9 Jun 2009

The Tale of the Three Friends

or Why there are always cows sitting at the edge of Bhutanese roads.

Dangbo..o..o Dingbo..o..o there were three friends, a horse, a sheep and a cow. They needed to travel from their home in Bumtang to the Capital, Thimphu, for the Thimphu Tshechu, or festival, which was due to begin that week.

The bus fare for the journey was 50 Nu. Now the horse had his 50 Nu, and the cow had 100 Nu. The sheep didn't have any money at all, but he didn't let this stop him (Since when has a lack of finances prevented a sheep doing exactly what he wants to do anyway?). The three friends boarded the bus and travelled the long and windy roads to their destination.

The Tshechu was in full swing when they arrived. The sheep got down from the bus, collected his luggage and melted into the crowds. The horse also left the bus. He paid his 50 Nu fare, collected his bags and walked away. The cow was next. He too paid his fare - 50 Nu, you'll remember - with his 100 Nu coin. The conductor took the coin, thanked the cow and pocketed the coin.

The cow was flabergasted. (Have you ever seen a flabergasted cow then? No, neither have I, but he was certainly not smiling...) He needed his change. He wanted his change. He was going to have his change. The cow didn't go anywhere. He sat down by the side of the road and he waited. He waited for his 50 Nu.

The Tshechu ended, and the horse and the sheep hitched rides home on the back of a lorry. Not the cow. He was waiting for his change. He waited.

The cow still waits. On the side of every road in Bhutan you'll see him. He's no longer flabergasted - in fact he looks quite tranquil as he sits there, chewing on grass. But he still waits.

Until he gets his 50 Nu, he always will.

Every Bhutanese story begins with Dangbo and Dingbo. Together they equate to Once upon a time. The length of time ago depends on the length of the words, hence in my little tale above, Dangbo..o..o Dingbo..o..o indicates that a long long time has past since the three friends boarded their bus to Thimphu.

The story was told to us by a young man in Bhutan. Thanks, Sangay Dorji. We miss you.


  1. That was a GREAT story! I will tell it to the boys in the morning.

    I looked at the Bhutanese stories - $39.99 here but will save my pennies if you tell me yea or nea.

    I also love those fascinating bits about storytellers and how stories are told. Thanks!

  2. Nay. It is a great book, but not for 40 bucks. I'd be buying one of Russian folktales if I were you!!

  3. Great!
    ...and of course if it was a COW then she waited for her change :0)


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