Actually, the subtitle is what I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Anyone who reads the book learns the irony in the title pretty quickly.
What did I learn? Well, enough that I wrote a book about it, so it's a little hard to distill in three lines in a questionnaire.
But simply, it's that: The world does not revolve around you; the world is a very big, very complicated place and we can all help one another; that when you reach mid-life, as I had, and are wondering how you can grow old gracefully and with purpose, you can re-direct your energies to do meaningful work. Being in Bhutan also re-enforced for me how fortunate I had been in my life and in my work.
My father had twenty two acres of cultivable land in Chanautay village but my elder brothers were not helping in the farm. I was sent to study in Sanskrit Pathsala in Lamidanda at the age of seven. I studied various subjects of Sanskrit language and grammar until I turned sixteen. Narad Khatiwoda, Devicharan Baral and Dhanapati Adhikari were some great teachers of the pathsala. A temporary residence (hostel) was constructed by Padmalal Baral with local help to accommodate the students. I stayed in the hostel and did all my personal duties like cooking, washing, collecting firewood from the forest besides keeping the study.
Drinking water was not available nearby and it was one of the chores we did very early in the [...]
Following the offer of third country resettlement program, even BNS team members had to agree to a dispersed living across the world, within the parameters set by resettling countries. It is perhaps, what we like to call, a ‘choice from a choice-less choice’. As you all do, we are also struggling for both personal and family’s existence in the new setting. Nonetheless, we are truly committed towards devoting our time to safeguarding your right to information through the steady existence of BNS. Of late, we started to fear that we might have to lose emerging writers due to our inability to remunerate their efforts.
Human rights and democracy in Bhutan are topics being very recently discussed in the parliament with little hope and more skepticism. The traditional bureaucrats who have now camouflaged to political elites, are all confused and perplexed to handle constitutional posts and shoulder responsibility to deliver rights and justice guaranteed by the constitution. Human rights situation have long been in a degrading situation with no freedom of expression, thoughts, association etc unless directed by the royal command. Efforts to improve the situation, at least on the face of defending human rights situation in UPR, have no implications.