Sunday, April 8, 2012

When "Happiness is (not) a Place"

      A certain Mr. MSG (name withheld) wrote to me from Punjab. He came to Bhutan last month and went through the most unusual incident - he was drugged and robbed.  
      MSG sent his photograph, his cell number in India and even an alternate email ID. So it could be a true story, which makes it then a very disturbing phenomenon. 
      I thought twice before publishing his letter. I decided to go ahead. While it may bring some bad reputation for us, it would also serve to caution other travellers to be more careful. More than anything I hope our own law-enforcement agencies would take note.

Respected sir,

      I am MSG from Ludhiana city of Punjab state in India. I am a gypsy to himalayas and a perpetual tourist. I had a chance to visit your beautiful country in March end this year. I entered from the land border & stayed for a few days in a hotel (the central hotel) in your border town.
      Then on 25/03/2012 I started a journey on permit no 230680 dt 24/03/12 & took a bus from your border town to Thimphu. The driver (a middle aged person wearing your national dress) was so nice a person that he talked to me for many many mintues after emptieng the passengers. That was a very good experience(alas it lasted more).
      Then a white small car (perhaps alto) made a secreching halt when i left the bus. The driver was a 30 +, 5 ft 6 inch medium built fair looking jet blacked hairs raised 45 degree (bad) bhutia. He offered to left me at a good hotel for 60 bucks. I boarded my bad luck then & there. He talked me sweet & agreed to show the whole of Thimpu for 250 rupees. I agreed while riding the good widening roads of your capital.
      I purchased a few items for my personal use while stopping at 4-5 shops. He noticed with leer a white kurta-pyjama wearing sardar with wads of new 100 indian rupees notes stuked in his pockets. Then he asked me me if i drink. To my bad luck I ordered him to bring a foster beer. He served me inside the taxi.
      When I opened my eyes I found myself laying in a cheap hotel room. My watch showed 11 am of 26 march. All my pockets were empty. I came out & noted that I was staying on the main road near a chowk manned by a traffic policeman.
       I also noticed that my eyes were drowsey & my leg movements were incohirent. The bad bhutia perhaps drugged me a with a large dose of a sleeping drug . I landed in the police station just across the hotel. The people were very nice there and heard my story very intently. But they were also surprised by the contents of the story. They discussed it among them with many times with astonishment. They told me many that this types of things are un-heard in Bhutan..
      They recorded my statement vide gd no 616/1320 dated 26/03/2012.there is a minor difference in the facts. Perhaps of my drugged state when I reported the case to the police authorities. The amount involved is not too big for me but the incident shaked my trust in the people & monarchy of Bhutan.

      Please investigate the matter seriously & get the thief cornered. Otherwise it was my first & last visit to Bhutan.


Dear MSG, 

      You should come again if you love this place.  Because as we gypsy our life with a series of journeys we should learn to move on from the bad moments but cherish those happy ones.  I have been to India several times. Few times I also got robbed. Once by a policeman who extorted me in Bihar, where I was on a pilgrimage. 
      However, I have many happy stories from India. Three involving honest people - all coincidently happened to be Sardars. I always cherish them more than the unhappy ones. 
      Once as a student many years back, I was transiting through Delhi, when I decided to make a day trip to Agra. As I was heading back after visiting Taj Mahal the car I was travelling broke down mid-way. After losing several hours trying to fix it, we gave up. I had a flight to catch for Italy (on a non-refundable ticket) early next morning. So I tried to stop another car losing few more precious hours. It was dark by then and I was getting little desperate. 
      Then finally a worn out Maruti van pulled up driven by a young sardar. I hopped in and immediately explained the situation. He understood, told me to relax and he assured that he would deliver me to the airport on time.
      We drove whole evening past midnight. I dozed off for most part of the 5-hour journey, dead tired from an uneventful day. Early next morning at around 2am he woke me up to say we were entering Delhi. An hour later, after rushing in and out of the hotel to collect my bags, we reached the IG Airport just on time.
      The Sardar guy could have taken me anywhere and could have robbed me. But he was a good man. I paid the fare and also, moved by his honesty, I emptied the few thousands of Indian rupees that I had from my brief stay in India.


  1. I wonder where our present understanding and approach to GNH is leading us. Please read The Enigma of Bhutan's GNH @

  2. Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it ;) I will return once again since i have saved as a
    favorite it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change,
    may you be rich and continue to guide others.
    Also visit my website - hotel focus

  3. All societies are composed of good people and bad people. This is not an isolated case. Bhutan also has its fair share of problems like this.We must pull up our socks when it comes to security and safety, if we really want tourism to be the plan B to Hydropower.