The Sorchen land slide news was a real hurting anxiety because it could obstruct transport of goods including fuel supplies. Yesterday all I was hoping for was a respite from continuous rain so that better progress could be made in clearing road blocks. And more importantly the affected victims deserved at least a ray of natural sunshine. Just cannot imagine such dire gloomy prospect under aggravated monsoon weather for already victimised people. But I did not think it was too much of an obstruction to the task of passenger ferrying between Thimphu and Phuentsholing.
We had a boy student going first time to a college in India. The student group was to meet tomorrow at P'ling and be taken the next day in train by the Agent.
All fees paid up to Thimphu Agent and all shopping for the college year done. A sense of happy relief for the family members and a kind of forward excitement for the first timer. The suitcase was packed and weighed and proper length rope readily packed for self porterage in case of trans-shipment necessity. The backpack stuffed with important documents and most essentials. And instruction given, " At no time to trust the backpack with Bhutanese or foregner, friend or colleague, young or old, male or female". And " just blindly get over the overwhelming 1st week feeling at loss and lone, after arrival at the college".
The travel ticket already bought for Meto Bus Transport (reporting 7:30 and departure 8:00 am ). Packed meal sufficient for two or more plus water bottle. Trans-shipment was way of journey in my younger days on the Paro and Thimphu to Phuentsholing freshly cut road. So I did not worry much about the actual travel over monsoon blocked roads.
This morning drove to RSTA Bus Station at Lungten Zampa dot on reporting time. Was told to take the refund for bus ticket because there was no bus service to Phuentsholing. Checked with the Traffic Police and finally got the mobile number of Regional Director of RSTA who said Bus Service to Phuentsholing was stopped till road is cleared. I told him during monsoon, even cleared roads can get blocked again. But I could sense he had no authority to think out of the box. "RSTA did not want to be blamed for stranded passengers". I wonder who holds them responsible for monsoon vagaries.
Next I searched for Taxis and fortunately found one Mini Bus. The driver Lobzang said he will go till Sorchen then if not possible to proceed further, will call up his friend to pick his passengers from the other end. That sounded real sensible. The passengers were all Indian workers going home. I asked where they had worked. "Lingkana" they said. This one word was auspicious enough.
I told my ward, " You will make it today to Phuentsholing but keep me informed of the journey progress ". They left at 8:15. I got a call at 10.54 that they were being briefly halted at Tanalum ( looks like the check post was waiting for clearance order). Much later at 12:18, they were at Gedu. And at 2:45 pm, the Uncle at Phuentsholing phoned to say that the young man had just arrived at Phuentsholing. Well kudos to the young man ! He trekked around the Sorchen land slide area carrying his suitcase and the backpack. "It was quite a distance but manageable " he cheerfully said.
I knew he had it in him. Afterall, boys from Haa Villages are sturdy farm hands during school breaks. I am now even more convinced that the young man Sonam Tshering will make good the 3 years investment to get a college Degree and better still he would successfully face the oddities of life, thereafter.
I just want to say that our nation faces road problems during every monsoon. We cannot solve problems by banning travel or cancelling bus services. National life and movement must go about. The Royal Surface Transport Authority (RSTA) must understand that it's priority number one is to enable Transport and Surface Travel not banning it. Calculated risks and difficulties must be borne by passengers and stakeholders to keep a nation in motion. Give advices on how to manage travel inspite of difficulties and inconveniences.
Grounding the daily life of a nation must be the ultimate defeated resignation not an option. That is why our esteemed volunteers, armed forces, civil servants, administrators including the honourable Prime Minister led by His Majesty the King are out in the forefront to keep the nation in motion. They are there not to sacrifice their lives but to prevent the sacrifice of national living.
After some hours, I gratefully came across RBP Thimphu fb Post with O.C mobile number, and assurring Police guidance at Sorchen Trans-shipment. It was reassuring because someone in authority had understood the predicament of student and other travellers with reserved train tickets for specific days. It meant that the taxis would not be stopped on their way till Sorchen and transport would be available on the other side of Sorchen land slide.
How appreciative a passenger would have been if he or she was informed in the morning that Sorchen road had suffered further damage but RSTA will assist in Trans-shipment for those who have to reach Phuentsholing this day instead of being told at the counter, " bus service is cancelled and your ticket will be refunded". At times money is not the criteria, the destination is. Cautions and precautions take away the meaning of life and purpose of destinations.