on 1 August 2000
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.
on 12 January 2012
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.
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.
on 16 October 2013
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)