Lisa Napoli, a public radio broadcaster in Los Angeles, is rescued from an unfulfilled life by an invitation to spend 6 weeks in Bhutan assisting the burgeoning youth-focused radio station. Yes, this is yet another book about a woman trying to find something more satisfying in a life that hasn’t followed the traditional path to marriage and children. But for me, Lisa’s search for ‘more’ was a comfortable backdrop for discovering one of the most remote and fascinating places on earth. Her story line may not have always been a page-turner, but her descriptions of life in Bhutan were fascinating, humorous and engaging.
Readers are treated to Lisa’s first views of Bhutan and her discovery of just why this country of simple customs is known as the happiest place on earth. I really enjoyed “seeing” the country emerge and “meeting” the local villagers and dignitaries through her eyes.
Lisa’s journey to Bhutan begins in 2007, just as the country is letting the world in by allowing citizens to have access to radio, television, internet and cellphones for the first time. Imagine witnessing the influence of Bay Watch and Sex And The City on a culture where wearing the national costume is required by law. The country is poor in material goods, has rationed electrical power, no traffic lights and limited culinary choices; but it is brimming over with “Gross National Happiness”. It is intriguing to be able to be the proverbial fly-on-the-wall as the Bhutanese people meld modern media into their lives and grapple with transitioning from the rule of a benevolent King, to a full fledged democracy.
Tagging along with Lisa as she discovers what “Happiness” is all about is definitely a treat. I’ve always fantasized about making a trek to the Bhutan sometime in my life. If that never happens, at least Lisa has given me a virtual journey to feed my curiosity. Radio Shangri-La: What I Discovered on my Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth can be purchased through Amazon.com
Photo Credits: Flickr – #1 laihiu, #2 Radio Nederalnd Wereldomroep
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