New year is almost here but do you have any plans? Oh you don’t? Now, that’s boring. You see I was the same. The last time I went out for a New Year Eve celebration was with a childhood friend but I was in my teens then. But then I graduated, got married and had a kid and heck, I had a million reasons not to go out every single year. I thought I had settled down but I realize I have sunk into the humdrum part of life – a nine to five job, dinner, sleep and back to work for the last 7 years. But hey, haven’t you heard of the seven year itch whereby you take stock of your life and decide the direction forward?

We waited in great anticipation for more than an hour, with freezing air from the air conditioner blowing our hair and necks until we were rattling to the bones but the wait was all worth it when the man of the show arrived. He looked like a film star – tall, boyish, extremely charming and painfully handsome. And to think I finally met somebody I had long and greatly admired felt like nothing when a friend admitted she cancelled her trip abroad just so she could attend his talk.

This was published in the first issue of Voyager which is a travel magazine, initiated by the Committee of Tourism Associations to promote tourism in Bhutan

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It was not very long ago when people had so much life and wealth in their hearts and sunshine on their faces; when doors were open to welcome anyone who knocked and strangers became friends the minute they entered homes. Of course, personal histories of many old folks has it that they knocked doors of homes that became theirs, having found a suitable love and life partner. Some who moved on after a friendly and free stay over or a brief love affair entered another home for a halt that often became permanent. As such, we have men of older generation who having been offered some dose of Bhutanese hospitality had his seeds scattered in various parts of the country and siblings who grew up to be barely aware of each other’s existence. But this was then a country, as Shakespeare would say, from whose bourn no traveler returns and truly the land of happiness where anyone was mostly happy with anyone or moved on to be happier with another.

My mother busied herself in the kitchen as soon as she arrived yesterday evening and I went in to lend her a helping hand, afterall ours isn’t an easy household to run.

“Las las dasho..nga Alu chi zhuwa taung la(Dasho..I will send a kid to get you)”, I cringed having overheard my dad speaking over the phone. I cringed because I knew who that Alu was going to be and man, it was raining cats and dogs outside. A minute later, my dad pops his face by the kitchen doorway and says “Kinga, you will have to hurry along and direct Dasho from the other parking lot to ours.”

We went to see the Project Bhutan Season 2 fashion show held at Termalingka yesterday and none was more envious than my daughter who cried that she wanted to be a fashionista. As soon as they began, I saw several guys clicking away with lenses that would have looked like rifles to my great great grandmother but nonethless, I took out my pistol and took some pictures myself. The show began with the kids gracing the stage and the audience oohhed and ahhed at the cuteness of it all, followed by determined young adults who tried their best to conceal the anxiety and the fear of being in the spotlight. But our adult models were the best...and to think we have a pool of such beauty and confidence, all in a blink of an eye and when Miss India 2011 and the Indian supermodel set the  stage on fire, they reminded me of Ostriches... although it's odd to be putting ostriches and fire in one sentence.

Since the declaration of the names of the Cabinet ministers yesterday, sections of disgruntled social media users caused something of an online riot with disapproval and disappointment which of course still pales by far from the recent sequel of drama that we have witnessed since the general election and well, well who would have thought we would have our own blockbuster actors amongst us? Fifteen grievances? PDP supporters had many names to call the grieving ones as much as DPT supporters had splendid explanations that will read like a perfect plot. From a neutral perspective, everything that has happened in 2008 has happened in the exact manner in 2013, except that this time, the coin has flipped. And peace walk? Oh My! What next? Hunger strike?

**This article is published in Yeewong Magazine's June issue
 

As she sat watching a beeline of people at the polling station booth A at Chang Bangdu on the morning of the 31st May, 2013, Tandin Wangmo, the thirty eight year old candidate for People’s Democratic Party(PDP) from south Thimphu constituency couldn’t believe the unexpected turn that her life has taken, from being a struggling single, divorced mum of two to having more than a thousand supporters from South-Thimphu constituency vote for her.

Rumors are rife that the presidential debate will not be held for the general election. This, I suppose, is not welcome news for many, including myself considering that Presidential debate is the most watched debate of all the political debates telecast on BBS.

Consider this - while many might have already decided on the party to vote for, there are still many such as those who had supported DNT or DCT in the primary round, to form an opinion and decide to invest their vote in, unless of course, it is possible to get them to stream in their votes from a backdoor of unethical promises. There are also some section of people who are willing to be convinced, people who have doubts to be cleared and people who might change their mind, given they genuinely care for this country.

I got up this morning only to be told that my favourite Bhutanese singer is no more…Yes, you have guessed it right – I am talking about the incredibly young and decent looking person who won our hearts with his song Tam Tsi Sum.

This is a great loss for all of us..for this country. He had such a great voice and I believed he could do better than anyone we have ever had. Tam Tsi Sum, despite its romantically sad tone is a really really happy song and one that would take talent and versatility to imitate, and those without it would sound like a siren trying to sing it.

I had watched Ma Vie En Rose(My Life in Pink) several years back and thought what a beautiful movie that was. Some of my friends shared the same sentiments. It was a movie that addressed trans-gender and gender issues in general through the eyes of a small kid –a boy who often dressed and acted like a girl and had wanted to marry a neighbour’s son and was totally confused when people failed to see the blossoming girl in him.

Other movies with similar issues that were equally moving are Brokeback mountain and Milk.

I remember the first Presidential debate that was held at RTC whereby somebody from the audience asked the candidates whether they would prove the rumors right by forming alliances, possibly after the primary election round to which all the four party Presidents waived it away saying such rumors are unheard of as far as they are concerned and that they have no such intention. By alliances, I believe, it could mean replacing weak candidates from winning parties by strong candidates from parties that may lose, unless ECB has rules, at which I am no expert, disallowing such activities. It may also mean the losing party agreeing to pool in all their and their supporters’ votes for the party they have formed an alliance with.

My four year old daughter was the youngest audience at the final South-Thimphu Common Forum that took place at the YHS auditorium yesterday at 4 PM. She received a DNT pamphlet that Dr. Lotay who was dressed quite humbly in a dark grey gho and lugging a laptop bag was distributing yesterday. After all the commotion about non-attendance and subsequent press conferences from DPT, PDP and DNT, there was a huge turnout, probably more than a hundred of us.

I thought it would be quite similar to the previous forum that I attended but yesterday being a Sunday worked great to my advantage. I had nothing much to do anyway and boy was I glad that I dragged myself to attend the forum!! Dr. Lotay was the star of the previous forum but Tandin Wangmo simply bamboozled the audience yesterday when she spoke with such conviction.

A wise man I met a few days back said “I can’t believe that democracy is so embryonic in our country, yet it seems to have matured to such an extent that corruption is somewhat evident every place with some contesting candidates, established or not, executing hideous plans on a section of the ignorant lot in a bid to win their votes”. As Madam Zekom, an elderly woman from a far-flung village of two households in Punakha said, “Geykhab Nam Nam-mey marey daben”, people have metamorphosed from slackers to smart Alecks – all of that within the last five years.
Today, I took an hour’s leave and scooted off to observe the common forum for south thimphu constituency candidates. A woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do afterall and I have got to vote in about two weeks’ time. But before I start wagging my tongue, let me make it clear that this piece of article is not intended to influence anyone’s voting inclination whatsoever or campaign on behalf of any candidate. I attended the event merely as a passive observer with a willingness to be blown into pieces by the most deserving candidate and also based on the fact I am a proud resident of this constituency and belief it is one of the most power packed constituency of the nation, with so many potential candidates - three fourth of whom are still reluctant to give up the comfort of their rotating chairs and join the battle on the political turf but when they do, possibly within the next few elections, this constituency will hail as the most interesting constituency.

This article was written for my good friend Borangdaza, the editor of Dharig magazine (now renamed to Gadget and available for sale in the market in Bhutan and India) and another travel magazine which will soon be out too :)
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Information technology has been on a marathon, revolutionalizing the world on its way such that states and nations are propelled towards better economic growth, newer modes of political participation (think Opposition Leader) and renewed sense of societies and communities. Competitive companies now deploy information technology for its promises in commercial potential, be it be by customer profiling, staff empowerment or managing a project. IT has permeated every wall, every barrier, often breaking them when necessary for the possibility of a competitive advantage.

Well, for the last two months, I formed the council of ministers at home save for the post of the Prime Minister – my dad held that post undoubtedly…. I maintained whatever needed maintaining at homefront, made foreign policies with our neighbours and others, managed much of our means of communication and transportation, maintained and implemented our domestic trade policies, even managed all financial issues..come rupee crunch or not and fulfilled all the duties required of each ministry. And the result? I am reduced by one tenth of my already meager mass…well, not really meager. I would like to think I have enough flesh and bones in my body but perhaps it’s just another tale of the Emperor’s new clothes.

Take for instance, the day my mom returned home from her two month long sojourn to gradually relieve me of all my severely mind-numbing duties, I heard a knock on our door and saw a young man and his two elderly companions.

A thousand droplets drummed my car
That fell from the fair face of the sky
Sweet music of April to be, they wove
Each droplet charming dead old souls to life
For flowers to bloom, hopes to blaze
Strumming to the tune of Nature
For its time to learn from memory
And shed a skin..
Unfold a chapter..
And be renewed
For another day… another life

I am a woman, my gentleness bountiful
Softness in act, love in every gesture
I laugh in mirth at all things good
I weep at the sorrows of the world
I scream at mankind’s many follies
And roar when dark clouds veil my vision

I am a woman that turns a man’s gaze
and his lips and hips,  home of all vices

**This article was written for Yeewong Mag's February issue

If you have come to believe that we have sprung forth into a world where there is no such thing as perfect anything, don’t lose heart yet.. for George Bernard Shaw’s words still ring true – there is no sincerer love than love of food – although, satirically, we are the only species on earth who befriend victims until we eat them.

Food is a global thing and at odd times, it can turn out to be as controversial as religion, racism and politics. Arguments about what accompaniments to throw into a dish is not uncommon among couples and the intensity of these arguments can climb a notch higher if the wife and the husband hail from two different sides of the country with contradicting local traditions and beliefs. The Ngalops aren’t totally fond of gravy except for specific dishes such as “maarus” and “jaajus”and prefer their dishes to be full of flavor, for they believe it’s the flavor that satisfy unlike Sharchops, the Easterners whose faith lies in quantity rather than quality. But Sharchops are more adventurous foodie lots for their tendency to mix and match flavors when it comes to cooking unlike the much more stringent Ngalops who believe that ginger, garlic and other spices each have dishes where they are appropriate for use, either as a mix or separately and an appropriate cooking time when their tantalizing flavors will unleash.

This middle aged woman glared at me for no fault of mine and when she did that, she began to resemble Dorji Drolo on fire except Dorji Drolo is supposed to be the good guy and she was far from being one. I was flummoxed at the way she threw her weight around. Firstly, she was as much a public servant as I am and politeness in the services we provide is supposed to be given top priority. Secondly, she is heading one of the most popular schools in Bhutan and that kind of attitude is unbecoming of a supposed professional and lastly, if not for anything, at the very basic level, she has to respect another individual as a fellow human being.

I could sell my soul for a voice like that, the kind that the kid by the name Tobden has. Its soothing, its smoothing and it roots out all kinds of emotions in a person. Everytime I listen to his song Tam Tshisum, my heart runs and somersaults, laughs and weeps while curling my back in melancholy. Honestly, I can play it ten times in one go and fall till the edge-of-abyss in love with the voice. But then I have always loved music, having forgiven God for forsaking me from the pomp of possessing one such talent.

Nothing matches the frenzy that enveloped the whole country in 2008. People wrote and they wrote everywhere, about which political party was the best and who should win and why. Debates were flung in all directions, between friends and colleagues and between couples at mealtimes.. at home, casual dinners with friends or official dinners. Even before the real election, there were anticipation of who should hold the post of which minister and for what reasons. My mom at one point of time told us to stop talking politics at home because she came close to puking. That was how it was. Every citizen’s day began and ended with politics. Histories of candidates were excavated and examined, piece by piece. People were curious and people were hopeful for the betterment that would come into their towns and villages and they desperately wanted the person in whom they invested all their hope to win.

I am back but did I ever leave? My doubts are brimming and memories have already begun to fade..the mind is disloyal on that front, for it only looks at what it sees. Now that my feet are planted firmly on the very ground where they first learnt to trot, it feels like I have never left or like Alice in Wonderland, I just had a long, long dream where days were sunny, characters lovely and mythical and life a brief adventure from which I awoke to find myself near frozen by the frost of the wintry might. My back feels bent to a perpendicular and should I try and stand straight, perhaps I will crumble like a cookie.