Holy Cow An Indian Adventure Book Review

Holy Cow An Indian Adventure Book Review

In Holy Cow An Indian Adventure, Journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India in her twenties and came away with a sour view about the country, and vowed never to return. But an airport beggar who reads her palm tells her she will return for love, and will love the country, she promptly flips them off. But fate has a different plan and she finds herself back in the country following her fiance, but can she ever come to love the place she sees as nothing more than heat, poverty, and pollution?

Holy Cow An Indian Adventure did a great job of turning me off from visiting her version of India from the first chapter. The author herself hated the country with a passion going into the story. She painted much of the cityscape of the country to be polluted and littered with malnourished animals eating garbage and people sleeping in the streets and that she was better than all of it.

“India is beyond statement, for anything you say, the opposite is also true. It’s rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, and smart but stupid. It’s all the extremes. India defies understanding,” 

Sarah Macdonald, Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

At the same time of being a turn off the country itself, the people she encountered along the way were colorful and interesting. Learning about their culture and how they hold values so different from our own. Sarah also spotlighted the issues involved with family tradition and the treatment of women in the country, quite graphically at times painting a harsh world that is India.

On the latter part of the book Sara seemed to pursue the supermarket that is religion in India. She paints India as a diverse and accepting culture. At this point the book has a turn of pace and the story slows down but becomes very insightful into the different beliefs around the country. And even a surprisingly different look at how they handle religions like Christianity in a non western Holy Cow An Indian Adventuretraditional way.  Despite the pace of the story slowing down, I felt I learned some new facts about different religions. Sarah does not dive deep into each one but gives cliff notes on what she learned.  

At this point in the story Sarah starts to turn from being a snide observer into a vested traveler and reaches out to learn about the different aspects of Indian culture and comes to appreciate India for it’s uniqueness. Despite it’s flaws, there are beautiful people and beautiful stories to behold.

Despite my criticism of these aspects of the novel it was still a very interesting read. Do I feel the author was a bit jaded on her view of India? Yes, but she also had valid points and did a wonderful job painting a picture of India from her view as an Australian born reporter following her fiance and her dreams. It is important to take her views of India with a grain of salt, as it was based in 2001, and I think it is fair a lot of things have changed in the world since then just like her views evolved within the book.

Do I recommend the book? Short answer, yes. I thought Holy Cow An Indian Adventure it was a great insight into how one experience culture shock and how she grows and in the end, loves the country she once despised. I think it painted an interesting picture of India and despite turning me off from her version, it has inspired me to look into how the country has changed in the past 16 years.   
You can pick up this book on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback  by following my affiliate link: AMAZON: HOLY COW AN INDIAN ADVENTURE, or you can check out if it is available at your local library to borrow like I did.