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Showing posts from 2010

Civil Service

As Bhutanese, we have come a long way to move forward into the unfamiliar road of modernity. However, we have manifested a dream that was set more than a hundred years ago and we have achieved great feats in the process. Yet sometimes it seems that the privileges we have are taken for granted and we seek the unattainable. Nevertheless, it’s through this idealism that a prosperous nation can be reached; however, we often forget those who make it possible.
Did you ever stop to wonder what it would be like to live in a country without the government serving its people and where the necessity of the few is more important than the necessity of all? What about a world where a vast number of children die because of either dysentery from polluted water or starvation due to lack of food? How about a society that is plagued by illiteracy and is in peril of cultural extinction? Or citizens torn apart by constant strife? These are all realities that are due to the lack of one agency within societ…

Telling Pictures

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A good photograph is when the image captured can invoke a myriad of feelings. It is a culmination of intelligence, passion and dedication to capture events unfolding with a voice stronger than sound bytes. It is the acute knowledge to immortalize and freeze the spirit in one single frame as the photographer sees fit. Yet at times, the events unfolding are so extraordinary that capturing can hardly be task.
In these times when we are exposed to a vast display of images at a global level, it can be an incredible task to focus and recognize a frame that shakes the very foundation of one’s belief; which overwhelms and etches in our minds the essence of that frame. It is truly the mark of a great photograph. The work of an artist is to tap on to the nuances and give it voice. The work of a photographer is no easy task when the job requires relaying emotions through images.
So, when I was asked to write an article reflecting my understanding of photojournalism, I, for obvious reasons, took …

The Unfailing Womb

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I remember I was 15 years old when I came across a story about a famous super model, who suffered the atrocity of female circumcision in her community. The graphic details of her ordeal of her circumcision, where the clitoris was sliced off and the labia exterior were stitched together was hair-raising to say the least.  She described how a simple act of urinating was a physical torture, as the acid from the urine stung the exposed skin and how she was laid to rest in a dark room for weeks. I couldn’t imagine how parents could consent to their daughters being tortured on the basis of mindset. The most horrific aspect of this story was that it wasn’t an isolated case, and almost every young girl, coming of age, in Africa were forced into female genital cutting. The practice of female circumcision has mostly been done to reduce the likelihood of pleasure or orgasm in young girls and women. At fifteen elsewhere in the world, I had come of age.

I was 17 years old, when I first watched a p…

The Boys are Back

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There comes a movie from time to time that makes you feel like you have done something worthwhile, just by watching it. ‘The Boys are Back’ was one such movie.
I watched it over the weekend, without a clue what the movie was about. I took the DVD from my rental guy, who considers every movie “damn good”. I had never really taken his word on any movie, but for once I wanted to see whether his “damn good” is actually good enough. I must say, it was true for this one. But then of course, he gave me another movie with the same review, which was incredibly painful to watch. But, I wasn’t too bummed out.
Well, the movie delves into the lives of a family without a woman. The storyline is consistent in the aspect of exploring and dealing with loss- there is no great show of gallantry, nor a great show of sorrow. Sorrow just is, and people deal with grief in their own individual way. The movie is a confessional narrative of a  sports writer of a father, who deals with a young son (Arty), after…

Crush

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I could never handle crushes with just the casualness it deserved; I am too excited in too short a time. It didn’t mean I’d keep feeling that way for long, but I felt it all the same. Ooh, the excitement that the arrow struck at me! Talk about building a mountain out of a molehill; there I’d go deconstructing every damn thing; every look has to mean something, every word is laden thick with meaning, every move & mannerisms all focused on sending messages my way. (and yes, karma the seer..)
However, imagine a sparkling wine; how it always pops and fizzles out and then, nothing much remains at the end of it. Well, my crushes were like that, all glamour at the beginning and sour at the end. For the record, I think champagne is over-rated, which automatically goes to mean that my crushes were all over-rated as well. I over-rated them.
But then, that’s the fun of it; never-ending garrulous conversations with friends in the beginning, and eventually even more garrulous conversations with …

'Rained Out'

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The rain was lashing out on us with a vengeance. I couldn’t look up without my eyes swimming in polluted water, and the little that I saw of the sky was a dull darkness.
Absent mindedly I commented, “You know, I don’t mind this lashing if there wasn’t any thunder tagging along with it.” My friend gave me one of her sad looks; she was too upset to have worn her new slip-ons that day. I looked down at the sorry state of her sandals; the white of it was slowly turning grey. I kept quiet. She took my silence to mean total wreck of her sandals
“Oh! I don’t care for the damn thunder if there was no rain. My sandals… they were new, why did it have to rain today?! I was good today…oh….,” She moaned and stomped her foot on the pavement. I looked at her warily- she was being petulant. Even in the pouring rain I felt our differences…. she looked for a reason, in everything that happened.
“I am sorry about your sandals, let’s just get back to the flat and we will clean it up, okay? I am sure it will…

Shades of Hospitality

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One winter evening I was complaining to my father about a dinner I couldn’t get out of; of how I rather preferred staying at home, than reconnect with the chill of synthetic leather on my car seat. Immediately, he began lamenting how easy life is for us.

“We have trudged barefoot through wilderness, carrying loads on our backs along winding footpaths, treacherous valleys and angry rivers to reach from one destination to the next.” Clearly disapproving my disregard for kind invitation to eat, he continued, “We would have one thing on our mind after a journey like that; a place to rest. We would trail along like a gypsy caravan of sorts; with livestock, rations, children scurrying about, old people, and all converged on reaching our destination. Every member in a family helped during these travels. Little children were made to carry small baskets holding poultry or clay pots, the elders in the family took care of young children, and the livestock were beasts of burden. Families with no …

Let's Bake

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As a child, I remember I was incredibly fascinated by baking. It amazed me how a person could just whip up some eggs, milk, flour, sugar,butter and create something so gorgeous. It was make believe; it was stuffs of fairy tales.
Mind you, this is Bhutan we are talking about. We were not ‘cake’ people. We were not even ‘sugar’ people. We are ‘air-dried beef- fermented cheese- rancid butter’ kind of people. And this was back in the days where people hardly knew what an oven was. So you can understand my fascination with cakes and pies.
I used to watch a lot of Walt Disney classics; mouth gaping when Snow White made this perfect pie, with the help of twittering blue birds. For me, the pie represented a world beyond me, and consequently a world I wanted so badly to be a part of.
We lived in a small town between Thimphu and Phuentsholing, and honestly, no matter how much I rack my brains- I can only remember close to 20 families living there. There were cowherds and shopkeepers, of whose liv…

Impermanence

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An instance of impermanence when it happens always seems surreal. The whole archaic impression of such a life-altering event is experienced with a numbness of really not being there. First, it always shocks. Second, every single one of us deny. Third, the realization makes us absolutely sad, and finally, dejection comes with resignation.
Impermanence is a constant of every life. We need this impermanence; only through these trials and tribulations, can we hope for a ‘finer’ way of living. Through these instances of impermanence, we can hope for great show of character (or not).
We have to survive at the end of everything. We have to be selfish enough to move along, for ourselves. At the end of it all, it’s us that is alive and has to keep living. When a bitch eats her dead pup, she does it to sustain and eventually, bear more. For animals, its all about survival and procreation. They keep it real. The inconsistency of every other thing is not ignored here.
But, we, as the better species …

Cocktail

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What is spite when you really mean it? Does it stop being ‘spiteful’ and morph into something evilish? How can it really be anything bad when the feeling is absolutely delicious? As far as I am concerned, the moral compass on this can go to hell. For one, I really don’t believe in repressing emotions. There is this whole mantra, out there, to show your feelings- but why it gotta be only with love? Spite is a feeling too. Infact, spite isn’t at all fuzzy like love. It’s incredibly sharp and removes the haze. Also, it has the capacity to make one all incensed and flushed (albeit a shade darker than pink, but a flush nonetheless). And nastiness sure as hell don’t sugar coat anything for anybody. It strips off every bit of flimsy lace (which really is of no use) and gets to the bone of the matter. I have heard more truth being spoken in spite than in love. Granted, it hurts an awful lot- not because it wasn’t spoken with love, but just that truth always does. Maybe the point isn’t about spi…