Both the cities have earned a decent reputation among hundred plus countries in the world; both the cities are one of the fastest growing cities on earth. Thimphu is globally known for its GNH philosophy of development and Dubai for its mega engineering wonders like the palm islands. The smooth transition from an absolute monarchical government in Bhutan to a constitutional democratic monarchy and DEMOCRACY itself being presented to the common people as a gift from the Throne instead of demand from its own people amazed the world. On the other side of the world, Dubai being located in war zone still experiences peace and tranquility which in itself is commendable!
Like other cities/countries in the world, the aspiration of both the cities to become self-reliant and to become global tourism hub is enormous. But sadly, like other fast growing cities, Dubai and Thimphu also heavily depend on foreign workers, the expatriates, commonly known as EXPATS. In our case, the expats come from India and for Dubai they are mostly from south Asia and the gulf countries.
These expats work, earn a lot of foreign currency and then after few years of working they leave for their respective countries. It’s a place where they make their fortune; as if, the EXPATS are here for an appointment with their GODS who will fulfill all their wishes. Which at least metaphorically is TRUE because the host pays them more than what they can earn back home.
Dubai is a city where the largest number of expatriate lives and works. Thimphu has its own share of Indian expatriates who are mostly involved in construction of residential buildings, biggest show rooms, shopping malls and luxurious resorts and largest Hotels in own small country. But these expatriates do more than what they do best. They help build houses but at times disturb our perception!
A documentary ‘DUBAI MIRACLE OR MIRAGE-CBC Doc Zone’ revealed that permanent residents of Dubai feel that they are strangers in their own land because of the huge number of expats working there. Back home, last Sunday I felt the same feeling, me as a stranger in my own land. The feeling was very hounding.
As I stroll down the Norzin Lam, I found myself engulfed in the tsunami of Indian Expats. They were literarily everywhere. One of the hotels along the Norzin Lam had all expats sited and seen dining. A sip of hot steaming coffee couldn’t help me reiterate that I am a Bhutanese citizen having a cup of coffee in a hotel located in the heart of the capital city of my own country! I felt I was somewhere in INDIA.
Coming out of that almost mysterious hotel, I heard a Hindi song blaring from the Farin Trading, Mobile Clinic (mobile software, hardware servicing and downloading shop) where a swarm of our expatriates have gathered. A handful of them were busy repairing, few buying new mobile phones and many downloading Hindi songs. That fine day I heard a hit number from 90s hit list- “TUM THO THEHERA PARDESI, SHAATA KYE NEBAHO GAY…” what a line to murmur and pass by the expatriates had they been beautiful Indian ladies.
The expatriates were out for their weekly shopping which happens to fall on Sundays. I believe the expatriates here in our city, unlike in Dubai, are treated well by their employers because I saw all of them with smiles, enjoying their stay here and dining in some finest restaurants in Thimphu.