Saturday, March 9, 2024

The Dream Million $$ Deal That Never Was: PART I

As a surviving member of the dream-weaver troupe from Bhutan’s golden years - the early 80’s - I have memories of both success and toil that give courage and hope during these tumultuous times of uncertainty and doubt. It was a time when we faced challenges head on - rather than abandon ship by bolting to distant shores. It was a time when we exported Raw Timber Logs to Switzerland, Gum Rosin to South Africa, Milled Wooden Rods to Germany, Brown Jacket Cardamom to the Middle East and Pakistan, Woven Textiles to Sweden, and Fresh Fruits to Bangladesh and Thailand.

Simple was not simple and strange was stranger than fiction. The following narrative from that era should be good for some chuckles.

One fine morning during 1981-82, a suited-booted, dignified looking gentleman was ushered into my office located at 51, Tivoli Court, Calcutta, India. He introduced himself as the CEO of a family-owned Swedish company called Arvid Nordquist HAB.

I cannot remember his name - but the man gingerly placed an empty can of Druk brand Mango Juice on my table, while telling me;

“I want to import this brand of juices into Sweden and sell it through my chain of stores spread across the whole of Europe. I understand your office handles Bhutan’s external trade”.

“Indeed Sir ---- we do. Please take a seat.”

“Your Druk brand of Orange and Mango Juices are absolutely super - the taste and flavor are better than anything I have ever tasted before in my life”.

“Thank You Sir ….. I am glad that you like the juices - we produce them from top quality, naturally grown raw materials, without the use of additives. We would be happy to export them to you. What kind of quantities do you have in mind?”

“I will take every single can of the juices you produce in your factory ---- all year round.”

I gawked at the man in disbelief - he was dead serious!

“Sir, I will need few days to discuss the matter with the management at the factory - details like quantity, price, regularity of supply etc. etc. Can I get back to you in about a week to ten days’ time?”

“One other detail though - will you accept palletized break-bulk cargo or does it have to be containerized shipments only?”

“Palletized containerized shipments only, please”.

The man wasn’t done:

“One other thing - the packaging of the juices is unacceptable. Rust is visible around the top and bottom of the can’s rims …. and the labelling is too crude - European consumers will not accept them in their present state of packaging. You need to improve them”.

“What is your suggestion?”

“I suggest that you migrate to canning the juices in pop-top, pre-printed aluminum or tin-coated steel sheet cans.”

“OK Sir ---- we will look into the matter and get back to you in about a week to ten days’ time”.

“OK … please work on it …. I really want to carry your produce in my stores ----- their taste is unmatched. You can understand that I have close to a hundred product managers to handle this kind of stuff …. But your juices are so good - I, the CEO, is personally talking to you”.

“We are greatly honored, Sir”.

Bhutan's entire production of orange and mango juices to be destined for the export market?  Dang hell! What a break!


  1. And then Yeshey ??? Common. You can’t do this to your ardent reader😳😳😳

  2. Can hardly contain my excitement! Bring on Part II