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Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India

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Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India Cover

ISBN13: 9781400067862
ISBN10: 1400067863
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When twentysomething reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her job in New York City and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country. What she quickly learns in Delhi about renting an apartment as a single woman—it’s next to impossible—and the proper way for women in India to ride scooters—perched sideways—are early signs that life here is less Westernized than she’d counted on.

Living in Delhi for more than five years, and finding a city pulsing with possibility and hope, Kennedy experiences friendships, love affairs, and losses that open a window onto the opaque world of Indian politics and culture—and alter her own attitudes about everything from food and clothes to marriage and family. Along the way, Kennedy is drawn into the lives of several Indian women, including her charismatic friend Geeta—a self-described “modern girl” who attempts to squeeze herself into the traditional role of wife and mother; Radha, a proud Brahmin widow who denies herself simple pleasures in order to live by high-caste Hindu principles; and Parvati, who defiantly chain-smokes and drinks whiskey, yet feels compelled to keep her boyfriend a secret from her family.

In her effort to understand the hopes and dreams that motivate her new friends, Kennedy peels back India’s globalized image as a land of call centers and fast-food chains and finds an ancient place where, in many ways, women’s lives have scarcely changed for centuries. Incisive, witty, and written with a keen eye for the lush vibrancy of the country that Kennedy comes to love, Sideways on a Scooter is both a remarkable memoir and a cultural revelation.

Review:

"Abandoning New York, 20-something freelance writer Kennedy embarks on a trip to India, and ends up staying for five years. She leads readers on a sensual and smart voyage, sharing her insights on food, culture, Bollywood (what she sees as medieval morality plays), and the multiple rigors of daily life. Kennedy constructs her story around the lives of the women in her life, while simultaneously reflecting upon her own fractured personal and professional circumstances. She discusses the devoted yet at times strained relationship with her servants (Radha, a poor Brahmin, and Manheesh, a member of the sweeper caste) as well as the hurdles faced by her two single middle-class girlfriends, dealing with India's conservative, family-centric culture. Kennedy dives into such topics such as the lingering caste system, extreme poverty, the byzantine relationships between the sexes, and the pressure on women to marry and have children. She zigzags agilely between these women's stories and her own, shedding an intimate light on life in a rapidly developing but at times unchanging India. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Miranda Kennedy was a New Delhi-based correspondent for American Public Media's Marketplace and National Public Radio for five years. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Nation, and on Slate. Before moving to India, Kennedy worked as a magazine editor and a public radio reporter in New York, where she covered, among other things, the September 11 attacks. She moved to Washington, D.C., to work as an editor at National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and returns frequently to India.

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Gypsi, March 8, 2011 (view all comments by Gypsi)
(Review based on reading ARC.)

Miranda Kennedy quits her NPR job and moves from NYC to Delhi to be a freelance reporter, expecting a grand adventure in the footsteps of her parents and great-aunt. She isn't expecting to find that certain things, taken for granted in the U.S., will be difficult for a single woman. Sideways on a Scooter is Kennedy's recounting of those difficulties, as well as the difficulties she sees women native to India experience. She tells of close friendships she makes, of her observations of the dating and marriage experiences of her friends, of the life experiences of her servants and of some of the things she learned as a result of living in India.

Sideways on a Scooter sounds wonderful when put briefly like that, and it should have been a excellent book, as all the elements of a fantastic memoir were present. Unfortunately, Kennedy's narrative style failed her and the story is instead chapters comprised of a messy conglomeration of her surprisingly intolerant opinions, rambling retellings of India's history and her anecdotes, the three of which rarely seem to connect together. When writing about her experiences she has an unsettling way of crossing from the first person point of view into an omnipotent story teller as she tells parts of her story that she really couldn't have known at that time. I gathered, at the end of the book, that perhaps she went back later and interviewed the people in question as to what they were thinking and feeling at the time. This is mere speculation on my part, though, and even if that were certain knowledge, it would do little to alleviate the awkward storytelling style.

In addition, she tended to flip-flop between various time periods in her life in Delhi within a chapter, making for confusion to the reader. Again, as with the history and opinions, these various episodes rarely tied-in together by the end of the chapter, so the point of it is uncertain.

Despite the unprofessional writing style, Kennedy's experiences were very interesting, and I did want to read them, did want to know what happened to her various friends and acquaintances. It's for that reason I give this book two stars. This book would have been unimaginably better had Kennedy stuck to only her experiences there and left out her attempts at history, current events and op-eds, which only made her appear like a spoiled American complaining about a country that is different from her own. Kennedy would have benefited from a reliable editor or pre-reader with the honesty to point out these things. As it stands, Sideways on a Scooter is a poorly written memoir and I would advise fellow readers to give it a miss.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400067862
Author:
Kennedy, Miranda
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
Delhi (India) Description and travel.
Subject:
Delhi (India) Social life and customs.
Subject:
Women's Studies - General
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Biography-Women
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20110431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 in 1.2188 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Women
Featured Titles » Foreign Language and Travel
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
Travel » Travel Writing » Asia
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India Used Hardcover
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$17.95 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Random House - English 9781400067862 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Abandoning New York, 20-something freelance writer Kennedy embarks on a trip to India, and ends up staying for five years. She leads readers on a sensual and smart voyage, sharing her insights on food, culture, Bollywood (what she sees as medieval morality plays), and the multiple rigors of daily life. Kennedy constructs her story around the lives of the women in her life, while simultaneously reflecting upon her own fractured personal and professional circumstances. She discusses the devoted yet at times strained relationship with her servants (Radha, a poor Brahmin, and Manheesh, a member of the sweeper caste) as well as the hurdles faced by her two single middle-class girlfriends, dealing with India's conservative, family-centric culture. Kennedy dives into such topics such as the lingering caste system, extreme poverty, the byzantine relationships between the sexes, and the pressure on women to marry and have children. She zigzags agilely between these women's stories and her own, shedding an intimate light on life in a rapidly developing but at times unchanging India. (May)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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