Married to Bhutan
Linda LeamingTucked away in the eastern end of the Himalayas lies Bhutan: a tiny, landlocked country bordering China, India, and Nepal. One of the most remote places in the world, Bhutan is rich in natural beauty, exotic landscapes, and ancient wisdom, where people are genuinely happy with very few material possessions and the government embraces "Gross National Happiness" instead of Gross National Product. As one of the few Americans to have lived in Bhutan, Linda Leaming offers a rare glimpse at the peaceful mountain kingdom so many have only dreamed of. For over ten years, Leaming has lived and taught in the small town of Thimphu, where there are fewer than 100,000 people and no traffic lights. "If enlightenment is possible anywhere," she writes, "I think it is particularly possible here." The Bhutanese way of life—quieter, slower, and more tranquil—can seem daunting to most Westerners, consumed with time, dates, speed, and efficiency. In Bhutan, people rarely check their e-mail and take their time answering their telephones. But, as Leaming shows us, a little patience—over a cup of warm tea and friendly conversation—can help soothe the most distressed mind and soul. In this funny, magical memoir, Leaming takes us with her on her travels through South Asia, sharing her experiences as she learns the language, customs, and religion; folklore of a revered Tibetan holy man who gave blessings to the people by whacking them on the head with a big wooden phallus; her unlikely romance with a Buddhist artist; and her discoveries about the unexpected path to happiness and accidental enlightenment, where true bliss resides. Married to Bhutan is a reminder that following our dreams is the way to be truly happy.