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The Stories of a Friend King

Stories abound around the country and, thanks to social media, around the world about the humbling deeds proffered by a humble King.  His Majesty The  King has cooked at a community school in Mongar for children undergoing the trauma of an earthquake that left their homes in ruins, slept in an earthquake damaged home and dispelled a village’s superstitious label of the “poison giver” by drinking a cup of ara from a woman’s supposedly poisonous hands.

One time, as His Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen were mingling with people lined along the road to greet them a phone rang. The already flustered owner was dumbstruck when his Majesty offered to relieve his discomfiture by answering the phone. It was a friend from a point further down the road enquiring about His Majesty’s location.

“Oh I am right here, will be down in a bit alright,” His Majesty is said to have answered.

At the October Royal Highland Festival in Laya, as the strongman contest was commencing, His Majesty sprinted lightly from his  seat and jogged down to the ground to catch a better view of the participants, shading his eyes from the sun with his hands. The seat was hardly occupied as His Majesty walked around the celebration grounds conversing with people.

Later that night at the end of the festival His Majesty invited everyone to a bonfire and dinner. The people eagerly sang songs for the King and he kept beat, clapping along with everybody else. The spirit of complete unity that I felt at that bonfire coupled with the haunting melodies was entirely beyond any experience I had.

Jurmi Chowing, popular freelance writer, remembers a moment that stands above the rest. Back in 2010 he was a volunteer at the Changjiji Aspire Project conceptualized by a friend from the University of Texas El Paso to provide meaningful engagement to the children of Changjiji who came from underprivileged or disturbed households . One summer weekend the some 40 participants chaperoned by a dozen adults returning from a camping trip to Phajoding. Jurmi was bringing up the rear to make sure there were no stragglers left behind.

“When we got to Sangaygang the kids had disappeared. I sensed something was afoot but couldn’t quite put a finger on it,” said Jurmey. Imagine his surprise when two RBG personnel in an official licensed car came over and said, “All the kids are at the palace. We were waiting for you.”

He got out of the rain and into the car in shorts and shoes muddied beyond recognition, “completely unsuited for a visit to the Lingkana.”

When he was ushered into the Palace room where foreign dignitaries are seated for audiences with the King, he saw His Majesty, mic in hand, conducting a lively karaoke session for the kids.

“Afterwards, His Majesty told the kids it was okay to have these problems, okay to style your hair the way you. Just do not forget who you are,” Jurmi recounted, “These spontaneous impromptu meetings, I believe, breaks down imaginary walls that people often build up with prior knowledge of an audience.”

Kunga T Dorji (Supe), popular radio jockey, award winning journalist and recipient of the Jigme Singye Wangchuck Prestigious Award, was with His Majesty in school. “We had just finished high school and were discussing future options at the Swiss Bakery and he wanted my advice,” Kunga was incredulous.

His Majesty had done his homework thoroughly, a trademark of our monarchs, and Kunga cannot remember contributing anything new at all.

When His Majesty was crowned the Choetse Penlop Kunga had just become a father. After he got his turn at presenting the white scarf at the Dechencholing Palace grounds, His Majesty asked how his son was doing.

“Who am I for His Majesty to know such details?!” Kunga is still incredulous, “Our King has always been gracious and it was an immensely humbling experience! Another time when my father passed away I received a call from His Majesty himself offering his condolences. At a sorrowful time it lifted me up and made it a memorable day, after all Who Am I, Right?!”

Urologist Dr. Lotay Tshering has travelled extensively as part of the medical team with His Majesty’s entourage. When asked if any particular moment with our monarch came to mind, he said “Every single moment by His Majesty is a special occasion, just being in the vicinity of His Majesty or passing by the gate of the palace is an honor in itself.”

Dr. Lotay was also part of the relief team that travelled to Nepal following the devastation left in the wake of the 2015 earthquake. On the day of the earthquake, the Zimpon called the doctor and told him to put together a team and be ready to leave as soon as humanly possible. Following a meeting with the Ministry of Health, Disaster Management and the armed forces that ran up to two in the morning, the team submitted a report of requisites for the undertaking.  The same day, His Majesty summoned all team members to the Banquet Hall.

“His Majesty gave crystal clear instructions to the very letter,” said Dr. Lotay. “We were told to prepare to face the harshest of conditions and to stay as long as needed. Failure was not an option.”

His Majesty told the team to do the best they can for Nepal was dear to his heart.

“The local authorities are stretched to their limits. They do not need people to feed and carry around. Take your food, your water, your stoves, your cooks, your groceries, your spades and your crowbars hammers and nails. Manage your logistics, hire your guides; ask nothing of the local authorities except where you should help and never break your chain of command,” His Majesty instructed them, even donating his personal tent and personal physician to the cause.

The next morning the team of Dessuups, Doctors and Surgeons of all specializations flew to Nepal with the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay who was also heading to Nepal to offer his condolences and a $1 million aid to the people of Nepal.

When they arrived and asked where the team would be most useful, local authorities pointed them to Trishuli Hospital in Nuwakot, one of the most affected. The hospital was in shambles and patients strung to IVs were lying in the courtyard.

“The authorities asked us how long we were going to stay. We said as long as we are needed. They asked us how we would communicate and we replied in Nepali,” said Dr. Lotay. “Over the next days our team, one of the first on the scene, set up a fully fledged hospital in the vicinity of the Trishuli Hospital and with the only functional X-ray in the area, nearby teams from the Red Cross, Singapore, Israeli and Indian teams referred many patients to us.”

Soon, they were given the name Rato Luga Laungni Doctors (Doctors in red) referring to the Dessuup uniforms they were wearing.

“The Desuups, a product of His Majesty’s initiative, were indispensible. They conducted themselves professionally in crowd control and guarding supplies and tents and providing support to relief efforts. Without them we would probably have collapsed,” said Dr. Lotay.

“Everything was as His Majesty said it would be, down to the smallest details and our work in Nepal was a complete success. It is occasions like this that I find reasonable cause to say His Majesty is a visionary possessor of an extra sense that can see into what lies ahead and prepare for it,” Dr. Lotay said.

All countries that His Majesty has come in contact with have words of gratitude. Japan and the Japanese were deeply moved by the visit of the Royal Couple after the terrible earthquake and tsunami which caused the Fukushima nuclear plant to emit radiations. They visited a school in Fukushima despite fears of radiation poisoning.

A school in Daisen City sends Their Majesties a gift of organic Japanese rice as a token of respect and gratitude.

The Royal Couple garnered admiration and respect from Singaporeans when they paid their respects to the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The media in Singapore has ever since shared pictures of the Royal Couple and the Gyalsey regularly.

In the short ten years on the throne, His Majesty has made and been friends with individuals and with nations around the world, forging new bonds and strengthening old ones. These are but the few stories of the Friend King and a precursor to far greater things to come; of that there is no doubt.

About Tshetrim Namgay

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