Nov 23, 2011

Chewing money and rising inflation

Penstar Photo
The recent issue of K2 covered almost everything that you need to know on the custom and trend of chewing doma in Bhutan. The articles familiarize its readers starting from how doma, paney and tsuni are prepared to wrapping trend to the hazards it poses on the chewers to what doctors are saying about the habit to what doma-khamdo is known in English, etc. And pictures captivate the essence of the stories in full.


I have always admired the team behind that magazine and one of my uncles buys only the weekend edition of Kuensel for the same reason. K2 has already carved a niche market and the fact that it has its mother to accompany makes it more successful. But sometimes I become uneasy with the expression “K2 comes free with the Saturday edition of Kuensel”. On the other days the newspaper sells for Nu. 5 while on Saturday they charge us Nu.10/- (Nu. 5 is for the free K2 Magazine, I tell my wife).

But, good job K2 and congratulations to the team behind this wonderful magazine! I hope they would continue to give us more interesting articles each issue every week.

However, coming to the topic of chewing betel nut – as I said earlier K2 touched almost everything – it missed one pertinent issue; it does not talk about the rising cost of this expensive and injurious chewing habit.

In 2009 when I first stepped out my feet on this town, my Nu.5 note used to fetch me 5 doma-khamdos in the pack while my friends in the capital were given only four for five. Less than a year later, my same Nu.5 fetched me a khamdo less and it dropped to only three in the beginning of 2011. And today we get only 2 khamdos for Nu.5/- while some cunning shops sell a packet containing 5 doma-khamdos for Nu. 10/-.

Shopkeepers complain of rising cost of betel nut, most of which come from the border Indian towns. Almost 10% of our income goes out to Indians. (I just made that data. If it is too less please add and if it is more, please detract from the figure, after all that is what I think about all figures).  In order to stop this income outflow, we should grow our own trees. Another culprit is the devil called inflation.

In a few year’s time a man with a lone doma-tree on his plot of land would be a rich and powerful man in Bhutan if the cost escalates in the market at this rate or unless something is done to fight inflation. If 2011 reduces the purchasing power of Nu. 5/- to only 2 khamdos in the doma market, then I wonder about the state of things five years later!

Since we are unable to stop people from chewing doma we need to do something dramatic. (Hehe…I wonder if we should listen to what Anna Hazare preaches about public flogging of alcoholics)