If anything is constant – it is the process of education and learning. I got to realize this in the morning today, on my way back from Paro.
A young girl flagged me down at Chuzom looking for a ride home. I was all alone and so I stopped and told her to hop in. As we approached Thimphu, she asked if I could drop her off to her house in Simtokha.
I said; “sorry I am running late for an appointment so I will have to drop you off at Olarongchhu.”
I heard her call a friend seeking for a loan. I realized that she did not have money to pay for the taxi ride home. So I asked her;
“How much would a taxi ride cost you?
She said; “Nu.100.00”.
So I gave her the money. For me it was cheaper to give her Nu.100.00 rather than take a diversion to drop her off at her home.
As I continued my drive, the realization hit me that there were people out there who did not possess Nu.100.00. For God’s sake --- that is less than the price of half a bottle of beer I drink. Even more disturbing – I realized that to someone poor, Nu.100.00 meant a hell of a lot of money – the difference between reaching home or being stranded in the middle of a highway.
When I reached Motithang, I headed straight for BOD. There I inquired about exchanging my subsidized LPG cylinders with those of none subsidized ones. The girl said not a problem --- you can take anytime you want. I said;
“But I want to surrender my subsidized cylinders so that they can be issued to more deserving users. What do I do?” She said, nothing we give you the new cylinders at a reduced price.
I am told that the price difference between the subsidized and none subsidized LPG is only Nu.200.00. But the incident of the morning taught me that Nu.200.00 can be a big deal to someone who is poor and does not have the money.
I decided that I am going to surrender both my old cylinders when they run out - and take the none subsidized ones. It is my hope that two villagers in some remote corner of the country who may be short of Nu.200.00 may yet have his/her chance at owing a LPG cylinder.
I know that the world is an unfair place – but that should not be the reason NOT to do our part – however small. I know that it is the rich, the highly salaried in the country – the Ministers, the Secretaries, the Directors and the politicians who get to import cars duty free, and buy chocolates and whiskey and perfume – at quota rates - while the lowly paid peons and the drivers and the clerks pay over 200% duty to buy their cars and booze.
If this was a fair world, you would not be buying LPG for cooking your meals or heating your homes – you would be using the much hyped hydro-electricity at much cheaper prices. But the sad thing is that we cannot afford our own electricity to cook and to heat – and thus we are forced to hanker after subsidized LPG.
I urge all those of you who think you can afford to pay additional Nu.200.00 a month, please opt for the none subsidized LPG cylinders. Doing so will help some poor villager finally get their subsidized LPG that they deserve.