“While I was away from myself, you knocked the wind out of me and made yourself comfortable in my space. You laid claim to my heart and head, you imprinted on my couch and my bed, crept into my dreams, and left bits of you on my pillow. While I was away, you inhabited my being and took over my life. Now that I am back, dear guest, I need you to move out. So, I can reclaim my space.” This space belonged to me, even though I had forgotten for a long while now…..I come back to feel lines and wrinkles on my face that I had forgotten to trace, to feel the extra bit of flesh around my waist that softly protrudes and jiggles while I move about, to see the many extra grey in my hair….I have come back to re-inhabit this space that is me. Maybe that is a good thing, knowing these last few years blew the wind out of me, but I still took painful breathes that got me here. I got here telling lies to cajole myself out of that drab and dank place inside my head, I told tales of braver

Oh Happy Days

Today of all days demands jotting down some of my thoughts. It is literally the beginning of a new day where a beautiful idea is endorsed world over. As the world looks at Bhutan whilst celebrating the first international day of happiness, there are two kinds of emotions I am personally experiencing. One, I am proud to belong to this tiny kingdom in the mountains, out of which came what has now become a global anthem. It's an adrenaline rush and for this excitement we have but our Monarchs to thank. We are the people behind the topic because of their wisdom! How cool is that! Second, with the excitement comes a personal sense of responsibility- an almost subtle need to try and revere 'happiness' in whatever form it takes. It brings to focus that there is much to life even as we lay wallowing in our current situations. It's about making a conscious decision to stop complaining and try making the best out of what we have got. Believe me, when I say i know- I am not th

Oh! The Dutch Demon in Bhutan

All around the world, people have figured out a system of eating out; it is not unusual to eat less at home and definitely not unusual to pay separately while in a group. It gets me wondering about the evolution of dining etiquettes and the social construct from within this group activity. Dining out in itself is challenging, that the matter of the purse takes it to a whole new level - at least, in Bhutan. The rest of the world has given it a name, and for most –it is the rule. Not for Bhutan. The social construct around going ‘dutch’ is relatively new and has proven on many occasions to be nerve racking.  It is yet to become a norm, and has with it the risk of overriding the general hospitable nature in Bhutanese. But I figure the general hospitable nature in Bhutanese has its roots in the fact that as a culture, we do not eat out. Guests are welcomed at home where foods aplenty. The restaurant concept is relatively new, and newer still the crowd that eats out. Eating out to an old s

Media Culture

The first photographs of ordinary Bhutanese families surfaced around the 1950s. The family portraits would be a haphazard collection of children, grandparents and relatives, as and when one ran into a photographer. Or so it seems. Frozen monochrome expressions of the whole family; the patriarch standing stoic behind the family, his head held high, with his wife, children, grandparents and relatives by his side. Every Bhutanese will have family portraits from bygone days, commanding the best place on the showcase. My father also has one of family. He is not in the picture, but he still treasures it, most so because the photograph is the only evidence of his parents’ existence. Surefire - Most Bhutanese families, who had foreign or luxury items would have brought it along for the photo session, to be frozen along in time. Ours, like few families, has a non-descript portable radio in the photograph. A foreign object like a radio would have been the most coveted item in the village. Firs


“The Royal Government of Bhutan has prioritized tourism as one of the lead sectors in view of its tremendous potential to generate employment and promote socio-economic development thereby contributing to Gross National Happiness…” Naturally for 2011, Bhutan is bracing for an unprecedented flow of tourists for all over the world. The government is forecasting around 100,000 high end tourists for this year. Already Association of Bhutan Tour Operators cautioned the number as being too ambitious, and expected only about 60,000 high end guests. However, three weeks ago a distant occurrence in the Pacific Ocean might change that forecast. As the tsunami hit north-eastern part of Japan, it brings to mind ramifications. When catastrophe of this size hits anywhere in the world now, it’s never an isolated event. Aftershocks and ripples will be felt all over the world. The tragedy will manifest in different ways to different sections of society all over the world. As losses run into trilli

Private Sector

It was Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations that said, "The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got. The natural price, or the price of free competition, on the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken, not upon every occasion indeed, but for any considerable time altogether.” The price of monopoly in Bhutan was the highest during the time when it can be got. For a long time, a product monopolized by the masses, sought and was awarded the highest. Bhutan has witnessed over the last 40 years modest beginning of small family run general shop and domestic kitchens functioning as eateries. Due to its difficult terrain and the sporadic import of necessary or luxury goods to the country, shopkeepers took to their own discretion to set the value on items, thus monopolizing specific locality. There was no regulation of price, till the mid-1990s. The uncertainty of product availability, coupled with the sole ownership/provider in the market fueled consumers to

Measuring Success

In so much as trying to explain a teacher in Bhutan, one must first try and understand the cultural construct in which this profession took root and from whence we haven’t been able to discard the linear interpretation of that profession. Yet, when a nation needed to move forward, it was the teachers. Without the zealous loyalty and belief in the government by these groups of people, it would have been difficult altogether to crawl, let alone walk. Initiating a new wheel of learning and schooling, per se, would have required dedicated citizens to believe that wheel was taking them someplace better. Talk to any educated person, from the erstwhile environs of rural life with an understanding that education was the red robes of the monastic body, and you will receive varying stories and impressions of bittersweet- stories of many strange men on horseback, claiming to be government teachers and looking for students to take along for ‘modern’ education; some parents were strong enough