Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
by Sarah Macdonald

Bantam Books, 2002. ISBN 0767915747.
Reviewed by Mary Welker-Haddock
Posted on 07/07/2004

Memoir; Travel/Adventure

"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." This quote by Miriam Beard on June 21, 2004, in Women's Wise Words motivated me to write a review of Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah McDonald.

Sarah McDonald is an Australian journalist who first visited India in her early twenties. As she was leaving the country, an old soothsayer grabbed her hand and predicted:"You, madam, you come back to India, you come for love, you love it, love us again." As the plane takes off, Sarah says out the plane window, "Good-bye and good riddance, India, I hate you, and I'm never, never, never, ever coming back."

Eleven years later, Sarah returns to India to be with the love of her life. In her forthright, humorous style, the author shares with us many of her incredulous encounters with modern-day India. The titles of the chapters hint at Sarah's humor--Death, Rebirth and Sputum; Insane in the Membrane; Sikhing the Holy Hair.

More than just an original and observant travel log, this is a book about the confrontation and transformation India presents to a witty Westerner. India challenges Sarah's health, her self-esteem, her disdain for spirituality, and her relationships with her husband, her own country and the greater spectrum of nationality and culture. India sends Sarah back to her beloved Australia a richer, more spiritual and insightful woman.

The dedication of the book, "To my mum and dad for having me, To Jonathan for taking me, and To India for making me," speaks to all of us who have gone places we never intended to go and been transformed by the experience. It acknowledges the tremendous roles that our past, our families and those who travel with us play in this transformation.

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