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Karma Cola [Paperback]

Gita Mehta
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 July 1990
A wry account, by an Indian, of the quest for spiritual enlightenment that caused many people from the consumer societies of the West to go to India and seek fulfiment in the teachings and practices of Hinduism. Gita Mehta is also the author of 'Raj'. 'The scintillating flurry of anecdotes through which Gita Mehta describes the fools, knaves, wretches and occasional genuine sage she finds on the modern spiritual paths is no less formidable than the old one-two of the Zen masters. Karma Cola is a highly entertaining account of the consumerist West struggling to gobble up Hinduism, and choking itself in the process'. The Listener.


Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Minerva; New edition edition (5 July 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749390697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749390693
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A witty documentary satire.... Mehta embraces an enormous variety of life and death. Her style is light without being flip; her skepticism never descends to cynicism. [Karma Cola is] a miracle of rationalism and taste." -- Time Sometime in the 1960s, the West adopted India as its newest spiritual resort. The next anyone knew, the Beatles were squatting at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Expatriate hippies were turning on entire villages to the pleasures of group sex and I.V. drug use. And Indians who were accustomed to earning enlightenment the old-fashioned way were finding that the visitors wanted their Nirvana now -- and that plenty of native gurus were willing to deliver it. No one has observed the West's invasion of India more astutely than Gita Mehta. In Karma Cola the acclaimed novelist trains an unblinking journalistic eye on jaded sadhus and beatific acid burnouts, the Bhagwan and Allen Ginsberg, guilt-tripping English girls and a guru who teaches gullible tourists how to view their previous incarnations. Brilliantly irreverent, hilarious, sobering, and wise, Mehta's book is the definitive epitaph for the era of spiritual tourism and all its casualties -- both Eastern and Western. "Evelyn Waugh would have rejoiced." -- The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

In addition to her books Karma Cola, Raj, A River Sutra and Snakes and Ladders, Gita Metha has written articles for a number of Indian, European and American magazines, and filmed documetaries for European and American television. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and published in twenty-seven countries. She lives in New York, London and India.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I read this book when I was living in India and found its observations were bang on. It is full of tales of East meets West, East clashes with West, West tries to adopt and adapt to East etc, etc. Although Mehta does a pretty good job at giving a balanced view-point, herself having experienced a complete mixture of Eastern and Western cultures, she tends to fall on the side of the sub-continent, possible because Westerners there do tend to do daft things. Anyone travelling to India, or interested in culture clashes of any sort, should get this book. It should really be THE ubiquitous book about the travelling scene (in the way, say, The Beach has been). But then again, it is not as populist - and is far more intelligent - than that book was.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Sweet Lord ! V. S. Naipaul's funny sister. 18 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
This lady can write! She writes as good as V. S. Naipaul in describing the behaviour of higher primates and the phalanx of mediocrity we call `the masses'. Only yesterday, I watched a Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison, on BBC 2, and it showed an Indian guru telling his followers, one was George, to worship a particular colour, and that they were this hue or that shade of colour and if they accept his technocolour prognosis, then they will oscillate into the world spirit blah blah,, and also, they must also repeat a mantra a thousand times and, more impressively, he kept a straight face. Instead of rolling his eyeballs, George Harrison felt much better and so did the other devotees! This book is full of comedy scenes like the above, but told much better than my lazy effort. Karma Cola conveys human folly better than a dry psychology book, because Gita Mehta is not just a great writer, but she can turn the most tragic farce into a divine comedy.

Karma Cola is a real taste of India and silly people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun to read 2 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Interesting observation of cultural superimposition without any clue as to what the other culture really means, great read, worth reading
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Format:Paperback
An interesting, if somewhat disorganized, string of anecdotes about the strange ways in which Western materialism and Indian spirituality meet. In fact it is often spiritual Westerners who meet Indian materialists, who make fun and take advantage of them! Too many in the West think of India as if it were still living in the times of the Veda, which it most certainy is not!

On p. 101 she sums it up well: "for us [in India] eternal life is death ... no more being born again to endure life again to die again. Yet people come in ever-increasing numbers to India to be born again with the conviction that it their rebirth they will learn to live."

Easy travel and cheap communication is perhaps making East and West switch their roles in our global minds? Or perhaps in a globalized world there is no more difference between East and West, and we can try to be what we choose to be.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Packaging not as requested. 16 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book arrived quick and is in perfect condition.

I did however ask that the book not be packaged in unnecassary plastic, but it was. So now there is another piece of plastic pollution, that was not needed or wanted floating around the planet till the end of time. (plastic can not be recycled)
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