Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What a wonderful world!

I am in the village of Zunglen (Drepung Gewog, Monggar). It is a typical Bhutanese village with a typical rural hospitality. The family is thrilled and excited that I have stepped into their house with few of my friends. We are ushered into their best room – the altar, and offered tea and tengma (beaten maize) with butter. The tea ceremony is followed by ara (local sake) with fried eggs. The whole family is suddenly at our disposal attending to us that we are comfortable and well-fed.

So much of warmth, so much of hospitality and so much of good will. This is something I have noticed in all my travels within our beautiful country. I am sure many of us (urban dwellers) would have experienced these 5-star treatments when we were on tour in rural Bhutan. The question is, do we in any way reciprocate this hospitality when these people come to urban areas?

The answer, shamelessly, is a resounding no!

But, of course, to be practical we may not be able to invite them to our homes unless they are familiar to us. We may not be able to offer drinks to each and every villager coming to Thimphu.

But still, there are things we could do. For example, we could help them by doing our job well. I mean many of them come to Thimphu to make their citizen’s identity card, passports, driving licences and various permits, to see government officials or to pay their loans or seek new one. We could help them by speeding public services for them.

We could help them by drafting application letters, filling up forms or giving them directions. We can drop them to the right office and refer them to the concerned official. We could seek information on their behalf and provide them guidance and help.

We could help them by making it easier for them to avail some basic services. For example, the banks could employ few unemployed youths whose sole job would be to fill up withdrawal and deposit forms. I have done this many times as I waited for my turn with the token number. Hospitals could do the same. People employed to help them see the doctors and get medicines from the pharmacy. Remember they can’t read or write. Our public offices are so customer unfriendly that even I get lost when I land in a new office. Unless you spot someone you know, there won’t be anyone giving you directions and neither would there be any information guide.

There are so many things we could do to reciprocate the warmth and hospitality we enjoy in rural areas. So the next time you see a villager who looks lost in a bank or in the hospital or in your office, ask him if he or she needs help. You will not only bring some relief, you will also feel happy to have done something worthwhile that day. If you can't do this, at least don't run over them with your car, or shout at them, as they stray aimlessly in the streets of Thimphu.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Well-done BBS!

BBS TV has finally got its own place after squeezing in with the radio for over ten years.  Well-done BBS! Especially the engineering guys who are always the unsung heroes of BBS.  And of course the new management for seeing this project through after so much of initial delays.

The event made me recollect another historic moment for BBS that occurred exactly 23 years back - on June 2, 1986.

It was on that day that BBS became “BBS” in place of Radio NYAB.  I am sure very few people in BBS would know this.  So just for the record, it was the day when BBS got its own 5KW RIZ transmitter commissioned.  Until then Radio NYAB was riding on the waves of the Wireless Department’s 400W BEL transmitter (a military piece made of pure iron that would give electric shock from all its parts when it was ON).

On June 2, 1986 we bid goodbye to Radio NYAB.  Dasho Karma Lethro, who was the deputy minister of communications & tourism inaugurated the station and was the first voice to go on-air from the new transmitter.  Late Dasho Rinzin Dorji was the director of information (that included BBS, Kuensel and DSCD), Mrs. Louise Dorji was the head of BBS and Mr. Sangay Tenzing (now DG of Roads) was the station engineer.  I was a junior engineer back then - one of the sixteen staff members.

So when you consider technician working with electric shock giving transmitters, RJs talking from that cold, stinking and haunted studio and reporters dishing out hand-written news bulletins, we must be proud of BBS with its new state-of-the-art master control room and satellite uplink facility.  I am told the production studios are air-conditioned.

Not bad, right?  We always think so low of ourselves.  It is about time we Bhutanese hold our chin high and boldly move to the future.