It is a hot afternoon. This is summer in Trashigang. Temperature is almost 32 degrees Celsius.
Inside a makeshift hut near Kheri junction are two women, Tandin Wangmo and Dechen Dema who are busy preparing selroti and jabebi. They are sweating.
Tandin Wangmo, 41, is one of the five roadside vendors in Trashigang.
The stall is a popular joint for travellers who make a brief stop at the junction for a quick bite of street food.
The vendors take turn to sell their products – selroti, jabebi, dumplings (beef and cheese), doma, tea, juice and water. It is Tandin’s turn to sell at the stall tomorrow. “Because there are five of us, we follow a routine,” she said.
It takes almost a whole day to prepare the products. While Tandin Wangmo is busy with selroti at the hut, her husband, a retired soldier, is getting ready to prepare the dumplings at home.
Tandin has two daughters studying in Trashigang Middle Secondary School. She said that she wants to continue the business until her daughters complete their studies.
“After my husband retired, this has become the only source of income for my family,” said Tandin Wangmo. “We manage somehow.”
Tandin earns around Nu 2,000 a day when there are other vendors at the stall. When she is the only seller at the stall, she makes around Nu 4,000 a day. “During season when there are more travellers we make a little more than usual. But these days because of the road conditions there are not many travellers.”
Pema Chezom is another vendor at the stall. She sells only juice, mineral water and doma. “It’s not easy doing such business when you know that you could be chased away anytime,” she said. A few months ago, officials from the department of trade visited the stall and asked the vendors not to sell the products that were available in the market in Trashigang.
“They told us that there were complaints from shopkeepers that we were selling packaged products like juice and mineral water,” said Pema Chezom. “It might seems illegal but we are selling these products on the request of the customers. When they buy momos from us, they ask for water and juice.”
She said that since the stall was located some 3km away from the main town, they were not competing with shopkeepers in town. “Two of my children are studying in private school. There is no other means to make money.”
In the beginning, a few vendors sold food in town. Because of issues related to hygiene, sanitation and littering, authorities intervened.
Officials from BAFRA conduct routine monitoring and inspection.
Kezang Wangchuk, a lorry driver said that stalls along the highway have benefited drivers and travellers. “It is difficult to get a parking space for heavy vehicles in the town. This is good because we don’t have to go to Trashigang for a piece of snack.”
Younten Tshedup | Trashigang