A world in which deeds are written with blood and fire, where the future pivots on the actions of singular human beings: this, in the words of Omair Ahmad, is Bhutan, where all such stories are true. His journey transports the reader through the mythic history of this land, through the deeds of heroes who emerged at opportune times to provide a vision for the future. Delving into stories of heroes, he tries to understand not only this magical Himalayan land, but the larger world and one’s place in it.
In the virtual absence of records, the history of Bhutan is a journey into myth and folklore. Ahmad’s deep empathy and veneration for the country and its people make our journey with him enriching and evocative. Not seeking nor expecting the usual answers, he is content to present a rambling narrative that gives the reader a better feel of Bhutan than a more conventional approach would have done. This is not a travelogue, nor an account of places and people encountered; indeed his descriptions of the Himalayan setting are disappointingly prosaic and his digressions sometimes tedious. The strength of the book lies in making Bhutan’s unique history come alive through stories that explain not only how it survives, nay thrives, in its tough neighbourhood, but also how it epitomises the concept of ‘national happiness’.