Bhutan mesmerizes me.
The ancient hills, snow-cloaked and sombre.
The sylvan valleys. Verdant green.
The bubbling mountain streams. Impatient and loquacious.
The daunting hairpin bends. To be fair, the travel guide had warned us loud and clear, a hairpin bend every 7 seconds !!! I shut my eyes, clench the seat and say a silent prayer each time the driver, calm and unperturbed, humming a catchy Bhutanese tune, maneuvers a bend.
The whitewashed chortens at every turn. Nondescript and stark.
The prayer flags in a myriad hues. Fluttering in the breeze in carefree abandon.
The majestic awe-inspiring dzongs. Adorned with the most intricate of carvings. And the most fascinating of murals.
The disciplined rows of prayer wheels. A solitary monk in crimson robes spins them. Patiently.
The rhododendron forests in violent reds and pompous pinks.
The conifer woods that stretch for miles to the distant horizons.
Leisurely time-stops-still afternoons of archery.
Or a boisterous band of just-inducted monks enjoying a bout of football.
And an earthy yet delectable dinner of red rice and jasha maroo.
Jasha Maroo. A rustic chicken stew. Chicken cooked in a medley of onions, leeks and tomatoes. The warmth of ginger. The fire of chillies. A profusion of coriander leaves to finish the dish with.
A must-try the next time you are yearning for a chicken curry !!!