· The moment I truly understood Gross National Happiness was about 30 minutes after I landed in India, when a DTC conductor snapped at me for enquiring whether the bus would go to the domestic terminal. That was before a middle-aged aunty disapproved of my luggage, then proceeded to invade my personal space in return.
(This was all aboard a ‘shuttle’ between the two terminals of the Delhi airport. But really, the domestic terminal is one of the bus-stops on the way of the bus to “Kashmere Gate Kashmere Gate”, in the words of the afore-mentioned conductor.)
· When asked about the meaning of GNH by an Indian, a young bank employee in Bhutan replied that it meant not having to drive in traffic for an hour and a half to reach office.
· Who wants to drive when the best part of the day is a 30 minute leisurely paced walk back from office to the hotel.
· Happy country or not, I can crib anywhere. Even seated on a rock at the riverside with the river making the most pleasant gurgling sounds and a view over-looking the mountains.
· A rock on the riverside with a view over-looking the mountains is fertile territory for philosophising.
· My thoughts while making the hardest trek of my life: the journey is more important than the goal, the journey is more…huff…aah this is killing me.
My thoughts after reaching the destination of the trek: The goal’s more beautiful when the journey is tough.
(Now to just apply this deep philosophical insight to real life).
· Snow-capped mountains, from the vantage point of a giant Buddha statue can be a heart-breakingly beautiful sight.
· I never thought I would use the phrase ‘heartbreakingly beautiful’ in all seriousness.
· All the scenic beauty and peace can go take a hike if there is no internet. Or tv.
· I saw an episode of Savdhaan India in Bhutan. I had never seen the show before.
· Imtiaz Ali should set his next film in Bhutan. It should be a love-story between an Indian girl and Bhutanese boy. The girl will be an employee of an evil donor agency looking to economically cripple the country (though the girl doesn’t know that) and a Bhutanese government servant who is set to expose its agenda. Lots of possibilities of conflict and love. (Call me Imtiaz, the script is all ready in my head).
· Bande hai hum from Dhoom 3 is my new anthem.
· Bollywood’s more popular than I thought, and the adulation is not just limited to the Salman Khans and the Katrina Kaifs. While I filled in my immigration form, my Bhutanese co-passenger on board the flight to Paro peeked in, then exclaimed in recognition. Was I related to Mithun, she asked.
I wasn’t related to her current favourites either. Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif.
· I am more experimental with my food than I imagined. My third favourite vegetarian dish (after rajma-chawal and jhinge aloo posto) is now a dish comprising of green chillies cooked in cheese. Ema datsi, the national dish of Bhutan.
· I am far less experimental with my drink. I asked for ice tea at my hotel. The waitress tried to fob off a packaged version. I refused to drink that. She relented and made the ice-tea for me, the traditional way. It was the closest thing to the JP Ice tea I have ever had, only 11 times as expensive.
· The samosa and pyaji available in Bhutan can give tough competition to the best in C R Park’s Market 2.
· Veg momos can be great too. Who would have imagined?
· A scone is a less sweet, less nice version of goja.
· Bhutan has the fanciest taxi of the sub-continent.
· Bhutan also has the most talkative taxi-driver of the sub-continent.
· Dogs like Kurkure.
· Thimphu has a very cool book-store called Junction. It’s what Oxford used to be before they started playing loud music and hosting ridiculous events. Junction has its own dogs who will leave you alone as long as you don’t step on them. Guess what I bought from there?
Dumb Witness. Poirot.