Monday, December 3, 2012

'Buddhist inspired values in business' workshop

On 24-25 Nov, I spent the weekend in Brussels with 40 wonderful, like-minded people of varied background - academics, business managers, entrepreneurs, nuns, nonprofit leaders, management consultants, public servants and students - exploring the application of Buddhist values in business management. I had the great privilege to coordinate the event and share a few thoughts about my ongoing journey of discovering Buddhism, Buddhist economics, GNH and Bhutan.

More importantly, I learned a lot from our panel of excellent speakers such as Prof. Laszlo Zsolnai, Joel MagnusonBart Weetjens, Keturaja, and Dr Karma Phuntsho. Via video interview, Dasho Karma Ura was also sharing his inspiring thoughts about Gross National Happiness, Buddhism and Business.

Active participation, thoughtfulness and open-mindedness of the audience made the workshop a fruitful and enjoyable event to be continued in the future.

More: www.bububrussels.blogspot.com



To visually support my talk, I borrowed and changed a bit the title page of
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse's popular book 'What makes you (not) a Buddhist?'


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Last chance to register



This is your last chance to register before 18th November to this unique international workshop on Buddhist Values in Business and its Potential for Europe on www.bububrussels.blogspot.com


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Talking Matters

Ms. Namgay Zam invited me to talk about my relation with Bhutan, Corporate Responsibility and Gross National Happiness on BBS1, the national TV channel in Bhutan. She is a very professional anchor who puts her guests at ease. I'm grateful that I had this great opportunity to share my ideas with the public.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

GNH, American Dream and Real Life -- Part 1-2

This is my original article as submitted to The Bhutanese, a national newspaper. It was published in two separate parts as part of a debate on theory and practice of Gross National Happiness.


GNH, American Dream and Real Life


Please forgive me: I'm a Hungarian chilip who doesn't permanently live in Bhutan and I'm not a GNH expert. However, I dare to offer some additional thoughts to the healthy discussion provoked by Dr David L Luechauer in Kuensel and The Bhutanese hoping to contribute to Bhutan's future development.

Some of you may think I'm trying to defend GNH and Bhutan against critics. This is not the case, because GNH or Bhutan doesn't need my defense and protection. Personally, I can't see any problem with Dr David criticizing GHN practice without knowing the concept well while relying on his personal and limited experiences. I keep hearing from my Bhutanese friends that he probably did a good service to Bhutan when raising some valid points. He may even be right saying that widespread domestic practice should have predated any extensive international promotion. I can't really judge. 

What I know for sure though is that GNH provides inspiration to many people outside Bhutan, including my friends in Europe, who explore alternative ways of organizing our societies. I say 'inspiration' which doesn't mean that we would like to take GNH into our countries as it is. No, we want to study the concept, see the results and challenges in Bhutan, and then figure out what we can learn from it and how we can apply the learnings. Doing so, we also hope to help Bhutan improve and apply GNH. 

In my article, I hope to add new dimensions to the conversation by focusing on three things: 1) the universal gap between theory and practice; 2) proposed solutions to Bhutan and their viability; and 3) the business sector's role in further developing Bhutan. 


The theory vs. practice gap

I don't know Dr David, but he may have fallen into the trap several chilips did before: prior to his arrival, in his mind, he may have constructed his own Shangri-la or Happiness State with ever-smiling citizens governed by an enlightened policy called GNH. Then, he got disappointed when he found a real country with real people struggling with real everyday problems. And then he concluded that his home country is still much better.

When I was 18 years old I fell into the same trap, but my constructed Shangri-la was the United States. I was living in Hungary in Eastern Europe under a 'light communist' regime and for my birthday I received a BigMac from one of my best friends. He queued for hours in front of the first newly opened McDonald's in the country and I still remember the thrill I had just looking at this small piece of food on the dinner table. It was a precious sacred object, much more than a sandwich. For me, it was the American Dream itself.

This happened in 1988 and two years later we had democratic elections and open market and later I got my dream job at Levi's, the American jeans company. Today, I laugh when I recall the BigMac story. Since then, I've grown up and learned to see the difference between the American Dream and a hamburger. In other words, I know the difference between marketing and reality. I know that the American Dream, which is globally marketed by brand builders, politicians, Hollywood and many US citizens, is not fully practiced in its home country neither. I've been there and I've seen it. It's a political slogan or a well-promoted philosophy, if you wish. Just like Free Market Economy which doesn't exist nowhere due to government's intervention, protection and subsidies, big business monopolies, and human nature. 

And this discrepancy between a well-rounded concept and rugged reality naturally applies to GNH, too. And that's fine. I'm afraid that we, adults, have to accept that GNH and the American Dream are both aspirational concepts of great minds which are marketed by talented political leaders at home and abroad, while imperfectly implemented anywhere. 

Considering this, one may ask how come that US politicians and Dr David are promoting the concept of American Dream or Free Market Economy or Equality or Democracy across the globe if they are not fully practiced at home? How about gun violence, crime, unemployment, homelessness, obesity, environmental degradation, stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, debt, high military spending, increasingly limited social mobility, money-driven politics, anti-market government subsidies, stagnating middle-class income, and growing gap between super-rich and the rest of the US?  The US is no longer what it used to be. Shouldn't they just get their own house in order first before trying to sell their concepts to the world? 

You might be surprised, but I think they shouldn't. I think Americans and Europeans - including Dr David - have the right to promote whatever values, concepts, ideas and philosophies they think are right - regardless of their implementation. It can be the American Dream, Free Market Economy, Democracy, The Invisible Hand, Individualism, GNP, Well-being, Christianity, Human Rights, Peace&Love, Tree Hugging, Philanthropy or Superman. Whatever. These constructions of the mind are all imperfect when practiced, but still it's worth globally debating their viability and implementation.  

On the other hand, all men and women are born equal, not only Americans or Europeans. If Dr David has the right to promote his values and criticize those of others - and I strongly believe he has - others have the same right, too. We all have the right to explore alternatives or adjustments to the American Dream, McKinsey, IMF, Hollywood, or Wall Street without immediately being labelled as communist, Marxist, fundamentalist environmentalist, anti-capitalist, or anti-Superman. 

And I believe that GNH as a concept is potentially one of many viable alternatives to our current global socio-economic system in crisis. Again: it's worth discussing it as a concept globally among many others. Even in more developed countries. Regardless of its implementation in Bhutan.

But, as Dr David rightly suggested, we shouldn't get stuck in discussing philosophy too much, but let's pull up our sleeves and get to work.


On Dr David's proposed solutions to Bhutan

Going beyond his personal insights about GNH implementation and Bhutan's economic and social challenges such as alcoholism, I reviewed what Dr David was actually proposing to Bhutanese and I had a hard time to find his solutions either original or applicable or fair. Some seem to make perfect sense like hard work or better public toilets or curbing alcoholism. Others are less convincing. Given our limited time, I just want to comment on some of his controversial proposals:

1. His proposal: Bhutanese should get to hard work to build the economy and infrastructure.

I think Bhutanese farmers work hard enough to be appreciated. I think Bhutanese craftsmen work hard enough to be appreciated. I think Bhutanese doctors, forest engineers, teachers, shoe cleaners, tourist guides, taxi drivers, etc all work hard enough to be appreciated. Constructing roads, buildings, and hydropower stations in Bhutan is mostly done by Indian companies with Indian workers. They have the technology and willing manpower Bhutan lacks, so they are contracted to build. I don't see it as a problem, if properly managed. 

Building an economy takes not only hard work, but time, money, natural resources and favorable trading opportunities. And protection against cheap and/or better foreign products until the domestic industry is strong enough to compete. This complex process requires much more than the 'Just do it' attitude.

2. His proposal: be self-sufficient and produce internal products for internal market.

It's true that there are not many high quality goods made in Bhutan, but it's also true for Europe and the US where most products, including iPhones, are made in China, Mexico, or other countries. Not a single developed country Dr David has listed is self-sufficient in producing goods for their citizens. They all outsource and heavily rely on other countries' resources and labor such as Middle East oil or cheap Chinese workers.

Bhutan was basically self-sufficient when it was an isolated agrarian country. With globalization and uncontrolled urbanization, higher expectations of urban populations have to be met through importing goods. The real question for me is whether Bhutan will be able to generate sufficient income through tourism, foreign grants, and sales of electricity and locally made goods to continue buying foreign products and services, and occasionally reduce its current debt. If not, individual consumption and government spending have to be reduced to a lower level and politicians and citizens should accept that. 

3. His proposal: be driven by Dow Jones and Nikkei, in other words by the stock exchange.

I'm not sure what this means. Can Dr David imagine, for instance, an effective rehabilitation system for alcohol addicts that is driven by the stock exchange index, instead of solidarity, empathy, human caring, family support and love? Companies may be driven by numbers, but not entire societies.

4. His proposal: don't rely on foreign aid.

I agree. It's good to be independent from foreign money in the long run. On the other hand, foreign aid is not necessarily bad and can be used wisely at early development stage. After World War II, Western Europe was basically rebuilt on foreign support: the Marshall Plan of the United States. The same aid was proposed to the Soviet Union which rejected it for political reasons. Well, one can decide today who made a better decision. 


5. His proposal: get back to monarchy so the King has full power to follow Jack Welsh's example who restructured General Electric.

I think it's a bit irresponsible to propose 30 year-old business management techniques to a country's leadership. What Bhutan needs is 21st century solutions tailored to its unique geopolitical situation and culture. A country is not a company.


6. His proposal: look at the US, Denmark, Germany, etc.

Discussing solutions, Dr David compares small Bhutan with the US, Singapore, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden in his article of Kuensel (11 Aug 2012). On one hand, I agree: Bhutan can learn from more developed countries in terms of education system, health care, skilled labor, English language skills, craftsmanship, or entrepreneurial spirit.
However, this comparison has its limitations. Sweden has always been a trading country and it assisted both waring parties during Second World War which helped create a strong industry. Singapore is perfectly situated to be a trading hub which generates wealth. We can clearly see further limitations when we compare populations, geopolitical status, the huge amount of resources these highly industrialized countries use, the garbage and pollution they produce, and the money some of them spend on military projects or government subsidizes in order to protect their national interests and serve their citizens' needs. 

Just on agriculture subsidies: since 1995, $277 billion have been paid in government subsidizes to farmers in the US (http://farm.ewg.org). In 2011, direct aid to farmers and market-related expenditure amounted to 30% of the total European Commission's budget. (http://ec.europa.eu/budget). This high percentage translated into over $55 billion in one single year coming from tax-payers (including me) to private companies. Recipients of 6-figure agriculture subsidizes in 2012 also included the Queen of England (BBC news). 

I wonder what is the learning in this for Bhutan? Should it use 30% of its public budget to subsidize farmers? Or the learning is actually to avoid such policies? It's not clear in Dr David's recommendation.

Again, no doubt, Bhutan can learn from these so called 'GNP' countries keeping in mind that they have developed their strong economy over centuries of wars, colonisation, slavery, migration and immigration, revolutions, industrial revolution, international trading, outsourcing, social unrests, fiscal paradises, and environmental degradation. In many ways, Bhutan can also learn from other emerging market countries or from smaller countries like Hungary which have gone through major political and economic transition similar to the one in Bhutan.


The business sector's role in developing Bhutan

I think Dr David and I would agree on high importance of the business community in a country's development. Recognizing this importance, GNP is part of GNH which places the business community, with targeted government support, in key position to creating suitable solutions for Bhutan. 

Working with small and medium-sized enterprises at the Thimphu TechPark and Loden Foundation, I observe that local businesses - apart from the need to be more entrepreneurial and professional in their management - need to be more socially and environmentally responsible in their operation. The goodwill is most of the time given, but new entrepreneurs need to find their way of balancing profitability and responsibility. Government incentives, visible good examples from larger businesses, educated consumers, and tailored training programs would help them a lot.  

As a coach, I work with Shoe-Vival/Help-Shoe Bhutan. Started about 2 years ago, this small enterprise has demonstrated that it's possible to provide high quality service in a socially and environmentally responsible way. If they can do it, everyone can at least try. I hope to see a more engaged business community in Bhutan.

As a global citizen who genuinely cares about Bhutan, I aim to make a difference by offering assistance in finding 21st century business management solutions that consider social and environmental impact and suit a small nation like Bhutan. If Bhutan could adapt the latest telecommunications technologies, why not to tap into the latest management techniques and economic models based on stakeholder engagement, sustainable agriculture and tourism, social entrepreneurship, collaboration, ethical business conduct, values-based leadership, frugality, simplicity, locality, corporate responsibility, small and medium sized company development, Buddhist economics, behavioral economics, impact investment, ethical banking, etc. 

Today, I don't think that opening a bottle of Coca-Cola would make me happy and I think twice before buying BigMac, because I know that my purchase could increase the risk of floods in Bhutan endangering the beautiful Punakha Dzhong and modest houses of my Bhutanese friends. That's what I would call globalized solidarity and awareness of interconnectedness. 

Mahatma Gandhi said: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony". Creating this happiness is challenging, but such public debates may help move towards such harmony in Bhutan, Hungary, the US and all over the world - before it's too late.

Thimphu, 28th Sep 2012


Zoltan Valcsicsak used to work for Levi Strauss & Co, the Californian jeans company and he's currently independent Corporate Responsibility Advisor in Europe and volunteer business coach in Bhutan. He's also founding president of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society.




 You can read the article on line in two parts in The Bhutanese:

http://www.thebhutanese.bt/gnh-american-dream-and-real-life-part-1/

http://www.thebhutanese.bt/gnh-american-dream-and-real-life-part-2/

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Buddhist Values in Business and its Potential for Europe




I happen to coordinate a unique workshop to be held in Brussels on 24-25 November 2012. It's an interactive, small gathering for people who are interested in exploring how Buddhist values can be applied in business management and how such approach may improve the way business is currently conducted in Europe and elsewhere. We will also have participants from Bhutan so that the concept of Gross National Happiness can be part of our conversation.

You can read more about this event and register before 18th November on www.bububrussels.blogspot.com

And, of course, feel free to spread the word around.




Monday, October 1, 2012

Angry Birds invading Bhutan

Do you know Angry Birds? If not, you are disconnected from Bhutanese pop culture. About one out of three kids and young people is wearing Angry Birds t-shirt here. Even under their gho (and maybe under their kira, too, but I've never checked this). Probably even more play the computer game. 

There is another game called Happy Birds , but it's not really successful. Human nature is a mystery. Somehow it's much more fun to shoot out living angry birds as bullets trying to kill sheltered pigs. I wonder what's next.... Maybe marijuana fed flying pigs will take revenge !

UPDATE ON 20 March 2016: Watch the new trailer for the Angry Birds Movie just created of the International Day of Happiness. 





Thursday, September 27, 2012

George Clooney in Bhutan

I found this wonderful product on the shelf of a drugstore in Thimphu. Celebrity endorsement is powerful, so I'm kind of tempted to give a try. If it has worked for George... 

Although I'm a bit confused after careful examination of the two products. Was he bald before  or simply grey? Most probably, first he was grey then he lost his hair. In both devastating cases, the product helped. 

He must have a great PR team so that these dirty secrets have remained uncovered until now. 


Yes, it's him. No doubt.
Before and after. In which order?
Good advice for consumers who don't like fake stuff.


So the French not only gave the Statue of Liberty, but they also secretly did other great services to the US. 
Big MERCI.


George is depressed, because his hair is grey again. And he seems to suffer from Extensive Beard Disorder, at least on the right side of his face. Please don't give up. I'm sure there is a great new product in the pipeline to help.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Popular games played at Tsechus

Last year, I visited Paro Tsechu. This year I was in Haa and Thimphu to enjoy the local versions of these religious festivals which tend to be real festivities with people dressed in their best, picnicking, chatting, watching mask dancers, shopping and playing. They play one of the country's traditional games such as khuru (dart), digor (throwing stones), and the most popular archery. 

But they also play other games as you can see in the pictures. And they involve monks, too. 

This is roulette where you can win different things from the shelf. I played with the no13, no surprise I lost my 20 Ngultrum.
It requires full mental concentration to pick up the full beer bottle, so this monk has some advantage. 
This game is universal, also played in Hungary. 

This combines dart with roulette.  You put your money on numbers, throw your dart towards the target, and the referee loudly announces the number you hit. 

This is an advanced version of a game, caramboard, played across the country. You pick a numbered bottle cap  (see DVD box on the right) and try to put as many numbered disks as necessary in the corner holes by hitting them with another disk to reach a total figure of 20 - adding up the numbers you put in the holes + your bottle cap number.  If you pick the bottle cap numbered 20, you immediately win.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Visiting a film crew next to the Chinese border

In a small traditional village located in the Haa valley, western Bhutan, not far from the Chinese border, a new Bhutanese movie is being made. The director is Karma Tshering who was the first professional movie maker in Bhutan. With substantial international experience, he's now back to making fiction movies after a 7-year period of documentary film making. One of the leading roles is played by popular actress Kezang D Wangmo

I got invited to the first day of the shooting and I was impressed by the humble and welcoming crew. I had a great time and look forward to the premiere. 

In good company with Kezang D Wangmo and Karma Tshering

The crew in action

Monday, September 17, 2012

Taktsang Palphug Monastery

Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Tiger's Nest. 3120m above see level. Visitors and clouds come and go. Magical memories last forever...



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No cars, just football, puppies and drugs

In Brussels, there is one Sunday a year when cars are not allowed to circulate within the centre. In Thimphu, every Tuesday is a 'car-free' day. On that day, only taxis can go to the centre and the policemen, who normally control the traffic from their nicely decorated booth at the only major junction of the city, also take a break.



So I walked around and saw again one of my favourite stray dog families with puppies sucking a bit of milk in the middle of the road. Aren't they cute?




At the end of the day, I played outdoor football (5 aside) with enthusiastic local kids and two guys of my age. We stopped when we could no longer see the ball and each other in the dark. I felt much better afterwards than last year when I foolishly agreed to play against the police team on a big pitch.  Then, I was almost dead after ten minutes. Now, I decided to play  once or twice a week.

I forgot to tell that this time I used a bit of drugs. And I have to admit I inhaled it. Although, with no cigarette or any other conduit was involved. It's pure and natural, right from the source. You just stand in and slowly breath in and out, in and out, in and out ...



Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm back to Bhutan !

Today, I'm back to Bhutan to meet my friends and hopefully make new ones; work with local entrepreneurs at Thimphu Tech Park and Loden Foundation; and learn more about this amazing country. 

I flied from busy Kathmandu with the Himalaya mountain range on our left side and was greeted by the top of the Everest cutting through the white cloud blanket. 

I gave a glance at 'Tashi Delek' on-board magazine of Druk Air which again had some surprise for me (see last year's delight and now this interesting interpretation of happiness: the Happiness Duty Free). 

Driving from Paro to Thimphu with the friendly driver Lb, a rainbow welcomed me bridging the valley and the mountain top.

Arriving to the city, I noticed many new construction sites spreading everywhere like giant mushrooms - maybe due to the rainy season. 

Then at night I went to one of my favourite places to grab some excellent momos with their healing lemon and honey tea.

And now when I can't sleep and I'm writing this, I'm entertained by the barking concerto of the city's numerous stray dogs. 

I missed all that: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and first of all the Beauty. I'm glad to be here again.

Tashi Delek.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Free WiFi in Bhutan


People wanting to visit Bhutan have asked me about availability of free internet in the country. This of course changes fast as new places open and others may close, but I have found this information for you on thimphutech.com :

The following establishments offer free WiFi.

Paro
  •  Tshernyoen's Cafe (next to Bhutan Telecom). 
Thimphu
  • Ambient Cafe (opposite PNB Bank). Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 9pm.
  • Art Cafe (Next to the Swiss bakery)
  • Cafe Italia 
  • Hotel Tandin (Norzin Lam, near Logar cinema) 
  • Karma's Coffee (above Zangthopelri Complex, peach-colored building)
  • Om Cafe (Jojo's building) 
  • The Zone (Opposite the Stadium)
Note: Since broadband usage in Bhutan is charged by the amount of data transferred, the connections are often password-protected to prevent abuse. Request the code from the owner. Please use the connections gently (i.e.., avoid downloading movies, audio and YouTube videos, as well as long Skype calls).

To see updated list, check: http://www.thimphutech.com/p/free-wifi-in-bhutan.html

Monday, July 30, 2012

Can happiness be measured? - two different views



When considering new ways of measuring progress of a nation such as Gross National Happiness, Happy Planet Index, EU Beyond GDP, OECD Better Life Index, etc, there are experts who argue for and against. This short interview on the Guardian with Julian Baggini and Lord Richard Layard is a recent snapshot of this exciting debate.


A unique workshop with speakers from Bhutan, Hungary, US and Europe to be held in Brussels, Belgium in November also aims to contribute to this discussion through looking at the application of Buddhist Values in Business.


To learn more about this event and register, click HERE

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

His Majesty the King granted an audience to Loden


I love photographs. There is a life story behind each face. And then there is another story behind: a reason why people in the picture got together. They met, spent time together and went home. But the picture framed them together, forever. And, of course, there is another story which emerges between the photograph and the viewer. 
When I look at the faces in the picture above, I have a real story to tell about each person, the way we met, the things we talked about, laughed about, or things we did together... 
And here is the story about the picture: His Majesty the 5th Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck granted an audience to the members of the Loden Foundation at Linkana palace on 7 May 2012. The Loden team was led by Dasho Meghraj Gurung, one of the trustees of the Loden Foundation with four other members for the royal audience.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happiness is a skill we can learn


Western neuroscience has now confirmed what Eastern wisdom has known for a long time: happiness is a skill we can learn. 

Research shows that happiness, compassion and kindness are the products of skills that can be learned and enhanced through training, thanks to the neuroplasticity of our brains. 
Happiness is not set in stone
Although our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. As much as 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. So the good news is that our actions really can make a difference.
Happiness is contagious
Our happiness influences the people we know and the people they know.
Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend's spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6%.
Mindfulness changes your brain
Recent research has shown that an 8 week mindfulness meditation class can lead to structural brain changes including increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
(extracted from www.actionforhappiness.org)





Sunday, April 29, 2012

Paro Bhutan Landing Runway 15 A319 Cockpit

When I arrived in Bhutan in 2011, I made a short video of the stunning landing on one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Here you can watch someone's similar landing video, but made from the cockpit. Don't worry: if you prefer you can chose to visit Bhutan by bus on four wheels entering the country from India...


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The serious business of creating a happier world


The first ever United Nations conference on happiness sponsored by the government of Bhutan reflects a growing momentum to redefine our notion of growth. But will happiness gain a place at the top of the world agenda?

Read full article HERE.




Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bhutanese commercials

When I was in Bhutan, someone drew my attention to a TV commercial aired in the state television. The ad showed a car that went up and down in the main road of the capital for many times without the need for more fuel and the commercial message was clear: this car consumes less fuel. However, people who bought this type of car due to advertising said to me that their new car actually consumed much more than other cars in the same category. They were very disappointed and realized that the commercial lied. They have learned a hard lesson about advertising and its credibility that we in other countries already learned long time ago.

Conducting a training session on marketing to young entrepreneurs at Loden, I highlighted this ad as a bad one that misleads consumers and ultimately disappoints and alienates them. I asked the participants not to lie in their promotional activities, because it is not only immoral, but also the wrong business strategy, especially in a small country like Bhutan.

Advertising is inevitable in a consumer society Bhutan has developed into and I collected a few Bhutanese TV commercials for you to demonstrate the current development level of the advertising industry:
































One of Loden entrepreneurs, Dawa Dakpa, produced the following advert for his Shoe Laundry:



This ad for a car brand was produced in Bhutan and tries to use the country as an attractive background for the promotion of their expensive car. In my view, they provide a rather shallow, superficial and one-dimensional image of the country and I hope they paid enough to the Bhutanese authorities in fees and taxes to compensate the damage they might do:




Once a country has commercial advertising and brands, soon they become part of  the youth culture and they are referred to, played with, twisted and customized. This is a non-professional TV commercial made by Bhutanese youth with or without the consent of the portrayed cosmetic brand:




If you know of more Bhutanese commercials, please share them with me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Losar Tashi Delek

Happy Dangpai Losar!

Last year I happened to be in Bhutan witnessing the celebration of the new year of the Female Rabbit and here you can read about my experience. At that time, I didn't realize that it was only one of the several new year celebrations in Bhutan making this country a bit unique again.

Coinciding with this year's Dangpai Losar, this Saturday I will be in Budapest talking about my last year's volunteer project in Bhutan at the event of the Hungarian Bhutan Friendship Society at The Dharma Gate Buddhist University. With our Bhutanese friends we will also cook fantastic ema datsi and other delicacies. Not to mention the promotion of Kunzang Choden's books, including the excellent 'Chill and Cheese, Food and Society in Bhutan' in which the writer shares her fascinating childhood experience celebrating Losar with her family and friends in Bumthang.

I wish you a peaceful and prosperous year of the water male dragon.