It all started with one giant grill. His Majesty mentioned to us that he had a “huge grill” and that he would like us to join him to a barbeque. So naturally, we dropped everything, canceled our appointments, and prepared ourselves to dine with the King on Sunday April 14, 2013.
With all of us adorned in national dress including kabney and rachu, we entered what used to be the Executive Center on campus. To our amazement, it had been transformed into a reception hall fit for the richest of newly-weds. There were pine-needles spread across what used to be patches of dead grass in anticipation of the Queen’s arrival. Tables were clothed with white table cloths, gold and white chairs, the tables were each sheltered by an umbrella, and hors d’oeuvres were placed at each of the four corners of the tables. The hors d’oeuvres consisted of almonds, sour cream and onion chips, and cashews (which His Majesty thoroughly enjoyed). The plates and silverware even had the royal crest on them. Among the various tables was a canopy that His Majesty dined under as well as beautifully decorated tents that housed the cooks and the vast amounts of food. With the sun shining through the trees onto the water catching drain that was transformed into a small pond with flowers, it was a sight that can hardly be described with words. However, before we could set ourselves appropriately, we had to be coached on proper etiquette. We were instructed on how to address the king, the proper way to bow, and each chillup’s (foreigner’s) garb was fixed to a tee, seams and all.
When Their Majesties arrived, faculty and Wheaton students were arranged in a line. Upon entry we bowed to His Majesty in a synchronized ascending type manner. Being the gentleman that he is, His Majesty told us to take off our kabney and rachu, which meant that the formal nature of our greeting was acknowledged but was not necessary for the barbeque setting. After Their Majesties’ arrival, it was time to take our seats. It was game time.
Each of the faculty dispersed themselves among the various tables and there were only two tables left. One with His Majesty, Her Majesty, and Tenzin (Dasho’s daughter) and another with Professor Owens, Dasho, and Aum Nim -the Registrar. When His Majesty invited people to his table many Wheaton student scurried over to sit with him. A sense of decorum was kept in our ghos and kiras but all bets were off in getting to that table; the students to sit at the royal table were: Ariel, Catherine, Ben K, Ana, and Sara, while the rest of us sat at the other table surrounded by the prestigious faculty members. Despite the small divide in tables, all the Wheaton students spent time talking to the Queen and the King. At one point, the King actually got up and went to the “non-royal” table to speak to the rest of the students.
Discussions were interesting and varied among tables. A lot of TV shows were mentioned. His Majesty’s stay at Wheaton also came up among discussion. It seemed that His Majesty really enjoyed his time at Wheaton and spent a lot of time exploring Massachusetts. His Majesty also talked about attending Oxford, particularly the contrast between the American education system and the English one. Additionally, we found out that his majesty very knowledgeable in World History, particularly about Italian history. He discussed the Medici Family as someone whom he would like to meet; they were key players in the Art Renaissance and the financiers of artists in Florence. Other topics mentioned included: motorcycles, Google, The Computer Age, actors and musicians who have been to Bhutan, learning how to lose, etc. His Majesty played a practical joke on the Wheaton students. At each table he told the students that Justin Beiber was coming to Bhutan. The Wheaton students were amazed that Beiber had swindled his way into our peaceful little country.
Reactions included: “Oh wow, Really? Ummm, that’s interesting.”
Then His Majesty would reply: “Hahaha. No. He’s not coming, I’m joking.”
It seems even royalty have jokes about Justin Beiber; both Their Majesties have quite the sense of humor. With all the conversation going around it seems like there was no time for lunch; however there most certainly was.
The menu consisted of hamburgers, hotdogs, veggie dogs, pasta with sauce, asparagus, and much more. They were a variety of drinks including: Pim’s cups, sodas, several types of juices, and of course tea and coffee. There also were pickles, mayonnaise, cheese, and mustard, and ketchup as the king had promised. We found out two interesting details as well. His Majesty used to be called the “Burger King” back when he was crown prince in the United States. This title came about because the king played basketball in America and after each game they would stop to get hamburgers. They would pile a stack of hamburgers up to his chin and we would eat them all. If you didn’t already know, the king is a coffee drinker, which is funny because teatime in Bhutan is considered a national past time. The food was great. However the most important part was the CAKE! It was a huge cake with chocolate and vanilla icing, adorned with purple grapes at each of the corners.
In all, it was a great barbecue with much appreciated attention to great food and great conversation. Each faculty member at RTC would come up to the Wheaton students and speak about how unprecedented this event was and how lucky we are. (We may have stirred a little jealousy among the faculty members.) However, we all recognized how honored we were to be in their Majesties’ presence all afternoon, it was an experience that not many Bhutanese citizens get to have. We appreciated him coming and making time to talk the Wheaton students and the staff of RTC. The Royal Barbeque was a much-appreciated taste of home and generous gesture from His Majesty that Bhutan IV will be talking about for a long time to come.
– Nick Emard and Tianna Lall