We had been told a week ago, only days before the rimdro, that His Majesty, the 5th King, was going to be traveling through Khaling at some point in the near future, and that there was a possibility that he would stop at our school. Well today, towards the end of my 6th period English class, the last period of the day, two students came around to each class informing the other students that the principal was asking for them to bring their kabneys and rachus to school the next morning, the accessories which elevate their ghos and kiras to the status of formal attire. The message read loud and clear: the King was coming and we were to be prepared.
I should, by now, be used to this kind of last minute notice, but still it continues to catch me off guard. It’s strange because I consider myself to be flexible in terms of planning and schedules, but for some reason I find myself getting slightly frustrated not knowing whether I’m going to be teaching my classes the next day or not. The frustration is not at the point where it cannot be contained, but I can feel a little something brewing deep inside of me sometimes. I’m usually quite good at recognizing this and I come home and call Keira to vent, or write a few words here and there on my computer, or play my guitar to blow off steam.
I think that more than anything the last few weeks have been filled with surprises, but at the same time, this vivid image of a BCF document on culture shock stands out in my memory. I don’t have it with me (I didn’t bring it – part of my refusal to over prepare), but I remember it’s general message: that there would be several stages of culture shock, including one in which the small quirks of Bhutanese culture might begin to frustrate us. I don’t really think that that is what I’m experiencing because I actually enjoy the quirks of Bhutanese culture, but I do feel like sometimes my job is made more difficult by an unpredictable and fairly erratic schedule.
That being said, I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of having the King visit our school tomorrow. After my experience of meeting Garab Rimpoche at the rimdro last week, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with good fortune right now. It was such a treat to meet the Rimpoche, and he seemed to respond to me differently than everyone else (which I feel guilty about, yes, but also appreciate), and I have to admit that I am crossing my fingers that I might have the good fortune of a similar experience with His Majesty.
I was warned by several teachers that the King visited last year, and that makes the likelihood of him stopping in at our school this time significantly lower, but I can still hope for the best. From what I understand, we are going to go down to the market at the beginning of the school day and basically sit around there waiting for any sign of His Majesty’s convoy. I was told that we might have to wait thirty minutes, or that we might have to wait upward of four hours. But this only goes to show the patriotism and the love and admiration that the Bhutanese feel for their King. Their devotion to the monarchy is an enormous part of their culture, and I am assimilating into their culture, and so I will stand by the wayside and wait with them.