Blood, blood everywhere!

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When you walk through downtown Thimphu, you’re liable to think that someone just got mugged on the street or lost his front teeth in a fight.

Everywhere you go, you see red spots that look like blood.

They’re on the streets and sidewalks, but also on the walls of houses. And they don’t look pretty.

But the red spots are no need to worry: the Bhutanese are a peaceful people.

No street fights, no muggings in downtown Thimphu (or anywhere else in this country, as far as I know).

The red spots are actually spit – laced with the juices of the betel nut, or doma, as it’s called in Bhutan.

Chewing doma is extremely popular with Bhutanese men and women.

According to the Lonely Planet travel guide, doma is made up of three main ingridients: doma or arcea nut, pani or betel leaf and tsune or lime.

The nut is mixed with the lime powder and rolled into a little package with the betel leaf and is then chewed slowly.

The stuff is sold by street vendors and in regular shops. And it’s a cheap way to get high – well, at least a little high.

The unfortunate side-effect is that when you chew doma and smile, your gums and teeth look bright red. In addition, your teeth begin to rot from the juices produced by the doma. Not a pretty sight.

Chewing doma can apparently also cause cancer, but that doesn’t seem to deter many Bhutanese.

The other thing about doma that’s a little hard for Westerners to stomach is the sickly sweet smell of the stuff.

Whenever I smell doma, I immediately want to spray some cologne or reach for my smelling salts – but of course I never have either of those with me on the downtown streets of Thimphu…

Written by Thorsten

September 29, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Posted in travel

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

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  1. Ugh, that seems to be bad stuff: looks ugly, doesn’t smell good and is unhealthy.


    September 29, 2008 at 4:46 pm

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