A traditional stop, a landmark on the more than 180km driveenroute to the country’s bustling trade centre appears TaktiKoti, a place that takes away Phuentsholing’s swayof being talked about in isolation.
During a time when settlements along Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway was few, restaurants fewer and ones serving food different from the Bhutanese staple all the more few, the roadside cabin appeared almost god sent.
This is true especially of woozypassengers that suffer motion sickness along the then narrow, winding, seemingly never-ending road, getting the first glimpse, from a distance, of gentle mists lifting over a cabin of white coat and green-tin roof.
Passengers getting off many public transport buses, taxis and private cars almost always know the menu that have remained loyal to a few Indian cuisine and of course walk in pre-decided what they would eat.
Dosa, a typical south-Indian diet of thin sheet pan cake stuffed with potatoes, or without and the north-Indian dish of cholebhatura, a combination of spicy chickpeas in gravy and fried bread from wheat make up the choice based on passenger-preference, surveyed on Bhutanese taste buds.
Also available would be chicken and fish curry with rice served on a big round steel plate with little compartments for pickle, dal, curd and Bhutanese favourite, roasted red chili. Everyone likes a little extra. To down the food with is hot masalachai (tea) in a glass tapering to the base. Bhutanese travellers’ first taste of India.
There is something even for travellers in rush –mashed potato stuffed in wheat flour and fried to a golden brown tint (samosa) and jalebi, several coils of batter fried and steeped in sugar syrup – make for quick munch.
For lack of any written document on the place, oral history is customarily relied on. A few old timers believe TaktiKoti was once a makeshift camp, and later a maintenance camp for workers who built, what is today, referred to as the nation’s lifeline. This goes basically to claim that the landmark existed since the early 1960s, continuing to sustain until today, with the very rudiments on which it sprouted.
Phuentsholing-Thimphu road was the second national highway to be built by Dantak of the Indian border-roads organisation. Still the most important road in the country built in 1962, the highway continues to be constantly widened and improved.
Despite growing competition within its vicinity serving more food variety today, the old stop continues to sustain.
“We have more travellers than in the past frequenting the highway,” a Dantak personnel behind the counter said, adding among them were some old loyals,who introduced new loyalstagged with them.