Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In His Majesty's Service

I am often asked by friends and by people I meet as to what is it like to be in the service of His Majesty the King. What does it really take to be there? It is a question that may be lingering in the minds of many people.

To answer it in simple terms, job is a job – except that out here you have to do it well and you have to give your best. But then, ideally, in life that’s how it’s supposed to be in every other job, task or responsibility one is assigned to. Whether one is an elected leader, a civil servant, a private sector employee or even a private citizen one is supposed to do one’s best.
Getting deeper, however, there are few more differences. First and foremost, His Majesty works all the time. That implies that people around him have to work, be at work or think of work, all the time. There is no such thing as off-duty hours or holidays unless you take one specifically. Anything can happen anywhere and we have to be ready to start up our laptops, call up people here and there or fire-up the engines of our cars. And for many of us, especially for my colleagues in the office of Gyalpoi Zimpoen, they have to get moving at any time – day or night. If we were computers, our default mode would be “powered on”. Sometimes we could be on “standby” but we are never “switched off” from our duty. Neither can we (to stay with the technological metaphor) be even “temporarily disconnected”. Now that comes at a cost - in terms of your family life and your circle of friends. Our spouses get fed-up of us (my wife calls me unrecoverable) and our friends have long given up on us - making the circle smaller and smaller. But I guess on the positive note - there lies the true test of friendship or marriage.

In the service of His Majesty the King, there is no room for error. That is because of the large implications that your blunder could possibly cause. So you give your best in any assignment. There is no big or small assignment. All assignments have to be treated as important – and most of the time as emergency. We don’t just do the extra mile. I
f time and circumstances permit, we go for another full length of the marathon. We have to check and crosscheck, think and rethink of all the ramifications of our actions, decisions, thoughts and intentions. So unless one puts one’s heart and soul and time and energy there is no way one could get things done well – and on time. Having said that one cannot again shy away from tasks and assignments. As for me since failure is not an option anyway, I have long stopped thinking I would fail in any assignment I am given. This sure helps, more often than not, to get it right.

Again, it is not enough to be available or give your best or get it right. One should be selfless and be loyal and also have the mental bandwidth to deal with all kinds of people – rich and poor, young and old, smart and dumb, powerful and the humble. This is, of course, the easier part. The trickier side is, in trying to get your job done, you have to strike a fine balance between being humble and maintaining your status or between being accommodative and being able to reject – depending on cases and circumstances. If you are incapable of finding this balance, you easily become the soft target of criticism and gossips. At worst you won't be be able to get anything done.

Having said all the above though, for me being in the service of His Majesty the King is a wonderful journey – a journey full of discoveries and self-discoveries. A journey where you discover yourself as a person and as human being. It is a discovery of the fundamentals of life, work and responsibility – and of duty, dedication, altruism and patience. It is also a discovery of your full potentials – mental and physical. It is a discovery of the best and the worst in our Bhutanese people. It is a discovery, or a rediscovery, of things that we Bhutanese have more and more made lip services of - love, compassion, values, integrity, patriotism, hard work, culture, tradition and impermanence.

Above all, it a journey of humility. Seeing the King at work humbles you and often one finds it difficult to control one's emotions. Coming across thousands of people struggling with life makes you rethink of your greed, desires and ambitions. Being in great places with great people are great emotional experiences. Living the historic moments directly makes you cherish every moment of your life. And above all, the trust, confidence and the opportunities that His Majesty gives you makes you not just humble - it helps you be a better human being.


  1. A wonderful reflection. Enjoyed it till the end.

  2. ata....first of all thank you for recognizing our office....seldom does people recognize this office...its not that we are dying to be recognized but at times it feels nice...since what ever we do, we do it with clear conscious and total dedication to the Throne...

    it is nice to have come across you are Gokha and i did learn few things from you specially the 3 rules while on tour, patience, and so you wrote it is 24/7 and 365 day a yr that we are toes...i remember you saying that the day you returned from Delhi and the next day pack to Bumthang..these are the examples you can write...and people like us having 2 suitcase always packed and ready to MIKE....


    hey btw next eastern tour i am seriously expecting ata's wife chocolate cake.....if not ill put u in some weird rooms...

    cheers tobgay

  3. @Kinga. Trust you are doing fine Down Under. Keep posting and keep blogging. It is nice to read heartwarming and personal accounts of people as opposed to the bad news that the mainstream media bombards us on a daily basis.

    @TashiT - any room is fine except with the Worst Roommate of the Year.

    On a more serious note, life sure is tough for all of us and add to that all the criticisms and envy that we have to face. But everything adds to the our life making it spicy and worth living after all, don't you agree?

    So it's true Life, then, is beautiful!

  4. Folks, as demanding as it is for all of your dedicated hard work, is it not improper to say all this while you are on active duty? Normally one keeps such thoughts for a memoir when you are no more on active duty in the service of the esteemed presence. This is normally proper conduct for anyone in the service of very important people the world over.

    We are not interested in knowing how demanding your jobs are, and how you don't have holidays. Without seeming to undermine your service, there are many other jobs which are also very demanding without any of the glory, power and prestige. There have been hundreds of people in the service of our Kings before, and there will be many after. So, serve with dedication and we will listen to your stories when you are no more in the service of an active King. In the mean time you can tell this to your friends and children, but spare it from the public please. Unless you want to divulge it as people do to tabloids. Then this only serves to promote yourself. This quality is not becoming of someone in the King's retinue.

    We appreciate all the hard work and dedication. Please keep it within certain boundaries. No offense.

  5. Nice inspiring piece :) :)

    Reassuring to know that our king works all the time because we have a government doing whatever they want except work for us.

  6. Me no agree with Anonymous. Me thinks this is first detailed account of what goes behind all the gud things we see coming from our king.

    keep them coming and hope to read more insights.

  7. Thanks Tshering and Thx Kinga.

    @Anonymous. Thanks for your observation.

    Small clarification though. The article speaks about the modus operandi in the HMS and nothing of anyone's achievements. I am also aware of other people's hard works and demanding jobs and more than anyone else I have extensively complimented them in my earlier blog posts and of course in my past writings. Read "Heroes Around Us" and other titles in this blog, for example.


  8. And also I have given some tips at to what it takes to be in the service of HM hoping that our younger generation would be inspired to step into our shoes after we are gone.