Friday, March 27, 2015

College of Science and Technology a.k.a Kharbandhi.

Do you want to hear a story? I bet you want to, but do you have patience to read a common man's tale? His boyhood? 

I was named Dawa because my Ama got admitted to hospital on a sunday, fullmoon night. I however was born on Monday but was named Dawa. Yes, Migmar sounds a shitty name to be called with. :p But too bad, few decades down the line, Dawa would be a Stray dog in books. :p This article is regarding my memories, before the place got to be known as CST from Kharbandi. 

Anyway, I was born in Kharbandi. During those days, it was called RTI (Royal Technical Institute of Technology), it was such a classy name but I never understood why most of my uncles reminded that my father was teaching to those students who flunked and didn't qualify anywhere. I however, always thought, that my father was teaching the best minds of our country. Bubble would burst later. Why? Because during those days, it was a vocational institute, and many people came there after finishing their eight or nineth or sixth grades. Perhaps in late 80s and early 90s. 

Today, the college does teach the best minds of Bhutan, it produces Undergrad Engineers who have served the nation for almost more than a decade or nearly a decade. But before we get into the current CST, let me share my boyhood in Kharbandi. This campus was before known as Kharbandi or Kharbandhi even though there's a sign written next to Check post stating: Rinchending. 

We had an old man walking all the way from Manglabarey, there is a shortcut from Kharbandi to Manglabarey. We called him Ashang. He had served as night guard in RTI, but when my days of memories had come, he would come along all the way from Manglabarey to sell potatoes (ghaar Tarul) with ginger mashed pickles. We used to play around him and he would tell us tales about Kharbandi. Few years down the line, he was night guard in one of the buildings where we lived in Phuentsholing. Near the fire, sipping his homemade tea, he would tell me stories about Kharbandi and how things were different for him now. He would tell me that there were English people who ran that institute. They were a family, they had son and a daughter. They were in early 20s, but their parents were old, and their father was Principal. His stories or myths that he might have heard about Kharbandi was that, during duar wars or some war in Pasakha, all the dead bodies were disposed in Kharbandi. So, when this institute was opened, there were skeletons he said. He would tell me ghosts stories and stories when he was young, which staffs treated him well and who didn't. 

But Ashang's story had to wait for years to come, for I hadn't grown up and Kharbandi was changing. I still remember that there weren't many workshops before and most of them were under construction. There was a boy named Asan Chettri. He and I played Talwar fight (sword fight), imagining our bamboo sticks as our swords. Just like musketeers we knew our moves, we knew the rhythm of making to bamboos strike each other with our own sound effects: tang, tang, tang, ya dishum. It so happened that while we had this sword fight, we both got engaged in it so much that I didn't see a foundation pit behind me. I fell off into the pit, which felt pretty big then, but thank god, there was water in it and I got all soaked up. It was a muddy water and I started to cry, fearing that Ama would get really mad at me over dirty clothes. Asan confronted me not to tell it to anybody, and if I did, he won't allow me into his house anymore. We were kids, and commonsense hadn't touched us. Today Asan became a Dr. Asan and ran for Phuentsholing Mayor, he lost. 

There was one friend of mine, his name was Binay. Binay was very horny since childhood. I was nine then, and Binay had entered his puberty. He was so sick that he had intentionally removed his pockets from his trousers or shorts and wore no underwear. His hands were always inside his pockets though. He was Bihari and his elder brother was a sweeper, his mother was insane and we would find her singing songs or yelling around in campus. Today, when I think of it, I understand her depression over she losing her husband and her elder son taking father's job. Suresh daju was his name, Binay's brother. Suresh Daju always treated me well, and used to drop me to school when Apa had borrowed our uncle's scooter. The principal then was Keazang Chador. 

We used to have bon fires during winters, and it would only be us, the kids collecting fire woods and warming ourselves, sometimes, we would get potatoes from our homes and sometimes if some thieves were lucky, we would roast dried beef. Colony life is different, I can't explain it to you, you got to experience it yourself. Later on when we grew up, we became brothers and sisters. The bonding which came from being raised together is a very different feeling. 

We used to play football in muddy water, we used to play football during sunny days and we played it when it rained. We would go to the main ground, where there was no gallery which we can see now, and used to cheer up for RTI boys when they played against other teams. And during House matches, we cheered for the dress colour that matched our Primary school houses. Both institute and our school had the same dress colours, red, blue, yellow and green. I always cheered for Blue house. 

one of new buildings, which Sir Namgay Retty Designed.
The very firm I started my career with.
Courtesy: Facebook CST Page 
We used to go into the jungles, where colonies are built today. In those bushes, we used to make our dwellings and marked our territories. We used to call it as our house and we would team up with our circle of friends. Sometimes, we went to destroy other people's jungle house or simply stole something nicer from them. Like in my brother Pema and Mahendra's case, they had stolen bananas from Lopen Tashi Uncle and had hidden it in their jungle house. Me, Keazang and Jigme found those bananas when it had ripen. Three of us had eaten the whole of bananas.
Retty Sir's Design of Academic Block
Courtesy: Facebook CST Page 
We used to play archery for the campus would still be filled with bamboos. We made our own arrows and few of our friends even went for hunting. No body except for Dhan Uncle would catch or kill deers with his traps in the whole premises. But there was a motto, whatsoever he caught, he would give it to the whole of colony. Yes, we ate deer and wild boars. Dhan Uncle was talented in forming traps, he was just pissed with the wild animals for he had a big vegetable garden. Dhan Uncle was from Assam. During the seasons of maize harvesting, we had to shout and throw rocks at the monkeys who came in herds to steal our corns. I still remember few monkeys pressing our corns under their arm pits and running. Everybody used to practise farming and poultry. We had bananas, maize and ginger. Uncle Lopen Tashi even had watermelon, cucumbers and other vegetables. He became so mad when the new colony buildings were constructed. It was in his garden that had happened, and he being pressure patient, he got so mad he fainted.
I recall few students committing suicide there and a night guard. Today, many buildings are present in CST and it is known as CST because of their products. Back in those days, it was always called Kharbandi, the product of Kharbandi they said. 

Courtesy : Facebook CST Page 
I recall a time when Narbat, a fat kid kick my basket bladder ball. What's that? Well, when you remove the skin out of basket ball, you will see its bladder, at least that is what I was told, bladder. Now this is black in colour and is wrapped around by fibre. When you play with this basket bladder ball, it requires a great deal of technique. It becomes even lighter than a volley ball and it is bigger than a football to play with your feet. I don't know what got into Narbat, he kicked the ball so hard that it got stuck above an inclined roof of our Apa's workshop. I was so angry that he won't help me to fetch the ball, so I left on my own. I climbed the roof and got the ball back, but I slipped more too often and I hit the glass panels. The inclined surface of the roof has GI sheets and the vertical side has glass panels. You can see it even today. The glass panels are used so that workshop has illuminace during the day hours, and that particular workshop had lathe machines back then. One wrong move or had it hit those glass panels harder, I would have fallen down and died. But childhood is weird, we do impossible things which makes adults lose their minds. 

Oh, I remember our Pholmalik, we used ot call him. He had lisp while he spoke. He had all sorts of weird pictures and movies, during those days VCR was there. His whole room, right under the auditorium, few meters away from Principal's office, had posters of nude girls.

I remember days when I had to walk till Phuentsholing every morning, because RTI no more provided us with school bus. That era, was Dasho Aum Neten's era. She was always strict with government vehicles being misused. Technically and officially she was right, but that was very much tiresome for us.

And she then fired one of the staffs because he was more into business and not into teaching. However, the later made up his mini empire in computing world of Bhutan.

I heard that many times it was always proposed to dismantle this building, but not many agreed to this till date. This building is old as Don Bosco ( if i get it correct ) and many fond memories are attached to this block with many higher officials of Bhutan. Henceforth, it was never allowed to be dismantled. 

The Current MP from Chukha, Dasho Dawa Gyeltshen was Principal after Dasho Aum Neten Zangmo. This Manidungkar was built when I was in class V or VI. And Uncle Dawa as we used to call him then, put his wife's golden chain in this Manidungkar. I might be wrong, but that was what I heard when I was a kid.

This basket ball court got so slippery when I was a kid, that at one point my friend fell on his chin and had stitches. But then I was to fight him, so I asked him to fight me. I wanted to punch his chin, he however refused. Damn.
Photo courtesy: CST Page, Facebook 

I think there should be a tree there.
Photo Courtesy CST FB Page. 

This used to be prayer hall during the weekdays, and every weekend, our Father with his Nature Club band members used to perform. Every weekend. There were students performing and at times, there were Faculty members performing. We used to sing songs like WE SHALL OVER COME, while the programmes got over.
Photo courtesy: Facebook CST Page. 

Retty Sir's Design. I guess, there was one public toilet around this building's foundation. That was the most messy toilet in whole of Kharbandi with no water. I heard there was a student who would make his friends touch his thing after boring periods after lunch. One time, his friends didn't wash their hands. That guy had to leave his classes and run to this toilet, but there was no water however. 
Today, Kharbandi has upgraded to Undergraduate Engineering college from certificate institute. Once, it was even Diploma Engineering college. It was the time, when RTI staffs were very much upset. Even Dr. Surya Prakash while I did a research with him, mentioned that they could not bond with our father's colleagues because they had just reached from Deothang. Word was around that they would be scattered over whole of Bhutan, and later it did happen. Some went to Gelephu VTI, some to Khuruthang, some to Samtegang, some to Ranjung.

Today, it is no more known as Kharbandi, it is called CST. The whole area is called CST. And just imagine, what those undergraduate had to go through, their struggle to make this place known as CST. I have come across many CSTians in my career, and I have come across IITians and NITians as well. But there is always something in these graduates from CST, they never fail to dazzle me with their mesmerization for knowledge and their passion to practise engineering. But wait, I have met with few lazy farts as well. I think, if technology is all we are depended upon for our future, then many should support research facilities in CST. If you are with some budget or capital, then give it to those kids in CST, I bet you that they will do miracles. Not that they are not having proper facilities, but if we are to invent something, we need to compete with international level universities, and in order to do so, we need to have better equipments in Bhutan as well.

Even when we grew up, few of those who were born in Kharbandi later graduated from CST.

Ps: In my next post, I will share one of few stories whereby a CSTian who was brought in colony of Kharbandi sacrificed to build another majestic colony, retaining an Assistant Engineer's post. Till then, take care. Subscribe the blog. :)

PPS: I do owe a lot to CST. Because when I once worked for two months project there, it was Uncle Om Kafley Sir, who helped me a lot to get it done there. And as a student buying cement bags is a tough job, I was not only let to stay with my friends but to eat mess food. During those days, kewa datshi was served most often. That was the time when DAHE or RCSE rejected the idea and funds. CST just let me do it. The present Director of CST however, had just arrived completing his Ph.D. It was delightful feeling when I heard that he too graduated from my college. He however had a good reputation in our college unlike me, his notes were still used by a lecturer there. Even a Professor who had double Ph.D remembered the current Director. See, this is what I talk about passion. Oh, and there was one another Bhutanese Engineer, whom A K Jain himself, the guy who wrote Design of Concrete Structures, the text book used in many NITs of India, wanted a Bhutanese guy's opinion on his re-edition. This was shared to me by another senior of ours, who now is in Royal Academy.


  1. It was not the best of idea to go through this beautiful writing at this hour because I am CSTians and the stories of CST being graveyard, ghosts and suicides stories freak me out. Just kidding. I loved reading it. As always, beautifully written. Keep writing la. Take care :D

  2. Thank You Tshering Chekii, I tried not to write ghost stories and suicide stories as much as possible, because I didn't want to glorify suicide cases. Or else, you might have gotten freaked out because I think I know the places as well.

    Thank you for going through my blog. :) Thanks once again.

  3. A very nice recollection of good memories la... I enjoyed your story. It's a great piece, beautifully expressed. Keep writing la.

  4. Thank you Amrith Dai, my father worked with you as well in Youth Centre. :)

  5. Oh, r u Bahadur Sir's son? I had heard that his son Dawa Tamang was studying in CST.... I guess it was u. Well, great to know that.... Please drop by if u r in Thimphu.... I didn't know that u already know me... Great to know that. Anyway, keep blogging.... I love your stories.

  6. Amrit Sir, Yes I am his son. But I am not the one who studied in CST. Pema is the one who is studying in CST. I studied in India Sir. Yes, I would love to visit you once. I have met Riku Dai often. I will come to your office next time Sir. I have seen you many times in office, when Apa was there. :)

  7. This question has been in the minds of most folks. In the midst of the uprising advances we are also faced with lots of negative effects we see today. This question is actually related with life and medicine as technology has solved a lot of our health problems in the past that was almost impossible to deal with.