Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Journey to Bodh Gaya, the start

When we reached Phuntsholing at 4:00 p.m. on January 24, 2009, and went to get tickets to go to Bodh Gaya, we found that the bus that was scheduled to be taken at 2:00 p.m. wasn’t taken. Passengers hovered around and enquired the three young people who sat at the makeshift counter. I did not want to wait, so as I took the tickets, I asked the young boy if it would be the same case with us the next day. He said, it shouldn’t be, but asked me to make a call however. So with that, Karma and I left. We were haggled in dust and were so tired.

We were to put up at a friend’s place. He is actually transferred to Thimphu recently but has still kept his things there since he is still looking for a house here. His mother who stays there had gone to Bodh Gaya. But he told us that his uncle who stays in Gelephu was there on tour and he had the keys. We called him but it took a long time to meet him. When Karma finally returned, he came only to say that the key was taken by his driver who had gone to wash the car. So we drove up near the house and waited. When none of them turned up after an hour’s wait, we decided to stay in a hotel. But to our dismay, all the hotels were booked. It was the time Phuntsholing hoteliers got so many customers. People from all over Bhutan came there to go to Bodh Gaya.

When we were going from one hotel to the next, looking for rooms, we got a call from this friend’s uncle and we went back to stay with them. So we made home there: we cooked ourselves and watched TV.

The next day, when we called up the person who arranged the bus for us (dealer), he said that the bus would depart at 3:00 p.m.We were asked to gather at 2:30 p.m. I think we were bit too punctual. No matter, how long we waited the bus did not turn up. Now more and more people gathered. But the bus still did not come. But when it finally did at 4:00 or 4:30 p.m,, there was only one bus. We bought tickets paying Nu. 900 each for a deluxe, 2X2 bus but it wasn’t that. It was 3X2.

People were upset with this but what do our people do anyway? There were two monks in the front near the driver’s seat who kept complaining that they should get the money back, because that kind of bus cost much less. So the dealer, without much of a fuss, quietly took them out from that bus promising them a deluxe 2X2 bus. I think they got it.

But those of us who remained in that bus were to wait for some more. After much noise, the bus moved. But it waited in Jaigon. And the dealer disappeared and he switched off his mobile. He knew we would look for him.

The two drivers and the conductor made fuss that there was no seat for them. They demanded two seats to be emptied. The two people, who sat near the door, after a little demand for right, did as they were asked. And thus, the man who was supposedly sent for free had to suffer (I will write one whole article about this later).

I think the bus drivers and conductor wanted someone to volunteer giving them bribes. That is what happens all the time—they always are on a look out for some bribe-money. I will give evidence later in other articles.

The bus driver did not start yet. He did not want to leave; he still wanted us to give him money. But Karma went out and said he was going to call the police. He really did dial. And they all swooped in back into the bus and thus the bus finally moved at 6:00 pm. (All the passengers were exasperated with this dealer. I really felt that I should take the case to the police when I got back but I consoled slowly through the journey.)We reached Dorji Dhen when night fell. And none of our relatives who were supposed to wait for us were anywhere to be seen. And unlike any other time, there were no hotels again and we were on the hunt for one…and it took forever.

This is Bhutan

I moved to Adelaide, South Australia 10 months ago. This decision was driven by my belief that family has to be together and pursuing your c...