The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure

The elevator door opens. A cow stands inside, angled diagonally to fit. It doesn’t look uncomfortable, merely impatient. “It is for the housewarming ceremony on the third floor,” explains the woman who stands behind the cow, holding it loosely with a rope. She has the sheepish look of a person caught in a strange situation who is trying to act as normal as possible. She i...

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Title:The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure
Author:Shoba Narayan
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure Reviews

  • Karen

    **Note: I received a free ebook copy of The Milk Lady of Bangalore in from NetGalley in exchange for a review.**

    **Spoilers ahead.**

    Through the theme of milk, author Shoba Narayan unexpectedly brings together aspects of modern India that I've never encountered in other works. And I say this as someone who briefly lived in India and who reads a great amount of Indian literature.

    This story spans a number of years after Narayan and her husband, both Indians who lived in the United States for decade

    **Note: I received a free ebook copy of The Milk Lady of Bangalore in from NetGalley in exchange for a review.**

    **Spoilers ahead.**

    Through the theme of milk, author Shoba Narayan unexpectedly brings together aspects of modern India that I've never encountered in other works. And I say this as someone who briefly lived in India and who reads a great amount of Indian literature.

    This story spans a number of years after Narayan and her husband, both Indians who lived in the United States for decades, returned to live in India with their children. Narayan found an unexpected -- there's that word again -- world through her connection with her neighborhood milk seller, Sarala. Sarala frequently offered Narayan experiences such as gathering grasses and herbs for her cattle to eat, visiting the cattle markets with her, and exploring the worlds of commercial versus independent milk production. Narayan took her up on these offers. Her book also delves into numerous societal factors that tie in with milk -- often unexpectedly. For example, families find unexpected divides between those who are open to cattle-based alternative medicine and those who are not. Narayan often takes what seem to be tiny details of the story and opens them up into enlightening, engaging stories.

    None of this expresses the sheer exuberance of The Milk Lady of Bangalore. What I really loved about this book was its glimpses into many scenes of Indian society that I hadn't seen before -- for example, watching dust tint the sunset as millions of cattle come home to their calves every night at milking time in villages across India. I also loved Narayan's willingness to take up Sarala's offers of any and all experiences available to her.

    If you're at all interested in India, take the plunge. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is well worth the read.

  • Lee

    The price of milk, the price of cows, and the price of friendship, all are suberbly explored in this book. Some basis in fact, I believe, and Ms. Nayaran’s mischievious sense of humor enlivens the narrative. Her research regarding the customs and traditions about cows, languages, and other ‘only in India’ information was a great plus. I thought the first half of the book could have been tightened a bit so a 4.5 rather than a solid 5. Heartily recommend.

  • Beth Ann

    This was a delightful read! The cow in the elevator reminded me of baby camels in the back of a pickup I saw in Saudi Arabia. Ms Narayan has one foot in the States and one in India. That coupled with her language skills allow a glimpse into Indian life that one would never get just from visiting. She also generously sprinkles historical and cultural nuggets into the story to make it even more interesting.

    This book is about cows but really so much more. It is about family, friendship, religion an

    This was a delightful read! The cow in the elevator reminded me of baby camels in the back of a pickup I saw in Saudi Arabia. Ms Narayan has one foot in the States and one in India. That coupled with her language skills allow a glimpse into Indian life that one would never get just from visiting. She also generously sprinkles historical and cultural nuggets into the story to make it even more interesting.

    This book is about cows but really so much more. It is about family, friendship, religion and our relationship with our animals. We may keep cats and dogs in our homes but the cow also enjoys a place in the daily life in India, even in the city. Our differences may be ironic and funny but at the end of the day we have the same problems of daily life.

  • Nicole Means

    Wow! “The Milk Lady if Bangalore” transported me back to 2010 when I had the pleasure of spending over a week in Bangalore. I only wish this book had been written then because the author provides so much insight into the ubiquitous cow found on the streets of Bangalore. Upon first spotting the cow, the tourist can be found staring with his/her mouth agape, but after several days, the cow is such a “normal” part of Bangalore, that the tourist barely notices. Narayan’s writing is truly exquisite o

    Wow! “The Milk Lady if Bangalore” transported me back to 2010 when I had the pleasure of spending over a week in Bangalore. I only wish this book had been written then because the author provides so much insight into the ubiquitous cow found on the streets of Bangalore. Upon first spotting the cow, the tourist can be found staring with his/her mouth agape, but after several days, the cow is such a “normal” part of Bangalore, that the tourist barely notices. Narayan’s writing is truly exquisite overloading all of the reader’s senses through her vivid style. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the role of the cow in Hinduism!

  • Kate Olson

    Some books enter into my life for the simple purpose of making me a more informed world citizen, and I am all for that. However, THE MILK LADY OF BANGALORE 100% did that, but also did the almost impossible and utterly charmed and entertained me at the same time. Narayan has taken a topic that seems to be incredibly simple (the life of the milk lady across the street from her apartment building), and has woven it into not just a rich look at life in modern India, but also a compassionate and lovi

    Some books enter into my life for the simple purpose of making me a more informed world citizen, and I am all for that. However, THE MILK LADY OF BANGALORE 100% did that, but also did the almost impossible and utterly charmed and entertained me at the same time. Narayan has taken a topic that seems to be incredibly simple (the life of the milk lady across the street from her apartment building), and has woven it into not just a rich look at life in modern India, but also a compassionate and loving tale of one family's life and livelihood, as well as a well-researched and fascinating account of the role of the cow and milk in Indian culture throughout history. And not just that - she wrote all of this in a fast-paced and addictive style, from her unique perspective of being born in India, living in the US for 20 years and then returning to India as an adult with her family.

    As a lifelong Wisconsin resident, and a cow-landlord for 6 months out of the year, I thought I knew pretty much what I needed to know about these giant animals. But no. No, I didn't. Narayan has made me desperately want to travel to India ASAP to see for myself the differences between desi cows and imported hybrids. And taste packet milk versus fresh milk sold on the street. I want to see a cow shelter and I want to donate a cow to a Brahmin. This book is one I will truly never forget, and its gift of the cow urine anecdotes will give me something to bring up in awkwardly silent social gatherings for years and years to come.

    If you read one nonfiction book in 2018, make it this one. And then PLEASE be in touch so we can talk about that cow urine. Please?

    Thanks to Algonquin Books for the complimentary review copy of this title - all opinions are my own.

  • Rana

    Dude. Who knew cows could be so fucking fascinating? I spent almost as much time googling images of native Indian cows as I did reading. A near perfect blend of memoir and cultural and historical facts.

  • Diane S ☔

    Moving back to India, after twenty years in the states, the first thing Shoba encounters is a woman with a cow, in the elevator of the apartment building in which she and her family are moving. This is her first introduction to Sarala who will soon be her introduction to all things cow.

    Who would ever think a book about cows, their urine and dung, their milk and the benefits from drinking it straight from said cow, to be so fascinating? Yet,I was, I loved this story, loved the people in it, and

    Moving back to India, after twenty years in the states, the first thing Shoba encounters is a woman with a cow, in the elevator of the apartment building in which she and her family are moving. This is her first introduction to Sarala who will soon be her introduction to all things cow.

    Who would ever think a book about cows, their urine and dung, their milk and the benefits from drinking it straight from said cow, to be so fascinating? Yet,I was, I loved this story, loved the people in it, and loved reading about the vibrant and colorful country of India. The importance of cows in the Indian culture, and how this came to be. The many uses of cow urine and dung. So much about their culture, their traditions, and the importance of family. So yes, it is about cows, but it encompasses so much more.

    Loved the friendly tone, like the writer is talking to you, explaining to you. Not at all snooty, just wanting to learn, understand, and embrace all that she can. Also explains some of the differences between those who hold with the old traditions, and the young people who now want to be modern. Generational gap. So friendship, family, and cows. Loved it!

  • Virginia Myers

    This book was not what I expected. I saw in Book Browse that it was categorized as a "biography/memoir" and I somehow expected something different than what this book turned out to be. I thought it would be more of the typical type of memoir about some part of the author's life with a little informative data about Indian cows. It turned out to mostly about milk and cows interwoven into a little bit of the typical memoir type stuff.

    I did enjoy reading the assortment of experiences that the autho

    This book was not what I expected. I saw in Book Browse that it was categorized as a "biography/memoir" and I somehow expected something different than what this book turned out to be. I thought it would be more of the typical type of memoir about some part of the author's life with a little informative data about Indian cows. It turned out to mostly about milk and cows interwoven into a little bit of the typical memoir type stuff.

    I did enjoy reading the assortment of experiences that the author had as she befriended the lady from whom she bought milk every day and I learned a whole lot about cows and their by-products, e.g. urine and "poop".

    By the time I reached the end of the book, however, I was suffering from an overload of information about such things as which type of cow provides the best milk and other previously unknown facts and figures about cows in general and Indian cows in particular.

    So now comes the question: Would I recommend this book? It may be sort of a cop-out, but I will put it this way: If you are interested in learning some interesting facts about the life of a cow in India, then I think this is surely the book for you. Or, if you are the type of person who just enjoys reading non-fiction books that can add to your overall knowledge on different subjects, then I think you might want to add this to your list. If, however, you have no reason to want to learn more about customs and mores of the cow culture of India, I am not sure this is the book for you.

    I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a result of the BookBrowse.com ‘s e First Impression program.

  • Jess Johnson

    Not my cup of

    cow urine.

    There were parts of this book I found delightful -- particularly the insight into Indian culture both past and present. That said, I found the narrator problematic. It felt like she couldn't decide if she or the milk lady were the protagonist and she ended up keeping both subjects at arm's length. We only really get close to her with

    which felt really out of place from the rest.

    Shoba's interactions with her environ

    Not my cup of

    cow urine.

    There were parts of this book I found delightful -- particularly the insight into Indian culture both past and present. That said, I found the narrator problematic. It felt like she couldn't decide if she or the milk lady were the protagonist and she ended up keeping both subjects at arm's length. We only really get close to her with

    which felt really out of place from the rest.

    Shoba's interactions with her environment were strange for me. I felt like she had a distance from her subject that at times reminded me of an awkward 'eat pray love' which, if she weren't from India, would seem almost like cultural appropriation to me. That said, I felt towards the end she started to not just observe but live in the culture and it definitely picked up for me so I'm glad I finished. I just wasn't sure the end was worth the first half of the book.

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