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Bhutan Diary

True happiness is that state of equanimity which does not depend on the labels that the world put on you

10/31/2014 12:57:36 PM
written By : Debashis Chatterjee Print

October 9

The Drukair flight from Singapore lifted me from the cacophony of Calcutta to the landlocked Kingdom of Bhutan. Bhutan’s topography appears like a crumpled handkerchief from the sky. The landmass is sculpted as an uneven terrain with the high Himalayas on the north, hills and valleys at the centre and foothills on the south. The cabin crew of Drukair looked as sleek as those of Singapore Airlines and you could tell that they would stun you with their rugged good looks if not with world class service. Our plane curved precariously through a complex choreography of hills before it touched down safely. The landing on the Paro airport was a great relief accompanied by loud applause of fellow passengers. I was told that the Paro airport has a 100 per cent record of safe landing - thanks to the truly skilled pilots.

October 10

The Namgay Heritage Hotel in Thimpu was the venue for a conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH) - which is Bhutan’s greatest export to the world. Everyone including the cab drivers and hotel staff, talks about GNH in Bhutan - yet very few actually can explain what it really means. Roughly the same size as that of Switzerland, Bhutan’s prosperity is not defined by its material wealth but by its collective quest for that elusive experience we call happiness. In the conference I meet a successful entrepreneur called Karma Yonten who runs Bhutan’s largest private waste management firm. He describes his profession in a cryptic language: I make cash from trash. Karma is a serial entrepreneur who settled on this trash business after several failed enterprises. He  teaches children and young people in his country all about recycling by offering them money in return for segregated waste. Karma says with evident pride, ‘The more money I make, the better the city looks.’

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