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How a Bhutanese family copes with life in Jaigaon
Jaigaon
But Yeshey Wangdi, a taxi driver, goes through this almost every morning and so do his wife and daughter. They are among scores of Bhutanese who live in Jaigaon.

This is only one of many problems they face. Devoid of even basic facilities like running water and regular electricity, living in Jaigaon is a daily struggle for Yeshey and his family. Like most other Bhutanese in Jaigaon, Yeshey lives in a one-room apartment.

The room serves as the kitchen, bedroom, living room,altar room and a guest room. "All rolled in one," he says.

After a long and tiring day Yeshey tries to relax at home but to no avail. The furrows on his and his daughter's brow deepen with every whistle of the pressure cooker. He is trying to watch a film on his small black and white T.V. while she is struggling with her homework. And all the while the mother goes on with her daily chores. "It may seem a small problem but over time it makes us miserable and long for a nice place in Bhutan," he says.

Then why doesn't he stay in Bhutan? He wants to but he cannot afford a flat in Phuentsholing on his modest income. Initially he tried to find a place in Phuentsholing but after a long futile search, he gave up the idea. A small room inPhuentsholing costs as much as Nu 1,200 a month.

Yeshey pays Nu 750 for the apartment from his monthly income ofNu 3,000. The rest is spent on food and clothing, and for his daughter's education. "If we live in Bhutan and pay Nu 1,200 a month then what will we eat"says Yeshey's wife. Jaigaon may be cheaper to live than Phuentsholing but life there isnot easy. Yeshey's wife and their daughter queue for hours everyday to get a bucket of water. It is worse during summer when they haveto spend days without water and electricity. "Forget about taking bath, sometimes we hardly have any water to brush our teeth," she says.

Another chief concern for Yeshey's family is safety. "These areas are very violent and we live in constant fear," the wife says while the husband nods in agreement. It is even difficult to find a place to dry beef out in the open because eating beef is a taboo in the neighbourbood. And clothes that aredried outside are strictly guarded or else they swiftly vanish. "We never leave our house empty and if we do there is every possibility of losing whatever little we have," she says.

Yeshey Wangdi and his family would like to move back toPhuentsholing one day. To fulfill this wish, Yeshey sweats to earn afew more ngultrums by working harder. "Bhutan is the only place where one can have a nice bath, a well lighted house, a clean toilet and a peaceful night's sleep," he says.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper

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