The Milk Lady of Bangalore
When Shoba Narayan, a writer and cookbook author who had lived for years in Manhattan, moves back to Bangalore with her family, she befriends the milk lady, from whom she buys fresh milk every day. These two women from very different backgrounds bond over not only cows, considered holy in India, but also family, food, and life. After Narayan agrees to buy her milk lady a new cow (she needs one and Narayan can afford it, so why not?), they set off looking for just the right cow. What was at first a simple economic transaction becomes something much more complicated, though never without a hint of slapstick. When Narayan starts dreaming of cows, a little Ayurvedic medicine is in order. (Cow urine tablets, anyone?) When Narayan offers her surprised neighbors fresh cow’s milk, we learn about the place of milk in Indian culture. When Narayan wants a cow to bless her house, the spiritual and historical role that cows play in India is explored. In this charming true story about two women and the animal they share, readers are treated to an insider’s of view of India. The Milk Lady of Bangalore is also a window into our universal connection to food and its sources, the intricacies of female friendship, and our relationship to all animals.

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

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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • A Woman Reading
    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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  • Kathy
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.The Milk Lady of Bangalore is a charming and eccentric blend of memoir and non-fiction told through a bovine lens. While providing a unique and quick peek into India's cultures, religions, history, caste system and languages, it is also a simple tale of a friendship that crosses many of these apparent barriers. Narayan never preaches and manages to avoid dry informational passages; her writing is consistently approachable and I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.The Milk Lady of Bangalore is a charming and eccentric blend of memoir and non-fiction told through a bovine lens. While providing a unique and quick peek into India's cultures, religions, history, caste system and languages, it is also a simple tale of a friendship that crosses many of these apparent barriers. Narayan never preaches and manages to avoid dry informational passages; her writing is consistently approachable and often humorous. While cows are the thread tying the whole story together, readers don't need to have a fascination with these creatures to enjoy Narayan's book. I've never read Narayan's previous work, but I loved her perspective as an alternating U.S./Indian citizen and look forward to reading more.
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  • enyanyo
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed Shoba Narayan’s memoir. First of all it was the milk: sweet, fresh and healing milk. Milk is friendship and family; connection and compromise; nourishment and nostalgia; reconnection and remedy. The milk was as sweet as Shoba and Sarala’s budding friendship. The it dawns on the reader: “The milk is so good because it comes from the cow.” And now you’re hooked. I never t Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed Shoba Narayan’s memoir. First of all it was the milk: sweet, fresh and healing milk. Milk is friendship and family; connection and compromise; nourishment and nostalgia; reconnection and remedy. The milk was as sweet as Shoba and Sarala’s budding friendship. The it dawns on the reader: “The milk is so good because it comes from the cow.” And now you’re hooked. I never thought I’d enjoy reading a book about cows, but this one got me. I loved Shoba’s vivid descriptions of trips to the countryside, the food! and the occasional dip into history. I would have loved to read more about how her daughters and husband adjusted to life back in India; she touched on this but not in great detail. Maybe another book? :-)
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  • Kathleen Gray
    January 1, 1970
    This was an unexpected and delightful surprise. Narayan has written a light and informative book about modern India and, well, cows. She's got a terrific voice that never condescends. It's less a memoir than a story of a unique friendship with Sarala, the milk lady and of Narayan coming to terms with her return to India. India's a big subject (it's a big country). Narayan wisely chose a small subject and details it wonderfully. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. Try this one for a good read.
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    COWS !!! Who knew???What a delightful and "unexpected adventure". The author's return home after years in NYC offer a perfect opportunity to educate both her daughters, AND us on some of the more interesting customs and beliefs of the Hindu religion specifically and India in general. Cows are an integral part of everyday life and we learn why through Narayan's friendship with the milk lady, Sarala. Their daily interactions give an insight into the give and take that makes India...India. Highly r COWS !!! Who knew???What a delightful and "unexpected adventure". The author's return home after years in NYC offer a perfect opportunity to educate both her daughters, AND us on some of the more interesting customs and beliefs of the Hindu religion specifically and India in general. Cows are an integral part of everyday life and we learn why through Narayan's friendship with the milk lady, Sarala. Their daily interactions give an insight into the give and take that makes India...India. Highly recommended.
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  • Janine Brouillette
    January 1, 1970
    I really like this book and the writing style of Shoba Narayan. Her writing style is easy to read and humorous. I was also fascinated with the information and culture she sprinkled throughout the book about Indian and Hinduism culture and history. She and her husband was born in India but went to college and lived in the States before returning to India, which makes her relatable to both cultures. I look forward to reading more books from this author and I have gained a whole new respect for cow I really like this book and the writing style of Shoba Narayan. Her writing style is easy to read and humorous. I was also fascinated with the information and culture she sprinkled throughout the book about Indian and Hinduism culture and history. She and her husband was born in India but went to college and lived in the States before returning to India, which makes her relatable to both cultures. I look forward to reading more books from this author and I have gained a whole new respect for cows through all the mini stories and fables. Thank you.
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  • Nancee
    January 1, 1970
    An "udderly" delightful story about cows, friendship, family & culture. Narayan's writing is a marvelous mix of Mary Roach and Sy Montgomery, two of the finest nonfiction writers on the planet. Narayan explores the biology, mythology and evolution of bovines, especially their place of prominence and reverence in Indian culture and life, weaving a beautiful tale of family along the way.
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  • Faith 09
    January 1, 1970
    I actually liked this book a lot. I found it to be really charming and eye opening.
  • Courtney
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book very interesting in its coverage of why cows are so important in Indian culture and how that manifests itself in daily life. The author as an Indian woman who also had lived in the USA had a unique perspective of both understanding the importance of the cow and also understanding why those outside of the culture don't get it.
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  • Ramya
    January 1, 1970
    Charming read but thought it was a little rambling. Some scenes in the book seemed rather forced and contrived, with the author trying to be charming self-consciously. That being said, I enjoyed the research bits about species of cows in India, grades and types of milk and everything about Bangalore.An fun read for a lazy evening.
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  • BrocheAroe
    January 1, 1970
    Charming and informative! After 20 years in NYC, Shoba moves her family back to her native India where she befriends her local milk lady. As Shoba becomes increasingly obsessed with cows, milk, and other cow by-products she takes us on a journey of self-discovery and milk-discovery. Most interesting was Shoba's exploration of her own culture. India is a fascinating mix of urban and rural, where generations, technology, and expectations blend together in a different way for each family. Shoba sha Charming and informative! After 20 years in NYC, Shoba moves her family back to her native India where she befriends her local milk lady. As Shoba becomes increasingly obsessed with cows, milk, and other cow by-products she takes us on a journey of self-discovery and milk-discovery. Most interesting was Shoba's exploration of her own culture. India is a fascinating mix of urban and rural, where generations, technology, and expectations blend together in a different way for each family. Shoba shares her personal and family story. I will never look at a bottle of milk the same way again!
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