If anything is constant – it is the process of education and learning. I got to realize this, 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”.
So I gave her the money. For me it was cheaper to give her Nu.100 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 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. But the incident of the morning taught me that Nu.200 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 may yet have his or 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 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.
By Yeshey Dorji
The writer is a Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Thimphu. His is also a Paul Harris Fellow. Currently he serves as the Club Secretary for RY 2017-2018. By Profession, Yeshey is a photographer.