Immensity of the Himalays
On Wednesday afternoon Tho and me took a car (and driver….difficult to drive on these winding mountain roads even for swiss standards) to join a conference organized by RUB (Royal University
of Bhutan) in Gedu.
When we said to our friends and colleagues that we go to Gedu, they all said: Oh! It will be foggy…or…what a miserable place, always foggy…
In the Lonely Planet guide
Gedu is only mentioned as a place one passes through. But actually there is a big department of the RUB, with many students.
Gedu is on the way from Thimpu to Phunseling, towards the Indian boarder to the south of the country. About 4
hours drive from Thimpu.
The Plumvillage team will come on this road as they will fly to Bagdora, India and from there take a bus up, up, up to Thimpu, their way passes through Gedu.
I am very happy I took this ride as I could experience
the IMMENSITY of the Himalayas and the isolated and complex geography of this country. It is just endless mountains everywhere…The approach towards Thimpu is just so impressive, only high mountain ranges, a few hamlets, gorges, rivers….mountains
mountains and mountains!
And of course it was really foggy arriving in Gedu! But as it was Indian Independence day and that 80% of the faculty staff of Gedu RUB is Indian we arrived to a very funny Indian party with nice Indian food.
Tho’s keynote address was very good and all the contributions in this workshop very interesting. It was a workshop for young researchers.
Until now there are no PHD programs in Bhutan. Students have to go abroad to do their PHD,
but it is now that all this is starting to be developed in the country and it is exciting to feel this pioneer spirit of “the first time” that certain things are being done here.
When you experience the geography of this country
it is clear that they have been (and still are in a way) isolated. It is so scarcely inhabited that it is unimaginable that economic development can be done in a traditional way…4 hours drive from hamlet to hamlet, some regions still 2-4 days walk from
a main road.
I always say to Tho it is a country of “introverts” as solitude and isolation seem to be very much the traditional lifestyle.
Most of Bhutan’s leaders and most of the “important”
people we meet have grown up in one of these isolated villages. When we see or hear of their birthplace, like the Prime Ministers home in Bhumtang, but also when we hear stories where this or that Minister grew up, it is amazing to think that in a way they
come from a lifestyle almost comparable to middle ages, hours of walk to a main road, with stories of Yeti’s and nature spirits still alive, with physical hardships of ice cold winters, scarce resources and almost no connection to the “outside
world”, and to see how now they are stepping into the 21st century with the intelligence and awareness of a “post modern consciousness”.
I wonder if the next generation of leaders, who grew up in cities, with
internet, with all the distractions and temptations of modern life will be as wise?