night.
He should have done what one of his predecessors did to fool the gatekeepers. There was this boy before who was doing his undergraduate study. In order to avoid the hassles of having to prove that he indeed was not below 18 whenever he needed to, he would act adult by changing the way he walked whenever he approached a gate. He would protrude his chest forward, sway his shoulders and swing his hands… It made him look manly, he would say. Sometimes he would even change his face, by twisting his facial skin in such a way that wrinkles appeared on his forehead and the edge of his eyes. And sometimes in the fit of his temporary adulthood he would call us old folks “wai kota bak” with his make-believe hoarse voice.
And there is our new friend who joined us very recently. We had an “Open day” event at our University last Sunday and we got together to roam around the different stalls the event brochure boasted of. While we were busy hopping around, a group of our men, including the new friend, was pulled away from the herd by an alluring smell of cold beer from a nearby tavern… for man's best friend is always beer.
Stupid as it might sound, I believe there was a gatekeeper at the tavern checking whether the university students were below 18 or not! Unfortunately our new friend was not carrying any ID to prove it that he was as old as he looked. In fact it was an insult to him to prove that he was not below 18 when underneath his beautifully combed hair, a thin layer of white hair was clearly visible on one side of his head. So to get in without a proof ID, neither he had to plead like our unfortunate man boy at the casino gate nor he had to change the way he walked. He got in without uttering a single word and had the full share of his rights (beer) as an adult.
You know what he did to the gatekeeper to let him in? He simply pointed his finger to the portion of his head where he had got white hair. As simple as that.
A Deothangpa joke again. In olden days people usually used to travel between Deothang and S/jong on foot. Once Apa went to Goodama (present day S/jong) for some business. Daughter wanted some bamboo stems for weaving purpose. So she said, “Apa Gooodama gay, ding phai na,” to which Apa replied, “Apa gi sho rebay sa….” (Hehe… I know its a poor joke.)
Sorry… couldn't give a translation.
Three couples were having a romantic dinner. First wife croons, “Honey, please pass me some honey….”
After sometime, second wife goes, “Sugar, please pass me some sugar…”
Third wife wanted some pork and she thought she also had to speak the way they were doing. So she blurts out, “Pig, pass me some pork…”
A Bhutanese man was in Japan. Once he accidentally went into ladies' toilet. And you know Japan is a country known for technology. So he was in the toilet… and to his amazement he found so many buttons for different purposes. There was “Water”, and water came flushing, there was “Toilet paper” and the paper was came out of the wall, there was “Soap” and soap was there, there was “Clean A**” and yes, it was done too.
There was another button. It was labeled “APR”. He didn't know what it was for. He was afraid to press it, but he was very curious too. So he pressed it……
The next thing he knew was, he was in the hospital. His scrotal area was heavily bandaged. He wondered what had happened to him…..
and he learned that the button “APR” would read as “Automatic Pad Remover”.
There was a fat guy. We was looking for a quick way to lose weight. He saw an advertisement, “Lose weight in 2 days.” It was some sort of a club. It immediately caught his attention and he wanted to join.
It was on hour basis. The price of the ticket to enter into the club depended on how long he wanted to stay inside. So he bought a ticket for 1 hour.
It was a big hall with only one door. As soon as he entered, the shut itself automatically. The light was very dim and he was all alone.
We waited anxiously. And from the far end corner of the hall, a very beautiful girl appeared. She was wearing a stripe of paper across her chest, but otherwise she was completely naked! She waked towards him slowly and at certain distance he could read what was written on the stripe of paper. It was written, “If you catch me, you can *&%$#*&* me!”
He became very excited and started chasing her. But she was very fast for his heavy body. He kept trying and trying…. for one hour. At the end of one hour, the door opened, and he had to leave.
The next day, he came again. He thought, today I will not spare that girl. So he bought the ticket for 10 hours!
He entered into the hall…. The door closed, the light was dim and he was alone again. He waited for the girl to appear.
From the far end corner he saw someone appearing. Instead of a girl, it was a giant guy with solid arms, legs and chest. The flexes of his muscles reflected under the dim light. He was also wearing a stripe of paper across his chest. He walked towards the man very slowly….. and at certain distance, the man could read what was written on the paper. It read, “If I catch you, I will *&%$#*&* you.”
For 10 hours, he had to run for his dear life!
Moral of the story: There is no shortcut to anything.