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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Jackal, My friend

‘’Why do we sometimes write about ourselves and expect people to be interested? Because our stories are usually not about ourselves. It is about everything, and everyone, around us.’’ – Within the Realm of Happiness, Dasho Kinley Dorji.

I first met Sonam Gyeltshen five years a go when I first came here to Punakha HSS as a teacher.
We were new to the school only as teachers having been here as students before. He came on transfer from a middle secondary school but it was my first placement as a teacher. He got a transfer, I later found out, because he had some problem with the principal who according to him was not so nice.

Sonam Gyeltshen AKA Jackal is one of a kind and like any nickname-story he has his story too. When studying at Zhemgang High School he danced to a Michael Jackson song, and he got the name Michael Jackson. Over time Michael Jackson became Michael Jackal and by the time I met him he was only Jackal.
Jackal is an interesting man, someone you would call a straight guy. Once right after the winter break we were behind the kitchen smoking and I saw a fresh scar right in the middle of his forehead. I asked him what happened and he said his wife broke a mug on his forehead. I didn’t buy it at first but then I saw he was not kidding so I asked why. He said he was flirting with a madam from Thinleygang MSS and had some messages in his phone, which his wife saw. His wife brought it up during dinner. He didn’t give in to the accusation and failed to dodge the mug.

I used to often see Jackal busy engrossed in chat rooms. Once he met a girl, he told me. She told him that she was a divorcee running a shop at Wangdue. His Jackal ears sprang up. She seemed unrealistically interested in him and wanted to meet him having already seen him before. He could not believe his luck.  To me he later said, “I was a tsagay (idiot), she was too sweet to be true”
They agreed a time and later that evening he told his wife he was going out to attend a farewell party for one of the out going teachers. His wife didn’t say anything, but when he was about to reach Wangdue his wife called.

‘’I know where you are tchaytola (sex maniac) come back home or else…!’’

The girl he met in the chat room was his wife.
Was there another mug thrown at his forehead? I didn’t ask, may be I should.

Once in his class, in order to revise the previous lesson he decided to have a question-answer session. He asked a boy, “Wrong answer!” so he knuckled his fore head. He continued asking the same question and he received the same answer from almost half of the class. He went on knuckling all of them until he stopped to think and then realized that the answer was right. He was wrong.
The Jackal at the school dairy farm.
To me, with a smile he said, “We are lucky to teach in Bhutan, to have students who would just laugh and forget about something like that.”  

But all said and done, Jackal is a good teacher, above all he is a good person and a good human being. He is the SAP (School Agriculture Program) coordinator in the school and with his effort the school has received numerous recognitions and awards.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Size

Picture from Google Image.

People say size matters and this line literally exhibits me or, you may say, is exhibited by me. I am short, skinny, and tiny and I am a teacher with students who are all bigger than me. But, I do find some use for my size/height.  I crack height-jokes in my after noon classes to shake off sleep in my students.
I talk a lot about my wife in my class and my students ask, ‘‘isn’t she taller than you sir?’’
I say she is, and she makes me feel like Tom Cruise. When I slow dance I rest my head on her soft bosom and that I have to be on my toes when I kiss her. They laugh and I continue my lesson with students who are more awake.

There have been many instances where my size deceived people.  But my favorite is the one I share with most of my friends.

It was sometime in 2010, beginning of the year when the class ten results were out. The previous year I taught in class ten so I wanted to know how my students did their exam.
There is a grocery shop in the building next to the building where I live. The owner of the building and the man who runs the grocery is the father of one of my students.  The boy is an average student, not someone whom you as a teacher needn’t worry about when it came to results.
So, one evening I was in the shop buying some grocery, just to enquire, I asked the old man,
‘‘Uncle how is Namgay’s (my student) result?’’
The reply was, ‘’ the tsagay (idiot) didn’t qualify! Did you qualify?’’
I told the man I was his son's teacher but he didn’t seem to be convinced, so, I told him to ask his son if he didn’t believe me. It was quite embarrassing at that time but seems funny now.

My size/height is something I use a lot in my class, like I said before. At one time I was talking about the importance of making characters credible in stories. Like most times, I took my own example. I told them that if I were a character in their story, and if they wrote that, ‘with just one punch Nobu knocked out Sir Bhim’ (Mr. Bhim is huge and the biggest teacher in school), will I, as their character seem credible? ‘‘Noooo!’’ They laughed but then I told them my character could become credible if they made me ‘spider man’ or ‘super man’ and their story would be a ‘super hero story.’ They laughed more and I continued my lesson.

Once I was trying to explain the size of a grizzly bear to my students. I didn’t have a picture and most of my students hadn’t even heard the word before. So, I told them that if I were the local black bear then the grizzly bear would be as huge as Sir Bhim. ‘’Imagine that!’’ They laughed, I knew they were imagining me in some funny bearskin, but then they had some idea about the size of a grizzly bear and I continued my lesson.

So, being tiny is useful after all.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

the chill and correction

The chill curls around my bare knees like a pussy cat. I shiver with the intense smooching it gives me and struggle with the correction that is before me. I think about going out in the sun but I am so used to working on my table that I can't make myself leave the familiar setting. So, I continue.

The variety of the hand writings, the ideas, the errors and the presentations always overwhelms me. So, before I begin I make sure I am in a good mood because I want to be fair and mark what they(students) deserve. But I am only human, so sometimes I can't help but lose myself to anger. Anger is destructive   and it manifest in my restrain in not wanting to tear, crumple, abuse and destroy the answer script before me. This happens, and I feel ashamed of myself for losing my cool. One may say this is natural and it is only normal. But, I know they are wrong and so am I in becoming angry with the paper before me.

English paper correction is the most challenging. I know most teachers will agree on this, especially when we consider the strength of our students in English. And there is also the nature of the answer to validate my claim. While correcting essays/stories the teacher needs to have full presence of mind and follow the logic of the writing with a coherent conscience. It is in short, mentally very tiring. Following words on end strains the eyes and if one continues it induces headache and dizzy state.

When it is correction time, in our school's case; group evaluation, faces frown.

The thought of having a Correction Machine always intrigues and excites me, but I know that is the escapee in me conspiring to slow me down in my correction. So, I continue my work cursing myself and the cold.