Taktsang Monastery, One of the Icons of Bhutan
I enjoyed the views of pristine forests almost everywhere we visited, the good roads and peaceful drives (no honking anywhere) and the clean and well organized vegetable market at Thimphu with friendly shop owners. The weather was neither too cold nor too warm, somewhat similar to the Bangalore weather conditions during the older days. I tried some of the local vegetable dishes, and enjoyed Ema Datshi, made of long red and green chili peppers and cheese, and another dish made of stir-fried "fiddlehead" fern.
Bhutan Takin, at a small zoo dedicated to this endangered animal
At a Buddhist Nunnery
Bark of Trees Getting Soaked at a Hand-made Paper Mill at Thimphu
Clay Modeling at School of Arts and Crafts, Thimphu
Wood Carving at School of Arts and Crafts, Thimphu
We stayed for a few days at Kolkata on the way back home. It was my first visit to Bengal, though I have always felt like being very close to the place, thanks to the Literature and Cinema of Bengal. However, I found Kolkata to be like any other city in India - congested, noisy and polluted. In addition, most of the people walk on the footpaths and streets with cigarettes in their hands, giving us the impression of walking in the middle of smoky automobiles. I have not seen so many smokers in any other place in India.
There was also the extra crowd and traffic jams due to Durga Puja festivals, but this gave us an opportunity to see the colorful pandals made at various streets hosting idols of Durga. It was also interesting to note that unlike Bangalore, many of the old residential buildings are still preserved and are being used in Kolkata, even though they look dilapidated, with peepal and banyan trees growing on their roofs and walls. Just behind the place where I stayed, I noticed an old pale cream painted three story house, the terrace of which reminded me of Apu's small home in Apur Sansar. It looks like time is frozen in such buildings, the only upgrades being the various cables which connect them to the modern world, and the air-conditioners that are installed.