About Toppled World

I first met Ambika, Sudha’s granddaughter, in September 2001 when she and my son Devin were freshman at a small liberal arts college in Maryland. Over the next four years, my house became Ambika's home away from her Indian home. During holidays and lazy weekends, Ambika would regale me with great adventures of her illustrious grandparents, Sudha and KC, who had been posted in the outbacks of India, Tibet and Afghanistan in the 1950-60s. I was enthralled. 

Weeks before graduation, I overheard Ambika inviting Devin to India for a graduation gift from her grandparents. Envious at the prospect that my son was going to meet this  fascinating couple I had heard so much about over the years, I piped up “I want to go!", to which she replied, “Then you shall.”  I added my reverence for HH the Dalai Lama and Ambika ‘matter of factly’ replied “Then you shall meet him.“ Of course I thought she was delusional, but a week later, I received an email from her Grandfather requesting my passport number, as a private audience with His Holiness had already been arranged.

A month later and after only two days to adjust to jet lag and the intense Indian May heat, my son and I found ourselves amongst eleven Johoreys; grandparents, parents and grandchildren, traveling on a second class train headed to Dharmsala, the hometown of His Holiness. At the end of the railhead, we were met by the the Dalai Lama's personal drivers and began a 3-hour harrowing drive up the mountain with hairpin switchbacks and not a guard rail in sight. During this terrifying drive, Ambika broached the idea of writing a book about her grandparent's lives from her grandmother’s perspective.  

The next day after a VIP tour of the temples, monasteries and museums, we were ushered into a drab living room met by the His Holiness. For the next hour, I sat in awe, watching the three old friends, His Holiness, Sudah and KC, reminisce about those turbulent years they spent together - mostly the Dalai Lama asking KC's memories of events that occurred and people who disappeared following his escape from Tibet. It was ironic that KC, with his larger than life personality, dominated the hour (not overlooked by the DL’s personal assistant giggling in the corner). At the end of the visit the Dalai Lama said “You must write a book - our story must be told!” Ambika told him of our plan and asked for his blessing. With his inimitable laugh, he said “Yes, yes, the book is blessed! Just write the book!”

Over the next year, I begged, beseeched and bribed Ambika to fulfill his request, but just starting out her career, she had others plans. Not taking the Dalai Lama’s request lightly, I eventually offered to write the book myself. In the years that followed, I returned to India five times, where Sudha and I would head into the Himalayas to reminisce,  and write (and rewrite) till finally, I had a manuscript. And now 13 years later Toppled World is a reality and I couldn’t be more  excited to share Sudah's story with the world. 

©2019 Toppled World - A book by Susan Murphy. Bedazzled Ink Publishing. All rights reserved.