A book reflecting life during the pandemic

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A new storybook – β€˜life and living in Bhutan amid Covid-19: stories and vignettes from communities’ – recount how individuals from different walks of life have tided over the Covid-19 pandemic through thick and thin.

Published by Bhutan Media Foundation (BMF), the stories were written intelligently, creatively, and evocatively by a group of senior journalists with the support of a Canadian fund for local initiatives. It was launched on 17 March in Thimphu.

The book contains 39 stories from the communities bringing broad themes about what it is like living in Bhutan at this time. These include volunteerism and sacrifices, agriculture and farming, education and teaching-learning, family and quality time, welfare and compassion, religion and spirituality, tourism and film industry, habits and hobbies, and life and death.

And they also cover love and violence, art and culture, media and internet, gadgets and gaming, illness and medication, old age and co-morbidity, addiction and mental illness, yoga and physical exercise, and of course, chillies and empty wallets – stories typical of Bhutan.

The Executive Director of BMF, who is also the managing editor of the publication, Needrup Zangpo said although the book is not about public authorities and leadership during the pandemic, the stellar leadership of His Majesty the King and government shines through most of the stories.

He added that anyone who has tracked Bhutan’s progress and fight against the pandemic will see almost all success stories mirroring His Majesty’s visionary leadership.

Above all, he said the stories are a portrait of resilience, solidarity, and resourcefulness of Bhutanese people. β€œWe have tried to make the stories as diverse as the scope of the book has allowed,” he added. β€œBut there are countless stories out there.”

The writers also reflect on how the pandemic has brought out the best in the Bhutanese with stories ranging from a de-suup who left behind her home and two young children to volunteer as a frontliner to a young man who lost his job only to become a successful farmer and a man who ensured that no stray dog is left starving on the empty streets of Thimphu.

These are people’s stories. The chapters are concise, some only a page, but they evoke different feelings and emotions in their paragraphs – worry, fear, love, loneliness, boredom, admiration, adoration, appreciation, uncertainty, and many more.

One chapter begins: β€œMen and women smartly dressed in orange uniform will remain part of Bhutan’s pandemic story” narrating how men and women from all walks of life rush to join De-Suung.

β€œDeliberately kept short, the stories are meant to be snapshots of larger narratives,” says Needrup Zangpo. β€œBut put together, they form a narrative of a cross-section of the Bhutanese society.”

They will distribute copies of the book to the people and various school libraries across the country. β€œWe wish to distribute the book as widely as possible and so that as many people as possible read our stories,” he said. β€œWe have enjoyed writing the stories. We hope you will enjoy reading them.”

Meanwhile, Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner to Bhutan base in Delhi, Deirdre Kent applauded Bhutan’s efforts in managing the pandemic well saying β€œBhutan showed exemplary leadership to fight against the pandemic to rest of the world.”

The deputy high commissioner and officials from the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives virtually joined the launching event.