School closes for the winter break and Dolma is excited about her vacations. She is singing her father’s favourite song while waiting for him to come home. On seeing her dad, Pa-La , Dolma runs up to him in joy. But Pa-La doesn’t share her excitement about school holidays and Dolma remembers why. He will soon have to go away to the big city to earn a living. Like many other Tibetan refugees of the Phuntsokling refugee camp , in Chandagiri, Orissa , Pa-La will once again spend the winter away from Dolma and her mother selling sweaters in Bangalore. Although Dolma loves to sing, no one can coax a song out of Dolma after her Pa-la goes away.
But Ama-La , Dolma’s mother, has a surprise for Dolma. They are going to Bangalore to help and be with Pa-La. Dolma visits a big Indian city for the first time- excited and nervous- observing the traffic, customs, markets and the people. Dolma does her best to help not only in setting up the shop but also in cooking the Thukpa, organizing a community feast, and celebrating Losar, the Tibetan New Year, with other Tibetans sellers in Bangalore. In the end, much to her Pa-La’s delight, Dolma sings a lovely Tibetan folk song for every one present.
A gift from a friend,Benson, this book didn't catch my 5 year old's fancy for a while because of the long text. But once we did a reading together, she was on a roll. I often saw her seeking it out and reading it and attempting to mimic some of the words and it soon became a hot favourite!
Also written as a political commentary ( which book on Tibet and its people wouldn't be ) Aravinda Anantharaman cleverly introduces Tibetan customs, language, food, and culture through a simple story. This book can be a great way to encourage discussion about different communities, life in exile, and at the same time about the hopes and aspirations of children alike.
At the end a well compiled glossary provides more nuggets of information. There is even an interesting glossary of Tibetan words used in the book. It is one of the two children’s books written as Meyul series that attempt to offer children a glimpse of life in an exile community. (Meyul is a Tibetan word that means a place that is not one’s home. ) More on this here: http://www.thinktibet.org/project/books/dolma-visit-the-city