Sunday, February 27, 2005

Where is everyone??

It is a very disorienting experience to fly from Calcutta to Paro (where the airport is in Bhutan). Especially on a Sunday. Going from a place where there are people everywhere -- begging from you, asking you into their shop, trying to talk you into a rickshaw, walking past with a load of steel or some plates of glass -- to a place where there seem to be no people.

Actually there are a few on the streets here in Paro, but there were literally none at one of the monuments we visited. They have many sort-of-flags here, tall strips of cloth, some colored, some white with writing on. They are all flapping in the wind, making a very lonely sound. I feel more homesick here than I have anywhere, because of that sound, the empty spaces, and the fact that with the pines and hills it looks a bit like Northern New Mexico, or Southern Colorado here. If not for the fog that is covering some of the higher peaks, the Bhutanese architecture, the small fields, and the cypress trees, it would be a ringer. To me the Cypress trees look out of place, but it turns out they are the national tree of Bhutan.

The flight on Druk (aka Royal Bhutan) was very nice. They have upgraded their fleet to A319s. The landing in Paro was a bit hair-raising though, as the plane has to course through some mountain valleys between rather high peaks to arrive there. I was a bit uncomfortable looking out the window at a mountain right alongside the plane.

I can't draw any generalizations about the food from one meal, but I will mention the red rice which was unusual. Not soft and fluffy, more like brown rice, but ... red.

Last night I had Uttapam at a S. Indian place near the New Market, it was quite good, as was the sweet Lassi. I did not know what an Uttapam was, and am still not sure how to describe it, it was perhaps a chapati with onions and other vegetables on top. Tasty.

I don't know if I have already raved about the breakfasts at the Lytton hotel. Unfortunately my flight was too early this morning for me to have one today, but they had delicious fresh Papaya both days I was there, and Idli then Varta to eat with the Sambar and Chutney (you see I am partial to South Indian food, and especially so for breakfast).

They also had some meat dishes, but of course I did not eat those.


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