Monday, September 19, 2011

Book Review: Sideways on a Scooter

I am signed up for the Duluth Public Library's Daily Book Review (click here to see the categories you can sign up for). I receive a book review every day by email and if I like the look of it I can go on line and request the book to be held for me. When the book is in, they send me an email and I have a week to pick it up. The DPL is the best!

Anyway, "Sideways on a Scooter ~ Life and Love in India" piqued my interest and I requested it (but not quick enough - at least 4 people were in line before me). This book is a memoir of/by Miranda Kennedy in the years she worked as a foreign correspondent out of India.

I guess I was expecting something more romantic and "happy ending" - more like "Eat, Pray, Love." But what I got was the gritty truth about the enigma that is India. Kennedy explores race and class/caste issues in depth and left me feeling quite uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of yoga and yoga's origins. Kennedy does not even explore yoga (well, there is a Women's Fitness Center where there is a yoga class but the women really just go to the center to socialize and get away from the prying eyes of men), but I am struck by the "all people are equal and we are all divine" message of Western yoga and the reality she saw of complete caste inequality; of Indians purposely keeping the castes in place and being happy about it; of women purposely keeping other women down. Ms. Kennedy does a great job of diving in to Indian culture and helping us understand it. She appears to be very uncomfortable in her situation but she sticks it out, learns, and shares her learning with us.

I am still reeling from the book which to me says that this is one we all should read - especially if we have a romanticized notion of the roots of yoga, which apparently I do since I am stunned by the book.

1 comment:

Lisa B. Minn said...

Thank you for writing this review. I think it is important that we do not romanticize other religions or cultures, especially when we reject our own. I had a similar feeling when I stayed at a Buddhist temple in Korea. (The Buddhists were not all perfectly kind, happy, blissed-out people. Shocking, right?!) We have a lot we can learn from all religious traditions, including the ones we grew up with but it is important to see the dark side as well as the good.