Holy Cow!

Holy Cow! : An Indian Adventure

3.54 (16,946 ratings by Goodreads)
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After backpacking her way around India, 21-year-old Sarah Macdonald decided that she hated this land of chaos and contradiction with a passion, and when an airport beggar read her palm and insisted she would come back one day - and for love - she vowed never to return.

But twelve years later the prophecy comes true when her partner, ABC's South Asia correspondent, is posted to New Delhi, the most polluted city on earth. Having given up a blossoming radio career in Sydney to follow her new boyfriend to India, it seems like the ultimate sacrifice and it almost kills Sarah - literally. After being cursed by a sadhu smeared in human ashes, she nearly dies from double pneumonia. It's enough to send a rapidly balding atheist on a wild rollercoaster ride through India's many religions in search of the meaning of life and death.

From the 'brain enema' of a meditation retreat in Dharamsala to the biggest Hindu festival on earth on the steps of the Ganges in Varanasi, and with the help of the Dalai Lama, a goddess of healing hugs and a couple of Bollywood stars - among many, many others - Sarah discovers a hell of a lot more.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 127 x 198 x 20mm | 220g
  • Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0
  • 9780553816013
  • 22,736

Review Text

Sarah Macdonald pays up in the spiritual mega-market... Raunchy religion with redemption on the side
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Review quote

Funny, touching and addictive * More * British images of India are invariably filtered through the apologetic hangover of the Raj or the ganja whiff of the hippy trail. In this refreshingly cliche-free and highly readable memoir, we are given a blunter, Australian view... frequently wry and thoughtful * Daily Telegraph * Refreshingly ambivilent about the country's so-called charms. Part travelogue, part life-changing odyssey, part love story * The Scotsman * Kathy Lette meets Tom Robbins on a slow train to Varanasi with Bill Bryson supplying the onion bhajis... Very, very funny. Sarah MacDonald captures everything that is frustrating, infuriating and exhilarating about India and presents it in an irresistible package. Will make even the most die-hard atheist want to don a sari and go on a spiritual journey -- Peter Moore Sarah Macdonald pays up in the spiritual mega-market... Raunchy religion with redemption on the side -- Justine Hardy, author of Bollywood Boy
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About Sarah MacDonald

Sarah Macdonald is a journalist and radio broadcaster who lives in Sydney with her husband, ABC journalist Jonathan Harley, and their baby daughter Georgina. HOLY COW! is her first book.
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Rating details

16,946 ratings
3.54 out of 5 stars
5 21% (3,476)
4 33% (5,567)
3 31% (5,273)
2 11% (1,832)
1 5% (798)

Our customer reviews

Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure is the first book by Australian journalist, author and radio presenter, Sarah MacDonald. In 1999 Macdonald left Triple J to live in India with her husband (ABC foreign correspondent Jonathan Harley), and stayed for two years, exploring the country, its people and religions. After a brush with mortality, MacDonald felt the need to seek answers and so began examining the various religions to be found in India. She looks at Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam, Judaism, Jainism and Christianity, and gives a little explanation of each as she does so. Along the way she encountered swamis, gurus, prophets, living gods, priests, pundits, sufis, lamas, devis and devotees, servants, saints, tourists, actors, diplomats, bureaucrats, and a laugh club. She endured hair loss, a dip in the Ganges, double pneumonia, twenty-one different types of mutton, a silent retreat, groping and leering, smog, power cuts and intense summer heat. MacDonald made girlfriends, learned Hindi and Bollywood dancing, visited temples and shrines, attended festivals, feasts and weddings and visited Pakistan. She concluded that "India is the land of the profound and the profane; a place where spirituality and sanctimoniousness sit miles apart. I've learned much from the land of many gods and many ways of worship." In this look at modern-day India from the perspective of an Aussie female journalist, MacDonald is often amusing, sometimes shallow, occasionally naïve, at times insightful and always injecting a good dose of cynicism into her observations of this fascinating culture.show more
by Marianne Vincent
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