Photograph above: Three teenager girls walking home from school in the late afternoon. "Schools ends at 3:00PM, they were on the way home. I asked and they told me they will reach home only at 6:00PM — they don't go home directly," Mork explains. From what he observed, the school-going children will frolick around the hilly pastures until sun sets.
Home to home, Mork realised one thing in common. The locals were all eager to show them their belongings and way of life. He was puzzled and wondered why.
"It's not like Singapore, where the majority of people are like, "You are an outsider, why should I talk to you?" In a society like ours, we are brought up to protect ourselves. We are not to say or voice out anything, or share anything with people." In Bhutan, it was the exact opposite. "They don't have a fear of talking to people. We don't come from the same country or culture. Yet, they don't have a gap. It's a very direct feeling. They open their house to show you everything, and are not afraid to show you what they have or what they do not have."
It was then it struck Mork that this is an entirely new social and cultural fabric that he has never come across before. Mork may previously have, on many accounts, travelled to India, South Africa, and Cambodia. Be it cities or villages, the locals' yearning for upwards social mobility was obvious. Children whom he met in these villages would pose for a picture and ask Mork for money in return. Otherwise, they would admire and touch his camera, watch, clothes and accessories.
Yet, there was not a trace of this pining amongst these Bhutanese that Mork met. An immense sense of pride emanated from them "This is our life, and we are so proud of our lives." It seems like this pride stemmed from elsewhere. And that something else was probably the key to the happiness that surrounded Mork.