This year we celebrated our very first International Happiness Day on March 20th! To celebrate we decided we should eat a whole cake, because that’s what makes us happy – couple of langma jigpola’s over here. The night before we ordered a chocolate caramel cake from the Ambient Café and invited our Bhutanese gal pals for a picnic.
The next morning we woke up and started to walk down the hill from RTC into Thimphu. Part way down the city bus drove by to pick us up, so we rode back up to RTC and back down the hill again. When we got into town there was a lot of hustle and bustle with celebration. We had time to kill before the cake was ready, so the girls took us to the Bhutan Thailand Friendship Park. Near the park was a Thai Temple and a gazebo built using Thai architecture, but we spent our time at the playground. We played on the swings, went on the seesaw, played volleyball with a soccer ball, and joined the little boys playing soccer.
We left the park to find some snacks. The streets were closed to cars because of the celebrations and when we reached Norzin Lam we stopped to watch some Bhutanese dancers who were performing. It was our first time seeing traditional dancing, which features singing, flowing hand movements, and small steps. After the dancing, the next act was a Bhutanese singer but we didn’t stay to watch her and continued in our search for food. The girls led us to a small stand were we got puchikas. These are hollow rice crackers filled with a potato-vinegar mixture. We offered to help pay but, as usual, were not allowed.
By that time our cake was ready, so we all went to the Ambient to pick it up! Then a confusing time ensued, because the girls lead us to get more food. We went to a small “fast food” restaurant where we ate momos while waiting for alu paratha. Alu paratha is an Indian dish, kind of like potato pancakes with chopped scallions eaten with ezay.
Feeling full, we picked up ices (Bhutanese creamy, icy popsicles) and headed to the Walking Buddha Park for our picnic. Because it was National Happiness Day there were tents set up promoting healthy living. At one such tent you could stand on a scale and read your weight. You could also have your height measured. Of course we had to know what our measurements were; good thing we didn’t eat the cake yet. Annie and I were already well aware of our size difference in comparison to the Bhutanese, but now we had an actual number to quantify it: we’re giants.
It was a really hot day so we scoped out a place in the shade. We ended up on the outer perimeter of the park in the grassy area between a sidewalk and a fence. On the other side of the fence was the road. Good spot girls, but at least there’s no ants (the reason why we couldn’t sit at a more aesthetically pleasing location). We broke out 7 spoons and dug into our cake. When the Bhuties (our Bhutanese friends, Bhutanese version of Wheaties) decided it was too sweet, we brought out the alu paratha, that’s a lot of potato. Yeah, potato. The girls decided we couldn’t bring both the leftovers of the cake and alu paratha home. So Annie and I had to step up our game and finish the cake. It was a great success and we will continue to celebrate Happiness Day for years to come.
-Annie Bennett and Sara Wangmo