Takhti-Chu ; Dosa , Idli and other stories..
Quite often , a thought or an image or a memory is linked with a place in ones’ mind. Every time I tuck into a Dosa or an Idli with freshChutney or steaming hot Sambar, I am transported to Bhutan!
It was a very long time ago – nearly two and a half decades; I used to often travel between these two places on work. The road was picturesque and the view from each window frame, a picture post card. The road was winding and often had you quite literally, at the edge of the seat. The hills were green and one could smell the fresh, crisp, bracing Himalayan air. There would be friendly children and women returning from wood –gathering waving you along. The distance between Phuentsholing and Thimpu was about 170 kilometers and the distance took about seven hours on the road.
The Bhutanese were and perhaps still are the simplest and the happiest people on earth. Warm and friendly; outgoing and affectionate- they were very easy to get along with and make friends. Those were the days when there was no internet and cell phones and one still had to rely on enquiries along the way to figure out where the meal break was to be. I am a vegetarian and was not much of an adventurer those days in matters gastronomic. The Bhutanese were famous for Jasha Maroo(spicy chicken) and Phaksha Paa( pork with red chillies) and Ema Datshi(Chillies and cheese). A couple of hours along the route, I was getting a trifle hungry. I stopped to enquire about the possibility of some food along the way. Through a bit of sign language, I realized that some food was on offer about another half hour along the road.
Almost mid – way, a place called Takhti – Chu, was home to a canteen run by a retired Malayalee ex – serviceman. A basic and functional canteen; no frills and fancy stuff. The smell of fresh hot steamingSambar wafting through the Himalayan air! I could not believe it. That is a sight which has remained imprinted in my mind forever- several Bhutanese men and women attired in typical Gho and Kira, sitting on the wooden tables and tucking into the softest Idlis and the crispestDosas and enjoying the several types of chutneys to go with it. I don’t think I have enjoyed a Dosa or an Idli more than that day sitting on the bench under an overcast Bhutan sky, breathing in the unpolluted Himalayan air and sharing the table with an elderly Bhutanese couple!
I did the trip several times over the next few months and a stop atTakhti- Chu was inevitable. But for the rest of my life , whenever it isDosa or Idli , it brings back memories of that my first pit stop at Takhti-Chu…