Wednesday, January 26, 2011


My sister went to Bhutan a few years ago and read this book on the plane on the way over--because it was one of the few books she could find written about Bhutan, a small country squeezed between India and Tibet. (It is closed to most tourists, but it is typical for my sister that she knew someone who knew someone in the royal family and was allowed in.) It's a treasure of a memoir, of the "woman immersed and transformed by another culture" ilk, and I found it more satisfying than EAT PRAY LOVE. Zeppa, a young Canadian woman, abandons her thoughts of entering a Ph.D. program to teach English in Bhutan for two years. She spends her first five months in a tiny rural village with sporadic running water, and her remaining time at a university, where she falls in love with one of her students and converts to Buddhism. It's by turns hilarious and poignant and thoughtful.
The best part of my sister's story about this book is that one night she and her friend found themselves in a bar in Bhutan. My sister had a long conversation with one man--extremely good looking, articulate--and finally asked if he's married. He replied, "I was ... I married my English professor .... but my wife and I are divorced, and she moved back to Canada." My sister stared. "Were you married to Jamie Zeppa?" "Yes." (This, too, is the sort of thing that happens to my sister.)

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