“I got married at a very young age and it was an arranged marriage. My husband worked in the private sector and I was a homemaker. I wasn’t able to complete my studies. The conflicts in the southern parts of Bhutan made lives difficult and I was able to study only till 4th grade. Sometimes, I do look back thinking on what I could have become if I had completed my education. Nevertheless, It doesn’t dishearten me, I am happy with what I have achieved till now. I run my own business and even though it’s small, I make enough to feed myself and my family. It wasn’t easy but once I started, it was the best decision I ever took.
I came to Thimphu with my husband in 1998 and I started my business running a paan dokan (betel shop). After working there for 15 years, I decided to expand my business and then started another shop and it’s been 8 years working here.
My husband used to work in the private sector before we started this business and after a few years, we were blessed with two wonderful children. I was able to send them to school with the help of my small business. Before starting my second shop, I talked with my husband about leaving his job and looking after our new business. He agreed and we decided that he’d look after the first shop and I’d look after the second one.
I sell Doma in my first shop but not in my second. The smell doesn’t go well with other food items prepared here and customers might complain.
I’ve met different people while running the shop. While most were nice, some of them were rude and I have memories of them throwing money on the floor. At the initial stage of my business, most of my customers were school children. With time, all sorts of people came. The items I would sell for Nu.10 back in the days have now increased to Nu. 30.
I will continue to work here till my children get well settled in their life. Once they complete college and find employment, I shall retire. The younger generation could be arrogant because they think they have higher education and know everything. But then, it all depends on the individual’s mentality.
I think I’m not good with my tempers, so It’s tough for me when I go to offices where I need to speak dzongkha. People who run paan dokans could be looked down by the society. I have been referred to as “Different names” which is often hurtful. When I go to certain offices for some work, I get ignored. Sometimes, in order to get a job done, I would even beg them. To complete small tasks in offices, I would have to wait 1-2 hours. Maybe the system is too bureaucratic for all or only to a certain few.
Wherever I go, I try to be humble and friendly but sometimes I get treated the opposite way. I get along really well with younger customers that come here. We tease each other and treat each other as friends. Times have changed and I think it has brought changes in people too.”

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