This is a very recent, and of course, strange development taking place in Thimphu. You simply have to walk down the Norzin Lam Street, opposite Etho Metho Plaza. 9 pm onwards. There, you can see an unusual crowd of about a hundred people. Men and women. Young and old. All. And you would just scratch your head, get yourself into a wondering.
“What’s going on here at this hour? It’s already midnight,” that’s my reaction when I first saw it.
So you go closer. Now you can see them drinking, munching, gobbling. Laughing too. At the lane’s side, about 30 people line up. Around them, they have thermo flasks, containers and pots. Yes, they sell hot drinks and snacks. Tea. Porridge. Puri. Momo…lots other.
Let me explain to you that it’s mostly the partygoers who herd here, at the Norzin Lam Street. It’s quite strange that even after guzzling oodles of whisky and cocktails in the nightclubs, they still have to graze here for cup of hot tea and porridge.
The office goers too flock here, after working late in their offices. Now this place has become so hugely popular amongst the partygoers and late night office goers.
To add one more thing, this place is perfectly peaceful, very well-organized. You can even see the night patrolling and traffic policemen sipping tea and porridge here in perfect harmony - perhaps as sheyra for them. And quite wondrously, you don’t hear residents nearby complaining about it.
At the lane, in the crowd, you can also come across a small boy selling thukpa and tea. And he timidly shouts at you, “Lopoen, thukpa, thukpa! Hot suja also!”
He is a class three student of Zilukha LSS in Thimphu, that’s what he told me. At 9 pm, every weekend and Wednesday, he comes here to do his business.
“My parents prepare for me this porridge and tea,” he answered me as he poured porridge in a plastic cup for me.
He charged me Nu 20 for it. He told me that he usually stays until 3 am in the morning and his earning ranges from Nu 300 to Nu 500 a night. It’s, definitely, unsafe for a young boy to work in such an environment, at odd hours.
As you walk back home, you would hope that the Department of Trade, Thimphu Thromde and all other relevant agencies come up with a strategic plan for this group of hawkers and minor. You would wish that they be not booted out, like what had happened in the past, but consulted properly and provided adequate support to make them resourceful entrepreneurs.