BPD: Back on the Indian border

(BPD: Back on the Indian border, 1 May ‘15)

After a good week in Bhutan, I had booked my return for the 1st of May from Paro, by bus. I was looking at taking a day extension and visiting Punakha valley in Bhutan, another scenic place in Bhutan. However, I had put this off for the next trip and planned to get back on my 7th day in Bhutan, which was the default permit duration. Being a little more informed about the workings, I promptly ‘reserved’ my ticket at the Paro city bus stop a day earlier, and arrived on time at the designated hour of departure. As the bus rolled out of Paro and crossed the Paro Dzong, small & impressive Paro Airport, undulating mountains and the valleys, I bid my goodbyes, until the next time.

Meeting a varied set of interesting individuals had been happening throughout my backpack journey. Again, in the bus, I was fortuitous to meet another different individual. A man who looked to be in his forties, was actually a retired civil engineer who had worked with the UN and other agencies in a job, travelling around the world. What was interesting however, was what he did after retirement. After observing farming models in Australia, he set out to try his hand at farming, more in an attempt to put his unused land in Bhutan to some use.

Starting with a very small area cultivated with crops and fruit trees, he also bought a couple of cows and chicks to dabble with a new, full-time job as a farmer! As small successes led to excitement, coupled with his stellar entrepreneurial streak, though late in life, he had rapidly expanded in the last 2 years. He gave an interesting account of why and how he tried out different things in his farm, and how he had ended up with a large cultivated area, growing close to a dozen crops and fruits like paddy, maize, banana, pears, lychee, guava. His animal farm had also expanded into hundreds of cattle and a big layer-poultry producing milk, eggs and other dairy products that he sold in the local market. He was also using all this produce in a tourist guest house which he had also set up, to brisk business in South Bhutan and Paro!

His energy was infectious and he spoke more like a man on a mission, who had just begun and was hungry to try out a hundred more new things in his farm. He pointed to the plenty of land still left unused, as if it were another indication of the miles left to go, for him. It was amazing to hear the knowledge he had accumulated in a short span and his eagerness to learn more, in an area completely different from his life-long profession. When he also mentioned about the blueprint he had just drawn up for contract-farming of cattle and how he intends to expand, I saw a lot of similarities in him with Suguna’s MD Sundararajan, who had painstakingly and ingeniously carved out a billion-dollar poultry business in India over the last 2 decades.

Deep in conversation, I didn’t realise that we had spoken 6 hours and had already reached the Bhutanese border town of Phuentsholing. Bidding good bye, I proceeded back to the same hotel that I had stayed in, on my first day in Bhutan. By now, I had made up my travel plan for the last 2 days of my trip. I was going to stay put in the border town and just chill out for a day, reading, writing and having a relaxed time, with a change of gear from the continuous travel that I’d been doing. I just reminded myself again, that it was just a vacation and this was what I felt like doing, at that hour!

6AM: Lounging at the park, PhuentsholingBird (is also) watching..!