The Milk Lady of Bangalore
The elevator door opens. A cow stands inside, angled diagonally to fit. It doesn’t look uncomfortable, merely impatient. “It is for the housewarming ceremony on the third floor,” explains the woman who stands behind the cow, holding it loosely with a rope. She has the sheepish look of a person caught in a strange situation who is trying to act as normal as possible. She introduces herself as Sarala and smiles reassuringly. The door closes. I shake my head and suppress a grin. It is good to be back. When Shoba Narayan—who has just returned to India with her husband and two daughters after years in the United States—asks whether said cow might bless her apartment next, it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between our author and Sarala, who also sells fresh milk right across the street from that thoroughly modern apartment building. The two women connect over not only cows but also family, food, and life. When Shoba agrees to buy Sarala a new cow, they set off looking for just the right heifer, and what was at first a simple economic transaction becomes something much deeper, though never without a hint of slapstick.The Milk Lady of Bangalore immerses us in the culture, customs, myths, religion, sights, and sounds of a city in which the twenty-first century and the ancient past coexist like nowhere else in the world. It’s a true story of bridging divides, of understanding other ways of looking at the world, and of human connections and animal connections, and it’s an irresistible adventure of two strong women and the animals they love.

The Milk Lady of Bangalore Details

TitleThe Milk Lady of Bangalore
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherAlgonquin Books
ISBN-139781616206154
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Cultural, India, Travel, Animals, Biography Memoir

The Milk Lady of Bangalore Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Moving back to India, after twenty years in the states, the first thing Shoba encounters is a woman with a cow, in the elevator of the apartment building in which she and her family are moving. This is her first introduction to Sarala who will soon be her introduction to all things cow. Who would ever think a book about cows, their urine and dung, their milk and the benefits from drinking it straight from said cow, to be so fascinating? Yet,I was, I loved this story, loved the people in it, and Moving back to India, after twenty years in the states, the first thing Shoba encounters is a woman with a cow, in the elevator of the apartment building in which she and her family are moving. This is her first introduction to Sarala who will soon be her introduction to all things cow. Who would ever think a book about cows, their urine and dung, their milk and the benefits from drinking it straight from said cow, to be so fascinating? Yet,I was, I loved this story, loved the people in it, and loved reading about the vibrant and colorful country of India. The importance of cows in the Indian culture, and how this came to be. The many uses of cow urine and dung. So much about their culture, their traditions, and the importance of family. So yes, it is about cows, but it encompasses so much more. Loved the friendly tone, like the writer is talking to you, explaining to you. Not at all snooty, just wanting to learn, understand, and embrace all that she can. Also explains some of the differences between those who hold with the old traditions, and the young people who now want to be modern. Generational gap. So friendship, family, and cows. Loved it!
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  • Kate Olson
    January 1, 1970
    Some books enter into my life for the simple purpose of making me a more informed world citizen, and I am all for that. However, THE MILK LADY OF BANGALORE 100% did that, but also did the almost impossible and utterly charmed and entertained me at the same time. Narayan has taken a topic that seems to be incredibly simple (the life of the milk lady across the street from her apartment building), and has woven it into not just a rich look at life in modern India, but also a compassionate and lovi Some books enter into my life for the simple purpose of making me a more informed world citizen, and I am all for that. However, THE MILK LADY OF BANGALORE 100% did that, but also did the almost impossible and utterly charmed and entertained me at the same time. Narayan has taken a topic that seems to be incredibly simple (the life of the milk lady across the street from her apartment building), and has woven it into not just a rich look at life in modern India, but also a compassionate and loving tale of one family's life and livelihood, as well as a well-researched and fascinating account of the role of the cow and milk in Indian culture throughout history. And not just that - she wrote all of this in a fast-paced and addictive style, from her unique perspective of being born in India, living in the US for 20 years and then returning to India as an adult with her family.As a lifelong Wisconsin resident, and a cow-landlord for 6 months out of the year, I thought I knew pretty much what I needed to know about these giant animals. But no. No, I didn't. Narayan has made me desperately want to travel to India ASAP to see for myself the differences between desi cows and imported hybrids. And taste packet milk versus fresh milk sold on the street. I want to see a cow shelter and I want to donate a cow to a Brahmin. This book is one I will truly never forget, and its gift of the cow urine anecdotes will give me something to bring up in awkwardly silent social gatherings for years and years to come.If you read one nonfiction book in 2018, make it this one. And then PLEASE be in touch so we can talk about that cow urine. Please?Thanks to Algonquin Books for the complimentary review copy of this title - all opinions are my own.
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  • Virginia Myers
    January 1, 1970
    This book was not what I expected. I saw in Book Browse that it was categorized as a "biography/memoir" and I somehow expected something different than what this book turned out to be. I thought it would be more of the typical type of memoir about some part of the author's life with a little informative data about Indian cows. It turned out to mostly about milk and cows interwoven into a little bit of the typical memoir type stuff. I did enjoy reading the assortment of experiences that the autho This book was not what I expected. I saw in Book Browse that it was categorized as a "biography/memoir" and I somehow expected something different than what this book turned out to be. I thought it would be more of the typical type of memoir about some part of the author's life with a little informative data about Indian cows. It turned out to mostly about milk and cows interwoven into a little bit of the typical memoir type stuff. I did enjoy reading the assortment of experiences that the author had as she befriended the lady from whom she bought milk every day and I learned a whole lot about cows and their by-products, e.g. urine and "poop".By the time I reached the end of the book, however, I was suffering from an overload of information about such things as which type of cow provides the best milk and other previously unknown facts and figures about cows in general and Indian cows in particular.So now comes the question: Would I recommend this book? It may be sort of a cop-out, but I will put it this way: If you are interested in learning some interesting facts about the life of a cow in India, then I think this is surely the book for you. Or, if you are the type of person who just enjoys reading non-fiction books that can add to your overall knowledge on different subjects, then I think you might want to add this to your list. If, however, you have no reason to want to learn more about customs and mores of the cow culture of India, I am not sure this is the book for you.I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review as a result of the BookBrowse.com ‘s e First Impression program.
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  • Lee
    January 1, 1970
    The price of milk, the price of cows, and the price of friendship, all are suberbly explored in this book. Some basis in fact, I believe, and Ms. Nayaran’s mischievious sense of humor enlivens the narrative. Her research regarding the customs and traditions about cows, languages, and other ‘only in India’ information was a great plus. I thought the first half of the book could have been tightened a bit so a 4.5 rather than a solid 5. Heartily recommend.
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  • Rana
    January 1, 1970
    Dude. Who knew cows could be so fucking fascinating? I spent almost as much time googling images of native Indian cows as I did reading. A near perfect blend of memoir and cultural and historical facts.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    **Note: I received a free ebook copy of The Milk Lady of Bangalore in from NetGalley in exchange for a review.****Spoilers ahead.**Through the theme of milk, author Shoba Narayan unexpectedly brings together aspects of modern India that I've never encountered in other works. And I say this as someone who briefly lived in India and who reads a great amount of Indian literature. This story spans a number of years after Narayan and her husband, both Indians who lived in the United States for decade **Note: I received a free ebook copy of The Milk Lady of Bangalore in from NetGalley in exchange for a review.****Spoilers ahead.**Through the theme of milk, author Shoba Narayan unexpectedly brings together aspects of modern India that I've never encountered in other works. And I say this as someone who briefly lived in India and who reads a great amount of Indian literature. This story spans a number of years after Narayan and her husband, both Indians who lived in the United States for decades, returned to live in India with their children. Narayan found an unexpected -- there's that word again -- world through her connection with her neighborhood milk seller, Sarala. Sarala frequently offered Narayan experiences such as gathering grasses and herbs for her cattle to eat, visiting the cattle markets with her, and exploring the worlds of commercial versus independent milk production. Narayan took her up on these offers. Her book also delves into numerous societal factors that tie in with milk -- often unexpectedly. For example, families find unexpected divides between those who are open to cattle-based alternative medicine and those who are not. Narayan often takes what seem to be tiny details of the story and opens them up into enlightening, engaging stories.None of this expresses the sheer exuberance of The Milk Lady of Bangalore. What I really loved about this book was its glimpses into many scenes of Indian society that I hadn't seen before -- for example, watching dust tint the sunset as millions of cattle come home to their calves every night at milking time in villages across India. I also loved Narayan's willingness to take up Sarala's offers of any and all experiences available to her. If you're at all interested in India, take the plunge. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is well worth the read.
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  • Jess Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Not my cup of tea cow urine. There were parts of this book I found delightful -- particularly the insight into Indian culture both past and present. That said, I found the narrator problematic. It felt like she couldn't decide if she or the milk lady were the protagonist and she ended up keeping both subjects at arm's length. We only really get close to her with (view spoiler)[the death of her dog (hide spoiler)] which felt really out of place from the rest. Shoba's interactions with her environ Not my cup of tea cow urine. There were parts of this book I found delightful -- particularly the insight into Indian culture both past and present. That said, I found the narrator problematic. It felt like she couldn't decide if she or the milk lady were the protagonist and she ended up keeping both subjects at arm's length. We only really get close to her with (view spoiler)[the death of her dog (hide spoiler)] which felt really out of place from the rest. Shoba's interactions with her environment were strange for me. I felt like she had a distance from her subject that at times reminded me of an awkward 'eat pray love' which, if she weren't from India, would seem almost like cultural appropriation to me. That said, I felt towards the end she started to not just observe but live in the culture and it definitely picked up for me so I'm glad I finished. I just wasn't sure the end was worth the first half of the book.
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  • Beth Ann
    January 1, 1970
    This was a delightful read! The cow in the elevator reminded me of baby camels in the back of a pickup I saw in Saudi Arabia. Ms Narayan has one foot in the States and one in India. That coupled with her language skills allow a glimpse into Indian life that one would never get just from visiting. She also generously sprinkles historical and cultural nuggets into the story to make it even more interesting.This book is about cows but really so much more. It is about family, friendship, religion an This was a delightful read! The cow in the elevator reminded me of baby camels in the back of a pickup I saw in Saudi Arabia. Ms Narayan has one foot in the States and one in India. That coupled with her language skills allow a glimpse into Indian life that one would never get just from visiting. She also generously sprinkles historical and cultural nuggets into the story to make it even more interesting.This book is about cows but really so much more. It is about family, friendship, religion and our relationship with our animals. We may keep cats and dogs in our homes but the cow also enjoys a place in the daily life in India, even in the city. Our differences may be ironic and funny but at the end of the day we have the same problems of daily life.
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  • Renée (bookishblissandbeauty)
    January 1, 1970
    *An advanced reader ebook copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*I loved reading Narayan's unique perspective on Indian culture. Though raised in India, Narayan spent 20 years in the U.S. before moving back with her husband and two children. Thus she can see Indian culture as both an insider and an outsider. I think this provides a great access point for readers like myself who are not Indian or Indian American. She can switch between her experiences as *An advanced reader ebook copy was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*I loved reading Narayan's unique perspective on Indian culture. Though raised in India, Narayan spent 20 years in the U.S. before moving back with her husband and two children. Thus she can see Indian culture as both an insider and an outsider. I think this provides a great access point for readers like myself who are not Indian or Indian American. She can switch between her experiences as a child in India to the Western influenced perspective from her time in the U.S.I love the cultural and historical tidbits provided throughout. Narayan seamlessly ties together her everyday interactions alongside the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas, and Ayurvedic medicine. I never thought I would read about cow excrement and urine let alone their alleged curative powers. Gomutra is the term refers to the usage of cow urine as a remedy for a number of ailments. Despite the odd sound to Western ears, it was fascinating to learn about Gomutra and other alternative remedies and Narayan handles it with both knowledge and a touch of humor. Not only does she provide information about Hindu principles and practices, Narayan introduces the reader to Sarala, her milk lady. Sarala and her family have several cows, which they milk and provide their customers with fresh raw milk. One of the most endearing parts of this book is the friendship that develops between the two women. Sarala teaches Narayan, and thus the reader, a lessons about live and cows.This booked sparked my interest in learning more about Indian culture and Hinduism. I love when a book makes you want to read even more books. I would highly recommend this fun, informative, and quick read!
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  • Nicole Means
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! “The Milk Lady if Bangalore” transported me back to 2010 when I had the pleasure of spending over a week in Bangalore. I only wish this book had been written then because the author provides so much insight into the ubiquitous cow found on the streets of Bangalore. Upon first spotting the cow, the tourist can be found staring with his/her mouth agape, but after several days, the cow is such a “normal” part of Bangalore, that the tourist barely notices. Narayan’s writing is truly exquisite o Wow! “The Milk Lady if Bangalore” transported me back to 2010 when I had the pleasure of spending over a week in Bangalore. I only wish this book had been written then because the author provides so much insight into the ubiquitous cow found on the streets of Bangalore. Upon first spotting the cow, the tourist can be found staring with his/her mouth agape, but after several days, the cow is such a “normal” part of Bangalore, that the tourist barely notices. Narayan’s writing is truly exquisite overloading all of the reader’s senses through her vivid style. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the role of the cow in Hinduism!
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  • Booknblues
    January 1, 1970
    What a true delight it was for me to read The Cows of Bangalore: Adventures with My Milk Lady by Shoba Narayan. It is the story of an American immigrant who returns to her home country of India in middle age with her husband and two daughters. It was an interesting and eye opening view of India, especially its relationship to cattle. Shoba is a well-to-do Indian who makes friends with a local milk lady, who she first meets when moving into her apartment:Inviting cows to warm houses is a traditio What a true delight it was for me to read The Cows of Bangalore: Adventures with My Milk Lady by Shoba Narayan. It is the story of an American immigrant who returns to her home country of India in middle age with her husband and two daughters. It was an interesting and eye opening view of India, especially its relationship to cattle. Shoba is a well-to-do Indian who makes friends with a local milk lady, who she first meets when moving into her apartment:Inviting cows to warm houses is a tradition that continues in India. Fitting one into an elevator is a creative take on it. The Hindi word for this is jugaad. Jugaad is makeshift ingenuity; improvisation; recycling, precycling, and upcycling; finding new uses for everyday objects—and for that matter, animals. Indians are masters at jugaad. It is the product of a resource-constrained culture. When you don’t have enough, you figure out how to make do. You tie empty Coke and Sprite bottles around your waist in order to float in the water; you line up tattered shoes as goalposts when you play football; and you figure out how to get an animal to the third floor.She quickly becomes intrigued with the cows, the milk lady and the idea of buying fresh milk. At first she is apprehensive about drinking fresh milk, but upon research, she feels compelled to try it. Soon it becomes part of her everyday life:The Indian food chain, even in busy urban cities, still links cows and humans. In my home, for instance, I boil cow’s milk every morning, then let the milk cool a little before scooping out the cream on top and setting the remainder into yogurt. I collect the cream for a week and then churn it to separate the butter from the buttermilk. I divide the butter into two parts: one for sweet cream butter to spread on my children’s toast and the other to boil into ghee or clarified butter. The whole thing is a painstaking process—a nuisance, really—but I do it. As do many of my neighbors. We set yogurt, churn butter and when needed, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the milk to curdle it into fresh paneer. Doing all this is a daily reminder of all we get from a cow, the giver of good things.This is really a memoir as it takes place over ten years of her life, but it does mostly inform us about cows and milk, while filling in information about her life and her relationship with her milk lady and her family.I found it intriguing being the daughter of a dairy farmer. Urban cows is an interesting idea, while we in America have adapted to the idea of urban chickens, I'm not sure we are ready for cows.Narayan's writing is informative, humorous and entertaining. Even those who find no interest in this topic, may ultimately find the book endearing. I encourage anyone interested to read it. I did however round it down because I felt it may not have universal appeal, but I may end up rounding it up.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting perspective and look at life in India via a journalist raised in India, who spent 20 years in America and then returned.
  • Hayley DeRoche
    January 1, 1970
    This book suffers from a few things.1. I *suspect* that Narayan got a book deal for this idea, and then had to follow through, because the relationship she has with Sarala seems so forced at times! It's not a friendship, it's a business relationship, but it always seems like Narayan wants it to be more than that. But then she pulls away, or Sarala pulls away. It's an awkward dance and it never quite falls into place, even at the end when the author is invited to the wedding of Sarala's son. It's This book suffers from a few things.1. I *suspect* that Narayan got a book deal for this idea, and then had to follow through, because the relationship she has with Sarala seems so forced at times! It's not a friendship, it's a business relationship, but it always seems like Narayan wants it to be more than that. But then she pulls away, or Sarala pulls away. It's an awkward dance and it never quite falls into place, even at the end when the author is invited to the wedding of Sarala's son. It's never a comfortable friendship on paper between the two women. Of course, this could be because...2. Narayan shows such utter lack of comprehension for the financial reality of Sarala's life! When her sons explain time and time again that they can't take days and days off to find a cow, it's like Narayan doesn't believe them. Yes, they might come out better in the long run if they take more time up-front to decide on a good milker. But if you cannot take that time, all the "better outcome" outcrying in the world wont' change that reality now. It was frustrating to read Narayan seemingly pestering these people about this without seeing the bigger picture.3. In fact, in general Narayan displays an oddness about her when it comes to how she interacts with people who are obviously poorer than her family is. It's very paternalistic, frankly. Take this passage: "I hear women laughing in the back. Huge peals of it come from the kitchen, loud & free. They have a grace about them, these village women, a sense of leisure & wellness. I attribute it to the homegrown, organic food. But as one study shows, perhaps it is the cow dung. ... No wonder they laugh so hard. Serotonin induced by the cow-dung bacteria layered over the floor." OR maybe they're humans laughing at something. Just because they're poor village folk doesn't mean that the laughter of women together in the kitchen after a meal is not genuine enjoyment. But Narayan has to explain it away. It's very odd and dehumanizing.4. At one point the author compares her dog's several-week-long terminal illness to the grief one would feel over losing a child. There is A) NO REASON to include this whole sad sack chapter in the first place and B) Holy shit lady, did you just....say that? You did. Okay.5. This book is downright irresponsible. Referencing articles that like A1 milk with autism and then leaving it as a woo woo who knows without refusing scientifically that maybe it's not due to milk is irresponsible, and I blame Narayan and her editor for the way this information is left un-questioned. Not only that, but Narayan's off-the-cuff seeming complaint that we shouldn't be eating foods with ingredients we can't pronounce is sort of hollow when earlier in the book she complained that people couldn't pronounce her daughters' names. Cognitive dissonance, hi!All in all, would not recommend. Am giving it 2 stars because I did learn a lot about cows and cow-culture and milk and (shield your eyes) drinking cow urine like Yoo-Hoo, so I didn't walk away empty-headed. But it is not, as the blurb on the front decrees, "A wonderfully eloquent generational saga, intertwined with milk, dung, and uber." Duuuuuuude, Uber only comes up on the last page! The LAST PAGE! I don't think Raju Marisetti, CEO, Gizmodo and aforementioned blurb-er, read this book.
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  • Jayeeta
    January 1, 1970
    For this one, I was split between a 2 star and 4 star. This book was weird in several different ways. Firstly, who writes a book on cows? And then who reads it? :PIt felt like the author was fairly obsessed with her new found love/respect/info-overload on cows and she wanted to share it with the world. Her audience was clearly lives in the US but ironically those are the bunch of folks who will not relate to her story-telling. I'm not sure if I liked the fact that she would, from time to time, g For this one, I was split between a 2 star and 4 star. This book was weird in several different ways. Firstly, who writes a book on cows? And then who reads it? :PIt felt like the author was fairly obsessed with her new found love/respect/info-overload on cows and she wanted to share it with the world. Her audience was clearly lives in the US but ironically those are the bunch of folks who will not relate to her story-telling. I'm not sure if I liked the fact that she would, from time to time, go off on this information download sessions on cows and how its intertwined within the Indian (mostly Hindu) culture.Why 4 stars? Because I learned a lot about cows. Not sure where I'd use that information, but I have somehow developed a new found respect for cows and bulls (especially during my trips to India). I found it interesting that the cattle community is subject to 'opposite of female infanticide' in India. That part really have me another perspective.Overall, I'm giving this a 3 and wouldn't recommend unless you've been raised in India.
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  • Sandy
    January 1, 1970
    I’m lactose intolerant yet here I am reading a book about cows and milk. Hum? I thought this novel sounded interesting and that is why I asked to read it and interesting is what I got. I found out a great deal about cows but I also got an interesting story about a woman who packed up her family and took them back to India. Both Narayan and her husband were from India and they had family there. Looking out the window of her apartment one morning, she spots a woman milking a cow across the street I’m lactose intolerant yet here I am reading a book about cows and milk. Hum? I thought this novel sounded interesting and that is why I asked to read it and interesting is what I got. I found out a great deal about cows but I also got an interesting story about a woman who packed up her family and took them back to India. Both Narayan and her husband were from India and they had family there. Looking out the window of her apartment one morning, she spots a woman milking a cow across the street selling the fresh milk to individuals waiting in line. Apprehensive to the idea, Narayan reaches out to talk to the woman, Sarala, and thus begins a friendship, a journey, an education that she will never forget. I learned a great deal as Narayan and Sarala build their friendship. Sarala has a deep connection to her cows, a connection that goes back many generations. I guess a lot of what I read makes sense but to stop and think about it, I hadn’t really done that. I learned that what you taste in a cow’s milk, should be what the cow has ate. A good connoisseur should be able to taste the wheat, the grass, the barley, etc. that the cow was grazing on. Now, this pertains only to unpasteurized milk, the milk Narayan is contemplating. While in India, Narayan is learning all about this type of milk as this is what Sarala is selling. Trying to convince Narayan that this milk is superior, Sarala is educating her and is having her taste different cow’s milk. All I could think of while Narayan was concentrating on what each cow ate while she was taste testing was an individual swirling a glass of wine before taking a sip. Most individuals know there is medical value in milk but what about the cow’s urine? What people do with the cow’s urine had me almost gagging. India does love their cows and they love every part of them. I did appreciate learning this information, as you never know when I might need to know this. Let’s talk about cow dung. It’s used for lighting fires and for fertilizer but there is much more this waste can be used for. There is medical value inside of it and you can also use it for purifying, that’s just a couple of things that Narayan learns as she talks with Sarala. I thought it was interesting as I read about the struggle between the traditionists and the young folk who are now making their way out into the world. Parents and grandparents want to call upon the traditions that have been in place for over 5,000 years and pass them onto their children, traditions that have worked, while the younger generation are ready to put them behind. It seems every part of the world has this struggle. I was glad Narayan shared her story with me. I thought this novel was entertaining, educational, and clever. I got an education in cows and life in India. I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley and Algonquin Books/Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Amy Layton
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t expect to love this book so much or learn that much about milk from it. Not to mention, of course, the way India as a whole tends to treat cows, and why, and what they like to do not only with the milk, but urine and feces as well. Talk about versatile functionality!Written with Narayan’s journalistic expertise, this book truly makes India come to life. Its social groupings, expectations, and lifestyle all converge to create a colorful picture that’s smattered across the board with cows I didn’t expect to love this book so much or learn that much about milk from it. Not to mention, of course, the way India as a whole tends to treat cows, and why, and what they like to do not only with the milk, but urine and feces as well. Talk about versatile functionality!Written with Narayan’s journalistic expertise, this book truly makes India come to life. Its social groupings, expectations, and lifestyle all converge to create a colorful picture that’s smattered across the board with cows.And even better, even though this is a memoir-esque journalistic nonfiction book, Narayan provides so many sources and recommended readings to further the reader’s knowledge about cows, milk, and India. I’ll definitely be taking a look at those!I just think this book is incredible, fun, and informative all in one go. I absolutely love all of the people Narayan interacts with, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how to go about purchasing a cow and donating a cow and how that all ties into India’s respect culture. I’ve done nothing in the past week or so except rave about this book to my coworkers at my cafe, and I just hope that anyone I recommend this to (everyone) will find this book as intriguing as I did.Review cross-listed here!
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    When the author moved back to India after years of living in the US, she had some cultural adjustments to make (even though she had lived there as a child and still had a lot of family there). One person who helped her was the woman who parked herself and her cows on the sidewalk outside the author's apartment building every morning to sell fresh milk. Quick, easy read and I learned stuff about cows. :) And a little about India.
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  • devrah lawver
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written, and I certainly learned a lot about cows...
  • Madhusree
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book. I learned a whole lot about the holy cow. It is even funnier because I read it in Wisconsin- America's Dairyland. The return home of an Indian woman from America & her complete absorption in to India- its obsession with cows& her breathless research into breeds, religion as it relates to the cow was a pleasant, quick, informative read.
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  • Lois
    January 1, 1970
    This non-fiction gives lot of information on life in India. It helped me understand why the cow is sacred to Hindus and how this impacts life. I read this for Book-browse and was given a pre-publication copy. Had I not agreed to read this book, I am not sure I would have continued. I would have enjoyed more narrative than this book allows, but did learn a lot from reading it.
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  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    If you all were expecting a review of this book, sorry but it took me awhile to really process it. I knew cows were sacred in India, but I had no idea it was so profound. The author develops a relationship with a milk lady in India, and I guess since they're not many milk ladies, it's special. This book went through all ways cows effect people and people effect cows I guess. If a cow defacates in a new house, it's considered blessed, drinking the cow urine and cure numerous illnesses, among othe If you all were expecting a review of this book, sorry but it took me awhile to really process it. I knew cows were sacred in India, but I had no idea it was so profound. The author develops a relationship with a milk lady in India, and I guess since they're not many milk ladies, it's special. This book went through all ways cows effect people and people effect cows I guess. If a cow defacates in a new house, it's considered blessed, drinking the cow urine and cure numerous illnesses, among other things. Gave me a more realistic view of Indian life than some of the other Indian books I've read. Felt more realistic anyway, since the author is a character in the book.
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  • Lewestover
    January 1, 1970
    Somewhat entertaining, very informative about Indian culture and cows, but not a book that I would recommend or read again.
  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    When our author, Shoba Narayan, moves home to Bangalore after spending 20 years in the United States, she moves into a nice apartment building with her family and then her life intersects with Sarala (who she meets in an elevator with a cow), the urban dairy farmer who comes to sell fresh milk in her neighborhood. The friendship that unfolds is delightful, absorbing, complicated, hysterical, and loving. It was a gift to be invited into the circle of these women. The friendship begins when Shoba When our author, Shoba Narayan, moves home to Bangalore after spending 20 years in the United States, she moves into a nice apartment building with her family and then her life intersects with Sarala (who she meets in an elevator with a cow), the urban dairy farmer who comes to sell fresh milk in her neighborhood. The friendship that unfolds is delightful, absorbing, complicated, hysterical, and loving. It was a gift to be invited into the circle of these women. The friendship begins when Shoba becomes irresistibly drawn to the idea of buying fresh cows milk from a known cow while at the same time being very concerned about pasteurization. She realizes that, "The reason I want to buy milk from a cow is because I am trying to recapture the simple times of my childhood, particularly after the intricate dance that I have undertaken for the last twenty ears as an immigrant in America." I find it refreshing and fascinating that the simple ritual of gathering fresh milk, for Shoba, had to do with "complex layers of emotion, romance, nostalgia,...,and loss." It makes me think of things that tie us to a place, especially in an era where people are so mobile. Midway through the book, Sarala one day does not add the extra couple of teaspoons of milk after it is measured. The extra kosuru is always given to spoon out extra joy. Sarala withholds the joy because she wants to ask Shoba to buy her a new cow. "What to do, Madam?" Sarala replies. "We are short of cows."What happens on the remaining adventure of looking for a new cow is absolutely charming. It is where Shoba admits, she has fallen in love with a cow.Mixed in with the developing friendship and the adventures of the women, are the gems of lessons about the cow industry in India: fresh milk, ghee, packet milk, milk cooperatives, pasteurization plants, cattle fairs, cow shelters (mostly for unwanted bulls), medicine, bartering (super interesting), superstitions, the differences between all of the native breeds, and the multiple roles cows play in the life of India. A reader will never look the same way at a cow after learning so much and "feeling" the importance to the Indian people. Of course, I can't complete my review without mentioning all the giggles: cows in elevators, cow dung used as a cleanser, and the almost slapstick chapters where Shoba is torn about using the cow urine medicine and also when Shoba's modern cousin throws a fit when the Uncles bring a cow into his nice apartment to have it shit for a good blessing because, "Cow dung is where goddess Lakshmi resides."Recommended to anyone who loves learning about other cultures and who enjoys being invited inside a friendship.
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  • Robert Yokoyama
    January 1, 1970
    Shoba Narayan describes a part of India that I would love to visit. She is New York educated journalist but was born and raised in India. She moved with her family to Bangalore so she could reconnect to her Indian culture. Bangalore is a place where people of different religious beliefs can peacefully coexist. I never thought a person from a Christian faith and a person from the Hindu faith would ever get married without receiving scorn. I would love to live in Bangalore because of this. I learn Shoba Narayan describes a part of India that I would love to visit. She is New York educated journalist but was born and raised in India. She moved with her family to Bangalore so she could reconnect to her Indian culture. Bangalore is a place where people of different religious beliefs can peacefully coexist. I never thought a person from a Christian faith and a person from the Hindu faith would ever get married without receiving scorn. I would love to live in Bangalore because of this. I learned that people who live in the southern part of India speak a different language from people who live in the northern part of India. The author mentions about four different languages in this book. I would like to learn how to speak Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and Bengali. Learning the distinctions of each language would be fun. I have never seen a cow being milked on the street or any where and it would be interesting to see how it is done. I like the practice of arranged marriage in India. I would move to India to see if this would work for me. I did know about the caste system in India. India is divided into four different castes. There are priests, warriors, merchants and a caste called sweepers. I think sweepers are cleaners, but the definition of the sweeper caste is not explained. I liked learning about this piece of historical information.Every fact about cows in this book is fascinating in this book. I learned that the urine from cows can be used to make medicine to treat cancers. I learned that smelling the dung from cows can make me smarter. I never thought of cows as animals who have feelings, but it is easy to believe. Cows are like valued members of the family in India because they all have names. They can mourn the passing of family members by staying in one place. I have a hard time sleeping, and I learned that putting saffron and cardamon in milk can help me sleep better. Buying a cow is like buying a car because there are so many things to consider like a tail that wags and strong teeth. These are signs of a happy cow. I learned that a happy cow is one that can easily be milked. Cows eat unusual things in India like cucumbers, watermelon and mango peels along with thirty different kinds of grass. I learned many things about life in Bangalore and about cows reading this book. I really like this book.
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  • Abhinav
    January 1, 1970
    A summary of the plot• After the author returns to India from New York City, she manages to slowly adjust to her new life in Bengaluru. This is when she has her first awkward encounter with a cow in the elevator. She eventually is inspired to buying freshly milked (what else?) cow-milk from across the street. One thing leads to another and she buys a cow to finally donate her. The author’s musings and investigative research reveal a lot about the cow and India.The flow and editing• A reader will A summary of the plot• After the author returns to India from New York City, she manages to slowly adjust to her new life in Bengaluru. This is when she has her first awkward encounter with a cow in the elevator. She eventually is inspired to buying freshly milked (what else?) cow-milk from across the street. One thing leads to another and she buys a cow to finally donate her. The author’s musings and investigative research reveal a lot about the cow and India.The flow and editing• A reader will find the flow of the book rather smooth. What happened over a span of about four or more years is presented in a little more than 200 pages. Nowhere during the narration does the author miss out on the intended final idea (thanks to good editors and proofreaders). There may have been a couple of punctuation errors but that doesn’t bother the reading that much.Plus (or what I liked)• Thorough research was done with respect to the Vedic and Puranic references.• The description of bonding with Inji and grief from Inji’s death are sure to make the reader empathise with the author.Minus (or what didn’t excite me)• Being a free spirit, her ideas on the “patriarchy” and male chauvinism in Indian culture may mislead a lay reader into thinking that her sample population represents the whole of the Indian population.• She still parrots the “Aryan Invasion Theory” and elsewhere refers to Wendy Doniger. Effectively, any well-read reader can realize the drastically misinformed philosophical leanings of the author. However, a lay-reader may be disoriented.Verdict• I was happy with the overall work. However, the devil is in the details. The book may activate the rebellious spirit in the lay-reader instead of the questioning spirit. This is a must-read book to understand India from the lens of the inhabitants of the “Trisankusvarga” i.e. NRIs.For a more detailed review, please see my blog
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  • AWomanReading
    January 1, 1970
    The author, a naturalized American returns to Bangalore, India and explores the eccentricities of her culture with humor and complete self-awareness. I originally selected this book because I thought it was a work of fiction, and the idea of the story sounded quirky enough to capture and maintain my interest. But after further reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find the story a true account of the author's return home.As one who is endlessly fascinated with other cultures, I found this accou The author, a naturalized American returns to Bangalore, India and explores the eccentricities of her culture with humor and complete self-awareness. I originally selected this book because I thought it was a work of fiction, and the idea of the story sounded quirky enough to capture and maintain my interest. But after further reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find the story a true account of the author's return home.As one who is endlessly fascinated with other cultures, I found this account that explores culture, history, mythology and the importance of cows in Indian culture to be both entertaining and informative. I'm one of those people who prefers to heal myself with natural remedies, and eat local, organic, grass-fed, yadda yaddaa... and this story appealed to that side of me as well. The Milk Lady of Bangalore delves into the efficacy of Ayurvedic and natural remedies, and debates the pros and cons of raw milk and pasteurized milk, a very controversial topic in farm-to-table circles. And it was interesting to note, that in America where we count pasteurized milk as a panacea of illnesses and allergies, in India, raw milk is considered nectar, medicinal, therapeutic. And after reading this work, I'm willing to swap my coconut milk beverage for a glass of raw milk, just to see.This book also provides a window into India's caste system, family relationships and those of friends and neighbors. Redolent with descriptions of sticky rice, mango and tender coconut milk, the author does a wonderful job of evoking the tastes, smells, sounds and colors of India.The Milk Lady of Bangalore is an unexpectedly charming fast read that sates the natural curiosity of readers intrigued by other cultures
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  • Camilla
    January 1, 1970
    In The Milk Lady of Bangalore, Narayan immerses us in the culture, customs, myths, religion, sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of her homeland. Narayan was born in India, immigrated to the United States as a child, and returns to Bangalore with her husband and two daughters so they can be closer to grandparents and experience their heritage first-hand. This is a charming read about the clashes and resolution of ancient and modern traditions. For instance, the book opens with Narayan moving int In The Milk Lady of Bangalore, Narayan immerses us in the culture, customs, myths, religion, sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of her homeland. Narayan was born in India, immigrated to the United States as a child, and returns to Bangalore with her husband and two daughters so they can be closer to grandparents and experience their heritage first-hand. This is a charming read about the clashes and resolution of ancient and modern traditions. For instance, the book opens with Narayan moving into her new apartment in Bangalore. She gets a cow to walk through their house. "My uncles will be thrilled" (pg. 13) she tells her husband."But not the kids. Don't tell them" (pg. 14) he warns.The narrative rambles a bit and I was shocked at how many years passed between the beginning of her story and when her daughter heads back to the United States to attached college. Some of the scenes seemed forced and contrived; I think that's why I didn't clue in to it being an actual memoir the first time I read it. But, both times, I enjoyed reading about the different kinds of cows, how the milk is graded, and how they view the milk from the cows."Milk from a black-colored cow is best because it balances all three doshas (imbalances) of the body. Milk from a red-colored cow balances vata, the air element that causes arthritis, gas, and bloating. Milk from a white cow is the worst: it causes kapha (mucus)."But she is not the milk lady. This is about her friendship with Sarala, the woman who keeps cows in a field across the street from the apartment building. Sarala and Narayan grow close through the years and Narayan even buys her a cow.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Okay. So, I enjoy reading books about India, Indians, Indian-Americans, Indian food, history, and the society. I'll never get to India because I couldn't deal with the climate, so reading about the country, its people, and eating the food at restaurants here have to suffice. Shoba Narayan's, "The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure", which is a combination memoir and a look at a slice of life in today's India.Shoba Narayan was born in India, lived for many years in the United States, Okay. So, I enjoy reading books about India, Indians, Indian-Americans, Indian food, history, and the society. I'll never get to India because I couldn't deal with the climate, so reading about the country, its people, and eating the food at restaurants here have to suffice. Shoba Narayan's, "The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure", which is a combination memoir and a look at a slice of life in today's India.Shoba Narayan was born in India, lived for many years in the United States, and moved back to India - Bangalore - with her husband and two daughters. They lived comfortably in Bangalore, with a deluxe apartment and staff. Shoba wrote articles and books and raised her children. One day she discovered the milk center across the street from her apartment and began an odyssey into the world of cows. The cow has a very special place in Hindu society. Adored and worshiped, the cow produces milk, dung, and urine, all used as practical products. Narayan befriends a "milk lady", Sarala, who, with her extended family keeps a herd of cows in the city and sells milk to the people in her neighborhood. And thus begins an engaging literary adventure as Shoba Narayan explores the place of cows in Indian society. She travels around the area - both alone and with Sarala - as she writes about such topics as the drinking of cow urine - for medicinal purposes - to how cow dung is used. She looks at the love many people feel for their cows and for the milk the cow produces. As I read back what I've written above, it seems as if the book is a snobbish view of the entitled Brahman
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  • Sandra Helen
    January 1, 1970
    Narayan's nonfiction book about the influence of cows and milk on Indian culture is engaging, informative, and provocative. I grew up in rural Missouri, milked a cow at the age of five, and began shaking jars of cream into butter at the same age. Grandma always had a cow and preferred Guernsey above all else, with Jersey next. I've searched for years for butter that reminds me of the taste of real homemade butter from those cows, without luck. From Narayan, I learned the difference between A1 an Narayan's nonfiction book about the influence of cows and milk on Indian culture is engaging, informative, and provocative. I grew up in rural Missouri, milked a cow at the age of five, and began shaking jars of cream into butter at the same age. Grandma always had a cow and preferred Guernsey above all else, with Jersey next. I've searched for years for butter that reminds me of the taste of real homemade butter from those cows, without luck. From Narayan, I learned the difference between A1 and A2 milk (A2 coming from cows like Jerseys and Guernseys and from the local cows (desi) of India. This led me to the internet to see if I could find A2 milk at a store near me, I did, and I went out and bought some. It does indeed taste different to me. A2 milk tastes like milk as I remember it, richer, sweeter (even the 1% fat, which I use), while my usual brand (Trader Joe's Organic) tastes more like powdered milk. I confess I've always loved cows, I love their smell, their big eyes, their (mostly) calm demeanor. Narayan shows all of that and more. She also describes how in Indian, people use cow dung and cow urine for bacterial properties, even citing studies which show that people exposed to these bacteria are healthier and more intelligent than those who are not. As a woman who was raised in the Tamil region of India herself, she knows and shows this culture in a way that makes it most appealing.
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  • Divya
    January 1, 1970
    I rate books based on the emotional impact it left on me, so this book got a 3 star rating because it didn't really do that. I also rate books based on whether or not it fulfilled the purpose the author was trying to convey. And this book did just that. Which is good. But that's why I'm so conflicted. It informed me about the importance of cows in Hindu culture, it made me laugh, and I couldn't put it dodown. Shoba Narayan did a wonderful job of carrying out the purpose she intended to convey, b I rate books based on the emotional impact it left on me, so this book got a 3 star rating because it didn't really do that. I also rate books based on whether or not it fulfilled the purpose the author was trying to convey. And this book did just that. Which is good. But that's why I'm so conflicted. It informed me about the importance of cows in Hindu culture, it made me laugh, and I couldn't put it dodown. Shoba Narayan did a wonderful job of carrying out the purpose she intended to convey, but she didn't meet the rest of the criteria I have set in order for a book to get a perfect rating. So if you're looking for a novel that will just leave you more informed when you're finished with it, this book is perfect. This is a lighthearted and sweet novel that will just make you feel happier inside. If you're looking for something that will have left you crying and/or trying to dissect the hidden meaning, don't read this. That is not what you will get. I'll probably change my rating after I've had some more time to think about it. I might just let this book get away with a perfect 5 stars.
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