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Author Doji Dhratyul presents a uniquely different take on life in Bhutan, moving beyond the clichéd descriptions and traditional tales to lift the veil of misty romanticism and offer a glimpse into the stark realities of its society. Peopled with strong characters and spanning three generations, the novel Escapades portrays the harsh conditions, especially in the life of its womenfolk and children, as they deal with the shocking and tough conditions to eke out a survival in the beautiful but inhospitable mountainous terrains. The story comes alive through the simple but hard-hitting dialogues of the chechey’s or daughters of the interior village of Mamung, caught in a mesh of deceit, exploitation and back-breaking labour as porters to arrogant and over-indulged government officials or dashos. Covering a span of almost eighty years, the novel takes a detailed and introspective aspect, ably aided by the descriptions of Bhutanese life, culture, traditions and religion. The female protagonists show indomitable spirit of survival and inner strength, as they struggle to overcome the bitter conditions and social evils that make them susceptible to exploitation. The tale of how Thruebaab, a simple fatherless village girl, overcomes her humble beginnings to reach the highest rung of political power and corporate success is indeed mesmerising, as is the ultimate sacrifice of her daughter Choedren who leaves behind all the trappings of material success to embrace Buddhism guided by mentor Chencho. A refreshing novel from the land of misty mountains, mythological tales & Gross National Happiness
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