Monday, May 22, 2017

Toilet at Drakarpo


In April I visited Drakarpo to choose a loo-cation, I mean location for a toilet. So many people reported to Bhutan Toilet Org about the need for a toilet there and therefore I went there to understand the need to come up with an appropriate design. It was my first visit and I was mesmerised by the whole idea of the pilgrimage on the beautiful alpine hill. I decided to build the same toilet I had designed, in my head, for Chelela Pass.

In my last blog Drakarpo Kora in Paro, I tried to express my love-at-first-sight experience at Drakparo and it was widely read and shared. The article was picked up by a travel magazine as well. Among the many readers, a man from Haa paid special attention to the last one sentence I wrote about the toilet and dropped a short message enquiring about the cost of constructing the toilet. since I had the rough costing done already for Chelela Pass I wrote back to him.

The next thing he asked was our account number where he transferred Nu.50,345, which is exactly half the cost of the project. Because it was two unit toilet he wanted to sponsor one unit. If he had asked me to write a proposal it would have taken forever but he was a practical man. He wanted the toilet and not a proposal.
Putting the pieces of jigsaw together 
I didn't have to wait for the other half of the cost because I already had the solid commitment from my friend Kuenga Lhendup to support me with timber. It was from an old home he had demolished and therefore the most seasoned timber we could ever ask for. To make the design more authentic we needed wooden shingles but who would have thought we could get the old shingles from historic Gangtey Palace. Dasho Tobgye Sonam Dorji didn't even think twice before offering to give us 250 shingles. Now the key element to the design was 'bakal' (still didn't get the English name for it) that my friend Kezang Lhamo Dorji had stocked up for me. In fact, she took care of all the administrative matters that I didn't have the slightest clue about.

Five of us at Bhutan Toilet Org office spent exactly 12 days to bring everything together and convert the design on the paper into real toilet near our office. Looking at the final result people would wonder how in the world five people took twelve days for a small toilet like that but we must admit that we were a bunch of amateurs and therefore our 12 days were actually longer because we stayed up late into the nights and forfeited our weekends. We are improving though.

Besides, we had to hire single-cabin Bolero pickups over a dozen times to collect materials from all over and to finally deliver the toilet to Drakarpo. We have a page full of names and numbers of drivers that someday I am going to develop a mobile phone app out of the data.

BTO Finance Officer/ Zowpoen Dorji with Toilet Base
Last Wednesday when the toilet was completed, I took my wife on a date and visited Drakarpo to demarcate the spot for digging the trench with approval from the stakeholders there. Then we sent the GPRS of the spot to our Paro Ambassador and by Thursday evening his team had begun digging. Saturday morning, before we arrived they were done with 6 feet deep trench before and were waiting for us.
Paro Ambassador Druksel with the Toilet Base

There were twenty of us that day including two children. It was just enough people to complete the job in over four hours. It was a miracle that it didn't rain a bit on the day, otherwise, there was no way the pickup could climb the slippery road. From the road point it was only a few minutes walk down to the toilet site but with heavy pieces of materials to carry it was quite a task. In between, we lost a single piece of a baton and it was a challenge to complete the jigsaw without that piece.


By 5 pm we were looking at the toilet with admiration and taking selfies with it. It was as if the toilet has mushroomed out of the ground organically. And then we had our lunch and beer. By then everyone was like a bear.

Interior with Sawdust box
This toilet was our pet project; we have paid attention to every detail of the design- the natural exterior finish, traditional architectural elements like bho phana and door latches, decked potty and sawdust box inside with playboard finish... it's a prototype we thought of for all the pristine locations where water is a problem. The next place we want to make the home for this design is the Chelela Pass and if it impresses our Prime Minister then we want to have it across the national highway.



All of us minus the children who were having fun elsewhere! 

Out pet at the sunset!

3 comments:

  1. AAAAAHH!!! What a relief!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great Work guys..Toilets are ones basic right and for this basic right doing such effort is really awful but i am glad you guys nailed it :)

    ReplyDelete

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