I can’t stop looking back , how Thimphu was few years back, as i see people walking around town as if they have a train to catch or a meeting to attend. Even today Thimphu is not close to any of the Capitals or town’s in the world. But for the people of Bhutan, it is a city, if not by definition but by the facilites that it provides to us. Children in our generation will never be able to understand how pretty Thimphu was or should i say Wang. A decade before now, exactly this same place was filled with houses varying in stoerey and the materials that are used for the construction of the houses. I write this because just like Thimphu, other town’s in Bhutan will also emerge in the same process.
In the late 1990’s Thimphu was known more as the capital than a town, or a city which most bhutanese now regard as. The small town, or as tourist say, a big village was surrounded with alot of two -storeyed buldings which were made from locally available materials like wood. There were also few two- storeyed buldings which was made from cement and other sophiscated materials but only few of them were evident. The most populated area were the dzong and the clock tower, and i think from a personal perspective the dzong and the main traffic were most populated. The town was never safe as it was back then,both during the day and the night time it was safe, and sometimes i think i was safer in the night with less traffic and less number of people.
It was easy shopping back then. We didn’t have labeled stores back then, a few grocer’s and a cloth shop. Of course the meat shop, salon for the men and few for the women, the famous Plums Cafe established in 1994,a movie theatre which is now abandoned,the cobbler’s which still exist to be owned by an indian and most importantly one famous cake shop, yes not pastry, a cake shop called swiss bakery. My mother tells me that, when she was a kid they used to pay coins for the cakes, the most famous of them called the swiss roll. Initially most of the shops in our town was owned by people from outside. I rememeber one winter morning how the road right next to the main traffic, ending of chorten lam and starting of nodzin lam, was closed. Children would bring their bi-cycle and play until the their skins were burnt, unfortuanlety that year, i couldn’t play mine because it was stolen from our garage. But there was so much for us to do. For example throw snow balls at people and watch the kid’s with bike play.
Even in early 20oo’s, i recall eating outside only twice a year. The culture of going out and eating is a western habit, we bhutanese love eating with our families, surrounding ourselves. The warmth that you get when you eat with your family, is quite different espically when you have four generation of them altogether. There was active youth all around Thimphu, because we had so much to do outside and very few inside, at home we had only the television to entertain us.We didn’t have the internet, the play station, dota,or any other forms of game. Sometimes i feel like we have bypassed almost every procedure towards a balanced modern world. But not to worry, we have GNH to guide us. Let us talk about troubled youths like addicts and delinquents. No, the night life in Thimphu was all about the stray dogs and the people seen in town had offical or personal business like shopping or a monthly haircut. By the beginnig of 2000, the town witnessed growing number of addicts, most of whom were the children from the richer society. Even this was a western culture and we bhutanese drink ara and eat doma to get high.
The night life in Thimphu which is also a western culture is not even remotely close to what one would see today. Today we have more than 15 clubs in town and around 200 bars. Those day’s there were less smokers in town and our big village was clean and like i said before safe, even in the air that we were breathing. When i met one or two people who spoke english, i was amazed, because the only english speaking people that didn’t amaze me were the ones i saw on tv. The things that we would listen and watch on the radio or the televison were of national day celebration, road’s being blocked, car accidents, people dying of random sickness and the visit of state guest. I remeber most of the time i saw our king, His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan, the visits His Majesty made to the remote part of the country and of course the fiver year plan. But now it is different,we hear about gang fights, which particulary lived the most during mid 2000 and is almost extinct by now. Today we hear about people being looted right in the middle of the town, young babies being molested by their own relatives, bombs being implanted, car accident’s due to drugs and alcohol. Another thing we did not have babies named with sophiscated and three names., those days we had alot of Sonam’s, Dorji’s,and etc. And neither did we not have children who spoke with an american accent.