The first parliamentary election was held today in Bhutan, ending one hundred years of absolute monarchy in the tiny Himalayan nation. I’ve been to Bhutan once, in 1999, the same year that television was made legal there, although no one I met at the time actually owned one. It was a magical trip, because the country is so removed from the rest of the world and, thus, so different. The trip was also, with its 8 straight days of trekking and camping, the most grueling adventure I’ve ever been on, lazy, indoor cat that I am. It turned out to be a wonderful way to see the country and meet the people, even though I was hampered for much of it by food poisoning, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration and altitude sickness. Me and the mountains–we really don’t mix. So when I heard that 65 year-old grandmother Tshewang Dema (pictured above) hoofed it for 14 days and 380 miles just so that she could cast her vote in the country’s first democratic election, I was blown away. And then I thought, there isn’t a reason in the world why we shouldn’t vote. Not one.
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