That’s right. GREEN carpet. Red is so passe. And I was a fashion paparazzi for a day!
Here is my search for the best and worst outfits at the annual Paro Festival held at Paro Zhong. But I just couldn’t find the worst. Everyone looked so gorgeous!
Yours truly and friends got mistaken as local Bhutanese at this event, starting with a police telling me to make way for tourists (I think) and with other tourists stopping us to take pictures despite our disclaimers. One American lady even explained to us how digital cameras worked by showing us our digital image. Thanks yo!
Still, a brief moment of flattery. Brief.
Bhutan will be remembered as a country with a lot of red. This color brings up various memories and associations depending on the context. It can mean: Communism, love, passion, anger, violence, blood, Valentine, cheap lounge chairs in a fast food restaurant, and commercialism (most of the successful brand logos bear red). In Bhutan, red is Buddhism, originating from the robe of monks and nuns. The Bhutanese national flag shows off red as a deference to the Buddhist heritage.
The roofs are red, because that signifies the Buddhist heritage.
The rice is red.
Even the green beans look red!
The corn looks red.
Beer is red.
The butter tea I received looked red!
I am not going to sit around here and pretend like Bhutan is a rarefied quaint little exotic country. It has its shit. Bhutan has its fair share of trouble with census. Domestic violence is widespread. When asked if corruption exists in Bhutan, a Bhutanese man answered very politically:
“Bhutan is a free country and corruption is like stars. They are there during the daytime but no one takes any notice of it. You can only see the stars in the dark during the night-time.”
Nicely put! That said, Paro definitely makes you feel as if you are in some romanticized fictional kingdom in one of the Jataka tales, with the beloved King and Queen. This city has only 55,000 inhabitants. The farm houses look intricately designed with floral details and yet strike you as minimalistic and elegant. The soil is rich, with the stream flowing through the city, allowing people to grow red rice, potatoes and buckwheat. Wild flowers are everywhere!
I feel alive here.