House With No Windows

The people of Bhutan hold a deep respect for the well-being and happiness of all living things. No life is worth less than another, and all creatures are simply brothers and sisters in the journey through existence.
Inside Taktsang Dzong, a young monk played with a kitten in the shafts of golden light slanting through a small window. A larger cat walked delicately across the altar beneath Padmasambhava, picking her way with experience among the offerings of flowers and money, the prayer scarves, statues and butter lamps. She paused to lap water from one of the seven silver bowls.
In Thimpu I was able to only get snatches of sleep as the dogs of the town sang a cappella throughout the night, so I wandered outside into the dark morning streets. Four tiny puppies emerged from among sacks of sand and building materials. They staggered about batting one another.
Beside a nearby field a young woman with a baby nestled on her back walked gracefully along the narrow path. Behind her trotted a small brown dog with a garland of yellow and orange flowers around its neck. A red tikka dotted its forehead.
At my guide’s polite inquiry as to how I had slept, I mentioned the nocturnal howling of the dogs and he said he was most sorry for my discomfort.
Later, as we neared Paro, my guide pointed to a small square building beside the road.
You see that house? The one with no windows?
I nodded eagerly, expecting another tale of historical significance.
That is where many dogs were taken after the tourists complained of their barking. There were a great many dogs. They were put in that house and gassed.
He was silent for a few moments.They had to get somebody from somewhere else to do that.

About the author

Polly Smart lives in outback South Australia. She has trekked with ponies and dzos in Nepal and Sikkim, and with Bactrian camels and a…

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Issue 18 · June 2013

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