Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Radio Shangri-la.

Which is your favourite radio station in Bhutan? Well, my village being located in a far flung corner, the transmission of many newly stationed radios in the capital is not reached, so as long as I can remember, I was grown up tuning to the national radio station, the BBS. But few years ago, when Kuzoo FM was established, wherever I go, I found people tuning to kuzoo (Dzongkha most of the time) and I came to learn that a network of relationship was also formed known as Kuzoo Family with many people dedicating songs and well wishes to those unseen, mysterious family members.

So this radio station according to Lisa Napoli is “Radio Shangri-La”. Until reading this book, I didn’t knew that Kuzoo FM is project initiated by His Majesty the King, (then Crown Prince) Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. It was established on 1st September, 2006 and was officially launched on 28th September, 2006.

Lisa Napoli, a radio journalist based in America was in the grip of crisis and was unsatisfied with her life which is why she started attending a workshop positive psychology. Strangely, she met with a man named Sebastian for merely twenty minutes during a party and that was enough to divert her towards Bhutan, often described by her as “the Happiest Kingdom on Earth” in January 2007.

Her purpose of visit was not as tourist but as a volunteer at the then juvenile Kuzoo Fm that aired its transmission from an old kitchen. Kuzoo is the country’s first radio station for the youth of Bhutan. Her visit was just a year prior to historic transition where a constitutional monarchy was set up and new king was crowned. As she narrates her stay with the kuzoo family, she digs into the history and culture of Bhutan and presents to the readers a vivid fact about the country; the history, dress code, the Bhutanese cuisine, the games, Bhutan being a poor country coping up with rest of the world very lately, and of course the Bhutan’s developmental philosophy of Gross National Happiness.  Most importantly, she also observed the dawn of democracy in Bhutan.
Taktsang Monastry- Priceless Asset of Bhutan.

As she enjoys the carefree lifestyle in Bhutan and observes among Bhutanese, the intimate connections with peers and relatives, she was reminded of her life in America; where she was to stay all alone her family being miles away from her busy with their own schedule, she being raped at a tender age, her divorce with her husband, and other midlife crisis which has shaken her mental peace.

Her first arrival in Bhutan has  altered her attitude towards her life. She finds that the world is a beautiful and complicated place, and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is. She became more attached to kuzoo family and this compels her to visit Bhutan twice later. Intriguingly, she helps one of the radio jockey in Kuzoo to fulfill her dream of visiting America, not knowing the fact that Bhutanese aspires to adventure to America for a job to earn dollars.
For me, the book helped me recapitulate the history of Bhutan and of course taught me the lesson that life has deeper meaning, as we faces The Circle of Karma-coming up next.


  1. Good review bro. I have heard of this book, but couldn't read it...However yours provided me a fairly good glimpse of it...looking forward to reading your next review!


  2. "Until reading this book, I didn’t knew that Kuzoo FM is project initiated by His Majesty the King, (then Crown Prince) Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck." same with me. a nice read!

  3. @ Pema and Happiness: Thank you for the appreciations la.

  4. A refreshing piece after so long.
    I love Kuzoo fm of all the radio stations in Bhutan. It is fairly because I came to know about it while I was at my village during my school break.
    I am quite amazed to know the commencement of Kuzoo FM. This station is indeed one of the engaging and an entertaining one.
    You know, it is sometimes disheartening and even unpleasant to read or hear about Bhutanese interested to earn dollars. It seems like we are insufficient of material wealth despite Bhutanese being recognised as a country of "Gross National Happiness".
    If my comment is in any way abusive, you have certainly taken my viewpoint to higher dimension.
    Overall, it was interesting to know about the Book. Lethro, reading the above mentioned book is in my bucket list. Save the book for me.
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Hi Yeesi, Glad to learn that you dropped by after sometime, :P. Yeah, that fact that our Bhutanese are so much interested to serve as nannies and dishwashers to earn dollar (as the author has mentioned) is not a good trend. It is good to take the opportunity of earning some if we get certain privilege like further study, etc but purposefully aspiring to pluck apples in the orchard of US to earn dollar appears weird not only among ourselves but also the the foreigners who spends thousands of hard earned dollars to enjoy the serene and peace in Bhutan.
    Well, the book will remain piled on my table, take it anytime u want la.
    Keep visit, and pour on feedbacks.