Dry Tuesdays

by Andrew Stein

We land in Bhutan on a Tuesday, and although we are not ones to seek out lots of drinks when we travel, I do appreciate a local brew and Lindsey a specialty cocktail.  However, because it is Tuesday and therefore a legally enforced dry day of the week, we’ll have to wait.

Naturally, we wonder why there is such a seemingly arbitrary law.  We ask around, and as we suspect, alcoholism is a serious problem.  In 2017, alcohol became the top killer in Bhutan.  The highest numbers of hospital cases are alcohol related, and many more of those who lose their lives because of alcohol are undocumented in rural villages.  This leads to another question that we can’t yet answer: why in a country known for being so happy is alcoholism such a problem?

On a lighter note, as part of alcohol/bar culture, the Bhutanese play Snookers.  There are places to play throughout Thimphu.  Our guide challenges us to a game, we can’t refuse and find ourselves in a basement bar being heckled by 10 year olds who aren’t impressed with our abilities.  Having played pool before, playing snookers feels like playing basketball with larger balls and smaller rims.  In other words, it feels like I should be better, should know what I’m doing, should have some technique down, but nothing seems to work because the game is just no longer as forgiving as it used to be.

Tuesday does eventually become Wednesday, and on Wednesday, we head to Mojo Park just down the street to taste some local classics like Druk and Red Panda (a wheat beer), both satisfying.  Lindsey tries a local vino called Vintria – turns out Bhutanese wine is just okay, but we still appreciate that they have the option.