At first, Sonam Tshong had a tough time convincing people he was serious.
Few people believed Tshong would travel more than 10,000 kilometers from the Himalayan mountains to study broadcasting in a country that is barely visible on many world maps.
His friends and colleagues wouldn’t have thought it unusual if, on the other hand, Tshong had wanted to visit London to observe the BBC, or Melbourne for a look at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
But Tshong, managing director of the state-owned broadcasting system in the Kingdom of Bhutan, knew what he wanted.
In April 1998, he and station engineer Dorji Wangchuk left the landlocked mountains of Bhutan to spend two weeks nearer sea level in the Fiji Islands of the south Pacific.
Early this year, Fiji’s privately owned radio stations, FM96 and Navtarang, said good-bye to their turn-of-the-century home overlooking the tropical port of Suva.
The white colonial bungalow, a one-time “house of ill repute”, had repeatedly expanded to accommodate the growing radio enterprise – until it could expand no more.
The building was obviously in poor repair. It lacked features like air conditioning to make life more tolerable during humid cyclone seasons.
Nevertheless, managing director William Parkinson found several of his employees were reluctant to abandon the old place.
“They said they would miss the friendly ghost, a woman who regularly appeared during over-night shifts to keep them company.”