“The path from birth to death is a journey without a road map. Destinations, geography, and weather conditions are all hidden from us. There are no signposts save those we have erected in our own minds, no tourist brochures save those we have our-selves manufactured with the tools of imagination. This is not a story I have ever dreamed of telling.“It begins, like Dante’s Divine Comedy, though far less poetically, in the middle of the road of life … more precisely, the Sacramento Freeway, an endless-seeming expressway that arrows its way through the parched hills of Western California. “It is a Friday morning in San Francisco, the morning after one of the most thrilling experiences of my career — a reception to launch my opera Madana in the United States. “The next few weeks are sure to be full of exciting things. I have just made contact with a new publisher who is enthusiastic about a possible new novel. The British producer of a film based on my novel Jasmine Nights has just attached a brilliant director to the project. There is talk of new operas, new horizons. “But an hour after I wake up that morning on the drive home to Los Angeles something very strange happens. I decide to become a Buddhist monk. Less than twenty-four hours later, I am on a plane to Thailand.”So begins the astonishing journey of S.P. Somtow, through philosophy and religion, culture and comedy, lurching towards enlightenment.Novelist, composer and conductor Somtow Sucharitkul (who writes books under the name S.P. Somtow) had an extraordinary epiphany while driving downthe California coast. At almost 50 years of age, having spent very little time in his native Thailand, he was seized by an overwhelming desire to enter a Buddhist monastery. This is the story of that journey, full of surprises, culture shock, discoveries, humor and spirituality. Visions, dreams, comedy, philosophy, wisdom and superstition mingle in an unforgettable fusion.