In “The Waiting Land” (first published in 1967) Dervla Murphy affectionately portrays the people of Nepal’s different tribes, the customs of an ancient, complex civilization and the country’s natural grandeur and beauty. This is the third of Dervla Murphy’s early travel books: an exploration of Nepal by a feisty, generous-hearted young Irish woman. Yet it can also be seen as the completion of a trilogy of books concerned with her experience of self- sufficient mountain cultures, first tasted in crossing Persia and Afghanistan in “Full Tilt”, and deepened with her experience of working with Tibetan refugees in the frontiers of Northern India, as told in “Tibetan Foothold”. Having settled in a village in the Pokhara Valley to work at a Tibetan refugee camp, she makes her home in a tiny, vermin-infested room over a stall in the bazaar. In diary form, she describes her various journeys by air, by bicycle and on foot into the remote and mountainous Lantang region on the border of Tibet.
Murphy’s charm and sensitivity as a writer and traveller reveal not only the vitality of an age-old civilization facing the challenge of Westernisation, but the wonder and excitement of her own remarkable adventures.