cover image On a Shoestring to Coorg: A Travel Memoir of India

On a Shoestring to Coorg: A Travel Memoir of India

Dervla Murphy. Overlook Press, $27.95 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-87951-372-6

In the fall of 1973, Murphy responded to a periodic travel itch by taking her five-year-old daughter Rachel to India, a journey that began in Bombay, proceeded down the coast, then turned inland to the remote and rugged highlands of southern India. They traveled by train and bus, staying at hostels or primitive hotels. Murphy found that Rachel was a link rather than a barrier to the natives. They discovered in Coorg an atypical India: neither crowded nor impoverished, Coorg boasts a magnificent landscape, temperate climate and congenial people (a curiously Anglicized atmosphere). The Murphys visited local families and had occasion to explore a culture in which ancestor veneration is practiced. The author discusses caste in detail; she and Rachel attended festivals, a christening ceremony, funeral and wedding. In their journeys they encountered Tibetan refugees, Western hippies, transplanted Europeans. Readers who enjoyed Murphy's Muddling Through in Madagascar will find this lively travel memoir to their taste as well. (Dec.)