Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

From Hotel Taj Tashi in Thimphu, Bhutan

In Thimphu, Bhutan
I arrived in Bhutan at noon and checked into Hotel Taj Tashi around 1:30 pm. Thimphu is about an hour's drive from Paro - the international airport of Bhutan. I don't know how many people know that a pilot must have very special skills and training to land an aircraft at Paro airport.
Perhaps that is one of the reasons why no other airlines have started operating to and from Bhutan.
This small Himalayan kingdom is very proud about the fact that even in this era of globalisation they have been relatively insular and maintained their culture, social values and even traditional dress.
Almost everyone in this country wear their traditional dress. From the King to the servant, all wear same kind of outfit. The country is quite conservative. I was told that about five years ago no foreign TV channels were allowed in the country. It got started sometime around 1999.
For me it is a first time experience. However, the country's scenic beauty is far more splendid than I had imagined. Today evening I went to the residence of Pavan Varma, an author and the Indian ambassador to Bhutan.
At the inaugural function of the Literary Festival called Mountain Echoes, which took place at the Indian embassy auditorium, was small, classy and a gala affair.
The Queen mother spoke beautifully, she said in Hindi "... main sapno ki rani begum sahiba Sharmila Tagore ko Bhutan main swagat karti noon," as the whole auditorium filled with laughter and claps.
I greeted Gulzar sahab at the entrance of the gate. At the after-dinner hosted by Pavan Varma, I met many authors as well as many Jaipurites who had also come to Bhutan for the Lit Fest as the main organiser of this Fest, Mita Kapur too is from Jaipur.
The King of Bhutan, and his newly-wedded wife also came to say hello to all the guests at the dinner. I exchanged greetings with everybody and came back to The Taj for dinner. At the lobby of the hotel I met Sugandha and Sandeep Bhartia and also the Chief Justice of Kolkata High Court, they are all here on holidays with their families.
It really feels nice and fresh to be here in this neat and clean green hilly country.
ess bee

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