Sundeep Bhutoria

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In the presence of Queen Mother



Today is the last day of Mountain Echoes Lit Fest in Thimphu, Bhutan. Yesterday I went to the Royal Palace to meet Her Majesty, Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. 
There were quite a few protocols and formalities to enter the Palace, but the warmth of Her Majesty was such that I forgot I was in the presence of Her Majesty, the Queen. 
I was very impressed with her inaugural speech on the first day of the Festival. Her Majesty, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is the first wife of King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan. Her Majesty is the mother of Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck and Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck. 
Our meeting was a continuation of the informal meeting that we had a day earlier. We discussed various issues and activities where we shared common interest. We also discussed about The Tarayana Foundation which was started by Her Majesty. 
Currently, Tarayana Foundation has numerous programmes to improve the quality of life of Bhutanese people, especially in the rural areas (picture). Tarayana, which works in 40 of the remotest villages of Bhutan, has identified several projects including cultivation of medicinal aromatic and dye plants.
The Queen Mother is also an accomplished author. She authored the book Rainbows and Clouds - a gripping family saga which also portrays the life, culture and history of Bhutan. Her other book Treasures of the Thunder Dragon – A Portrait of Bhutan is a blend of personal memoir, history, folklore and travelogue. 
My own book Aap Biti Jag Biti deals with similar topics. I think a new Indo-Bhutan relationship may develop in the field of social work, art and culture with more socio-cultural exchanges between Bengal and Bhutan. 
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