Here's a geography question: Where is Bhutan? Don't feel too badly if you don't know the answer. As Leaming points out, early in her book, most people don't know it exists. This point, she writes, is a shame for the world, but good for Bhutan. As you read the book, you will feel as though you have been transported to this "modern day Shangri-La" and maybe some will be inspired to actually make the journey to "one to one of the most seductive and interesting places on the globe."
Using the stages associated with love and marriage as the focus for each of the chapters, Leaming weaves together her relationship with Bhutan and eventually her relationship with the Bhutanese man she marries. Her love affair with Bhutan begins in 1994 when on a long trip to India and Europe, Leaming decides, at the suggestion of some Bhutanese friends, to stop off for a few days in Bhutan. This is all it took to get her hooked on this country that values Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product. She returned there permanently to teach in 1997 after two long trips in 1995 and 1996.
From a traveler's point of view, this book provides significant detail on the geography, scenery, culture and people of Bhutan. Through the eyes of an outsider who was accepted into this world, we are able to reflect on the significant differences between our western approach to life and the Bhutan's eastern approach. She does this without pitting one against the other, but by an honest assessment of each through her particular experiences. More importantly, Leaming is able to take the reader into her story and make you feel at home there.
Linda Leaming is a writer whose work has appeared in Ladies Home Journal, Mandala, Guardian UK and many other publications. Originally from Nashsville, she has an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Arizona, and she regularly speaks about Bhutan at colleges, churches, seminars, and book groups. She is married to the renowned Bhutanese Thangka painter, Phurba Namgay. Visit her blog.
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