Make Someone's Day!

Articles by: Penstar

Of being Short and Long

29 Jul 2010 Author Penstar

Hello, dear members. Same old story again – I have been unfaithful to you all yet again. Sorry for failing to post anything on this blog for a long time, but I have been following every single post here. I had nothing good to write about. And even today I will be very short as the title suggests.

In the past, people opted long – writers, poets, singers, essayists, public speakers, and common people. 

They chose to write long poems, long novels, long short stories, long plays, long essays, longer letters and long speeches except for President Abraham Lincoln (check out his wonderful Gettysburg Address).

Today, we live in a fast world. There is a faster flow of information. We need faster services. We ought to understand and learn things at a goddamn speed. And there are out there people making money writing how-to-guides, as trivial as killing bedbugs, cleaning your toilets. And we now have no time to write long poems, long novels, long short stories, and long essays. Our letters are reduced to “hey”, “yo”, “waz up”, “howdy”, on gtalks and sms, etc. And of course there are people who believe in speaking for a longer duration these days. That way they appear more educated, sophisticated and learned. 

And now I know what you all would be thinking – before you roll your eyes and scold me, I say; you are right – of course some people still prefer 'longer' versions, even to this day, may be even more now. Well, some instances. 

P.S: This is to my friend who is too bored to read longer posts. This is for her and this is what she gets for her boredom. Lol…

Welcome back

02 Apr 2010 Author Penstar

It has been quite some time now. has been blocked on our network. Thanks to some officials branding it as a social networking site! To that end I wrote an article expressing concerns over some offices already having blocked the site. But the responses from the members were lukewarm. And soon, before I can even respond to a few responses my article has received; the site was blocked for me too. It was as if I could foreshadow things unfolding. And yes, I was literally detached from the nopkin world.

Of course I could have gone to an Internet Café, but I was lazy enough not to visit one.  Luckily, I could access the site when I recently went to Thimphu. And lo! when I came down, has been released. I am glad now nopkin members can read me just as I can read you. My prayers combined with that of my friends have come to fruition. Hopefully, the site is here to stay.

And if I end up posting a few articles here and there henceforth, don't be surprised. I am here to stay just as thousands of other members are. I welcome myself back to this wonderful site. Thanks all the members for your good wishes and prayers expressed to me.

Who are the ornaments of society?

18 Mar 2010 Author Penstar

God, it has been a long long time since I logged onto nopkin. Look, so many new members and a lot of articles to read and digest. Blame me not. Our office thought it was in the best interest that be assigned restricted acess. Added to this was the work.

And I am sorry nopkin members I failed you. And I failed myself.

Anyways, just to be on the track, I have this short post. I am even too busy to post this post.

Anyways, our organization is recruiting fresh graduates and high school students. About 800 plus candidates were shortlisted for the written examination. Of course only about 551 turned up for the test.

And one of the essay questions was “Is qualification more important than experience?” I had the opportunity to go through 551 people's take on the subject. It is interesting to see how people can become so creative in the hour of the need. Some are impressive beyond words and some are truly funny.

It has been a satisfying experience on the whole going through and reading people's minds and creativity. It was a rare opportunity indeed. I would always cherish the past three days that went into correcting the papers.

But for now I leave you with this sentence by one of the candidates:

“Qualified people are the ornament of the society,” said William Tagor.


09 Feb 2010 Author Penstar

On February 7, 2010, The Journalist ran a story about social networking site being “official menace”. I think the article portrays a number of issues we are faced with today. It is of the opinion that social networking sites and chats dominate the daily work schedules of most people and while the writer does not deny the importance of internet, he believes that the social networking sites and chats sites are “cause of distraction” and results in “low productivity in the work place”.

The IT Officer of Labor and Human Resource Ministry was quoted as saying: Chat sites like druknet, and networking sites like facebook, hi5 and nopkin are all blocked from the server, and employees can only visit the sites that are work-related.

I agree chat sites are “official menace”, but I can't believe some offices have gone to the extent of blocking even I think nopkin is a site where Bhutan breeds her future writers and showcases her budding writers' talents and skills. It is a place where members express their happiness and pour out their sadness., unlike facebook or hi5, is less of a chat site, but more of an intellectual forum. I would only regret it being branded as chat site. Supporters and members of would understand what I mean. Please share your views and comments if your network allows you to.

Today my office has already blocked facebook, twitter, hi5 and many other sites. I don't disagree with them and I respect their decision. But hopefully, they won't block And this goes out to all members stationed in various parts of the country. Good luck to you all.

Her Hitler-like presence

09 Feb 2010 Author Penstar
I have to see through her. Always. She does not see through me when I see through her. What she sees my poor eyes have to see. She dominates my life dawn till dusk. I have no independence or individuality. In this short life of mine, she has this Hitler-like presence. My entire life depends on her. Thus, I cannot abandon her. How can I? After all she has been with me through thick and thin. You see, I need her. That's why  I would never mind paying anything to keep her.

But at times I get tired of her. And then there is this constant headache. But I am also taking care of her. You see, I don't want to hurt her at all: because I will have tough time living without her. When I think I think through her thick lens. I am forced to see what she sees. In this sense I am losing my personality. But some people think I am better off without her. Again, I cannot let her go. I need her.

I clearly remember how I met her one fateful afternoon.

I was scanning through the Internet when something happened. The computer screen blacked out. Everything faded. But when I slowly regained my sight, I found out my eyes could not see some distant objects that they were so used to seeing. The next moment I found myself visiting an ophthalmologist. And that's when I ran onto her. Since then I have been faithful to her except during the three years at the college when I deserted her completely only to discover that I need her again, for the rest of my life. 

Please let your ophthalmologist test your eyes so that you can avoid wearing thick lenses later. Not that mine are thick though.

What's in a name: Copyright or Trademark?

27 Jan 2010 Author Penstar

Last weekend was a weekend of a different sort. With the coming of Druk Star, Bhutanese across the country watched live Bhutanese talents in the making. It was truly a weekend when for the first time in the last two years, BBS dominated Bhutanese homes. It was time when grandfathers and grandmothers, apas and amas, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters all agreed on one channel.

And seriously, I must say this year, we have a very promising group of competitors. Maybe a year's gap gave everyone enough time for practice. Kudos to the organizers, participants are far better this time. Maybe I can even spare a few votes.  

But last night I was watching BBS again. This time it is Nidup Doji making the headline.  He seemed to be unhappy with the organizers of Druk Star of having had snatched his show. Who would not? Although it was a complete imitation, we all must agree that the idea first stuck Nidup Dorji, who then braved the situations against all odds. But so sad, he could not conduct the BT Star last year. That it seemed created a vacuum. And this gave rise to Druk Star 2010.

Druk Star and BT Star – sounds different of course. “But what's in a name,” contends Shakespeare. Sponsors are same. The show is same. The concerned authority says it is the questions of copyright and trademark.  Now that's confusing. Which one is which?

And as an unbiased observer, I feel that before embarking on such a venture, the organizers of Druk Star should have informed Nidup Dorji. And Nidup on other hand if he is unhappy about the show should have stopped the organizers before they began the show.

I am in no way taking sides here. I think Nidup has done a good job in 2008 and Kencho Dorji is doing better this year. 

I support not the contending organizers, but the show – BT Star or Druk Star: after all what's in a name?

My wife's mother-in-law is visiting us soon

06 Jan 2010 Author Penstar

Happy New Year, people! This is my first post in 2010. I was waiting for a right idea to strike me to write a first post for a fresh new year. But it seems my creativity is falling apart and my muse is becoming less and less loud. And this is what I dread the most. I can't imagine adding another year under my cap without having expressed anything here.

But what prompted me to write this post is even more worrisome. It has exactly been a year I have been putting up with my friends at an expensive apartment in the town. While I don't mind the apartment being expensive, over the last nine or ten months I have been feverishly looking for a house. It is shame; I haven't found one.

Staying with my friends have been a wonderful experience altogether. Out of scratch, I have learned to cook rice and ladyfinger and potato curry. Now I am working with the cauliflower and cabbage. And I faced no problems although I am an odd man out among two women. But they were my classmates and good friends. While staying together in a same house for a year has been a fruitful experience, life must go on and I must look for a house. How long can I stay with them?

And to top it all, my mother is coming to visit me for which I need a house to call my own. I don't want her to feel uncomfortable staying with my friends. But for now I am still on the hunt for an apartment. I have consulted so many people at various places. They never say no. Everyone was very helpful, but nothing has materialized until now. People tell me there are houses to be vacated at different places soon only to be told later they are either occupied by others or the tenants are yet to shift. Many have come and gone having promised me help and broken them.

And I am hopeful I will find one any time soon.

Everything comes cheap here

29 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Phuentsholing has a moderate weather now. And that's why people from all parts of the country are flooding this already compact and congested city. Schools and colleges are closed for winter vacations. Businessmen are already exporting oranges to Bangladesh. Pious pilgrims are bound to Bodh Gaya and the number of counters selling tickets to the land of thousand buddhas are increasing by the day.

On the other side of the gate, Jaigaon is flooded with Bhutanese shoppers and businessmen. There is no space even to stretch your arms. You have to be extra careful where you  step your feet. Shopkeepers' smiles are wider. The place is dusty. Garbage has piled onto heaps sending out noxious odor. The number of beggars has increased proportionate to the increased number of Bhutanese shoppers.

Everything comes cheap here. Garments are cheap. Utensils are cheap. Culinary items are cheap. Trust is cheap. Faith is cheap. Dignity is cheap. Human life is cheap. Quality of goods is cheap.

Welcome to Phuentsholing, the gateway to the shopping haven. I remember buying a flashlight that does not glow, a DVD player that malfunctions after a week, a shirt that is torn, a colorful CD that's empty and an adaptor that conks out as soon as it is plugged in. The list is endless but I cut it short here.

Zebra-Crossing Patience-Testing

28 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

I don't drive, which is good because I can avoid accidents. But twice a day, I am forced to wish for a car to drive me to the office in the morning and ferry me home in the evening. It has become increasingly difficult to cross the road for it is far riskier than crossing the legendary Mowkhola River in summer. And especially at this time of the year, Phuentsholing is crowded with cars from all corners of Bhutan.

I usually wait at a particular section of the road to cross it. I am told that drivers are supposed to be giving way to the pedestrians here. They call it zebra-crossing. The other day, I was waiting and waiting at one side of the road. Ten or twelve more pedestrians were also waiting for a parade of vehicles that did not even see us. I didn't expect the drivers to see the zebra-crossing signs because they are far below, on the ground. I was about to doze off when we finally managed to cross the road.

So I am wondering – is there a need to paint some sections of our road in black-white stripes? I think we need to breed and raise some zebras so as to be able to freely cross the zebra-crossings. I don't have a driving expertise to comment on our drivers' skills and driving habit, but I feel our pedestrians need some space.  

Well, what is tiger crossing? It is, according to Mr. Google, a variation of zebra-crossing where cyclists are allowed to cross the road without having to dismount. It seems it will take some time before the coming of tiger-crossing in Bhutan. But how ironic, we have tigers roaming freely in the jungles of Bhutan!

A Sherubtse graduate tops CSCE yet again

24 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Very good news indeed – a Sherubtse graduate tops CIVIL SERVICE COMMON EXAMINATION 2009 and many others have done well as well. Sherubtse College is truly living up to our expectations. Kudos to Sherubtse College! No wonder someone chose to call the institution the Peak of Learning. And what is more interesting this time is a woman topping the exam.

Wonderful piece of news to our womenfolk – maybe Gaki Wangmo, a Sherubtse College BA Geography Honours graduate whose registration number was CSCE-2009-01907 will go down perhaps in the history of RCSC as the first woman to top the Civil Service Examination (if I am not mistaken, have to confirm it). Gaki from Wangdue is an exceptionally good singer and a dancer. She was also an active athlete both in her school and college days. In 2009 she temporarily taught geography at Reldri HSS.

She makes Sherubtse proud and her parents happy. Yet another milestone achieved for Bhutanese women. Tashi Delek to Gaki Wangmo and all other position holders for their tremendous hard work. You deserve to be the best. Live up to our expectations!

Congratulations to everyone!

Do you know who you are talking to?

18 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Even at the schools, if one of your friends becomes a school or a house captain, then slowly you start distancing yourself from your friend. In other words you gradually become estranged from him. This is very interesting experience. I don't know whether people have experienced it.

Does power change people? No, of course if power does change someone, it is their attitude that transforms. Because now they are in some kind of role, they think completely different of themselves. Their pride goes up a little bit and especially with pride it is difficult to bend it back. And just as much you think he is a different man now, you start to see him as someone different – not on your equal footing. You feel your friend no more wants to talk to you. This estranged feeling destroys our relationships.

Bhutan is a democratic kingdom. And this means now if you have people's support even if you are a fresh graduate right out of college, you are ready to become a respectable member of parliament or better still a minister in the cabinet. If some of my friends, who brave to join politics, come 2013, become minister, I would hardly be surprised. Of course I might lose a friend or two to the cabinet.

I was really shocked when one of my old classmates (now an MP) waited in line for hours to withdraw some money from the bank. And she really needed an ATM Card. I made her fill up the form and promised her card would be ready after a week. I was happy because she was still down to earth and never acted big to suggest me that she was an MP. I hesitated a bit but soon I was talking to her like back in those school days only to be reminded again by the fact that she now is an honorable member of our society.

I did not know what happened, but even after a month she didn't get her ATM card. The concerned person (it seems) might have misplaced the form. But my MP friend was patient throughout.   And I was touched to the core. I am sure even if she is little too young to be sitting in that NA seat, she has the heart of gold – humble as ever; you won't see even a tint of snobbishness. Hope she continues to occupy that seat even post 2013. But I think next time around she has to earn it herself unlike the previous one.   

And on one occasion, a man dashes in to our office infuriated. He orders us as if he is the emperor. When I start arguing with him word for word, he asks me: Do you know who are you talking to?

Obviously I didn't. I said no.

Later I thought, maybe I should have asked him – “Are you His Majesty the King? Are you HH the Jekhenpo? Are you the PM?”

And to his answer I would say, “…then I think I don't know you.”

Of course I don't want to sound snobbish here. But such people roam our streets by the day, freely and wildly.

A Grand Plagiarism

11 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

I write because I think I have something to write about. And that whatever I write is something new, my own ideas. I don't feel like writing because I think I have nothing to write about. And that whatever I am writing is nothing new, my ideas are not mine. And when I write something everything inside me comes out. That's when I pour out everything that I think is inside me. But how do we differentiate whether something I write is either inside me or outside? That's one big issue. 

We have memorized enough texts and prayer books at schools. That it is natural to reproduce someone's work even in the exam be it an essay or a short story. I remember writing a story from Panchatantra word-for-word for my class six common examination. No doubt I scored well in English that year.

Ours is an oral society. And we grew up having no idea what copyright was. Even today, it is just like any other laws forgotten in our bookshelves. We live in a society where it is alright to sing a song in a tune composed by others and perform a play without even knowing the playwright. For that matter, talking copyright, I am told , we are not allowed to make a public performance of a song without prior permission from its singer. Not in Bhutan. Here, once you buy an audio cassette or a CD, you assume the role of sole owner. Even radio stations air songs without singers' knowledge.

Newspapers here use so many stuffs from god-knows-where without even citing the sources. Someone from the newspaper tells me they cannot cite the sources because they have no permission to reproduce the stuffs. I call that a grand plagiarism.

And next time if some nopkin members rewrite some of the write-ups that are already here on this site, I would hardly be surprised because (excuse me) we live in a plagiarized society.

Let's Write and Speak Correct English

07 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

We are so used to using some words because someone else is using  them irrespective of whether they are correct/formal. Most of you would not agree with me, but today, I am going to list three commonly used words in Bhutan (an Indian English influence, I guess):

 1. Weightage: This of course sounds like percentage doesn't it? Maybe that's how we were lured to add 'age' to the 'weight'. My English teacher told me there is no such a word. In fact my handy American Heritage dictionary does not have the word (weightage) The equivalent could be 'weighting' or simply 'weight'.

2.   Prepone: “The Annual Exam has been preponed to September. Sorry for the inconveniences caused.” We have heard the statements at schools, right? Indians have artistically coined it as opposite to 'postpone'. Some new editions of dictionaries carry the word but term it informal. Language experts tell me the appropriate word is either “advance” or “reschedule” whichever suits you.

3.   Upgradation: Even the word is tempting and there are computers programs – the act of upgrading a computer networks etc. – but the equivalent I am given is 'upgrading'.

But readers should understand that I am not trying to give you lectures. I understand my limitations and in no way am I trying to tell you what's right or what isn't. This exercise is rather an attempt to teach myself what I didn't know earlier. Hopefully, readers can take home some message to your school-going sons or daughters or brothers or sisters or nephews or nieces or grandsons or granddaughters.  Members are welcome to contribute as well.

 The other words are unwilling to feature here unless readers are interested in them.

Good day everyone!   

Smoking – a mirage in Bhutan

04 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Looks like Bhutan is going to make another headline in the media across the world just like it did in 2004 when it initiated a ban on the sale of tobacco products. Now the National Assembly thinks that ban is ineffective as the five years' experience tells us. So, the National Assembly is going strict – “No Bhutanese can buy or sell tobacco.”(Kuensel dated December 4, 2009).

Good news for so many non-smokers in the country. It seems they won't have to inhale unnecessary smoke anymore. But what do smokers think about what is happening in the parliament?  And it is surprising to hear the Health Minister's remark to the media: We are not saying you can't smoke, we are just saying you can't sell tobacco products.

Now the National Assembly members say we can't totally ban smoking because that goes against the individual right. Exactly!  So, Bhutan will be the only country where you can smoke freely because that's your right to do so (provided you don't smoke in the specified public places) but can't buy or sell the tobacco products.

If the National Council agrees with the NA's amendment, smokers in Bhutan will see smoking as a sort of mirage. You are allowed to smoke, but you can't either buy or sell cigarettes. Your right is just there, but you can't exercise it. It is there yet it is nowhere. And we won't have to go anywhere to see one big thriving black market.  

Singh is Singh

01 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Last Sunday I was walking with my wife when a man walking ahead of us started singing boldly and loudly. I thought I heard that song, at least the tune and a few lines, haven't had the chance to watch the movie.

The man goes: Singh is Singh, Singh is Singh.

My wife started laughing on top of her voice. I was nervous. The man looked at us only once and started singing again:

Sing is Singh, Singh is Singh.

Back at home I had a hearty laugh. I don't know how Akshay Kumar himself would have reacted on hearing those lines!

Another ban- this time in a small village of Wamling

01 Dec 2009 Author Penstar

Wamling is a small village in Upper Kheng, about one and half day's walk from the nearest road point. The village consists of about 70 households. The village, like any other villages in Shingkhar Gewog, prides having to celebrate local festivals and tshechus – kharpu and choedpa being the most popular. The two festivals occur consecutively on the ninth and tenth month of the Bhutanese calendar. Wamling choedpa is a five-day annual event, usually conducted after the successful harvest of rice and other major crops.

It usually starts on the fifteenth day of the tenth month on the Bhutanese calendar. This year the annual choedpa falls on December 3. For farmers it is a time for a compulsory break from household and farm works. It is time for people to watch mask dances and dress in their best. It is also a happy occasion where people eat and drink their fill.

Wamlingpas are by nature very hard working people. And the village never had history of people spending their nights in the gutters, drunk. People may consume a little alcohol while working to boost their energy, but Choedpa is a time where people drink more ara, and be happy, off from work. It is like civil servants in urban areas treating themselves with alcohols and expensive wines on weekends.  But come this year's choedpa, farmers are preparing to drink a lot of tea. This comes after the local authority issued a letter which prohibits the use of alcohol. Yet another ban. Looks, like lamas and monks who perform the rituals and men who perform the mask dances will have no option but to drink tea.

This is the only occasion where people enjoy and I don't know whether restricting alcohol on such an important event would help our farmers.  I don't know how would the old people in the village react with this mindless and foolish ban. What is the rationality? And back in the capital our parliamentarians are debating whether to lift ineffective tobacco ban.

I heard villagers saying that the Zhemgang Dzongkhag Rabdey Lam Neten thought that the village choedpa was too long. He instructed people to reduce the number of days to three for he justified even the Thimphu Tshechu is for only three days. But luckily people ignored his dictatorial order.

But in the recent years, I heard choedpa is dominated by open stalls where people sell garments and engage in gambling. Should there be a restriction from the local authority on this very ancient festival, it should definitely be such activities.

These Women

26 Nov 2009 Author Penstar

The other day I was having lunch with my wife. And seated next to our table was a group of five women.  Sitting near them was an experience of a lifetime. Generally, I have a lot of patience. But I was kind of impatient the other day. It was a terrible nightmare. For the first time I felt like I was in a fish market. These women could really talk and talk loud, so loud that if they are at Sangaygang, people in Semtokha would hear what they are talking.

They won't care even if the Prime Minister of Bhutan was in the same room having lunch, forget us. We even didn't exist in the room. I felt like a ghost. They would laugh as if their armpits were being tickled by thousand fingers at once. Don't get me wrong here – I am not a misogynist, have never been one and never will be in future. Like all men I like women. But everything about these ladies was irritating. They ignored the fact that they might be disturbing other people for there were so many customers. They behaved as if the hotel was their house. I wonder whether they talk likewise even at home. I better visit doctors today and get my eardrums checked.  

They would go on talking about their husbands openly as if they were spreading Buddha's wisdom to a crowd of faithful followers. God, I didn't know some women can be this intolerable. We thought we would better leave, but we had already ordered something. That means we were trapped there. We had to listen to all the craps these snobbish women were talking. I have observed these behaviors in some western sitcoms and movies.

I better run to the hospital now, but hey guys, don't forget to say NO to VIOLENCE against WOMEN! In fact all forms of violence!

A Magazine Dream

23 Nov 2009 Author Penstar
I thought I would start a magazine some time. I talked with an uncle of mine, who was all 'yes, yes' with my idea. We have prepared a business plan and thought of the editorial board. We sought business ideas and suggestions from across the border. We have contacted publishers as far as Kolkata and Delhi. Days have gone into naming the magazine. And Druk Outlook was born.


Almost a year on, many new magazines are circulated in a small Bhutanese market.  Of course that is something we all can be proud of. But our brain child Druk Outlook is yet to see the light of the day. Everyone we contacted for suggestions said it was a good idea and that they were all in support of our initiative. All the more good reasons to be excited. But one frank comment we received was from another uncle. He thought our idea was good but doubted its survival because he said even the private newspapers were going through difficult times. He seemed right. That's why we decided to put our temptation on hold.

But even if Druk Outlook lives to see the light of the day, we understand the need of the market. We understand the cost factor. We understand students. We understand the market. We understand the paper quality. We understand the content quality. And we know how much a magazine should cost.The rest, I guess, time will take care of.

(So real yet so illusive)

He who burned his academic certificates

06 Nov 2009 Author Penstar

I was shocked literally when I heard that he has burned his certificates and mark sheets. I mean why would a man destroy his academic credentials? Today, everywhere people strive hard to strengthen their qualification and improve their market-worth. You see, many Bhutanese are committed to Continuing Education (CE). But here is a man who chooses to differ slightly. In fact greatly! Recently, he came to a conclusion that there is no meaning in keeping all those certificates and mark sheets in his cupboard. He says at the most it occupies space.

My friend Karma is a policeman who studied up to class 10. He was an excellent athlete and a great footballer. He had more than 45 certificates awarded in sports and football. But now he finds it useless keeping them. This man who is in his early twenties claims to be in his late thirties to his friends. And one thing I am impressed is the fact that his friends never know he even went to school, forget having appeared class ten exams.

He told me that friends make attempts to teach him ABC and basic numbers, which he tried to learn as preached.  Now let me tell you, it is not just show off. He is a humble person soft at heart. And he knows he would not change his career either. He would retire as a policeman – he wants no medals or gosas, but if he gets to serve his country, he would never mind dying a police-chuma. And where is the need for his certificates?

An emotion called happiness

05 Nov 2009 Author Penstar

This was the house we built for her. She lived in an old and empty hut infested with ant nests. The roof was about to collapse and in fact the entire structure was. As we completed plastering the walls and fixing a new mud stove, Abi Tashi could not contain her emotions. She started to cry like a baby.


Happiness was writ large on her wrinkled face. Sherubtse College's Social Service Unit members and some volunteers rescued her collapsing hut. Abi Tashi lives a lonely life in a village called Pangthang, in Kanglung, Trashigang.

In the event of damages caused by recent earth quake in the east, I wonder the state of Abi Tashi's house! Hopefully she is still in there, in her house. I wonder whether the mud stove, which I personally constructed, is still cooking her food and warming her home.