Travelogue

In Bhutan, Do As the Bhutanese Do

A typical Bhutanese platter looks like this:

Thimphu_Hotel_Lunch

And, that, milord, eez scrumptious.

Just to give you an idea:

  1. The Bhutanese go in for cheese with a vengeance.
  2. The Bhutanese go in for chillies with a vengeance.
  3. And the portions served are humongous.
  4. In short, IT IS AWESOME.

One would think that with the amount of grub on offer (and their capacity to hog), the Bhutanese would be topping the world obesity charts. But then, one would think wrong. I swear, I didn’t get to see a single pot-belly in the 8-10 odd days I spent hiking and being all touristy in Bhutan. Not even ONE.

Ain’t their fault actually. Punakha apart, I don’t think I ever encountered a single other place, which could be termed flat, flat-ish, or even anything vaguely approaching flat. It was all either uphill or downhill. (Interesting non-sequitur by the way, this might explain Bhutan’s current position in the FIFA world rankings. Imagine, one misdirected kick, and the bloody ball lands somewhere at the bottom of some mountain.)

And automated contraptions in Bhutan, by common perception, are meant for chickens, for friggin nancies, and suchlike. (Another interesting non-sequitur by the way, Bhutan’s probably the only country in the world which does not have traffic-lights. They tried installing a few in Thimphu, but residents complained that they were a little too impersonal.)

Which, basically means, that you walk. All day long, all year round. WHICH IS AGAIN AWESOME. And boy, these guys can walk. I used to think I was reasonably fit. Not anymore. Not after I went hiking, pretty much lost it after the first couple of hours, and then saw Bhutanese guides run circles around me as if they were in a friggin playground. Not after I met titchy school-kids, all nattily attired in ghos and kiras, walk some 10 odd kms everyday to go to their schools.

So, in Bhutan, you do as the Bhutanese do. You Hog. And Then You Burn ‘Em Calories Off on Some Random 15 km Trail. Much, much good 🙂

Bloody Comrades

Scene : 11: 30 this morning. I have my timetable charted out in front of me, the to-do list staring at me right in the face. Reach the bus stop and what do I see? A massive, gargantuan rally which has completely blocked all kind of traffic. Buses? *#@$! Forget it. They are more busy plying the CPI (M) party cadres to whichever hellhole (in this case, the Maidan which is actually a pretty nice place, esp. to play cricket), they’re having their rally in. And how could our beloved cabbies be left behind. They had to join in the festivities, charging around three to four times the normal fare. The scene at the bus-stop had to be seen to be believed. Choc-a-bloc with people, most of them as exasperated and annoyed as I was, muttering and cursing under their breath. And once a bus came along…..not carrying one of those frigging red flags, pandemonium, bedlam, chaos, the works, you know. All these people were running like maniacs, pushing and shoving just to get on that bus.I actually saw one character jump on a bus already in motion, trying to grasp the conductor’s hand, who by the way himself was halfway thrust out. For one fantastic moment, suspended in midair, he looked remarkably like some kind of a trapeze artist.

I haven’t launched into this diatribe merely to convey my annoyance and displeasure at the inconveniences which I and thousands of people throughout this city were subjected to. What really gets me, is the sheer futility of these rallies. I admittedly, am woefully ignorant of the nitty-gritties of whatever political causes espoused by any party. I, at best, can only pretend to have a general notion. But, the very idea of seeing busloads upon busloads, truckloads upon truckloads of men being ferried, just you know, to fill up the numbers, is something which I find exccedingly repulsive. And from what I have heard, most of these people are actually paid to attend these rallies. Forget about ideology, this is plain, bloody hypocrisy. Well, I guess thats the way it is and it shall always be, and lets face it, I’d take CPI (M) anyday over Mamtadi.

P.S. A person died the day before. A certain Mr. Heinrich Harrer. One of the greatest mountaineers the world has ever seen and the author of possibly the best travelogue I have ever come across. Herr Harrer, you shall never climb alone.

Ahem, Ahem, Hello 2006

Well, I would have started with the old cliched Happy New Year, but then, there was nothing even remotely happy in the way 2005 ended for me. Ergo, I am not exactly in the right frame of mind to indulge in such needless pleasantries. My grades have gone right down the drain (rather, with the kind of drop I had this sem, they might have bloody ended up in the Bay of Bengal or somthing), I had to start and finish 5 research papers of around 20 pgs each in 4 days flat, and that too without any research done, my comp is so screwed up, some goddamn virus has infected it and the stupid antivirus thing keeps on giving error messages, my entire music collection is wiped out. In short, the world is going to dogs.

You know, sometimes whenever you read anything, you get the feeling you have already read something very similar before, even though the similarities might be nothing other than a byproduct of a rather hypreactive imagination. I just started Pamuk’s The Black Book today and from the very first page, the style of writing reminded me somewhat of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. This, purely based on the style of writing. On the other hand, something like The Rule of Four was eerily similar to Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land. This, purely on the basis of the content (wherein the present was trying to unravel the mysteries of the past, relying solely on a manuscript of some sort).

I’ll try to finish as much as I can of Orhan Pamuk’s book today. Will catch the Arsenal-Man U match at 1 and then format my comp. Signing off then, ciao