Bhutan Update and Reading Suggestions
So things are good in Bhutan thanks to His Majesty and a very proactive government. There have been seven cases of the virus, two tourists who have left the country and have recovered, and five students who came home. They were found to be positive with Covid-19 while in quarantine and were isolated. Three have recovered and the other two are doing fine.
The virus doesn't appear to be spread in the community. But we have serious issues with the very porous border with India in the south. India is in lock down, in as much as 1.3 billion people can be "locked down." Our Prime Minister, Dr. Lotay Tshering has said that even when the lock down is lifted in India the border with India and Bhutan in the south and east will remain closed. So we've all stocked up with food, and the government says there is a six month supply of food and gas.
The Dessup volunteers are growing in number and now the 40th batch is being trained to assist the medical staff and also to help with security at the borders. They are everywhere in their orange uniforms. A couple of weeks ago, the government asked for volunteers as they wanted 2,500 men and women to train in this current 40th batch. 8,000 volunteered! So there will be more batches trained. Everyone wants to help His Majesty. We were all heartened and actually amazed to see photos of him on social media with members of the Royal Bodyguards and the army, walking in some rather obscure parts of the border. He's definitely not working from home.
Thimphu at twilight.
Many people are working from home but also going to office. The tourism industry has been hit hard and according the The Kuensel newspaper the government is taking this opportunity to make some changes to the tourism policy here. His Majesty has a Kidu Fund that is helping people who have lost their jobs like tour guides and drivers and also hotel owners and some restaurant owners. As everywhere, medical staff and farmers are doing okay financially. Also grocery store owners and civil servants.
His Majesty has asked us all to plant gardens, and so we are planting gardens. I've got viable celery. Over 20 years in Bhutan and I've never been able to grow celery. But Madame Abeer, wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador gave me some that has taken root. Also we have strawberries, lettuce, garlic, onions, and assorted herbs. Namgay planted the herbs but threw away the packets, so I'll have to let you know what comes up.
Also, we have many puppies.
There are four more.
If you're staying home and reading consider traveling to Bhutan via my books MARRIED TO BHUTAN and A FIELD GUIDE TO HAPPINESS. I've linked them to Parnassus books in Nashville, Tennessee, but it would also be nice to support your local bookstore.