Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pedestrians' Day: The Acid Test

-->Yesterday was Tuesday, another day of the celebration of the Pedestrians’ Day. I greeted its arrival with a child-like glee. I was waiting for it because, after the first day’s experience, there was something I needed to test out.

Last Tuesday, I had an appointment to meet Damcho Duba of the Ministry of Home Affairs whose office is located inside the Tashichho Dzong. As I wrote in my earlier post, since I would have had to be walking, I had worn my walking shoes. As a result, I could not gain entry into the Dzong since sneakers are not allowed inside the Dzongs. So I had called up Damcho Duba and told him that I would come and see him the next day.

As I was walking away from the Dzong, I noticed a couple of RBG johnnies in Gho walking into the Dzong - wearing ankle high, black boots. I wondered! Is it possible? An idea stuck me :)

I decided that I would not go and see Damcho Duba the next day but on coming Tuesday - yesterday - another Pedestrians’ Day. I had an idea I wanted to try out.

Early morning of yesterday, I put on my all-leather, ankle high Gore-Tex Zamberlan trekking boots and matching thick knee-length Swiss stockings bought from Sherab’s at the Changlam Plaza area. Exactly at 10.15AM, I climbed up the first flight of stairs of the mighty Tashichho Dzong through which I would gain entry into the courtyard of the Dzong and from there on into the office of Damcho Duba. There were about 6 policemen manning the entry gate. I was apprehensive but I gave no indication that I was nervous. I emptied my miscellaneous articles from inside my hemchu and into the plastic trays, to be run through the scanner. I walked in confidently through the scanning gate, retrieved my belongings from inside the plastic trays at the other end and wobbled up the second flight of stairs - all the while waiting for the restraining voice of one of the policemen to stop me from walking any further. Nothing! I had gained entry into the Dzong and the policemen did not object. I met Damcho Duba and after chatting him for a while, I departed, still apprehensive that the police personnel might yet raise objections on my way out. Still nothing!!

As I walked further away away from the Dzong, I wondered if every one of the policemen had failed to notice that I was wearing a boot that they might qualify as “casual”. So, in order to be doubly re-assured that the boots were not infra-dig, I decided to undergo another acid test. I walked to the National Assembly Hall building across the river where the Parliament is currently in session. There were, at that time, 5 policemen manning the entry point. I repeated the process of emptying my hemchu’s contents into the plastic trays for scanning and confidently walked in through the scanning gate into the corridors leading to the offices. NOTHING!

No objection to the boots - I was not stopped for wearing inappropriate footwear. I sauntered off to the right and walked the long corridor with my boots’ rubber soles squeaking away over the freshly polished wooden floors.

I passed the test. Leather boots were welcome - even if they are trekking boots. So I will not be getting knock-knees walking long durations in dress shoes during the Pedestrians’ Day :)

I have to say this: If the policemen had asked me about the boots, I was going to tell them that I was wearing Swiss boots. Most Bhutanese people understand and accept Swiss boots - they have no understanding of what trekking boots are :)

To this day I have not understood why trekking/back-packing boots came to be called Swiss boots in Bhutan. Perhaps, it was the Swiss people who first brought this class of boots into Bhutan and thus, they were called Swiss Boots.


  1. Well, Yeshey, if the police did not object to you then, they might now after reading your blog if for nothing else but to redeem their pride for oversight of your "Swiss" boots. It's great that you posted a picture of your boots so that people like me do have an idea what it looks like, but you should have posed like before, na? Anon.

  2. I wonder whether it was Police men's ignorance to check the dress code or they thought, it is an appropriate one?
    For me, it possibly makes sense that policemen knew the Pedestrian day and accepted people's difficult and sympathy was shown accordingly. :)

    Yet another interesting post Sir.
    Happy 2nd Pedestrian Day!

  3. I admire your patience with testing and love reading your blog posts...issue based, yet written in a casual style...clear and crisp

  4. Hi Tshering,

    Welcome to my Blog ... and thanks for your comment.

    Frankly it is important to have appropriate footwear if one is to do extended walking. So I want to be sure that boots are acceptable, if not sneakers. Otherwise I need to resort to hiring taxis during Tuesdays ... which is something I want to avoid.

  5. much better here. Appearance does matter now that you agree eh!