Saturday, 13 February 2016

This Unquiet Land - India

This Unquiet Land is written by the most prominent face of Indian journalists, Barkha Dutt against her backdrop of growing up in an urban middle class family while observing the country around her change. I also grew up in an urban middle class, rather lower-middle class, grew up in Thimphu and seen the changes in the capital city as well as the country.

Though both my parents are not highly educated and not hold any important posts in public offices, I remember the BBS radio used to be played at our home after my father bought it from Jaigaon on our way back from village in the winter of 1997. The BBS radio would be kept playing, may be because my mother wanted to listen to the Sharchokpa songs. Sharchokpa broadcast would last one hour and the next hour used to be Lhotshamkha broadcast – that is how I learnt my meagre Nepali. Till then, a tape recorder with radio was a household necessity.

Then came 1999. I was at the Changlimethang ground (it was not much of a stadium then) to witness the Silver Jubilee celebrations. For me that day, those three big balloons were the most important only to realise that the BBS that giving radio broadcasts, then started to give television broadcast. Those days, we didn’t own a television set. It was much later, may be in 2001 when having a television set became a necessity, that my parents bought a small television set.

Of the many channels and programmes on television, I came across NDTV as a good source of Indian news. And it became a habit to watch three news channels – BBS, BBC and NDTV – apart from other channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

The first face I knew on NDTV was Barkha Dutt because she would host many programmes (and consume more air time I guess). It was through this channel that I continue to consume Indian news. With no one to explain the situations or the background in which the news happened, watching more and more news connected some of the dots. I did not understand some of the news such as the Manmohan Singh government going for confidence vote over the civil nuclear programme issue. What I only knew was that they needed 272 Member of Parliaments to vote to stay in power.

In my effort to understand more about how India functions, I read news and books. Some of them give complementary information while some give contradictory information on the same event. Nevertheless, one event can never be described in the same way by two people (this is called Rashomon effect).

Barkha Dutt in her book This Unquiet Land gives a background understanding on the current affairs in India in some of the selected topics (many of which are sensual for journalists). It talks on the place of women and gender inequality, the problems of caste and reservation system, the perennial problem with Pakistan, Kashmir and Hindu-Muslim fights in the name of God. It also describes the current trajectory of politics in India.

Over the years, I have seen many changes both my own country and in India. Despite all its problems and noises with virtually everyone shouting even on television panel discussions, India is a land of such diversity and I am always awed by it.

*Disclaimer: This is not a book review, I am no expert on India, and today only I came to know that NDTV stands for New Delhi Television haha :D 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Auspicious Birth of The Prince of Bhutan

The Auspicious Birth of The Prince of Bhutan

Time of the rise of the Fire Monkey,
Place auspicious at the Lingkana Palace,
The Prince who wheels the nation and the dharma
Was born, the Prince of Bhutan.

With the blessed prophecy of Guru Rinpoche,
The deeds of Ngawang Namgyel, the father of Bhutan, and
The dynamic dynasty, the Wangchuck kings
Have brought the nation to this time.

Time it is the twenty first century
Our ways remain as our fathers,
Our means a beneficiary of time,
At peace are the people of the Fifth King.

The time the Prince was born
At more peace are the people of the Fifth King,
O father, we revere the father Khesar Namgyal
O mother, we adore the mother Jetsun Pema.

Je, the fearless holder of our dharma, in the time of Winter,
In the Glorious Fortress of the Religion, Tashichhoe Dzong,
Stood in secret state of meditation, and the monks
Offered prayers in all temples in the land.

The lamas on the mountains and
Villagers in the valleys
Offered prayers, all of hope and auspiciousness.
May these auspicious prayers, O Lord, be all answered!

At the birth of a baby, the birth of hope,
People of medical hands were at the service
When our beloved Jetsun became a mother to the Prince,
Such auspiciousness for medicine in our land.

The Glorious Palden Drukpa, with merry and glee,
Welcome the birth of the Prince of Bhutan.
In the blessings on the Prince of Bhutan
དཔལབཀྲ་ཤིས་ཕུན་སུམ་ཚོགས་པར་ཤོག།    །།
May the nation find higher peace, happiness and prosperity.

རང་ལུགས་གནམ་ལོ་ཤིང་ལུག་  ཟླ་༡༢་པའི་ཚེས་༢༨། འཕྲིན་ལས་རྡོ་རྗེ། ཀོ་ལོམ་བོ། སྲི་ལངྐ།
On 6 February, 2016, Thinley Dorji, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The MBBS syndromes

The following article describes the various types of MBBS syndromes. The very fact that I am writing this article shows that MBBS is full of syndromes. These set of syndromes are subject to change with opinion from others who have gone through all the 6 syndromes.

1. Pre-MBBS syndrome = excitement
When I got selected for MBBS after Class XII, I was super excited. I sent messages on through Facebook to seniors and friends asking them, “Do you have any books that I can read now so that it might help me in MBBS”. Through my friends I got to an ebook on medical terminologies that was shared by Dr Dinesh Pradhan (who is now a Registrar in paediatrics). Even with my enthusiasm, I couldn’t finish reading that simple book from the first to the last page. This was an indication that in MBBS, you will never be able to read your books “from cover to cover”, unless it’s a very tiny book.

Next, I and a few friends met Dr Pakila Drukpa at a career counselling programme at Yangchenphug. He noted our enthusiasm (which was at its peak) and took us to the JDWNRH library. There, I saw the thick textbooks and tried to read Grey’s Anatomy. I could have read only a few pages and importantly I don’t remember a thing from that page. It was an indication that medical textbooks will be thick, and the small books will be written in several volumes.

During those times, in first half of 2010, when I contacted seniors in Sri Lanka and asked them several times to recommend a medical book that I can read, all of them said, “just enjoy your free time”. At that time, I didn’t know what “free time” meant until Term 1 started in college.

Every year down the line, juniors asked me the same questions I asked when I was a pre-MBBS person. I advised the same, “enjoy your free time”. Thus, pre-MBBS syndrome is a consistent phenomenon.

2. First year MBBS syndrome = wasting money
When guys first come to Sri Lanka, they find money has no value. When my batch were new comers in Colombo, our seniors took us for shopping at Majestic City. There, my friend Pema bought a pair of slippers and it cost him a hefty Rs 3000. Every one said, “three thousand for a chappal!”. The moment we stepped out of our rented homes, money went in thousands and thousands. Then I realised, I was not realising how much money I was spending. So, I calculated the conversion factor, 1 Sri Lankan Rupees equals 0.4 ngultrums. So, whatever I was buying, I converted into ngultrums… but this never helped. So still all my stipend money was going in thousands and thousands until I came to realise on several occasions what “broke” meant.

So where did all these money go? That I realised when I was packing my things to go back to Bhutan after finishing my MBBS. I had bought so many things that were not of any use – kitchen utensils such as a kettle. I don’t know why me and my housemate Pema decided to buy a kettle. In our five years together, we never owned a gas stove to even boil some water in that kettle. Clothes! We gave away bundle and bundle of clothes equivalent to a small jaypee shop. And every weekend, we went to Majestic City (if you come to Colombo and don’t visit the Majestic City, it means you haven’t visited Colombo). The tuk tuks, when we were in first year, did not have meter. So they charged hefty amounts, and still we hadn’t realised the value of Sri Lankan rupees.

But as we grew up, slowly the value of money was driven into by repeated episodes of broke days, one in April-May, and in October-November when stipend was deposited for six months in these later months. Wasting money led to broke days, and the severe problems arise during broke days.

At one time when I was in my senior years, many of our juniors were broke and when our repeated calls and emails to DAHE to send the stipend was not answered, we wrote a letter to the newly elected Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to release our stipend at the earliest. Well, when the director visited Colombo, he told, “You don’t have to write to the Prime Minister to get your stipend.”

This I write because, some juniors are seen wasting money and are at risk of getting into broke stages.

3. Second year MBBS syndrome = frustration
In first year, we are all the time in the college for lectures and studies. From the second year, we get to go to the hospitals for clinical training. Our excitement in clinical training is immediately dampened by frustration due to lack of Sinhalese language. Language becomes a big barrier and most of the time is spent standing in the wards and trying to learn Sinhalese.

4. Middle year MBBS syndrome = module years
The middle years are a battle with modules. We study for module exams with all our effort because if we fail these so many module exams, we will have to re-sit the exam. Studying is such a nuisance, and these years are a battle of module after modules. Heaps of notes are photocopied, lectures are mostly recorded so that guys can sleep in the afternoon lectures and can be listened at a later convenient time.

Over these years, guys wonder when will I ever get graduated? When will these module exams finish! The module exams indeed come to an end after the fourth year. At that moment, guys think, I have learnt everything because I have passed all module exams. Then comes the next syndrome.

5. Final year = the shinkansen year
The final year is likened to a train. Final year is like a train journey that begins very early in the morning. So it is like you wake up for a at 1 am for an early morning 4 am Druk Air flight from Bangkok. You wake up, wipe your eyes, drive away your sleep with your adrenaline and off goes 8 weeks of professorial appointment. You re-learn everything. The stuff that you left in your previous years as stuff too boring, you must know them in final year. If not, you pay with your marks in exams (countless exams in the final year).

Over the final year, the anxiety and stress for final year exam increases exponentially, time becomes an extremely scarce and highly valuable resource.

And then Final MBBS happens.

6. Post-MBBS syndrome = emptiness syndrome
Until the end of final MBBS exams, guys are all hopeful and excited that the end of MBBS has come. But it’s very much like a couple wanting their son to get a job and settle in life. When that happens, the son settles for a job elsewhere and the parents live an empty life. All the excitement of the end of MBBS lasts a few days and then there’s nothing. There’s this huge gap of holidays and waiting for the results.

Well, when you have reached the destination, you begin to miss the journey.