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Distance Education arrives in Bhutan

Laya - a remote Bhutanese villageWhen I first arrived in Bhutan, I was invited to help the government’s Department of Information demonstrate the power of technology in an effort to get more government funding. We mocked up a distance education system using the two Polycom systems that were in the country at the time. The teacher stood in one room and drew on the blackboard as he spoke. The students sat in an adjacent room […]

Zinacantan Weaving Workshop

Zinacantan men specialise in growing flowers and the women specialise in weaving. We visited a weaving workshop with a number of rooms covered wall-to-wall in bright coloured shawls and table runners and the women delighted in dressing us up in their traditional garments. Fiona wore a skirt, belt and a vibrant blouse that was soon covered beneath a bridal shawl. I was given a simple woollen shirt and a hat, beneath which my western clothes were clearly visible so that I felt half dressed.

By |3rd July 2013|Mexico|0 Comments

Dragon Bones Supports Education of Bhutanese Girls

The first royalty cheque for Dragon Bones was for 502 copies sold over 6 months. That’s about 10% of my big goal of 5000 sales. My main driver for selling so many copies (it is a lot for an unknown writer) was to ensure substantial support for Bhutanese organisations. To put this in perspective, my full target of 150,000 Nu was equivalent to 18 months base salary for a government employee. The recent strength of the Australian dollar makes the royalties worth far more in […]

The Good Samaritans

I didn’t see what befell the old man, but he’s being helped off the highway crossing by two others as I walk around the corner. He doesn’t appear to know his helpers and doesn’t acknowledge either. As soon as he reaches the curb, he grabs hold of a railing and tries to support himself.

I try to work out what has happened before I offer help. Is the man hurt or in shock or just slow? Was one of the men who helped him off the […]

By |6th November 2011|Australia, Bhutan, China|0 Comments

A Day At The Airport

One person’s belief is another person’s superstition. This became clear during one of my classes for my anthropology degree. I’ve never been one to avoid black cats or walking under ladders. I do have a tendency to avoid cracks in the pavement, but that’s more a mild OCD than superstition. It’s been very difficult to find something that I believe that others would call superstition, but that’s why my opening sentence is so true.

Yesterday, my father and his wife had a combined 70th/60th birthday party with […]

By |28th August 2011|Australia|0 Comments

Bhutanese Repatriated

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about Bhutanese/Nepali refugees settling into new homes. It’s news I’ve waited years to hear, but that’s short compared to the time these people have waited to feel welcome somewhere.

While I’m always sympathetic to the plight of refugees, I generally don’t think that them fleeing, or repatriating them, is the best option. I said this in a recent post and […]

By |1st August 2011|Bhutan|0 Comments

Science of Happiness

Only months before I moved to Bhutan I was introduced to the country by an article that gushed about Gross National Happiness, a concept created by the Bhutanese king in 1972 to guide development. Rather than measuring economic growth, Bhutan aimed for happiness through the four pillars — natural environment, good governance, cultural values and sustainable development. The idea made a lot of sense to me […]

By |22nd June 2011|Bhutan|0 Comments

Bhutanese Belief in Shangri-La Naive

Could the Bhutanese belief in their Shangri-La status be naive? Bhutanese lama Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche asked this question in the Bhutan Observer on Friday. It’s very similar to one of the central themes of Dragon Bones and he raises many of the points that I describe anecdotally. There’s a snake in this garden of Eden.

The simplest view of this analogy would be to say that […]

Dragon Bones For Charity

I’m very excited to say that the first copies of Dragon Bones have been shipped. This is a good time to announce that 50% of the royalties for all editions of Dragon Bones will go to Bhutanese organisations.

Two years living in Bhutan convinced me that local people are best placed to identify and address the issues that the country faces. International organisations may like to think that they know what’s best for a developing nation, but they’re really just pushing Western values onto another culture. Following are some of […]

ANZAC Day – A New Perspective

A small ceremony in Armidale gave me new perspective on ANZAC Day. I’ve always understood it as a day to remember the fallen soldiers and the sacrifice they made for our countries. When in Bhutan, I began to see it as a day to look towards a peaceful future.

The service began at 9am, well after the traditional dawn start, but we still arrived […]

By |30th April 2011|Australia|0 Comments

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