On A Shoestring to Coorg by Dervla Murphy

4 out of 5 stars

Sometimes the best trips are the ones with the sketchiest of outlines. So it was with Dervla Murphy who is accompanied by her five-year-old daughter, Rachel in their four-month travels in Coorg, in 1973/74. They had landed in Bombay but were there very little time as it was too busy and oppressive so they decide to take the slow route to the southernmost point of India, Cape Comorin.

One is a much less light-hearted traveller with a foal at foot.

Rather than move ever onwards, they decide that they like one region so much that they choose to return to it and spend more time there. In the end, they end up staying two months in Coorg settling into life there on their tiny budget. This longer time spent there gives Murphy the time that she needs to really understand the people around her.

She is a much braver person than me, I am not sure that I would have taken a five-year-old to India. That said, I think that her daughter Rachel really liked the trip even there were a few heart-stopping moments. To say that she has a relaxed parenting style is a bit of an understatement, she allows Rachel her own independence to choose those she wants to play with, leaving her home or with other people while she undertakes chores and shopping trips.

Every day I fall more seriously in love with Coorg; it is the only place outside of my only little corner of Ireland, where I could imagine myself happy to live permanently.

I have had a few hit and misses with Murphy’s books before, but I thought this was really good. The diary format works really well for this book as she recounts the events of the day that has just passed and the time spent in one place gives an insight that someone passing through would never see. She is a pragmatic traveller, wanting to experience the country and slowly but surely falls in love with Coorg and the people there. If you want a flavour of what India was like in the early 1970s this is as a good a book to read as any other.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    It’s lovely that Eland have obviously reissued a lot of these. I read this one ages ago, I’m enjoying reviewing them through your posts!

    • Paul

      Thank you, Liz. She is a favourite of theirs.

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