This Mobile Life: Cyriac Roeding’s World Travels: Bhutan

Our dear friend Cyriac Roeding, the former EVP of mobile at *CBS*, is on a world tour of about 10 countries in seven weeks. After leaving CBS (NYSE: CBS) earlier this year, he is on to the next new thing, and for inspiration– and to unwind– he is documenting the mobile lifestyle across the countries he is touring. His first “postcard” for us, from the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan…check out his pictures of the mobile lifestyle in the country, here on Flickr.

image[by Cyriac Roeding] I’m sitting in an empty, pink painted room in a run-down house with a few desks in it, and a picture of the Bhutanese king on the wall. It is called “Internet Cafe,” in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.

This in a country where cows sleep on the road and come home when they feel the need to, families run and inherit their own temples, many villages don’t have electricity yet, and Gross National Happiness weighs more than Gross National Product. And religious statues, mini shrines in the Himalayan backyard, prayer wheels and flags in the 5 colors of elements are to “subdue” the evil spirits.

At the same time: Farmers, monks and basically all young people have cell phones, and they talk and text. Cell phones only arrived in Bhutan in 2003, and yet they are already all over. (Our contact here estimated 40 % have a cell phone.) TV and internet both arrived in 1999. On TV, there is one Bhutanese channel, and that is on from 7-11 pm. Otherwise people watch the European soccer championships on ESPN (NYSE: DIS), and debate whether the German or Spanish team should have won (of course I have my opinion about that). And in school, most of the classes are in English, only one class is taught in Bhutanese. And Bhutan exports most of its electric energy to India, because it produces far more than its 635,000 people need. The energy is renewable energy: Water powered electricity from water turbines driven by Himalayan rivers.

BTW: July 18 was the day when the democracy officially started in Bhutan. The new young king, the “5th King” (he is under 30) is now a representative of the country, but not more, i.e. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy now. And his own father, the previous king, actively pushed this change.

And the young king was the first to receive an iPhone last year in Bhutan, too…

The full set of pictures from Bhutan, here on Flickr.


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