Jigme Wangchuk sells chugo (hardened cheese) at the Lungtenzampa bus terminal in Thimphu. What makes him interesting is that he always has a loudspeaker by his side from where blares out Covid-19 advisories the whole day.
One wouldn’t think selling chugo is a lucrative business. It’s hard work for Jigme, who lives in an underground room on Norzin Lam. He wakes up early, before the break of dawn, and walks to the terminal. But he makes more than Nu 100,000 a month—sometimes Nu 40,000 in a day.
Jigme’s father, Krishna Bahadur, was a chugo seller. He took over the business because Krishna Bahadur wanted his son to continue the business.
“My father always encouraged me to take over this humble business. I am happy that I did,” Jigme Wanghuk says.
Sitting on a folding chair, he lays the chugo on the table that is tied to a trolley. The chair belonged to his father. He watches people go by and picks-up conversations with “regulars” of the bus terminal. The people who work in and around the terminal call him Ata Jack.
Often hidden talents get a stage from his loudspeaker. He lets them sing and have fun which is quite a spectacle for the travellers. He doesn’t move around much because he’s got some trouble in the leg.
“The earlier I get here, the better the business,” he says.
Jigme says that Thimphu Thromde told him to move away from the terminal. “Where do I go? This business helped my father to raise us and now I am raising my sons with this business.”
He also repairs electrical appliances. He carries his tools to the bus terminal, ready to fix appliances.
“My wife encourages me to start a repair shop but my thoughts always go back to selling chugo,” Jigme says. “My father always wanted me to take over this humble business and always reminded me of how it had given him a life.”
After completing Class XII, Jigme worked at a call centre, before he took over his father’s business.
Krishna Badhur, people say, was modest and made handsome money selling only chugo.
“I want to be like my father, earning honestly. The path that he paved for me has made my life easier,” says Jigme.