Addressing addresses

I’m going to the wedding too, remarked my friend, can you tell me where it is?

I told him that the happy event was taking place opposite the RSPN’s old office, below the new Norling building in lower Changangkha.

My friend’s blank look promoted me to continue: at the Chubachu roundabout take the road to Motithang; drive by the DHL office towards the RICB colony, but don’t go all the way to the colony; take the road that goes to the new road leading to the YDF complex; before you reach the new road, you’ll see a lot of vehicles; the wedding is somewhere around there…

Giving directions in Thimphu can be interesting. Landmarks, such as the clock tower, taxi parking, milk booth, pani tanki, swimming pool, main traffic and Memorial Chorten are used together with the locations of businesses, institutions and well known residences to guide people to specific places.

It’s surprising that we still don’t have proper addresses in Thimphu. A street name and a house number are all that a person really needs to find any place in this small city of ours. But for some odd reason, we haven’t been able to name our roads and number our houses. Actually our roads have names, but most of us don’t know them – without house numbers there’s no need to use them.

So it’s not easy finding your way around Thimphu, especially if you’re visiting. And, if you are a resident, you can’t receive mail unless you have a post office box or you use your office address. But DHL won’t deliver to your post office box, and international application forms won’t accept your papers without a proper address.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies, by the way, has an interesting address – it’s P.O Box 1111, Thimphu. But to visit CBS: go to Langjophakha; drive towards Dechhenchholing; take the road towards the Indian Embassy; take a left about 200m before the bridge and oppostite the double-storied traditional Bhutanese house.

Street names and house numbers … can it be that difficult?