ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A lost world

I often tell friends that those small things that make up daily life in Thimphu remind me of my home country of Israel in the 70s. Of course, Israel has "developed" since then, at least in the GDP sense. It was US$5B back in 1970, and today the annual GDP exceeds US$200B, an impressive 40-fold increase in just four decades. But what things disappeared along the way? And were these an essential consequence of "development"?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an article today (apologies, but it's in Hebrew) with a laundry list of (arguably desirable) life patterns that were taken for granted 30 or 40 years ago in Israel, and have all but disappeared. Most of these still exist in Thimphu and elsewhere in Bhutan, but some are quickly disappearing.
  • Drinking tap water. These days Israelis are addicted to expensive bottled water, although tap water is cheap and safe. Obviously, the plastic bottles create huge environmental problems.
  • Clothes lines have surrendered to electrical dryers. What a waste of energy in a a country with more than 300 sunny days a year.
  • Small vegetable gardens and fruit trees around houses and apartment buildings. These gave way to development of real estate and manicured lawns.
  • Eating dinner at home. Fast forward to 2010: Israelis eat out three times a week on the average, and it's often packaged or junk food. Preparing real, healthy food from scratch is rare.
  • Playing environment-friendly, low-tech board games for hours.
  • No shopping malls. Israelis spent their leisure time visiting friends and relatives or going out for a picnic. Today families kill time in air-conditioned shopping centers, spending money on branded goods they don't really need.
  • No traffic jams. People rode the bus, walked, or biked.
  • Public libraries, which served as meeting places.
  • Children playing outdoors for hours and roaming around freely. You seldom see this in Israel or any other developed country anymore, although it's such a basic human need. Most children are "locked" inside their homes, playing video games or surfing the Internet. Child obesity and various psychological issues usually follow.

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