From time to time a friend will send a friend who is planning a trip to Bhutan. I’m happy to hear about their itinerary, but even if I suggest a detour, it’s unlikely the tour guide in Bhutan will take them. That’s how tightly scheduled these trips are; the idea is to keep visitors away from exactly what they want to see—reality. Certain tour operators are in cahoots with certain hoteliers, so my saying, “go to this particular place,” isn’t going to get them there.
Anyway, I’ve started to tell people to ask their guides to stop by the library in Thimphu and to drop off a few books. The community library desperately needs them, plus, I figured, this gives visitors a taste of the humble attempt at promoting reading that’s taking place. Many people who live in Thimphu don’t ever make it to the library (just like in the US.)
What I didn’t realize is that the guides would immediately assume the request was to see the grand National Library, the Bhutanese equivalent of the Library of Congress. Then, a woman named Tracy returned from her trip and explained that’s what had happened!
Today, I got another permutation of the story. David Hornbeck of Maryland and his wife generously did as I had asked; they requested that their guide take them to the library to present the librarian, Tshewang Zam, with a few books. This guide took them to the correct library, and the Hornbecks said I’d instructed them to come by. And took a picture as evidence.
Punchline: this is a completely different person named Zam!