The wedding

Holding hands under the inky blue bejeweled canopy, they swore allegiance to each other. Bedecked in a brown shimmery, the translucent veil flowing away from her coy face, she looked up nervously at him. He replied with an imperceptible nod that spoke volumes of quiet reassurance.

Family and friends had gathered for the ceremony that would bind the two lovers for life. The atmosphere was electrifying and the air abuzz with each of them signaling to the other in a frenzy of activity. A huddle in here, a huddle there, some grouping for a light tete-a-tete, some to discuss an important ritual.

The younger lot broke away from the crowd, not entirely connecting with the significance of the gathering, their individual frames dotting the arena like lost stars.

At the precise moment that would signify the sacred union, the chief called for everyone's unwavering attention. The scattered swarm, even the ones that had strayed, converged obediently towards the altar. Each member of the audience held hands together, sending collective prayer heavenwards to bless the couple wedded into matrimony.

It was pure magic as the fireflies lit up, glowing like a hundred glorious suns, showering their wishes of hope and faith.

Tried to portray a wedding scene in the life of fireflies, who are known to synchronize their signals.

A 200-word fiction written for the prompt "Suns and Lovers" at the BarAThon.

All in a day's work

Adjusting her beige monochrome overalls, Kaya preened into the mirror. A slim body that was accentuated by a blue belt, she quite enjoyed the smirks of envy from her peers. There were talks that some important tenders came in solely because of her looks. But, she didn't care. She knew she had the stuff to make the cut.

"Oh, come on, will you? We're getting late" pressed Lakshmi who was more down-to-earth, hardworking and a stickler for punctuality. She had butterflies in her stomach. The duo was chosen to give a presentation to the head of the department. And, Lakshmi instinctively knew that only she held the cards to crack the deal.

They charted their way hurriedly through the cubicles that were arranged in neat rows. Heads bobbed in and out of them, urgent calls being placed at some desks, complaints being answered patiently at some, while a few wore an uncharacteristic look of calm as though to mock the ones who were running at a frenetic pace of the office hours.

"Hello, gorgeous girls, what's the rush?" a deep voice called out from behind.

Kaya almost bumped into Lakshmi who was walking a few steps ahead in a straight line. They spun around to face Kimi who was perched comfortably on the white desk. With a body that took almost the entire breadth of the surface she sat on, Kimi looked like a reigning queen that looked down upon the working class who did menial jobs for survival.

Casually swinging her stubby legs beneath the desk Kimi beckoned to Kaya and Lakshmi who were irked for being stopped thus. Now, they would be put to interrogation by the all-important person of the office who simply had to know everything that went about in the workplace.

Even as they regrouped themselves for a quick tete-a-tete, a burly moustached person barged in. Dubeyji was ordered by Ms. Raghav, the HOD, to bring the files for finance, design and the thickest of them all, the one marked as confidential, to her cabin.

He thanked his luck to have found all three at the co-ordinator's desk. He quickly grabbed Lakshmi, Kaya, and Kimi together in one swift sweep and marched away. After all, the Lord of the files couldn't be kept waiting.

Written for the prompt "Lord of the files" at the BarAThon.

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A new haven
An irrational dream
The fault lies in our stares


She lay crouched in the dark musty nook. A lone streak of light shone in through the small hole in the makeshift wooden door to the tiny storeroom where she hid. The light diffused air particles in the line of her view as she strained to see outside.

The living room windows opened out on the first level just above the storeroom and she could hear their low voices.

She stifled a rising cough in the throat afraid to attract attention. The voices now transformed to chilling war cries.

Boom! Boom! Bang!

Shrapnel flew and came pelting on the tin roof of the storehouse followed by rapid footsteps. She shuddered. Fearing the worst, she flung open the door and dashed out.

A bile rose to her throat as she saw the damage caused and shook with vengeful rage.

Her favourite white bone china vase with indigo prints that once stood proudly near the window lay shattered in pieces all over the store roof and the ground below.

The two culprits jumped out from behind her displaying toothy grins and cried out in unison.

 "Tag, you're it, Mom!"

"Of course, I'm good at playing the bad cop!" she replied with a twinkle.


Written for the prompt "War and pieces" at the BarAThon. 

Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

A new haven
An irrational dream
The fault lies in our stares

A new haven

"Papa!" squealed the little one, jumping up and down, jabbing his little hand towards the aqua blue clear water.

The father, a few meters behind, smiled wearily. His steps were slow and heavy from plodding through the ankle length snow. He caught up breathlessly alongside his son who was now beside himself with all the excitement of discovering something extraordinarily beautiful.

Despite the fatigue of setting out on a week-long expedition with the 5-year-old, the magnificent sight of the snow-clad slopes all around encasing a glistening water body right in between made the adult smile.

The chill at dawn break was prominent and in spite of being covered in thick black overcoats, they two expeditors shivered slightly.

Releasing the child from a bear hug, the father looked deep into those twinkling pair that shone with pride, happiness, and fascination.

"Papa, this place looks great. Can we move in here?" the voice was thick with hope and expectation.

"I'm afraid not, Son!"

"Why not?"

"You see, there's danger beneath the beauty in here." the father's voice dropped to a whisper

"The water here means the ice is melting," he continued, his snowy white shaggy brows twitching solemnly.

"Why did the ice melt, Papa?" the little voice was now choked with fear.

"Men," the old flightless bird clenched his fist in anger. "And their selfish ways."


Written for the prompt "Ice and Men" for BarAThon.

An irrational dream

Image source

Pazhaniraja Elangovan trudged his way up the small slope on his rusty bicycle, a hand-me-down from one of his rare kind-hearted clients. A package, a heavy brown carton lay tied to the backseat with several ropes. The chains creaked as he pedaled harder on the slope.

Sweat trickled down his shiny brown face. Tiny buds of fresh acne dotted his forehead and chin area that was also beginning to sprout hair.

"Pazhani, don't keep loitering out in the hot sun," his Amma often chided him gently.

Pazhaniraja would dismiss his Amma's plea with silence.

She had suffered enough bringing him up single-handedly but was still worldly naive. What did she know about managing a part-time job as a local delivery boy, a night school, and a full-time dream? thought Pazhani irritatedly but also controlled his tongue.

His dream. Yes, he dreamed of owning his own business someday and making lots of money. He had many ideas but needed time to work on them.

Today, he thought excitedly. Wednesdays was usually a little free on the work front. His friend had promised to introduce him to someone who was willing to listen to his idea.

Even as he got lost in his thoughts about this meeting, his phone rang. It was his boss who had also given him the phone to attend to the ad-hoc work related calls and messages.

What now!? Pazhani frowned.

"Pie!" barked the voice, "Have you delivered the carton? Now, get to 12th Main, Rajaji Street. Mr. Sarathy will give you a parcel to be delivered to a place in Maruthi Nagar, Hambalipur."

"And, hurry on, it's urgent." added the gruff voice, almost out of breath.

Pie was what his exacting manager called Pazhaniraja because he found the latter's name tongue-twisting and would end up murdering his birth name. In fact, it was Pazhaniraja who suggested the nickname. He was fascinated by pie diagrams. Of course, there was the homophone too. Though, he never understood it.

Pie mentally calculated the distance between the two places and the time taken to cover it on his cycle. It was going to take him all day and he'd have to miss the meeting and will perhaps be late to school too.

Breathing out rapidly, Pie swung his leg over the seat and stepped up on the pedal.

"I think I now understand Pi. Sometimes, even when there's no logic, one must go on!"


Late to link up to the second day of the BarAThon. Based the story on the prompt, "Life of Pie". 

Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

A new haven
The fault lies in our stares

Bhutan: The last leg of our journey at Paro and a round up

Did you read the last post about how we made it to the top of the Takstang Monastery? If not, please do go back and read it.

Before I continue, here's a check-list that will come in handy for travelers.

Things to keep in mind while visiting the Taktsang or the Tiger's Nest Monastery 

1. You are supposed to be fully clothed while visiting this one or any other monastery/temple or Dzong in Bhutan. Which means you cannot wear short skirts, shorts, capris or the likes. Even your hands must be covered, so choose a full or three-fourth sleeved suit, top or shirt. Alternatively, you can wear a jacket or shrug.

2. Use of photography/video is prohibited in the inner sanctum of all temples and monasteries. At the Tiger's Nest, you have to surrender your backpacks with mobiles outside with the security. There are no lockers but like I said earlier, it's absolutely safe even without the lockers.

3. Wear a good quality and comfortable pair of sports shoes if you're trekking to the Tiger's Nest Monastery. Trust me, the quality of the shoes makes a big difference. Seasoned trekkers and runners can vouch for this bit of nugget.

4. Carry water bottles and some dry snacks in your bag pack (and an umbrella if you are visiting during the rainy season). Make sure the pack isn't too heavy at the same time. Our guide was sweet enough to carry two extra bottles for us in his pack since we were carrying just one bag pack for the six of us.

5. The rise in the altitude can cause some people to become breathless, dizzy or feel uneasy. The symptoms could range from having a dull ache in the head to severe nausea. So, if you feel at unease at any point during the climb, please let everyone in your group know and stop till you feel better or if you're feeling worse, abandon the trek. Thankfully, none of us including the kids had any trouble.
It took a good one hour to visit each of the smaller shrines inside the Tiger's Monastery and by the time we came out we were famished. The thought of starting on the arduous route yet again made me want to just stay back! Well, that wasn't possible and also we had to make it back to the cafeteria at a decent hour for lunch. That was incentive enough for us to dismiss our inertia and start our descent. Our stock of biscuits and some fruit came in handy.

We huffed and puffed our way down, wondering if we really climbed all this way up. The path did seem to stretch on endlessly. The only way to minimize the strain, I realized, was to converse energy by talking or complaining less and just keep walking. As the cafeteria came into sight, we did not feel any less than conquerors. After filling our tummies with some yummy food, we completed the last leg of the trek to reach the base with renewed vigour.

Even as I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment, I worried about the body getting stiff and dealing with aching joints. However, I was pleasantly surprised to note that other than being exhausted from a rigorous day, there was no major ache. In fact, all of us were fresh and raring to go the next day with no signs of fatigue. 
It was the final day of our trip. We proceeded to visit the highest motorable pass, the Chele La pass from where one can view the Haa valley on one side and the Jhomolhari peaks on the other. We caught a tiny glittering part of the snow clad peak for a few seconds. For the most part, it was as though we were engulfed by thick, moving clouds. It can get extremely windy here, so make sure you carry your mufflers, sweaters, jackets. Also, take note that there are no toilets here. A cold and windy place compounds the inconvenience? Of course! Ah, well, that's something one has to contend with here. 

If the Punakha Dzong was magnificent and huge, the Paro Dzong was no less beautiful if only much smaller. 

That's a view from outside the National Museum of Bhutan. Doesn't it seem like the heavens are showering their blessings?

The original building that housed the museum got damaged by a fire and was under restoration. The exhibits were shifted to a temporary building which we visited.

Not a large museum, it was still interesting with sections that housed information about the climatic change and its impact on humans, the flora, and fauna. Exhibits of animal masks, each animal representing a human trait or nature. Sections that spoke about the history and culture of Bhutan.

Well, didn't I say we had hatched plans to get pictures clicked in the national dress of Bhutan? There was a quaint little store in the midst of this idyllic view (well, isn't the entire country idyllic?) that gave out these outfits on rent.

We left for Phuentsholing the next morning. As it happens with a great vacation coming to an end, I was fraught with mixed feelings. I felt blessed to be able to create and take back some lovely memories.

Although small in size and economy, there's a lot the entire world can learn from the kings/leaders of Bhutan and the way the Bhutanese conduct life. May this country ever remain as pure and pristine in its beauty, thoughts and action!


I recently viewed a TED talk on how Bhutan stands in the wake of climatic change. It's something I've been mulling over too. Will try to share my views and the video in a post, soon!

Hope you all enjoyed Bhutan through my eyes.

The fault in our stares #100-wordfiction

He offered to walk her to the station. She sensed his well-toned arm within the suede jacket brushing against her slender, bare one as they tried to match their uneven strides. He leaned in suddenly towards her ear to whisper something. Her tensed muscles relaxed even as her full-throated laughter echoed through the dimly-lit streets. As the wind teased, his hands enveloped her from behind draping the jacket over her.

Despite enjoying the pleasant company, she felt at unease. She instinctively knew they weren't alone that night.

The judgemental stares turned into full-blown gossip by the time she came home.


100-word fiction story written for a prompt "The fault in our stares" at the BarAThon second edition.

Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

A new haven
An irrational dream

Bhutan: River-rafting at Punakha and an unforgettable trek at Paro

From here on, we begin the last leg of our journey in this mythical, mystical and beautiful country of Bhutan. And, like the icing on the cake, the last few days of the trip built up to a befitting crescendo.

As we bade goodbye to Punakha, we rounded it up with an exhilarating white river rafting ride on the Mo Chhu river. This was not on our itinerary initially but one we could, fortunately, fit into our schedules and oh boy, did we enjoy it!

Our group could be best called as rookies in the field of adventure sports and were suitably excited and anxious about what to expect. We assembled at the starting point of the one-hour rafting ride on the Mo Chhu waters, slated to end at the Punakha Dzong where the Mo Chhu and Po Chhu merged as one.

Our rafting guide, Karma, was a cheerful and lively fellow who kept us (and the kids) entertained through the entire ride with his perky commentary and instructions. At the outset, we were given our life jackets, head gear, and the oars with specific instructions on how to hold the oars and the precise rowing movement to follow upon the said command from him. We were to basically aid him, the lead navigator, to traverse along the rapids. This was going to be a basic level rafting with zero-risk and we made sure that our frisky kids were eligible for the ride.

All set for the ride: happy and excited!
We had never imagined the kind of fun that ensued. Every rapid we encountered had us in raptures and soaked to the skin, the sudden uptilt of the raft as it glided over the waves brought out peals of nervous laughter. Our guide kept the atmosphere light and lively with his pep talk, encouragement and anecdotes.

Our driver, Tending met us at the point where our river rafting ride ended and we left Punakha for Paro, our minds and body still tingling with the thrilling experience. We once again stopped by at Dochula pass, but this time it was for lunch. Paro was about a 3-hour drive thence.

Can you guess this location from the image below?

It's the airport at Paro. Wedged between mountains and a river, isn't it such a beauty?

Now, imagine being able to catch this view from thousands of feet above on a flight and watch this spectacular sight zoom in slowly as you gently glide down and touch the runway.

While we weren't lucky enough to experience a flight journey thus, we were certainly lucky to catch an airplane take off and then again a couple of days later, on our return journey, another making its descent. Considering the rather low frequency of flights in and out of Bhutan, these were rare sights, indeed.

On a side note, how convenient it must be to simply walk into the terminal from one end and then hop onto the aircraft from the other end just like that!

As the sun began to sink behind the mighty Himalayan peaks, we reached the resort at our final destination, Paro. We were advised to rest well for a long and tedious trek next day to the Tiger's Nest Monastery or the Taktsang monastery.

This monastery is rather significant in the mythology of Bhutan as it is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew, seated on a Tigress, atop the cliff of this mountain to quell certain evil forces and it was then he discovered a tiger's cave or nest. The tigress on whose back he flew was none another than one of his consorts who transformed herself into one to aid the Guru in vanquishing the demonic forces.

We booked a guide from our hotel for this trip since the monument was a treasure trove of stories and mythological beliefs of the Buddhists and we were eager to hear them all.

Can you see how high up there we had to climb and how steep that is? That's a total of 10 km (the ascent and descent put together). And, none of us had even done a 10 km marathon on a level ground before! That we were skeptical and apprehensive was putting it down mildly. The only thing we knew was that we didn't want to give this a miss at any cost.

We learned that there are ponies available for the ascent up to a certain point (for a distance of 2km until the cafeteria) post which one had to eventually go by foot. We decided to use the option. And, it proved to be a very wise decision. The journey is certainly long and tedious, so if you are a rookie trekker, don't be embarrassed or shy to do the same (even if you see people older than you climb all the way). Remember, you have to also walk all the way down.

But, what did I know? It's not a cake walk to ride a pony on the steep slopes. One, you feel bad for the poor creatures. Two (and, here I only speak for myself), the horses are definitely sure-footed but as they totter on the rocky edges from where you can see the deep valley right below your feet, you can only hold on to dear life and wonder if it would have been a wiser decision to trudge on foot.

Yet, now that I came back alive I can say that pony backs will save you the precious energy you need to conserve for the rest of the trek.

So near, yet so far. After this point, there were treacherous stony steps that wound down and then upwards in a zig-zag manner right up to the end point.

 Just a tiny glimpse of the path we traversed.

At a landing that provided a bird's eye view, perfect for taking proud selfies. It was surely a proud moment as we made it to the monastery.

There are about 5-6 temples clustered together within the main monastery. Each of these depicts the Guru in various emotions, each of them carrying a significance and a little story. The tiredness of the trek dissipates slowly even as peace and awe envelopes you in a spiritual embrace.


Did we collapse in exhaustion after the trek? What you need to know before you embark on this trek? 

All this in my next post. Do come back!

Bhutan: The picturesque landscape of Punakha valley

Punakha would be the most scenic places we visited in Bhutan. We left Thimpu after breakfast for this valley which was about a 3-hour drive. Our itinerary suggested we leave before dawn to catch the sunrise at a breakfast point on the way. However, since it had rained the previous evening, it seemed futile to clamber out of beds and the cozy hotel with kids in tow just to see the thick clouds descending over the far away mountains.

The roads all over are well-laid and except for the drive from Phuentsholing to Thimpu, the travel time for the rest of the tour did not span more than four hours. The drive around the winding, hilly lanes of Bhutan is sheer poetry. All along the way, you'd be accompanied by mountains in varying shades of green. The vegetation covering them is so dense that you can't see an inch of the Browns. These are punctuated by deep valleys every now and then. The crystal clear fresh rivers flowing through the passes are a refreshing sight and you never tire of taking in these chaste sights.

We stopped by at Dochula pass, a peak at an elevation of about 3000 meters or roughly 10,000 ft above sea level. On a clear day, one can view the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayan range from this point. This was where we were supposed to halt to view the sunrise. And, we knew our decision was not in vain because even at 10 am, we couldn't view past a 50-meter radius because of the thick mist all around. The constant chilly breeze lead us to bury ourselves deeper into our jackets.

Here's a snapshot of the heights of the peaks that can be viewed from here.
That's a lovely little cafeteria at the pass where you can stop for breakfast/lunch or snacks.
These are the Druk Wangyal Khang Zhang 108 stupas or war memorials also known as Chortens of victory.
Now you see them, now you don't.
The pic below is of the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang or monastery that was built to commemorate 100 years of monarchy in Bhutan. As we embarked to climb these steps, we were stopped by the guard up here who forbade us to venture any further. Taken aback, we turned to find another guard at the landing where we stood and asked why we were being stopped. He mentioned that the Queen (the wife of the fourth king) was visiting the monastery presently and we needed to wait until she left.
Wow, the Queen! We asked if we could wait and see her. To our surprise, he nodded his head in affirmation and asked us to step aside. His only request was that we shouldn't click any pictures of Her Highness. Of course, we were only too ready to comply. After about 15 minutes of waiting in childish anticipation, we saw her descending the steps with just a couple of guards and a Lama who accompanied her. We waved out to her and bowed with a namaste which she graciously responded to and also wished us a pleasant stay.

Buoyed by this unexpected pleasant turn of events, we continued our journey onwards.

At Punakha

The Punakha Dzong was a bewitching sight that held us in awestruck wonder. The Dzong is one of the oldest and the most beautiful ones in Bhutan, we were told. The latter part is easy to believe. Situated on the banks of a river, this gorgeous Dzong or fortress stands against the backdrop of the lush green peaks. A line of Jacaranda trees in full bloom dots the boundaries of the Dzong.

The Dzong is also considered important in the history of Bhutan. It used to be the seat of administration when Punakha was the capital of Bhutan. The recent king was coronated at this fortress.

The Mo Chhu and Po Chhu rivers that up until this point flow as separate rivers from Tibet converge here and here on flow as one river down the Punakha-Wangdue valley. Mo means mother and Po means father. Chhu means river, hence the names. True to their names, the flow of the Mo Chhu is far gentler and less dangerous than the Po Chhu making it suitable for water adventure sports like white river rafting.

We found a guide inside the Dzong who gave a brief about the history and significance of the place. There's a Buddha temple (the picture below) within the Dzong (as is the architectural norm of Dzongs) where the entire life history of the Buddha is depicted through paintings.

Our next stop was at Chimi Lhakhang. Literally translated to No-dog, this monastery was built by a Lama, Drukpa Kuenly who was known to practice Buddhist teachings in an unorthodox manner. He was also known as the Divine Madman. The temple is known to bless people who are battling infertility, hence it is popularly known as the fertility temple.

It was a refreshing one-hour walk (up-down) through green mustard and paddy fields to this temple.

It had been a fairly hectic day thus far. We had spent a great deal of climbing and walking around the Dzong and later at the Chimi Lhakhang. We were famished after we were back from the fertility temple and devoured the freshly-cooked food at a homely guesthouse we stopped by.

The weather just doesn't allow you to feel lethargic for too long. Our energy levels were restored with the short lunch break which was well past the usual lunch hour.

Just before we checked into our hotel that evening, we visited this huge suspension bridge and walked along the stretch. It was an amazing experience to walk on this iron swing bridge with the river gushing below us and the vast cloudy skies above. The gusty winds lent a thrill to the entire experience and we giggled like school kids as we strolled over to the other side.

We met a group of monks (below) at the other end.

We checked into our hotel that evening, our hearts filled with an explicable sense of satisfaction and happiness.


Next stop is Paro and the travelogue is soon coming to an end. I've been trying to jot down most of the events as they occurred. Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Bhutan: A peek into the Bhutanese life, cuisine and hospitality

A travelogue is never complete without a reference to the food, customs and the lifestyle of the native dwellers. A country stands out from the rest because of its people, their habits, and food peculiar only to them.

The husband and I are not extremely adventurous in the food territory but we certainly like to have a taste of the local flavour wherever we go. The husband being a foodie helps the cause, of course. At the first opportunity, we placed an order for a 'datshi' which is a gravy based dish that the Bhutanese eat with rice

The national dish is called 'Ema Datshi' and is basically green chillies in a cheese-based gravy. Kewa Datshi is similar where the chillies are replaced with potatoes. We tried Ema Datshi at our Hotel in Phuentsholing. Sadly, we could not relish it. I did not like the cheesy taste and the chillies were too hot to enjoy. We later tried the Kewa Datshi at Paro and did find it good.

Picture Courtesy: By Bhutanese_hemadatsi_and_rice.JPG: ShashiBellamkondaderivative work: Thejinan (talk) - Bhutanese_hemadatsi_and_rice.JPG, CC BY 2.0,

In my observation, the Bhutanese use a lot of cheese and butter (perhaps due to the abundance of cow's and yak's milk?) in their cuisine which by the way isn't too varied (at least for the vegetarians). There's Suja, a tea variant that's mostly butter, tea leaves, salt and a little milk. They say that such a combination is suited for higher altitudes. Hmm. We weren't gutsy enough to try it out.

Bhutanese mostly eat red rice. This, we tried at the cafeteria on the way to Tiger's Nest Monastery at Paro. Contrary to our misgivings about red rice being heavy to digest, we loved it. It was served with our usual yellow dal and it made for a perfect combination.

Bhutanese are sweet people but seems like they aren't sweet loving people. Apart from not having a native specialty, the menu cards often had just a fruit cocktail or a single flavoured ice-cream (even that was never readily available) listed under the dessert section. It can be disappointing for sweet lovers like us because we craved for desserts after our meals and found that the hotels do not stock up even on ice-creams. Even the rare ones that were offered as a part of a buffet meal are Indian sweets like rasgulla and gulab jamun, only perhaps to conform to international standard practices.

We hear that the Bhutanese, instead, are habituated to consuming betel leaves after meals. Something we observed from their red-stained teeth. The small stores along the road also sold packets of Paan that are eaten with betel nuts, and pieces of dried coconut.

The service at Hotels, in general, is pretty slow. If you're habituated to the brisk manner you're served food at Indian restaurants or elsewhere, be prepared to pull all your reserves of patience and breathe in the fresh Bhutan air while you wait. Because you'll have to wait a lot. Especially, if you prefer the Ala-carte over the buffet.

It seemed to us that they are not used to catering to a full house and aren't staffed appropriately. Each order is taken as a separate request and is prepared from scratch after the order is placed. For the record, although the buffet spread does not have a lot of variety,  the food here is quite tasty. Also, Indian food is easily available everywhere.

Tip: If there's a buffet spread, do not go for an Ala-carte, especially if you're hard pressed for time.

The Bhutanese are mostly simple, contented and soft-spoken people. Their faces radiate a sense of tranquility. As though reflecting off the benevolent Buddha who casts his abundant grace. In our limited interaction with the locals, we felt that they are a happy lot even as the younger crowd showed a keenness to visit and explore other countries.

A fun fact: The younger lot loves the Bollywood and the Hindi film music. In fact, our driver spoke good Hindi and he said he learned it all through Hindi movies. Interestingly, Bollywood films are not screened on the big screens and the youngsters rely on DVDs and the television to catch them all.

Bhutan is a clean country. Most tourist spots had toilet facilities and they were quite clean. Speaking of toilets, the hotels (barring the one at Thimpu) did not have the health faucet. If you're particular about such things, be mentally prepared.

Bhutan holds the reputation of being one of the safest countries in the world. In a place where the Gross National Happiness is considered and embodied in the constitution as the index of progress, this had to be a natural outcome, with the citizens having a high respect for the governing authorities, the laws and a reverential attitude towards their kings.

Bhutan is not yet enmeshed in the manic fad of development (a lot of which is a conscious decision on the part of the authorities) that recklessly throws away what is unique and relevant for a country and its people in pursuit of the contraptions of a more commercially developed economy. It could be seen as naive and short-sighted by some. However, in my opinion, it makes far more sense to design a roadmap that is sustainable and also relevant to the country's cultural and environmental values which may or may not be alike other economies.


Are you still with me on this journey? The more exciting parts are yet to come. So, do join me.