It all starts with a spectacular view of the Emperor of the Himalayas - Mt. Everest in all its glory, as dawn breaks over what is by far the most imposing range of mountains in the world. The immensely skilled pilots of Druk Air ( Bhutan's national airline) point out the range ( Kanchenjunga, too) as the plane flies enviously close to it.What an introduction to a destination! As we landed in Paro ( Bhutan's international airport), after a two and a half hour flight from Delhi, it does occur to me that one tiny pilot error, and we might have lost a significant number of contemporary Indian writers ( there were so many on the flight!).
I cannot begin to tell you how enchanting this mountain kingdom is - starting with the stunningly beautiful Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk, and the young, devastatingly handsome King, Jigme Dorji. We are lucky to be here during this most auspicious season, and especially on the day when King Jigme announced his engagement to a beauteous local princess. I met them at a dinner hosted by our erudite, charming and efficient Ambassador\ author Pawan Varma( the force behind the Lit Fest, evocatively titled 'Mountain Echoes')at his 70- acre, thickly wooded official residence ( it has its own golf course). Perhaps it was an impromptu visit by His Majesty, but as soon as guests were told he'd be arriving shortly with his bride-to-be, the atmosphere changed dramatically! I was told he doesn't like being photographed, but when I asked, he posed most sportingly with his lovely fiancee. I shall share pics on my return... I took a few of the Queen Mum ( who has written two splendid books on Bhutan), and who was with her young daughter ( a Harvard graduate ) - who has also written a book on Bhutan ( its constitution), explaining it to kids! What an extraordinarily good looking royal family.... and for all that, so down to earth, gracious and kind. No wonder their people adore them. And are so proud to be Bhutanese.