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Saturday, December 31, 2011

REVIEW - SIDEWAYS ON A SCOOTER - MIRANDA KENNEDY

I like travel memoirs and this scooter business has always fascinated me. In Sri Lanka no women ride sideways on a scooter or a motorbike - and if they do you could bet your last rupee they will be Indian. I always used to think shouldn't they slide off specially since everyone is in sari or salwar kameez.  Getting back to the book - we have Miranda thrown into the deep end - a journalist wanting to make a career out of foreign news based in Delhi with excursions to Pakistan and Afghanistan and at the same time being a single female in India.

Miranda's story is from the heart - everyone has read at some stage of the poverty, the slums of India, the lepers, the beggars, the water, the food too spicy for most but at the same time India is so vast that it can offer you a myriad choices. Whether one seeks the urban cosmopolitan style of Bombay or Delhi or the toned down life of Chennai or the agricultural communities which thrive all over India, there is something for everyone.

Miranda Kennedy embraces what India has to offer - she tries to understand the huge and I mean gigantic differences that exist between her American upbringing and those of girls of her own age around her. The double standards that prevail in society in the East for single, professional women is hard - specially hard when you do live in a family environment and where your actions can hurt the entire family. You have to think twice - there is also very little forgiveness or forgetting and what would be such a small, insignificant thing or behaviour would be totally unacceptable in India. The importance of family, extended family and obedience, sometimes blindly accepting what parents rule as law may be baffling to a Western mind taught from the cradle to think independently.  Here one is just a cog of a wheel - and practically everyone toes the line however educated you may be or however broad minded you may appear to be.


Miranda's career takes off on a shaky note but she does establish herself after her rocky start. After a successful term in Delhi she returns to America happy with what she has done. That was the nice part. The author took it as a sojourn from her everyday life and that this was an experience that was different and enjoyable - uncomfortable experiences and all.

This was my last read for 2011 - I have a stack of books to read this weekend. Everyone gets back to work only on the 3rd of January so its a long weekend as well.

A very happy new year to all.


12 comments:

Christina T said...

I really liked this book and it was nice to hear your perspective on it. Would you say that things are different for young women in Sri Lanka compared to India?

I hope you have a happy new year too!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I'm always looking for good travel memoirs, so thank you for the recommendation.

Happy New Year to you and your family :)

Nicola said...

I love travel memoirs too and this sounds so interesting! My husband just bought us a scooter and I'm nervous about driving it at all, nevermind sideways! I'll keep this one in mind.

polkadotpeticoat said...

Have a Happy New Year Friend and may 2012 be full of wonder for you and your family....cheers!

bookdout said...

This sounds really interesting Mystica! Great review

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a fascinating peek into a culture I don't know much about. Happy New Year!

A Bookish Space said...

This sounds fascinating! Happy new year!

Jonita said...

A Happy New Year to you!!!!!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I do love the cover, and happy the book somewhat redeemed itself. Hope 2012 is a wonderful year for you.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I would probably enjoy all of these?? Hope u do as well.

DCMetroreader said...

You can never go wrong with a Jennifer Weiner story.

ANd Happy 2012 to you too!

Teddy Rose said...

Sideways on a Scooter sound intriguing to me. I hope you enjoy all of your books@