Book review: I can’t think of a better way to learn everything about India than by reading this book

“Holy Cow: an indian adventure” by Sarah Macdonald

From the very introduction of the book, I thought this would be a hilarious journey the author had in living in India, a kind of light and entertaining book. Although it is a hilarious one, the book, to my surprise, is a very deep and moving journey. It’s a journey filled with disgust and anger at first, revealing the country’s in-your-face poverty, dirtiness and “organized chaos” in an excruciatingly detailed and bluntly honest flavour; with a change of tune of the author later on, as she begins to understand more about the meaning of life India has taught her.

In an easy-going style of writing, the author takes us to the beautiful journey of her spiritual quest, from being an atheist to become a person who are very exposed to many different faiths, attending Hindu’s Kumbh Mela, visiting the Dalai Lama, performing Judaism rituals, learning about Islam in Kashmir, learning about Sikhism in Amritsar, learning about Jainism and Sufi, exploring Christianity in the west, even visiting a living “Divine Mother” and other gurus. Along the way, subconsciously the author also teaches us the many different ethnics in India, where they live and mainly concentrated in the big subcontinent, and the socio-cultural struggle. The country’s strong social and culture dominance in everyday life is also vividly described, through the stories of the many people she met and befriended.

All the tragedies, the deaths and despairs; all the festivals, colours and the cows in the middle of the road; and all the spiritual quests and gurus are all so very real, as if I was the one who’s doing the journey. India is a very big and complex country, but the author can describe it almost effortlessly, with great details, in a fun and gripping style of writing. A really great book, well done.

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