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Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Insights into the lives of rural Tibetans, 17 April 2010
This review is from: A Year in Tibet (Paperback)
This book was written during a year spent by the author in Tibet when she was filming a five hour TV documentary series of the same name that was aired on TV in the UK during March 2008. It follows the lives of several characters focussing mostly on the Rikzin family, a polyandrous group consisting of one woman married simultaneously to three brothers, by whom she has had four children. It is a world that is barely understandable from a western perspective. The year is punctuated by deaths, weddings and festivals but there are three main underlying themes. How the religious lives of these people were devastated by the sacking of the monestaries in 1959 and the cultural revolution during the late 1960s, but how religion has openly re-entered the their lives and dominates their daily decision making - including their health care. Even the local doctor ascribes her stomach ulcer as potentially due to her behaviour during a past life and sees a shamen for advice and treatment. The second theme is poverty. Tibet still endures third world rates of deaths of both children and mothers in childbirth and most of the characters eek out survival very close to the edge of existence. This is a world where a severe hailstorm may destroy your crops and as a result you starve. The third is alcohol abuse. Somehow the Tibetans have managed to combine sincere Bhuddism with clear a devotion to alcohol induced self oblivion. It is a sad combination that has ruined many lives. Overall the book paints a truthful and often unflattering view of life for the average Tibetan. This is not Shangri-La. The book provides a real insight into the lives of rural Tibetans without romanticising them.
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