Lisa Napoli, a Los Angeles-based journalist, is knocked down by a bad case of mid-life disappointment. Working for public radio's Marketplace series, she decides to take a leap in the dark by volunteering to help set up Bhutan's first-ever commercial radio station for youth. She arrives in this Himalayan country between India and China ready for some new adventures.
Bhutan has had a lot of publicity for its national philosophy of "gross national happiness" based on Buddhist values more than modern criteria of economic progress and success. The country is largely rural but as Napoli finds out, the youth are already caught up in Western media (Sex in the City and Baywatch) and culture. She wonders what will happen as Bhutan shifts from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. It takes her quite a while to adapt to the phalluses painted on houses to ward off evil spirits!
It is fascinating to read Napoli's responses to this modern-day Shangri-la and its colorful people, places, and customs. When one of her co-workers from Bhutan comes to visit her in Los Angeles, this young woman is mesmerized by the conveniences and the pace of life. By the time Napoli returns to Bhutan, there is a new experiment going on with democracy. Close to 40% of the population is under 14 and signs of an emerging leisure class abound.