July 1963, and Dervla Murphy, one of our best-loved travel writers, arrives in a sweltering Delhi by bicycle. Deciding that the heat precludes further cycling, she sets about finding some useful way of filling her time until the cool of November arrives. So begins a unique and unforgettable experience working in the Tibetan refugee camps of Northern India. Dervla vividly describes day-to-day life in the camps where hundreds of children are living in squalor while a handful of dedicated volunteers do their best to feed and care for them, attempting to keep disease at bay with severely limited resources. Quickly falling in love with the ‘Tiblets’ – cheerful, uncomplaining, independent and affectionate children – she pitches in with a helping hand wherever it is needed (just about everywhere) and also finds time to visit the Dalai Lama and his entourage. Dervla’s heart-rending account is interwoven with her own observations on the particular cultural and social problems associated with trying to help a people who had always lived in isolation from the rest of the world, and a new perspective is afforded by her present-day reflections.
'Dervla Murphy’s eye for the unusual and her capacity for recreating the people she meets by the way remain as acute as ever.' Daily Telegraph
'She is a sponge for every impression of beauty in landscape and sky, plant, animal and human: she came to love the racial personality of Tibetans … while being perfectly clear-sighted about their shortcomings. This is an important book by a remarkable young woman, who combines humour and humanity with judgment, reading and immense physical courage. I recommend it warmly.' Irish Times
'Humour and sturdiness are only the half of it: Dervla Murphy is that rare traveller who can make the world seem both wider and more intimate in the best sense, a citizen of the world, and no mean writer either.' The Observer
'This is an adventurous book: it is also a touching narrative of the deprived and under-privileged written with energy and compassion.' Punch
'A moving and humorous account of the day-to-day vicissitudes of life and death in a refugee camp…this book is essential reading.' Sunday Telegraph