November 29, 2014

Of Chilips, Drayangs and Dance Parties

On the second day of the ISE congress, with a lunch coupon (free for Bhutanese and 500 bucks for international participants) clasped in my hand I joined the lunch queue. In front of me were two tall Chilips guys, too tall by Bhutanese standards. After exchanging the customary smiles, we introduced ourselves. They were Chris and Paul, Americans.

And jolly Americans they were. We ended up having lunch and attending the afternoon sessions together in the same session hall. The next day we spent the day together, choosing similar sessions to attend. That evening we met for a drink in Kinley Hotel in Chamkhar town. My friend Kencho also joined me, while they were accompanied by a Brazilian woman, Rosalis.

The five of us had interesting conversation over beer and dinner (which they paid for as a thank you ‘for our company and conversation’). Then, onwards to the Drayangs which they had heard about and wanted to visit, but didn’t know where. Kencho and I took them to Sheng-nga Drayang (informal name, as I don’t know the name under which they operate). There were already some other chilips busy dancing on stage, and the nightclub was brimming above capacity (courtesy of the international guests of the congress). Rosalis was admiring the thin, fair skinned dancing girls on stage who were moving gracefully to modern Bhutanese dance numbers. 

“They are soo beautiful” she remarked in her Brazilian accent, to which I agreed. They are indeed very beautiful to look at, under the dim light of the club.

We spent almost half the night there, till we remembered that Chris’s bus was supposed to leave early in the morning (something about his flight schedule). After dropping off Rosalis in ‘Phuntsho Guest House’, Kencho and I drove to Hotel something International to drop off Chris and Paul. We bid our farewell to Chris, with promise to Paul to accompany him the next night too.

The next day was the closing ceremony of the ISE congress, and in the afternoon we met again. Kencho and I took our French guest Guillaume to meet Paul. In the midst we were not able to caught Rosalis (and didn’t meet her thereafter). My brother Kinley from Sherubtse was in town, and he accompanied us for this night out. Now there were five of us.

We started the night by going to Kalapingka Drayang, where Kencho knows almost all the dancers (I know a few too). To a packed audience, fueled by beer, I vividly remember being heaved onstage by the two Chilips and dancing. The packed house was either cheering us on, or booing at us…I still don’t remember.

[Signboard for Kalapingka Drayang at Chamkhar town, Bumthang]

As we were resting at the bar, Paul met his hotel owner who bought us a round of beer. Then he (Paul’s hotel owner) decided to rent the dance hall (which also belonged to Kalapingka Drayang) for the night, especially for Paul.

At around 11:30 pm after the Drayang closed, we went to the party hall, just behind the Drayang.
We were only few of us; Kinley, Kencho, Paul, Guillaume, Owner, myself, and the bar dancers from Kalapingka. We danced crazy, we drank crazy, we screamed crazy. It was a wild night.

We returned home in the wee light of the morning after reaching Paul to his hotel. Guillaume was putting up in Jakar school, so the four of us drove back after having a blast of a night. Incidentally Guillaume had a tough time waking up in the morning, as his bus was leaving at 5 am.