I returned from Bhutan recently and I am in awe of their country.
Let’s see why.
I was skeptical about visiting a neighboring country (just as I was before Nepal, read here) because I believe it’s just like India. Its foreign travel for the namesake. Same culture, same food, similar habits, poverty, beggars, cunning taxi drivers, overpriced gimmicks for white tourists.
Nothing new for me.
But for the second time, after Nepal, I had an eye-opening jolt.
This country, Bhutan, is way different than ours. Though it’s our neighbor, still they have an enviable lifestyle.
Since it is mostly the people of a region that define a country rather than the rivers and mountains and buildings,
I tried to isolate certain habits of Bhutanese people that we can copy to make our lives much better here in India.
So, what are things we can learn from a Bhutanese fellow?
• A Bhutanese never honks unless he’s in an ambulance or a fire engine. Not even in traffic. Not even if he’s frustrated/ impatient. He understands the cars ahead of him cannot fly over other cars, just like his. They are also stuck for a reason. So chill up.
• A Bhutanese always maintains a safe distance from other cars and pedestrians. Like will-stop-20 feet away safe!
• A Bhutanese always crosses the road on a zebra crossing. He need not even look left or right. Just blindly walk as long as it is Zebra crossing. It mutual that the driver will stop at a zebra crossing. Even if no one is watching. Helping a damsel in distress in crossing road here? No thank you!
All of Bhutan has no traffic signals. Just police personnel supervising junctions.
• In all of my week’s stay, I didn’t hear one single honking. Felt like a king when the car would stop for me to pass. And all this even when no police were watching.
• A Bhutanese always respects the law. Once I asked for a plastic bag, once for a pack of cigarettes. The shopkeeper shushed me down. Of course, I didn’t get any of those, but they were fearful that I was too loud in asking for banned items. They were scared someone might hear. That’s crazy by Indian standards!
• A Bhutanese will not open a shop on the footpath. The footpath is meant for safe walking and that’s how it will be used. Three cities. No hawkers, no encroachment, no road shops, corner tapri/ khokha, a stray temple, open manhole, pothole, puddle etc.
No Oppo/ Vivo signboards. No billboards obstructing the information signboard/crossing/ turning.
• Everyone parks in their designated square on the road. Without fail.
• The King was in attendance at one of the temples we were visiting, coincidentally. I was surprised to see no barricades, big convoy of cars, an army of guards. Nothing. I came to know about the King’s presence after a casual chat with the locals, who thought I was lucky to get his glimpse. So in short, minimal unnecessary pomp and show.
• There were no stray animals. Some dogs maybe. Where are their stray animals?
• No garbage dumps glorifying the city, like here in Mumbai/Bangalore/ Pune etc.
• Everyone wears their national dress every day. It’s comfortable. It keeps them warm. They don’t have to. But they do it. Now that’s patriotism. They aren’t ashamed of it. No mad race to look like westerners.
• They don’t judge foreigners. At least not Indians. While conversing with local folks, I realized they are aware of all the bad things India is becoming popular for in the media. Corruption, crime, ignorance and what not. But still, it did not reflect on interpersonal behavior. Compared to the misunderstanding we have for oriental looking people in India. Or the frenzy of clicking a selfie with a white tourist. It was pretty matured in Bhutan.
So there we have it. A little roundup of impressive things I found from my last trip.
Would love to hear from you.
How was your last travel? how were the people? anything we can pick up from them?
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