Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Goodbye 20s and welcome 30s

Back in the year 2009 I started this blog as an excited girl in her twenties who, at the initial stages, would dedicate most of her free time writing for the blog. After having published any post, the satisfaction and the anxiety of seeing people commenting, or the page views increasing, or the followers growing, was a feeling, beyond any explanation. It just brought a smile on the face no matter what mood I was in.
The enthusiasm slowly fade away into the thin air owing to not just the change in profession but also to the hatred that I had developed towards being a journalist in Bhutan. The reasons should be left untold on a social platform like this- I might get into trouble.
I chose "Speaking from the heart" as my blog title and most of the posts that I have published here rightfully echoes the title. At least, that's what I feel.
But then now, I realize that it would have been diplomatically correct if I had rather chosen "Speaking from the brain" as the title for my blog with also the kind of posts that fit the label.
I am in my early thirties now, staying home and taking rest to ensure that my almost two months foetus turns into a healthy and successful one since the doctor told me about possibilities of a miscarriage. So, I am staying home, not doing much because I need to avoid heavy works. And as boredom overcomes me day after day, out of the blue, my blog came into my mind. The first thing I did, after opening my blog, was change the appearance. Then, I couldn't help but write. And, this is what came out of me. More will come but not as radical and random as before. :)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Where is the equality in the media?

The Prime Minister, during the first of its kind meeting between the government and the civil servants on 10 January at the banquet hall said that the government fully supports the media. He said that their arms are wide open for cooperation with the media.

Since I was there covering the event, when he said so, for a moment I was carried away by his talks about the cooperation between the government and the media and drifted away to another world.
Bang! I came back to the very existence and realized that that was not the case. I wanted to stand up and tell him and make him aware of the reality but probably the fact that I am totally new in the field held me back from doing so.

Talking about reality, I am going to draw comparisons from my own and experiences of some of my colleagues. I am not sure whether other media people have gone through the same experiences like me because I never had the guts to ask them. Or perhaps, to be honest, I was scared that they would take us to be inefficient if what I tell sounded all Greek to them.

It’s been three months since BHUTAN TODAY came into existence. People! I tell you, it’s been difficult for us to gain a foothold in the market. People might say, ‘it is a piece of cake to run a daily paper’. I say, come and work with us for just a week and you will know how wrong you were in assuming so.

We have been burning the candle at both ends to satisfy the readers. To be honest, only a few have taken note of our hard work. No matter how well we have improved, some simply don’t stop complaining.

Most often, we have been given a step- motherly treatment and it was not only in the initial stages. We are being treated in the same manner even now.

I really want to give details of the persons who have refused to talk to us when we went to interview them. Through this opinion, I feel like hitting them directly and at the same time let the higher authority know about these people by clearly giving out their name, designation and the ministry or the department that they work for but (sigh), being a journalist, there are journalistic ethics that I need to follow. So, all those officials, who shut their doors on our face, you should be thankful to me for being ethical unlike yourselves.

Consider this: One of my colleagues went to meet one of the officials in November last year and she came back to office feeling so down and ill treated by the person, who according to his post, should be better mannered than the others.

The PA made my colleague stand outside the person’s door while she went inside to ask for his permission. The PA (since they are normally women) was a soft spoken person so my colleague couldn’t hear what the PA said to the person but she clearly heard the person, in quite a loud voice, say, ‘Ghachi ghi media. Nga mhi sey lab (What media! Tell them I am not here)’! Unbelievable? Believe it.

He was right there, sitting on his fat bottom and he had the guts to make the PA tell my col¬league that he was not there in the office! How can he be so cruel? Now, do you agree with me when I say that he didn’t behave according to his post? I bet you do.

Now consider this: On 28 Jan¬uary, we heard about a meeting taking place in one of the ministries and sent a reporter right away to cover the news. The meeting had just started when my colleague reached there but he was worried to barge in directly with the fear that he may interrupt. There was a person outside who offered to go inside to get the permission from the person who headed the meeting.

Guess what my colleague heard from inside? The person said, “Damn the media!” My colleague politely and sarcasti¬cally, said, “Laso la,” and came back to office fuming.

These two persons may have got up on the wrong side of the bed, but that should not be the reason for displaying one’s rage on others. However, the question is would they have treated other media people in the same manner? I guess not.

Every one wants to be on TV. I remember a day when a colleague and I went to cover a particular event after which we needed to interview quite a number of people. Excluding me, there were two other media people.

When time came to interview them, everyone preferred to talk to the TV people. We got to interview only those who didn’t get their chance with the TV. Yet, while talking to us, their eyes wandered to wherever the TV people went. We were the last option.

Also, officials saying ‘yes’ to interviews depend on the chronology of establishment of the various media organisation, meaning the preference goes to the one who has been in the market from a long time (of course, TV is their first preference). If that’s the pattern of thinking in our officials, even after hundred years, BHUTAN TODAY will still remain the youngest. Does that mean we will be last in anyone’s agenda?

We have not only been discarded with regards to getting interviews, it’s the same with getting advertisements to be published in our paper. The marketing division normally has a tough time when it comes to getting ads on a daily basis. Why? People prefer to give ads even to a radio but not to us.

Some even go to the extent of saying ‘do a story on us and we will definitely give you ads’! I am not sure if other media organizations face the same problem, but we do for sure.

Once, the concerned ministry announced that advertisements should be distributed equally to all the media organization but people seldom follow it. When older media organization manages to get about three to four pages of ads in one issue, how come we don’t?

Initially, we would all blame the marketing staffs in our company as we would think that they were not doing a good job. But, gradually, we realized they were doing their best in going from one office to another but facing hostility and humility from all ends.

When there is any important meeting taking place in any ministry or department or any organization, other media organizations are informed before the clock by any means (readers’ discretion required here on which media I am talking about). We are hardly informed.

Press releases would come to us once in a blue moon up till the second session of the parliament. For some reason, we started receiving more press releases yet not from everyone. Some people religiously send us the press releases yet if we compare this to the ones who don’t, I must say only twenty percent of the concerned authority has acknowledged us.

Where do we see equality and justice here? It’s a far fetched term that many need to learn.

Hats off to your disgusting guts!!!!!

Well, now, I am left with no choice but to take back my appreciation for the seven former employees of BTimes for what they did. Read ahead...... you will know why!!!!

I still feel that what they did will help other private employees open up which is a good thing. In a way they showed everyone the way!

However, what followed after the entire drama and action is something that's too hard to digest!!!! At least for B2day employees.

The leader of the gang along with his 'Chelas' (disciples) approached the head of B2day organisation and offered him a fantabulous proposal. (We came to know about it just this morning)

God Almighty! These bunch of back-stabbing ditchers had the audacity to tell the head of B2day to throw out 8 existing reporters of B2day and that they would come in a group of 7 and handle the entire show.

That's not just it! They also wanted the designers and few other heads to be sent out and that they would bring in their own people!!!!!!

Were they out of their mind??????

They should understand the fact that there's a lot of difference between taking out less that 50 issues in a year and bringing out 365 issues in a year!!!!!

BTimes is three years old in the market, which means they have taken out just less than 150 issues so far, where as we, on 30 October this year, would be taking out the 365th issue!!! Get that right, people!

OMG!!! Was it their intention to steal the entire show and become the shining stars?????

Everyone in the market knows the fact that we are changing the quality of our paper soon (the paper that everyone said is of very low quality because the Bhutanese mentality is so obsessive about the milky white paper).

Now, when things are finally taking shape in our paper, they wanted to throw us, the ones who have seen the darkest days in this organisation as well as the good ones, the ones who have slogged their a** off to reach where we have reached today, out and probably run a one-man-show here.

I salute your guts, people!

Anyways, lastly, none of the plans that you have are gonna come true. Do you think we will let it happen?? Or do you think that we will allow you to do such an injustice to us, the ones who started this whole thing that's BHUTAN TODAY today????? In your dreams, guys!!!!

Or have you taken us to be a bunch of rookie reporters who know nothing about the law that protects us??????

Friday, November 6, 2009

Correcting gender bias in Bhutanese media

In the recent conference of South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) held at Lahore, Pakistan, it was evident that media women in South Asia, notably in Bhutan, are very complacent with their work.

This is good news. Most of the delegates from other countries made it a point to interact with the Bhutanese delegation, speaking about how lucky we are and at the same time, trying to dig out information about the problems that we face, using their journalistic skills to make a headline story with the information.

Well, such discussions also made the Bhutanese delegation realise the fact that complacency may not be for their own good all the time.

It’s good to be complacent and happy about what you are doing in life but at the same time, the question arises, do people grow when they are too complacent about everything.

The answer may be a big ‘NO’.

It was noted during the conference that Bhutan does not have notable media women holding the top most position in their organisation unlike other South Asian countries, for instance, India.

Looking at the trend so far, it may be right to say that Bhutanese media women quit after they get married and have children. That’s the time when they are senior enough to hold a higher position in their organisation.

Quitting becomes the only way out for media women when it comes to working for odd hours and at the same time balancing their professional and family life. They then take up a normal 9-5 job in a field other than media.

Probably, that’s how we lag behind as compared to other South Asian countries. Women scribes, for instance in India, as we learnt through out interaction with them at the SAWM meeting, work very late hours and do so whether or not they are married, which is why there are so many married – and happily married women journalists in the rest of the subcontinent.

SAWM is a forum for South Asian women in media to voice out their problems and at the same time it is forum that aims to eradicate or look into gender discrimination. However, in this case, we cannot call it discrimination based on gender.

In Bhutan, almost all the higher positions are held by men, which, people from other countries may interpret as gender discrimination. Going by the trend, discrimination is the remotest probability for women not holding the higher positions in Bhutanese media. It’s the Bhutanese media men who stick around for a long time and get promoted to higher positions.

Compare that to someone like Barkha Dutt, or Sagarika Ghosh, who are senior editors at NDTV and CNN-IBN television news channels and are national celebrities in that country. Alas, the highest woman we have in the media circuit is a Chief Reporter, that too, in just one newspaper.

In all these senses, the conference was an eye opener for the Bhutanese media women and now may be the time to change. And unless those changes take place, there will definitely crop in a gender bias in our mainstream journalism. That is what needs to be corrected, and now!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The heart of a father.......

Dipika and I met with the parents of 15-year old Tashi Phuntsho who was one among the seven boys tragically washed away by Mochu on 26 July at Tsimalakha.

With a strong whiff of incense burning in the Chhoesum, in a bedroom just opposite to it was Tshewang Tenzin, Deputy Executive Engineer of Chukha Dzongkhag, seated on the floor and his wife still weeping in the agony of their incalculable loss. Tashi Phuntsho was their second youngest child and the only son, with three sisters.

Tshewang Tenzin began his heart wrenching story, the story of seeing his son washed away in front of his very eyes.

“My son used to go to his friends’ places often and come back home by six in the evening. That particular day he had told me about going for a scout meet or something, but I had asked him not to go, and instead help us clean the Chhoesum (alter). He had agreed at first, but in the midst of of all that work, we didn’t even realise that he was not there at home.

“When we finally noticed his absence, we thought that he might have gone to one of his friend’s place as, but he never came back home after six. So after six in the evening, we started calling up our neighbours and his friends’ parents. To our surprise, even some of their children were missing. So I went out with my wife and five others, though it was raining, to look for our son.

“Sometime later, I met a very scared Tshering Samten, at about 8:30 pm, near the last shop of the town. He said he had swum across the river and had come to inform us that the boys were stranded on a large rock.

“I immediately informed Dasho Dzongda and that might have been around nine at night. We were already on the way to the spot so Dasho told us to carry on and after a while, he came along with a team of policemen.

“I was the first one to reach the spot with a few others between 9:30 to 10 pm. I can’t tell you the exact time, as in the midst of everything, it didn’t even strike me to look at my watch.

“The children were all holding on to each other and praying. They were slightly relieved to see their parents and other people on the spot. But even though we, the parents were there, it was not possible for us to do anything, other than keep looking at them.

“Dasho Dzongda communicated with everyone possible and even the dam was closed by the officials on Dasho’s request. The flow of the river could not be controlled despite that, because the flood waters from Toebichhu kept rushing down.

“Sangay Pem, one of the boys’ mother, Dasho Dzongda, the Officer In charge of the Tshimalakha police station, the Dzongkhag’s AFO and storekeeper, myself and another person got to reach a rock, which was about 40 feet away from the river bank when the river subsided a bit. The children were on another rock about 40 feet away from us. We were waiting for the water level to subside. The flood had caused the river to flow in three streams now.

“After a while the stone that our sons were standing on became visible because the river had subsided a bit. That was when I thought that there was hope of the children being rescued. Immediately, Dasho Dzongda contacted the dam people to control the flow at that rate only till the children were rescued and he stayed in touch with the dam officials from time to time.

“We then tried to throw the rope across to the children, but the boys couldn’t catch it. And even after they got hold of the rope, they didn’t know how to tie a knot properly. They tried to tie the knot briskly, maybe from the way they were taught in their Scouts training. We wanted to tell them how to tie the knot properly, but noise of the river drowned our voices.

“So we put Sangay Pem’s mobile phone in a polythene bag and tied it to the rope and sent it across. We then spoke to the kids over the phone. All of them were in half pants and T shirts, and my son was in just a pair of shorts. I told him not to panic and assured him that everyone will help in getting them out of there. We then sent three packets of glucose biscuits and a T shirt for my son in the same process as we had sent the phone across.

“They all sat down on the rock and munched on the biscuits. In the meantime, the river level rose again and we told them to stand up and keep the two little boys in the middle surrounded by the others. They looked totally exhausted. After a while, a gush of water that came from above turned into a huge tide and it washed away the seven boys from right in front of our eyes.

“They called for their mothers and fathers, and we pulled hard on the rope. The rope was actually not meant for rescuing them but just to hold them together on the stone. We were pulling them from this end and the force of the river was pulling them from the other side. But I guess that the force was greater and the rope snapped in between. That happened at around 3 to 3:30 in the morning.

“Sangay Pem and I fell unconscious at that very moment. But Dasho Dzongda woke us up and by that time, the stone that we were standing on was also completely submerged.
“Dasho immediately called the dam personnel and asked them to completely shut down the dam in order for us to look for the boys and also to save our own lives. The others might have been scared for their own lives at that point of time. But since I was the father of one of the boys, I didn’t even fear for my life. I didn’t mind dying myself.

“The ones who were on the bank threw the rope to us and we went over to the other side of the river one by one. Most of us were hurt while trying to cross the river. The last person to jump from the stone was the AFO and by that time, the river had reached danger level. The water was up to his neck.

“By the time we all reached a higher elevation, the stone that we were standing on and the bank that the others were standing on was completely submerged. That happened within a span of just 10 minutes. We were about 50 or 60 of us there, and all our lives too were in danger.

“No matter how much ever ropes we may have had with us, there was no possibility for our children to be saved at all. The children themselves were totally exhausted. You imagine yourself sitting on a floor for about just two hours... it is tiring and uncomfortable. So you can imagine how exhausted the children must have been when they had to sit for so many hours surrounded by water, in the rain, cold and hungry too.

“Seeing my child getting washed away by a ferocious river right in front of my eyes is a moment that I will never be able to delete from my memory. I think all of us tried our best to save the lives of the seven children but nature was simply merciless on us.

“Since I was one of the persons catching the rope that snapped, it seemed as though I just let my child’s life slip away from my own two hands.”

P.S. This is an article that I count as the greatest from all those that I have written so far. It wasn't easy bringing out the emotions of a father who lost his son but at the same time, I was emotionally drenched so much so that I had the best time bringing it out without any difficulty with words.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Money isn’t everything or is it??????????

As an adult, having a job matters because it’s through a job that we earn money and can buy ourselves things that we want and fulfill all responsibilities, but the million dollar question is “Is money everything that matters in life?”

Besides money, integrity, security, environment, sense of belonging- does all these not count?

If someone tells me, “No, money is everything, rest doesn’t even make a difference” then I would definitely be able to say that he is a money minded person who will do anything for money. Who knows, he may even go to the extent licking his boss’ dirty shoes for that matter!

The world today revolves around the power of money. The rich and the influential are the ones who have the power to do anything. With their money, they can buy everything, they can influence others, they can change the course of law in their favour and above all, they can simply get away with anything.

Of course, rich people are the ones who can afford to run a business firm be it of any kind. They may be an illiterate but still they can afford, with their monetary power, to run a business firm of any field. For instance, an illiterate man but with money and power can afford to explore and implement the idea of opening an IT firm. He may not know head or tail of information technology, but he will have the power to employee people who know it thoroughly and yet, take the credit of the firm’s success.

That’s how the world has become now. Money is everything for almost everyone.

But still, in the midst of all these nasty monetarily-powered beasts, we find people, for whom, integrity, honesty, environment, security and sense of belonging means much more than money power.

For people like these, money power is absolutely baseless. No matter what post they hold in an organisation, if they, even slightly, feel insecure, if the environment is not what it should be and the authority itself dominating and corrupt, but despite that, the money that they earn from that particular organisation good, even then they prefer to forego the package and stick to what is right.

For such persons, peace of mind and true sense of rightfulness are all that they hold high above anything else. Money is a secondary element for them. They may, at times, be forced to believe that their perspective of life does not work anymore in today’s world. Despite that, they will sternly stick to their ethics no matter what.
But out of every 100 persons in this world, the above holds true for, shockingly, just about five persons. I don’t know if there has ever been a report on this particular matter and I don’t even know whether others agree with me but I have seen life, I have observed all these and I have realised it all.

Sometimes, we have heard people talk about men or women who have never moved forward in life. They say: “This man has been in this particular post from the time I remember.” However, what people who say this don’t realise is that they are the people who have been honest all their life and for whom money comes after their rightfulness. When people are otherwise, by any which way, they will climb up in life and resemble successful in front of everyone. The fools will appreciate these people and admire them, but the wise will always question in this regard.

I don’t mean to say that all rich and affluent people get to their position through unfair means, but to be true, the case is different only for a handful. For the rest, unfair means are what take them to a high level.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

What’s all the fuss about Christians?

The other day, I was going through Kuensel forum and I was deeply disturbed by the kind of comments people had written with regards to the 500 Christian missionary teachers coming to Bhutan.

I learnt about those teachers in one of the google alerts and I was quite shocked myself. According to the article, the teachers were invited by the education minister. They had also called upon the prime minister.

These teachers, according to the article, would come to Bhutan to teach English, Science and Mathematics in various schools.

People have written such defamatory statement against the education minister. They have openly condemned the Bhutanese Christians.

The terms used to describe Christians are so derogatory in the forum that for a moment I thought that I had committed a huge crime for being born as a Christian in this country. I even realised about the way others feel about us and the way they despise us.

Spontaneously, I asked myself a question: “What wrong have Christians done to others in the country that there is an evident hatred against us?”

Are we not humans like others? I do accept the fact that the new converts often times, over do everything but just by looking at these few people, we should not be generalised. Will it be okay for me to openly declare that all Buddhists are ill mannered and uncivilised by just taking few such people into account?

No! Right? And I will not do it because I respect all religion. It’s just a different approach that we take but eventually, heaven is everyone’s destiny.

Fine, it is okay for people to voice out their opinion but one thing that really shocked me was the fact that Kuensel overlooked in its forum management.

The comments are usually moderated. But the comments that were published in the forum with regards to the 500 Christian teachers seemed not moderated at all.

In my six months experience as a reporter and three years course in Journalism, I have learnt about the Journalistic ethics. As a Journalist or a media person, we should not be supporting anything that would create communal discord. So as a journalist myself, I don’t see any reason why such comments were published in the forum of the National Newspaper- which everyone looks up to!

The comments were not only breaching journalistic ethics but also defaming one of the most learned persons in Bhutan- Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyel.

If the Christian community (though small) and the Lyonpo himself were to sue Kuensel for that matter, I am sure Kuensel would be in a thick soup! But, we believe in the saying: ‘God sees the truth but waits.’

And what happened finally? Lyonpo damned the subject as just a speculation! It was not true. These teachers had visited Bhutan but no concrete resolutions were finalised on them coming and teaching in the country. That is perhaps what we Bhutanese are quite known for- making a fuss about nothing!