Appreciate Happiness ブータン・ブログ

    ブータン政府で首相フェローとして働いた日本人のブログ。Bhutan Blog by a Japanese worked as Bhutan Prime Minister's Fellow.

    ブータン初のショッピングモール 1st shopping mall in Bhutan

    I put the photo of the Bhutan's first shopping mall in the previous entry. It opened early September. I went there on the opening day since my friend's sister opened a store inside the mall.

    I heard that NHK, the Japanese national broadcasting channel, introduced this mall as a symbol of modernization when it was broadcasting the news on the Royal Wedding.
    Some people might get disappointed to hear about the shopping mall as it may not suit to their image of Bhutan. However, there is no difference between Bhutanese and other people in interests in dressing up nicely or enjoying shopping.
    The name of the mall is Shearee Square. The opening had a big celebration with colorful balloons and a stage with famous singers.

    The picture of the Royal couple welcomed us at the entrance. It was just a month before the wedding.

    According to my friend, it is the first escalator in Bhutan. Small children were enjoying climbing up and down lol.

    Elevators are also still not common in Bhutan.

    Regarding the tenants, some shops offer traditional clothes, Kira,

    and others offer fashionable western clothes.

    There are shops selling imported grocery. The below photo is not Pocky but Hockey lol. It is made in Thailand.

    The other shop was dedicated to Korean food such as "Shin" instant noodle, which is popular in Japan. Since Bhutanese love chili, Korean food with a lot of chili could become very popular here. The owner got a promising business idea!

    Increasing micro-entrepreneurs like him is important to develop Bhutan's private sector. I hope to support them through microfinance.
    I found "Ramen" (Noodle soup in Japanese) in a menu of a popular coffee shop in town (Karma's Coffee) the other day, so I asked if the offered Ramen was really Japanese dish. The staff answered the Ramen was "Shin" from Korea.
    Maybe the microentrepreneur in the mall marketed the product to the coffee shop!

    The store my friend's sister-in-law opened offers handbags for women.

    It had a full range of brand bags such as CHANEL. The price of the bags was around USD50. She purchased them from Nepal.

    Her families and friends visited her shop one after another to celebrate the opening of the shop by money envelopes and the white silk scarf called “Khadhar.”
    Khadar is offered at every celebration such as wedding. When the king and the queen walked in Thimphu at their wedding, people offered Khadar to the couple. Since the king could not take Khadar from everybody, he appreciated by touching it.

    Other key items for celebration are Suja (Butter tea) and Dresi (Sweet Saffron Rice).
    When I went to a retreat with my colleagues from GNHC, we also enjoyed the two items at the beginning of the trip.

    The shopping mall had amusement arcade with video game machines and a bar with live band music.
    Shearee Square is a bit far from the main town, but I heard there was another mall opening soon near the center of Thimphu.

    Actually, Bhutanese has a face of spendthrift. Contrary to Japanese, Bhutanese don't save much. It is not uncommon to borrow from banks to buy cars and brand goods. Thimphu has so many cars that it is difficult to find a parking space.

    貨幣経済の歴史が比較的浅いブータン。中央銀行では、ブータン人の金融リテラシー(Financial Literacy)を向上し、収入に見合った財政プランを立て、貯蓄を促すためのキャンペーンを行っています。僕も、マスメディアや学校教育を通じた金融リテラシー向上プロジェクトをお手伝いしています。
    The experience in money economy is relatively recent in Bhutan. RMA, the central bank of Bhutan, is conducting Financial Literacy program to educate general public on financial planning in accordance with their income level and to promote savings. I help RMA to design the program using different mass media and school education.

    先日、Ajahn Jayasaroという仏教の高僧(イギリス人)のお話を聞きに行ったのですが、そこで消費社会に関する話題がありました。
    The other day I went to a talk by Ajahn Jayasaro, a Buddhist lama from the United Kingdom. The lama talked about consumeristic society.
    "Some say that buying brand goods is materialistic. However, I think such a behavior is not materialistic enough. If one pursues the best materialistic values, he/she must go for non-brand products with cheaper price and better quality. People buy brand goods because they want to feel superior to others.
    There was an experiment in the United Kingdom to ask people which of the following situations they would prefer: [1] Your income increases by £50 and others' income increases by £100. [2] Your income increases by £30 and others' income increases by £20. Most people chose the latter although the choice had smaller income increase for themselves."

    This episode has an implication for Bhutanese people's happiness in the process of modernization.
    My Bhutanese friend told me today, "People look much happier in rural villages although they have very limited goods. People in Thimphu look less happier, facing the competition in what they have."

    A Bhutanese woman raised an interesting question to the lama during the talk.
    "I practice Buddhism sincerely, but I like having brand handbags. I know Buddhist should not want too much, but at the same time, I work hard and want to use the disposable income gained through my hard work. How should I deal with this personal dilemma?"

    The lama answered: "Acquisition of wealth is legitimate in Buddhism. However, there are boundaries. People should not accumulate wealth by harming others. The wealth should be used wisely. Meet you and your families' basic needs first, then give back to society. Don't be a slave of your wealth."

    Buddhism values and economic development. How can Bhutan balance the two and pursue GNH (Gross National Happiness)? The country is striving after the right balance.

    2011/11/01(火) 20:00:11 ブータン一般 (Bhutan in general) Trackback::0 Comment::5
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    Thanks for your excellent report on the new mall! It is also interesting to hear your thoughts on saving/spending in Bhutan. When I first visited Bhutan as a tourist, I explained to people I met that I saved up my money for two years in order to pay for the trip. People were so shocked. Later, I came to understand that few people are in the habit of saving up for anything even if they get a windfall. Interesting!
    1. 2011/11/02(水) 01:04:04 |
    2. URL |
    3. Andrea #-
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    Andrea, thanks for your interesting insights! Yes, it seems Bhutanese people do not have have a habit of savings except for a few people. Let's see how media and education campaign can change people's tendency.
    1. 2011/11/02(水) 23:17:57 |
    2. URL |
    3. taktaktictac #uY8Y/eXA
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    Thank you very much for sharing your observations!

    Please keep up your blog. Even if you may have just a handful of readers, I'd like to assure you your first hand accounts of all things Buthanese are highly appreciated!
    1. 2011/11/04(金) 02:52:10 |
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    3. Derek #3NcfsveA
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    Thank you

    Dear Derek,

    Thank you for encouraging me to keep up my blog.
    I really appreciate your reading as it takes some efforts and time to write up.

    By the way, may I ask if you are Derek from MSFS or another new reader?
    1. 2011/11/04(金) 10:45:11 |
    2. URL |
    3. taktaktictac #uY8Y/eXA
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    1. 2011/11/08(火) 21:05:46 |
    2. URL |
    3. Kenji #R8A42JoY
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