The Himalayas are home to many legends and tales that can teach us about life. In Bhutan people tell the popular tale of Meme Haylay (“limping grandpa”), a man who found happiness:
Once upon a time there lived a poor old man named Meme Haylay Haylay. One day he went to his farm to prepare a plantation. As he uprooted a clump of very stubborn weeds, he found a huge, round, bright blue turquoise stone in the dirt. It was so heavy that a man his age could hardly lift it.
He stopped digging and went home, carrying the heavy stone in his cane basket. On the way he met a man leading a horse with a rope.
“Where are you going, Meme Haylay Haylay?” the horseman asked.
“Today I am no longer a poor old man,” Meme Haylay Haylay replied, “because today I struck it rich! As I was digging in my fields, I found this huge valuable turquoise.”
But before the horseman could utter a word, Meme Haylay Haylay put forth a proposal, “Will you exchange your horse for this stone?”
The horseman stood speechless, for who in the world would barter a turquoise for a horse. “Don’t joke, Meme Haylay Haylay! Your turquoise is priceless, and in comparison my horse is worthless,” the horseman replied.
“Priceless or worthless, if you are for the trade, take the turquoise and hand over the rope,” Meme Haylay Haylay said.
The horseman lost no time in throwing over the rope and went his way carrying the stone, feeling happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way feeling happier than the horseman.
But that was not the end of Meme Haylay Haylay’s business. On the way, he met a man with an ox.
“Hey, Meme Haylay Haylay. What are you doing there?” the ox-man asked.
“Today I am no longer a poor old man, but a rich man” Meme Haylay Haylay replied. “As I was digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I traded it for this horse.”
“I certainly would,” the man with the ox replied, and the man went away with the horse feeling very happy. Meme Haylay Haylay went his way feeling happier.
Then Meme Haylay traded the ox for a sheep, and the sheep for a goat, and the goat for a rooster. And after each transaction, the others walked away feeling happy, but Meme Haylay Haylay walked away feeling happier.
Finally Meme Haylay Haylay heard someone singing a very beautiful song, and tears of happiness welled in his eyes as he listened to it.
“I feel so happy just listening to the song,” he thought. “How much happier I would be if I could sing it myself.”
Just then the singer spied Meme Heylay Heylay and asked, “Hey, Meme Haylay Haylay, what are you doing there?”
“Today I am no longer a poor old man, but a rich man” Meme Haylay Haylay replied. “As I was digging in my fields, I found a huge valuable turquoise stone and I traded it for a horse, then I traded the horse for an ox, the ox for a sheep, the sheep for a goat, and the goat for this rooster. Here, take this rooster and teach me how to sing your song. I like it so much.”
After learning the song, Meme Haylay Haylay gave away his rooster and went home singing the song, feeling the happiest, richest and most successful businessman in the world.