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.