Zoom on garbage

Screaming for help

Are you an important government official? If so, did you receive an invitation to attend Young Zoom on Garbage, the art festival currently on at the Clock Tower Square? And if so, did you make it to the festival?

Chances are that you didn’t.

Young Zoom on Garbage is meant to be an innovative and powerful way of drawing much needed attention to a very serious problem. So the organizers sent out more than 200 invitations for yesterday’s opening function. But only a handful showed up: barely 10% of the invitees were able to attend the inaugural ceremonies.

That’s too bad.

The participants – about 60 children, mostly students, who, incidentally, took part in the project’s many activities during much of the last year – have put on quite a show. They have transformed the Clock Tower Square into an awesome display of Thimphu’s waste, as they caused discarded cardboard boxes, beer bottles, cement bags, newspapers, mobile voucher cards, prayer flags, cigarette boxes, computers, and heaps of plastic bottles, wrappers and bags to effortlessly morph into a video dome, a walk-in pinhole camera, a robot, a towering monster, giant raindrops, a plastic monument, a photo gallery, and an enormous hand clutching our vulnerable world.

At the Clock Tower Square, our garbage looks strangely attractive. But the message is not lost: we produce too much waste.

I congratulate VAST, the organizers of the event, for continuing to champion what their founder, Asha Karma, calls ABC on NGP (Advocacy Behavioral Change on National Garbage Problem).

And I congratulate TCC, for co-organizing the event, giving support and adding to the event’s success.

To register your support, and to make the festival a bigger success, visit the Clock Tower Square, especially if you are one of the 200 important invitees.

Our banner, featuring the “Walk the River” photo exhibition, is an open invitation to you, your family and your friends to zoom on garbage at the VAST art festival. The festival runs through Sunday.

Lost and (not) found

Urbane horses

Urbane animals

“Whoa…sho, sho, sho… Jamu-ya, sho, sho, sho! Whoa…sho, sho, sho…Tsheri-ya, sho, sho, sho,” Tshitem Dorji calls out shaking a feedbag of maize kernels. Jamu, an obedient mare, and Tsheri, a black mule, quickly respond to my cousin’s gentle entreaties. They emerge from the thick rhododendron forests to enjoy their morning meal before being saddled for the day.

It’s a clear, crisp spring morning in the mountains. And Tshochuyala, where we have camped, is beautiful. The rhododendron – several varieties of them – are in full bloom. And much of the meadows are literally carpeted with purple primulas. Giant magnolias punctuate the pristine forests with stately white flowers. And, in the distance, I can see parts of Sombaykha. I’m visiting my constituency.

“There’s enough grass here” Tshitem Dorji tells me, “so the horses stayed close to camp.” I’m happy for the horses and for my cousin.

But most camping sites are difficult. The horses don’t find enough grass, so during the night, they can cover great distances, foraging for food. And, in the morning, my cousin won’t be able to just call for them. Instead, he’d have to personally track them down, sometimes for many hours. I’ve seen this happen often. And yet, Tshitem Dorji, will not tether his horses at night. “They work the whole day,” he explains. “So they need to be free to graze at night.” Of course, he’s right.

So reading about the animals impounded in Motithang got me worried. The horses must belong to farmers like Tshitem Dorji. Farmers, probably from Lingzhi, who trekked to Thimphu to buy essential provisions – rice, cooking oil, salt – for their families. Farmers who refused to tether their horses at night. Farmers who don’t know about the Motithang pound. Or can’t afford the money to retrieve their animals.

We need to take better care of our farmers, those from distant Lingzhi and those in Thimphu. They, and their animals, roamed freely in all of Thimphu for many, many generations before we took their lands away from them.

Yes, we can no longer allow stray horses and cattle in the capital. Still, locking them up for months on end is not the solution. Instead, let’s look for the owners. And return the animals to them. If our farmers can’t afford the fine, waive it off – it costs much more to keep the animals locked up! And if that’s not possible, any one of our readers would be willing to help.

In the meantime, relocate the animals to a farm outside the city. That would be cheaper. And better for the animals. That would also prevent the TCC from breaking their own regulations: no one is permitted to keep cattle and horses inside the municipal boundaries. And that includes the city corporation itself.  They cannot impound animals in Motithang!

Blooming nuisance

Watch the hole

Watch the hole

In my last entry, Blooming dogwood, Romeo, a regular commentator, pointed out an “…uncovered drain right next to the lower police gate that is very risky for pedestrians and vehicle drivers during the day as well as night.” Romeo is right. The open drain is dangerous.

I don’t know how long the drain has been left like that, but I first spotted it about ten days ago. The City Corporation is obviously repairing something inside the drain. But they should either secure the area properly, or cover the drain when no one is working on it. Since they haven’t, I have to agree with Romeo that, “… we are waiting for a disaster and then the relevant authorities will come to the sight and try to take some irresponsible to task when all is too late.”