Thursday, February 12

Passage through Bengal

Life at Bhutan: Tough Going Here Boss!!!!

Passage through Bengal:

Nothing has changed so far, even after 10 years after leaving Bengal. Life comes to a standstill over here. The people are so simple, elegant in their approach. Perhaps that is why it is called, “Aamar Baangla, Sonar Baangla” (in Bengali), i.e., My Bengal, Golden Bengal.

The journey began on 4th February, 2009, when I left my EmPower and started chasing my dreams of becoming a Mentor or a Lopen (in Bhutanese) or a Teacher. Mentorship runs deep intro my blood, so choosing a career in teaching was easy for me after spending more than a year in the corporate world.

It took almost 2 days to reach Kolkata as the train was 8 hours late. Reaching Chandernagore, I started my work immediately. Already late by a day, I was lucky to get a citizen ID proof from the District Magistrate who was kind enough to let me go. Then me and my dad went to the bank, then to the counselor where I submitted my Voter’s ID application. Finally the same day I booked a tatkal ticket to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) via the Teesta Torsa express the next day.

Next day early morning was busy as usual. I caught my train at 2:30 in the afternoon and left my hometown for NJP. I had to spend a sleepless night and reached NJP at 3:00 next morning. Immediately I had to catch a bus from Tenzing Norgay Bus stand to Jaigaon, the border area with Bhutan, which took a nerve wrenching 8 hours in bus. I reached the border at 3:00 in the afternoon of 10th February.

I had to spend a disgusting 4 hours running from Indian Embassy to Bhutan Immigration office and finally after persuading the officers on either side, I obtained my permit to Thimphu. I had to regain my energy with generous doses of “Beef Thupka”, a dish made from rice, Red Chillies, cheese and fried beef.

Luckily I got a land roaster, a 8 wheeled land rover, from the bus stand to Thimphu at 4:30 in the evening the same day. I had to donate 600 Nultrums to the driver to take me to my destination. The ride started well, but 6 kms from Phuentsholing (after Jaigaon border, it is the first Bhutan town on Bengal border) the road became extremely bad. There was no metallic road, and the ride till Thimphu entrance (a distance of 176 km) was a spine buster one. It took a heavy toll on my body. Winding roads at a height of 7500 feet above sea level, with 1000 feet deep fall on one side, the vehicle moving at 30 kms/ hr. was a ride for me to remember. There was eminent danger lurking all the time that we fall down in the valley. Any ways after 9 long hours at 12:30 in the night I reached Thimphu and was immediately greeted by the amazing beauty of the land of dragons. Mountains on all side with a clean well maintained city, thanks to the managerial capacity of His Majesty, the King, Aum Sangay Zam. I will soon post the amazing photos here. With a temperature of 2 degree Celsius all the year, our “Guna Bhai” would love to have a villa here. I was lucky to witness the first snowfall of my life the next night.

I reported to the Ministry and then became a proud owner of the title “Lopen” given to all teachers here. The very next day we (I met my roommate here. He is Malayali who will also be teaching along with me) were told that we were posted at Samdrup Zonkhar Higher Secondary School. So spending the night in Thimphu we set out for our destination. Reaching Phuentsholing today, we were taken back when we heard that it was a strike in Bengal. So we are stranded now and that is why I thought to pen down my experiences here so far.

Please do let me know, how you like my experience. I will be posting the photos soon. We will start our journey tomorrow at the earliest. We will catch a taxi to Samdrup that will last another 9 hours. So bye for now from your friend. Will catch with you soon telling you about my next saga.

By Arunava Das


  1. Hi bro... awesome to know that u have reached safely... You have virtually took us through your journey man. Will remember those tiny details for our trip someday.. I am eagerly awaiting some snaps of that Godly world.... I so envy you... May Lord Buddha guide u always.... :)

  2. Hey Mr. Lopen,

    Lucky you. The beauty of the blue hills is a sight to see man. Not to mention the zig-zag climb and descend in the hills.

    Great that you really liked the scenic beauty of the hills (although there is nothing that you can hate about it!).

    Anyways, since you have taken the most noble profession in the world, my salutation to you.

    Although I don't remember most of my college professors, I still remember my most of my school teachers!

    Here is what Swami Vivekananda has to say - "The greatness of a teacher consists in the simplicity of his language."

    And for sure, I would love to stay in a Villa there anytime!

    Keep rocking!

    Love n Peace

  3. Hey Dassappa,

    Great post da. Any day I would love to read about your adventures than cosying up with some spy thriller. Amazing Post! Eagerly awaiting to hear about your further adventures and don't forget: lots of pictures (non-feathered variety is also acceptable).

  4. Hello Arunava "Lopen" Das, good to hear from you. Appreciate your energy that you took time out to write, and write such a wonderful piece. Samdrup Jongkhar is picturesque indeed. You have the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary nearby and also the Dooars. I will definitely try my best to visit your School once I go to Assam next time. All the best for all your plans and dreams. Enjoy, coz you love what you are doing now! Cheers

  5. Wish u all the very best and success at "Land of the Thunder Dragon" (Bhutan) !!! I always liked teachers, who gave me something to take home to think about besides homework...!!! I am sure u can help students to create their own image...loads of wishes n prayers to u


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