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Day 105: Gantey to Thimpu

Michael Palin - HimalayaAt the Arts Café I meet Tsewang, a young actor and film maker, recently returned from showing his new film 'Travellers and Magicians' at the Deauville Film Festival. It's set in the Bhutanese countryside and in it he plays a man trying to get away from the restrictive world of the village.

He himself was the son of farmers and recognizes that, by many international standards, Bhutan remains backward. Literacy is a little over 50 per cent and television only came here five years ago. But though life is hard, he doesn't think this is a bad thing. Unemployment is quite high here and this worries him more than lack of money.

'The Buddhist version of poverty is a situation where you have nothing to contribute.'

He feels that in Bhutan there is still a strong sense of, as he puts it, 'unison with the earth'.

'In San Francisco I felt lost. Everywhere you go you have billboards telling you that you need to buy this or that, or the latest Cherokee four-wheel drive, but here we have different kind of billboards.'

A coach pulls up and a line of docile tourists file past us into the café.

'We have the prayer flags, we have the temples. These are our markers, you know, reminding you, in the Buddhist way, that you are not here for ever.'
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 105: Gantey to Thimpu
  • Country/sea: Bhutan
  • Place: Thimpu
  • Book page no: 246

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