Currency: Dadgari town in India is bustling. For the residents of Gelephu, this is the quintessential town from where anything they want or need could be bought.

Abijeet deals utensils. He’s got kinds and kinds of aluminum utensils. It is interesting to note that he’s got one price for all the items he’s got for sale. If you want the biggest pot, you can get it at Nu 100. And if you want not the biggest but the smallest of all, you can get it at Nu 100.

On a typical day, Abijeet is swarmed by scores of Bhutanese customers, striking a bargain that it is hard to figure who’s asking what.

And there is Dillip, who deals cosmetics. He is a wholesaler. A young woman comes looking for ponds age miracle. He suggests ponds white beauty. There is quizzical look on his face as the woman gives him a Nu 1,000 note.

Ngultrum devaluation after Rupee shortage in the country changed the face and momentum of trade along the borders. Currency exchange wasn’t easy and not many Bhutanese went to Dadgari for shopping.

A Bhutanese woman tries a half kira at the market

A Bhutanese woman tries a half kira at the market

“It’s improved a little. After every haat market we exchange Ngultrum with Rupee,” said Dilip. Indians have partners in Gelephu who facilitate currency exchange. Nu 105 buys INR 100.

Karma, a civil servant, bought 50 kg local rice from Dadgari last week. He had to pay the shopkeeper Nu 200 extra for the rice that cost Rs 2,000.

“It depends on what you buy and from whom you buy,” Karma said. He makes sure that he carries at least some Rupee when he goes to Dadgari. This makes things a lot less complicated.

Everybody on this side of the border is on to taking advantage of economic situation shaped by currency imbalance. There is a full-time parking fee collector who collects more than Nu 3,000 from Bhutanese who visit the market. Lepho Nanjari doesn’t give out receipts because he hasn’t any to give.

“All the vehicles parked here belong to Bhutanese. We have to arrange proper parking and this service is chargeable,” said Lepho, trying to legitimize his business.

Nirmala Pokhrel



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