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Gold Coated Bhutanese Chilies

If you happen to visit Phuentsholing, remember to buy a kilogram of local chilies that are either from Sha or Wang. What is so special about that? The answer is so simple because they are coated with gold! And now how do we know they are gold-coated? The answer is simple because it is expensive. It is very interesting to note that after all ema datsi could actually outweigh the much coveted Bhutanese dish of sikam pa or norsha kam. May be this Bhutanese dish shall reign supreme in Bhutan. But unless we are promised nirvana, we could not afford to spend on green chilies today.

I have just had my lunch now. And of all the people in the hotel, I happen to be the only veggie in the room. Unlike the last week or the week before that, today’s menu is short of one item. And that means today something is less for me today in the buffet. I go to the proprietor and ask about the absence of ema datsi from the menu.

“I am sorry,” she tells me. “But you see, price of chilies has skyrocketed in the market. Today, a kg of chilies costs Nu 120, thirty less from the day before. Moreover, chilies are of inferior quality today.”

Even a kg of beef in Phuentsholing is priced at Nu 120. And Indian chilies are sold at much cheaper rate in Jaigaon, but something (I don’t know what) seems to be lacking in those that are available in the Jaigaon supermarket. That’s why Bhutanese people buy even if our shopkeepers and vendors charge them Nu 150 per kg. Lack of chilies means a serious threat to us veggies, but also what is beef or chicken or pork without chilies?

Something is wrong somewhere. If authorities must interfere, will it help? That is the law of economics some people say; higher the demand higher price. That makes sense. Now how do we lower the demand to lower the price? Now that does not make sense. Sometimes Bhutanese people are unreasonable. It is purely illogical and daylight robbery, they call it.

And I am concerned about so many other people who happen to be thrown in Phuentsholing to survive. What about a laborer or a lineman, a sweeper or caretaker, who merely make Nu 100 per day? Unless the price subsides, it is going to be difficult to buy the gold-coated Bhutanese chilies here. So, resist the temptation and give ema dasti some break, at least during the monsoons.


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