For me, half the fun of preparing for a trip is researching the destination. I’ll be visiting India for the first time during my upcoming stint with Semester at Sea and though I’ve read many a travel blog and poured over many a National Geographic article, I couldn’t resist picking up Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure after reading the back cover.
The excerpt made me laugh out loud in the Boston airport and hand over my credit card without hesitation.
After backpacking her way around India Sarah Macdonald decides she hates the country with a passion. When a beggar reads her palm and insists she will one day return – and for love – she screams ‘Never!’ and gives the country, and him the finger. But eleven years later the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah’s life is posted to India, she quits her dream job as a national radio presenter to follow him to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. It seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love and it almost kills her – literally.
I read the book in less than two nights, drawn in by Macdonald’s detailed descriptions (it turns out the she is a journalist herself) of the country and culture, which give way to her affection for the people and a more balanced appreciation for the extremes of her new home. She undertakes a “spiritual sojourn” that sounds scary, but was often hilarious in its honesty, yet endearing in its sincerity.
My favorite parts of the book are those times when she writes about the Indian locals that she comes to love as friends and adopted family. Her relationships with the characters gave her an insight into the lifestyle, beliefs and ideology of a complex society, and never failed to make me think (and laugh). I can’t wait to get to India.