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The Hungry and the Beautiful

a blog by Neharika Gupta

  • Writer's pictureNeharika

The Land of the Thunder Dragon

I went to Bhutan to stay with my cousin for about ten days in December 2016. His dad is in the army and was posted in Thimphu at the time. Not really the best time to go as its super cold and places like Tiger's Nest tend to get snowed in, but I could not have had a better trip.

I'd gone to bring in the New Year and work on my novel and wasn't really travelling within Bhutan like tourists generally do. I was in Thimphu for the full trip and had a leisurely writing and food themed stay. I must have been to every cafe in the city.

What's striking about Bhutan at first glance is how people dress. Men are proud to don the gho and women, the kira which lends them an air of natural elegance.

I would write in the day at home or a cafe. Pretty standard. The evenings were pretty epic though, each differing from the other. Because this trip was about spending time with family, we ate out a lot, trying everything from local fare like Ema Datshi to Korean, Chinese, even fresh pizza baked from scratch.

Ema Datshi is one of my all-time favourite dishes. It consists of yak cheese and chillies with potatoes or meat of your choice and is eaten with high-fibre rice. The dish, sometimes served with curd on the side, is best to be tried at Kalden.

My tip: If you go to Bhutan and cannot handle the cold, one meal of Ema Datshi will warm you up for the day!

The next best thing after the food, for me, were the numerous karaoke bars. Usually filled with locals singing Hindi songs without missing a beat, the energy was contagious. The next best thing was Mojo Park pub which had live music almost everyday. The night we went, it was classic rock night and a brilliant experience.

I can't wait to visit again. Mountain Echoes 2019 is on my list! The characters from my upcoming novel actually go through the grinder during their visit to Bhutan. The Lit Fest is a real turning point for them.

Overall this is how I would rate Thimphu:

People: 10/10

One of the friendliest countries I've been to.

Culture: 10/10

Very very interesting and rich, even within Thimphu.

Food: 10/10

The best food ever. (subject to taste)


My fiction book Adulting published by HarperCollins India is out on Amazon.


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