Bright and sunny morning after days of waking up to grey skies and rain. Now that I no longer live in Bombay where it rains for days without taking a breath, I've come to appreciate rainy mornings, from the time you're lying under your duvet and looking at the light behind the blinds to see how bright it is, to drinking your coffee while you're watching the clouds move, or just the general ahhhh-how-cozy-I-am feel of being indoors and snug and dry while outside everything is being bathed just for you.
You know where else it was raining? BHUTAN. Where I just returned from. Let me tell you all about it:
The festival: Mountain Echoes is in its sixth year now, and a pretty major part of Thimpu's social calendar. Of course, Thimpu is "the size of Khan Market" as one writer put it, but still. Bhutanese travelled from all over the country to attend. But it was quite small for all that, so really very intimate, which means most of the talks were pretty well attended. (Unlike other things I've done where there's like five people in the room including the organiser, who is giving you pitying glances.)
The food: For the first day, I ate whatever Indian food they had organised at the various buffets, feeling very sorry for self, but then I realised I could actually LEAVE and go get something to eat. Huh. Another writer and I set off, and he was already feeling intrepid, so he suggested we eat at a dive bar. We stopped at the least bleak looking one, where the woman got us some beef, chilli and cheese curry, some daal, some rice and some kimchi. She also produced home made pickles from her own tree. Everything was excellent, even an older man pressing his phone into our hands asking us to video chat with all his relatives. (We waved and smiled, smiled and waved.)
Oh, and I ate at Cloud 9, which is this teeny, very fancy establishment known for its burgers and its homemade ice cream. Run by an Australian woman married to a Bhutanese man, it seems like a place everyone would be at, but no locals seemed to know it. Some of my fellow festival goers had every meal there and after one delicious anti-national beef burger, I wished I had thought of it too. I also had gone on a different day and had cold coffee and homemade Rocky Road and mmm. MMMMM.