The King and I

I haven’t slept on my own bed for more than a week at a stretch since August this year- I have been fortunate to have been a part of the Royal Entourage travelling into the east in September- my first ‘Eastern Tour’ accompanying His Majesty- and then I was able to witness the Royal Wedding in Punakha, and then travel to India accompanying His Majesty on the first Royal State Visit since the wedding.
Before all this, I intended to write many entries in this blog- there were certainly many experiences I wanted to write about- but now it’s far too late to put myself back in the East or the Royal Wedding or Delhi and write the series of articles I wanted to.
But these past three months have been experiences that I want to say something about, so hopefully I am able to put all that I took from these months into words here. Following the Royal Wedding I read a lot of articles in local as well as international media- I think interest in Bhutan has never been so high internationally- at least in my experience. A fair number of articles I found online are titled ‘The King and I’ – they are interesting glimpses of conversations and moments that the journalists shared with His Majesty- a memorable and personal moment for the writer. What I have realized, from the tour and the Royal Wedding, is the significance of this personal ‘the King and I’ moment with a King who has spoken to almost every person in the country by now, and continues to informally speak to almost everyone He meets- guests, citizens, tourists and journalists.

The special thing about this moment is that although we know that His Majesty the King is the King to seven hundred thousand Bhutanese, and that He would know a great many of them by name, in that special moment, He is my King, addressing me, not as a Bhutanese or an employee of the secretariat, but as Me. I have had my own ‘The King and I’ moment with His Majesty, and in that moment He was My King. It felt like He knew me for exactly who I am, He knew about my hopes and dreams, and offered words that inspire me to take the path that I want to take in life. The amazing thing about the ‘King and I’ moment is that I am sure I am not the only one who feels like they share a special connection with His Majesty that can only be described by saying ‘He is My King’.

Like I said, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the Eastern Tour, the first time I had been to parts of my own country, best of all, accompanying His Majesty the King. Travelling to these parts of Bhutan was an experience of a lifetime- the stunning beauty of the landscapes, the indescribable richness and magic in these places, and most of all, the people, who lined roads waiting to meet with their King and Queen, to build memories of their own ‘King and I’ moments. When I started on this tour, I was working on something for which I was reading the Addresses made by His Majesty in various places, and it felt like some of the things He said was said straight to me. Like this excerpt from an address in Kolkata, which will remain forever with me, and inspire me everyday: “I imagine my life is a book that I am engaged in writing. In so doing, I find that every moment brings the urge and energy to do something special, something worthy to write into the book. When I am confronted by some challenge, I find the opportunity to write a wonderful tale of hardship, suffering, hard work, determination and commitment. When faced by the temptation to take short cuts and cheat, the book serves as my conscience. In the end, after all, like anyone else I want the story of my life to be as good as possible. But this story is written by my own best judge – the one that cannot be cheated or deceived – myself.”

That is the special thing about the ‘King and I’ moment- because it is not limited to a moment in which I had the fortune to speak to my King- because whenever He speaks to everyone in the country, it also feels like He knows I am listening, and that He is speaking directly to me- to each one of us separately, recognising our dreams and hopes, encouraging us to follow our path.

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