On the Centenary walk from Kanglung in the east to Thimphu in the west, five of us were on a mission to inform the villager along traditional footpath about the health and hygiene, and how we are indebted to our beloved monarchs past and present. The walk was a real test of endurance, patience, and friendship. But more than that we like to believe that we were lucky to be able to retrace the route our forefathers had undertaken and take part in the centenary celebrations.
In a village we asked a gathering what they know about GNH. Almost instantaneously a lady stood up from the crowd. I was truly moved by her courage and bravery. In her dialect, she responded:
“Gyel Yong Ga Kyi Pelzom da khan khai, thrung thrung karmo gyi la, la.” (Rough trans. GNH is the black-necked crane?)
We tried not to laugh. It is not a laughing matter, but sheer innocence. It wasn’t innocence alone. She was merely misinformed. There were traces of DPT campaigns in the locality. This is how well informed our villages are. Well, I didn’t say all the villages. I admit some villagers are truly amazing.
And away from the centenary walk, earlier in the same year, we went to Laya for a health campaign. We were talking about the dreaded HIV/AIDS and other related issues. The public listened for a while in complete silence. It was actually foolish on our part to show how an HIV virus multiplies. Because a lady in the crowd remarked:
“Aai, meto ley shom shar dhey mo?”( aye, isn’t that a wonderful flower blossoming?”
While my friends continued with the presentation, I was talking with a man. His loquacity stunned me.
“Sir,” he tells me. “I think we in Laya have no worry about AIDS.”
“Why so?” I asked him.
“Because you see sir, we have our yar sa guen bup (cordycep).”
Maybe he was trying to tell me that the diseases can be treated with the money from the sale of the insects, I thought.
“Nga che yar sa guen bup za wa chen, ga chyi yang sang wong ba tey, la.” (If we take yar sa guen bup everything will be cured.)
So no worry about HIV/AIDS either.
I kept quiet.