Connectivity: Fancy cars zoom by on the Paro-Thimphu highway right in front of Aum Peday’s two-storey Bhutanese house in Bjamtshangka, Shaba gewog.
Located by the riverside about three kilometres away from Isuna bridge, the turquoise green Pachhu (river) flows beneath while the lone household stands beautifully on a five-acre plot of land. The serenity of the place makes it the perfect area to settle down.
However, it’s not all rosy as it appears.
At a time when almost all households in Shaba gewog are connected by motor road, a small cable crane connects Aum Peday’s house with the rest of the community.
The cable crane has become a tourist hotspot today especially for regional tourists, who are seen strolling by the riverside across the house to catch a glimpse of the cable crane.
While it may be fascinating for the increasing number of visitors, Aum Peday and her family live in despair.
Aum Peday, 40, a divorcee, inherited the house and the land from her parents. She has two children. The elder sibling stays home these days as she is yet to be employed after finishing college while the younger one studies in Thimphu. The children who completed their high school from Paro walked to school during summers and used the cable crane in winters.
About three decades ago, the family purchased a small cable crane from Indian contractors who had set it up to transport men and materials across the river for the installation of an electrical pylon above their house for the erstwhile department of power.
They paid about Nu 5,000 for it but could use the cable crane only during the autumns and winters when the water level subsided.
Things were getting increasingly difficult for the family when they finally received support. The Agriculture Machinery Centre (AMC) in Paro, about five years ago, installed a larger cable crane that could be used even during summers.
However, a few months later, the family kept suffering from frequent illnesses. Upon consulting astrologers, they were told that the placement of the cable crane post had disturbed local deities hence causing illness to the family.
The family started to dismantle the cable crane recently.
Aum Peday said that although the cable helped them immensely, the family didn’t have a choice given such issues. “We were told that the installation cost AMC about Nu 500,000.”
“Now we don’t know what next,” she said.
Given the location of the house, Aum Peday said the installation of the cable crane post was inconvenient. For now, the family is planning to move the cable crane to the area where the old one is located. However, this will not be possible without financial support. Should they receive help, works can only begin when the water level resides.
Relatives who visit the family also walk from Shaba towards their house through the bushes. Although a farm road passes above the house, Aum Peday doesn’t own a car. The farm road is also not reliable especially during the monsoon.
“Owning a car is not within my means, at least for now,” she said. “If I had money, a cable crane would come in more handy than a car.”
At times, when someone is sick at home, she said she feels like giving up everything and selling the property. “On second thoughts, I wonder what I would do without it,” she said. “As a lone house in the area, it’s difficult to get assistance and the gewog administration can’t do much.”
The traditional Bhutanese house is equipped with all modern gadgets such as television and mobile phones but lack of road connectivity has severely affected mobility.
Kinga Dema | Paro