Bhutan is full of surprises. Bhutan is definitely not one of the usual countries. It’s one of the few remaining royal kingdoms in the world. When you travel across Bhutan you will realise the love and respect people have for the royal family. Interestingly, during the course of my stay in Bhutan I met a lot of locals who threw insight into Bhutanese culture and the way they lead their lives.
One of the impressive things that I noticed in Bhutan was that, Bhutanese woman do all odd jobs that are male dominated in India- like women waiter at restaurants, women porter helping with luggage, women road construction workers on highways. Most of the restaurants were owned and ran by the women of Bhutan. When asked about this to a restaurant owner, she smiled saying, “We are an equalist nation”
People of Bhutan believe in imbibing good practices from across the world and never stop learning. A lot of senior bureaucrats, top executives in Bhutan have impressive educational degrees, still a majority of them return to their homeland to meaningfully contribute towards the development of Bhutan.
There were a couple of incidents that kept echoing in my head. One such was the conversation with a local who had completed his higher studies abroad. When I asked why he came back to a place where there isn’t much opportunity for his career, he replied, “While I was pursuing my studies abroad I realized that there is so much competition to outperform others. In the process of upgrading ourselves, I realized that people have forgotten how to live and are only concerned about survival. I cannot live in a world like that. I am fine with earning 1/10th of what I could potentially earn elsewhere but I feel contented that I am close to my family and I can work to make things better for Bhutan howsoever small it may be.”
Other such case was with our driver Nirma Sherpa. He’d said that every time he travelled outside Bhutan, he realized more and more how the mountains were the guardians for them and where everything within the range of these mountains made sense to him and gave him values to live by. Irrespective of the socio-economic background, this sentiment was echoed by most of the people in Bhutan. Though it comes as a surprise initially on how all these people are just happy with what they have, the fact slowly starts resonating in our head that for a blissful living, one should start enjoying the small pleasures of life. Thank you so much Bhutan for teaching the world that money can’t buy happiness.
This reminds me of something I read long back, Ruskin Bond rightly said that ‘once you have lived in the mountains for any length of time, you can never escape them’. And this is true for a country like Bhutan. These mountains nestle small lakes and trees, birds and animals, plants, insects, man and everything that breaths seems to thrive in the mountains glory. They are not just rocks but a living landscape that gives life to everyone that calls them home. Why would anyone want to leave this magnificent land?