Another Bhutan 

is a project aimed to highlight the country's juxtaposition of traditional life against its modern development through the eyes of its young people.

This photo series attempts to provide a platform to show the paradoxical nature of development in the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan by marrying images of traditional Bhutanese life, often imagined by foreigners through the government’s ecotourism policy, against the reality of a country that is rapidly modernizing.

I had first noticed the cultural implications of economic development onto the country’s national psyche during my time living in mountainous nation from 2011-2013. Towards the end of my stay, I began to photograph young people with this idea in mind. The distinctions between traditional and modern began to blur as I started exploring the hybrid identities of the Bhutanese. I am currently in Bhutan and am continuing to explore these ideas through stills and video.

This project seeks to examine the impact of global integration (culturally, economically, virtually) - and will ask: is Bhutan’s emerging capital of culture erasing, changing or redefining indigenous traditions? 

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Phuntsho Wangdi, aka “DJ Pee,” is a straight-edge, buddhist deejay. He laments that his current weight holds him back from fully prostrating during pilgrimages. DJ Pee recalls his first night working at Thimphu’s biggest disco, “Space 34,” in 2008 as a “shaky experience,” spinning a mashup of house, hip-hop, and R&B.

Left: At Thimphu’s Memorial Chorten; Right: Behind the turntables at Space 34

Partygoers enjoy a night out at one of Thimphu's biggest nightclubs. A mix of Bollywood, English pop, and American hip-hop are favorites on the dance floor.   

As soon as the first flakes of snow hit the ground each year, the Bhutanese government declares a national holiday, allowing workers time off to enjoy the first day of powder. Local youths enjoy an alcohol-induced snowball fight in the remains of Drugyel fortress. 

Tattoo parlours and artistry is illegal in Bhutan. Still, tattoos are becoming increasingly popular. A government ban on tattoo parlours - and the art form as a whole - has forced the few professional tattoo artists working in the Kingdom underground. Most work from their homes or travel to their clients, relying primarily on word of mouth and social media to keep their livelihood afloat. 

Ugyen Chomo has just completed building a Bhutanese spa. When she is not negotiating with contractors, she can be found at the cinema or posting new photos on facebook wearing large sunglasses. She is a vegetarian and always looking for ways to reinvent lentil soup.

Left: In her backyard, Paro; Right: In front of Paro’s cinema hall

A local death metal band encourages their audience to headbang during a commemorative performance in honour of the King's birthday at Thimphu's town square. 

Sonam Pelden is a journalist. She has traveled to the Maldives to cover the SAARC summit, but the closest she got to swimming was a dip in the hotel’s pool. She has interviewed Bhutan’s 5th King and drinks anywhere from 5-10 cups of coffee a day. White and without sugar.

Left: At Changangkha Lhakhang, Thimphu; Right: Inside “The Zone,” a favorite restaurant amongst ex-pats and journalists

When entering public offices, government grounds or attending religious ceremonies, locals are required to wear the Bhutanese national dress: for women, a kira; for men, a gho. There isn't, however, a footwear mandate.

Tashi Tshering loves NBA basketball, Thai food, and dancing to loud music.

Left: At Tachogang Temple, Chuzom: Right: Warming up at Paro’s basketball court

A young girl plays 'tag' on the construction site of one of the world's largest Buddha statues in Thimphu, the country's metropolitan capital. The massive statue is over 50 meters tall and though still unfinished, is already a pilgrimage and tourist attraction to locals and tourists alike. Though many Bhutanese boast the statue at Buddha Point to be the largest in the world, technically it ranks at number 17. Most of the largest Buddha statues belong to neighboring China, whose effigies easily surpass 100 meters in height. Nevertheless, Bhutan's gigantic 20 million dollar investment  stands as a source of nationalistic pride and religious devotion. The area, Buddha Point, is also well known as a dating spot and place for youths to congregate after the discos and pubs close on the weekends. 

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