for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Disaster Preparedness of Bhutanese Dzongs: Wangdue Dzong is Lost but Did we learn a Lesson?

Wangduephodrang Dzong was built in 1639 by Zhabdrung and since then it served
as the centre of administration and  monastic education.
It was a national heritage of immense value and presence.

On the fateful evening of June 24th in 2012, the great fortress became a history
 due to a fire that we couldn't source the cause.
The heritage and everything that we lost with it was one of the greatest loss we suffered
and a national tragedy .

We know that Wangdue Dzong is gone forever but did we learn a lesson? There were 
lots  of speculation on the cause of the fire. I can't comment on any of it as the sole cause of the 2012 tragedy. However, we have a lot of similar dzongs and lhakings all over Bhutan and they represent us to the outside world. They contain the heritage and unique identity of  this tiny country.  Fire is a disaster that is very difficult to predict or prevent but we can be ready  and be pro-active. If Wangdue Dzong went down due to electrical short circuit, we ought to revisit  the existing electrical setups in the other dzongs. It is time to look at the quality and expertise  rather than giving importance on saving budget and relying on trial and error.  Surveillance cameras is another thing that we can think of if we imagined  that the tragedy  was caused by some idiots.  And on side, I feel that the butter  lamps too can be a potential hazard (Pardon me, I'm not saying we should stop lighting them). We should create awareness and provide safety measures.  Bhutan has more than similar irreplaceable heritage that is very important for the nation's history and identity.  So, it would be really wise of Bhutan to revisit the disaster preparedness of similar important sites before we regret like Wangdue. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Photo courtesy: Bird Sherub Uwice

I pity you,
for you'r associated with evil.
I envy you,
for you'r cute.

I wonder and scratch my brains out,
the reason for the tag you bear.
But I admire you,
for you'r charming,
And you stand distinct.
Your eyes marvel my sight.

Why? I speculate,
for your image is ugly,
for most souls.
Yet- you'r splendid,
The eyes, face  and the eccentricity,
holds genuineness.

So fly…my cute ugly beauty,
And fail the dishonor that holds you,
to stay concealed and be unnoticed,
And be eternally delightful.
Let us be astounded and wanting
by your grace and uniqueness.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

We are Weird as We Endanger the Endangered!

Weird Bhutanese Food Beliefs
Bjingom (Hornet species) is a delicacy amongst many Bhutanese
In a world facing constant global threats, consumption of rare animals and plants in the name of personal benefits should be strongly discouraged...especially in a country that boasts so much of environmental conservation.  
Various beliefs on eating animals and plants for their supposed healing powers have been prominent since dateless period in history. People indulge in eating rare birds, animals, insects, reptiles and plants for multifarious results. Very less scientific answers support these 101 bizarre habits. Some eat to gain strength while few believe in hair growth or better eyesight etc. More, we promote these unusual recipes for healing different ailments. For many of us, eating a snake is a creepy affair but few enjoy the dish with heightened faith.
Whenever I see these unique beliefs in action, one question runs through: How far is it true that the formula will help? In the name of uncanny faith, rare birds like blood and Monal pheasants are hunted down. It is even saddening to see number of rarities like beautiful orchids, hornets, the Himalayan Tahr etc.  find forceful, silent, entrances into the kitchens. I am a non-vegetarian yet I strongly oppose the eating of atypical recipes.
The most famous list of weird food beliefs that exist in the so called Happy Buddhist country (as far as I know) may get you off your normal stance or make you lose your appetite or have no effect. In the biodiversity rich nation, few people secretly enjoy odd food items of rare flora and fauna based on culturally passed down beliefs and assumptions. I strongly belief in preservation and promotion of our culture and traditions but I will support the termination/degeneration of such bizarre customs that have more negative impacts compared to the assumed positive factors. 
My List of Top 10 Weird Food Beliefs Existing in the (Supposed) Last Shangri-La
1.        Hornet and few other wasps and bees ( It is believed that it will give one strength  and growth)
2.         Orchid (believed to have incomprehensible benefits.)
3.         Blood and Monal Pheasants
4.         Tragopan
5.         Kalij Pheasant
6.         Himalayan Tahr
7.         Wolves (Believed to cure Diabetics and few other diseases)
8.         Snake (Strength and hair growth)
9.      Bear and Bile (Strength and believed to cure many illnesses)
10.  Musk Deer 
*The list is not at all  comprehensive in terms of number or beliefs regarding the recipes. 
An interestingly funny reality: We are proudly writing slogans on protection of animals, preservation of our environment; we promote eco-tourism; the country formulates strict environmental acts; Participate actively in global environmental campaigns to create awareness… all juxtaposed to indulgence in consuming our endangered lists for fulfillment of ambiguous faith. We know that some plants are used in medicine generation but how far are we using it in a sustainable way. The concerned authorities possess strict laws but the laws should be applied firmly like the Tobacco act or even Pedestrian Day.
There is a need to revisit our beliefs. The World Environment Day 2013 came with an interesting theme- Think.Eat.Save. The world is going hungry and our small planet is consumed at an ever increasing rate. Food waste is an issue to fight at par with starvation. But for Bhutan, it would be a wise pledge to stop promoting the weird food beliefs before talking about other food related promises and acts. Endangering the endangered is what we do in the name of personal advantage. 
Animal protein and plant nutrients do great help to our health and there are numerous alternatives to obtain these necessities through positive means. It is mere idiocy to belief that rare items possess super muscles and to deciding to devouring weird food items, which directly as well as indirectly have various unconstructive environmental impacts. After all, there is very less proofing and discovered facts on these strange food beliefs, leave alone the threat on the environment.
Let us Stop Indulging in Weird Food Habits! 
THINK before you EAT… to SAVE and Be Guilt Free.