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Desert Places [Hardcover]

Robyn Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 May 1996
The Rebari are a nomadic tribe in India's Thar Desert. Like nomads everywhere, the Rebari are being forced into accepting a more sedentary life. Their traditional trading and pilgrimage routes have been transected by borders and canals or blocked by atomic bomb testing sites and irrigated farm lands. But once a year, they arrive in Pushkar, partly as a pilgrimmage to bathe in the most sacred lake in India, partly to buy and sell their animals, partly to enjoy the biggest annual fair in Asia. Robyn Davidson crossed the pathless Thar Desert with the Rebari. Interwoven with the journey of the Rebari is the story of Minu, a highly spirited upperclass Indian woman, forced into an arranged marriage with the ex-king of Ghanerao, locked up in the women's quarters of the palace and subject both to the strict laws of Purdah and to psychological warfare with her in-laws.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (30 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670840777
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670840779
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 15.5 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 255,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the synopsis! 11 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The synopsis makes this author sound like some sort of half-wit, annoyed because living with Tribal people wasn't like a tourist hotel! Not a bit of it. What it should say is "Robyn Davidson expected the lives of the Rabari to be hard, but found them even more grindingly impossible than she'd expected". India can hit a white woman like a shovel between the eyes, and this book conveys all this very well. Davidson has the guts to stick out the difficulties and finds her place with India and the people she lives with. The anger, frustration and joy of travelling in this area come over clearly, and she describes the problems of poverty and vanishing resources with painful accuracy.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excruciating 10 May 2009
Format:Paperback
I read a lot and have never felt the need to write a review or post online about anything. However, this diary of a whining, spineless "traveller" (ha ha ha) just forced me to post something. Synopsis: "oh poor me they don't speak English and I didn't think to learn anything before", "oh poor me they are so poor and not nice, i thought they would all dance a lot and teach me things if I let them carry my bags for long enough" "did i mention my bags? or me? or how hard this is for me? or me?" etc etc etc.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tough book 21 Mar 2000
By saliero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ms Davidson is a tough woman, who for some reason sees the need to put herself into the most excrutiatingly isolating situations.
I found the book fascinating, and was overwhelmed at times by the sense of being so alone within a country where there is the most confronting closeness of human being with human being. This is an India I know i would not be equipped to deal with.
i was a bit critical of her at first that she always had her friend, the wealthy Indian upon whom to fall back, but I doubt whether she would have been able to approach completion of her task without him. The need to retreat every so often from the sheer hard grind of trying to accomplish the task she set herself. I know i would have had to find a 5 star, deep-bath resort long before Davidson welcomed the comfort of a barely basic hotel room with hot water!
The lives of the rabbari as presented to us through Davidson's eyes (and god knows they are hardly likely to be presented any other way!) is fascinating. I know the attraction of the 'exotic' can lead to patronising people, but davidson never does that, and does not allow her (dare i suggest, midle class, western, educated?) readership to get too comfortable with their own views of the world.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ex-pat review 30 Aug 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I spent 2 years in India in the late 90s and this book began making its' way around the ex-pat crowd in the middle of my stay there. The word of mouth reviews were universally positive. While most of us didn't go through the extreme day to day challenges Ms. Davidson put herself through, we went through enough to completely empathize with her plights. Her eloquent descriptions of the often unending and unyielding discomforts imposed by India while, at the same time, it also offered the visitor delights and experiences you can't find anywhere else was simply spot-on. I recommend this book to anyone who truly enjoys travels and the self-reflection afforded through trips that take them out of their comfort zones.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruelling,gripping account of travels with Indian nomads 3 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is no dazzle-eyed account of the beauty and exoticism of India. Davidson writes beautifully about often ugly subjects; the harshness of the Rabari life, the pervasive corruption of Indian society, the squalor of rural poverty. She alternates between loving and hating India; admiring the tough spirit of the people she travels with; despairing of the rigid caste system that perpetuates inequality and injustice, heartsick of being stared at and followed and treated like an alien. This book is not always an easy read, but it is always fascinating, and you cannot help admire the indomitable spirit of its author.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unparalleled 28 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the most honest, earthy, exhilarating account of an expedition that I've ever come upon. In a sense, I've seen more of Rajasthan through Davidson's story than during my own brief treck into the Thar.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent read 27 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is one of those rare travel books that not only enthrall you, but has the rare quality of making the reader burst out laughing. Some of what I find humorous maybe because I am Indian, and find Ms. Davidson's honesty very entertaining. She is a tough woman, who has done things which most middle class Indian cannot even dream of doing, and her views on the political situation in India, may be annoying to some arm chair revolutionaries, but are none the less true. Her India is as exotic as anything you will find in National Geographic, but her colors show more then yellow saffron crops and red dyed cotton scarves, it also show the filth of uncovered sewage.
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