I almost started a war once.
Actually it was my sister's fault – at twelve years she was the older by three years. So she must take the blame.
We were on one of our regular trips into Bhutan with our parents. We usually travelled via Yatung in Tibet through Ha and Pa to Paro in Bhutan. We had stopped at Nathu – La the pass between Sikkim and Tibet for a picnic lunch. We had already been on the road for four days from Gangtok and at the 14,000 feet pass both of us were exhilarated by the altitude and the scenery before us. We started throwing stones down the valley into Tibet and were entranced by the way they bounced down the steep slope.
Little did we know...
Our exuberance was taken as an “act of aggression” by India against the sovereign state of China. A formal protest note was sent via Beijing to the Foreign Office in Delhi.
In such cases the accused country normally rejects such an accusation as a “total fabrication” and a barrage of counter-accusations results. Turns out the Indian Foreign Secretary had been with us for the trip and had joined in the fun. Since he knew the real story he formally accepted the protest and admitted that yes, indeed, it had been an act of aggression.
Which left the Chinese ambassador quite bewildered. He had no idea that the “aggression” was actually just two children having fun and had no instructions on how to proceed!
I suppose all must have been straightened out – someone higher up in the Chinese hierarchy must also have had a sense of the absurd – since I remained un-incarcerated.
Such were our trips into Bhutan so many years ago. I hope the following images, taken 60 years ago, give you a flavour of this beautiful land as it was then.