It’s 9pm. Tshering Nidup and his three employees are grinding their sewing machines non-stop. They are racing against time. Next to them are heaps of intricately designed bright cloth pieces.

Outside, except for few dogs barking, the Haa town is empty, asleep. The town of about two dozen shops close about the same time as government offices. Night falls quick and the evening chill drives everyone into the warm comforts of their mostly traditional architecture homes.

Tshering Nidup does not remember being this busy in his 11 years of tailor business. For the past two weeks, they have been sleeping around midnight and starting the routine at 5am. He even refused some jobs.

“We stitch at least three ghos and as many kiras in a day excluding the few tegos and wonjus,” Tshering Nidup said. “Everyone wants his or her clothes stitched first.”

A woman waits for them, to finish stitching her kira. She is participating in one of the nine cultural items. The final rehearsal is scheduled tomorrow and she doesn’t want to leave anything to chance. The hand woven silk looks older than her.

A few blocks away is Mohan Darjay’s tailor shop. Mohan Darjay earns at least Nu 2,000 a day from sewing clothes. He pays Nu 3,500 as monthly rent.

“The locals here have the habit of rushing in the last minute. Even before the annual tshechu, they come with urgent jobs,” Mohan said. “But the earning has been good these days.”

Dema, who runs a grocery shop near the IMTRAT hospital by the roadside witnessed an increasing influx of visitors. She spends most of her time making doma. “The road has been busy these days,” Dema said.

The dzongkhag administration is expecting at least 6,500 people to witness the National Day celebrations at the Lhakhang Karpo courtyard this week.

Hotels and homestay are filled and reserved to their capacity.

Dzongkhag planning officer, Gyaltshen said that every possible venue has been reserved for guests. “Even classrooms are taken,” he said.

The 25 home stay owners in the dzongkhag have offered free stays at their homes for guests on December 16 and 17 nights.

Most houses in town adorn colourful scarves, flowers, portraits of His Majesty The King and His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and national flags. Some are making the last dash to finish the decorations. The street light poles bear portraits of the Kings, signboards along the highway bear new coats of paint, and elaborately decorated gates at every junction welcome visitors to the dzongkhag.

A resident said that he had to order the lightings from Phuentsholing as the town has run out of such items.  “I hope it would reach on time,” he said.

The residents will participate in a cleaning campaign today.

Tshering Palden | Haa