Emails From India

Women Write Home

Non-Fiction - Travel
196 Pages
Reviewed on 10/30/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Dr. Jordan Alexander for Readers' Favorite

Emails From India: Women Write Home is comprised of thirty-seven glimpses into India written by women travelers from North America and the UK. The editor, Janis Harper, is a self-proclaimed Indophile whose special relationship began as a teen when she became interested in eastern religion. It was only in her late forties that the Vancouver native reached India's precious soil. Her emails to friends became the catalyst for collecting tales about the enigmatic subcontinent. Each writer pushed boundaries. Readers share these experiences as India assaults their senses: “the crowds, the smells, the spiciness of the food, the constant honking of horns.”

The editor does a superb job of varying topics and places from Delhi to Goa. Stories of extremist Hindu groups protesting Valentine’s Day as a foreign festival corrupting traditional values are compared with food-filled tales of scoops of sweets shared with locals on Diwali and discovering new comfort food like cheese-lined savory pastries with seasoned potatoes. On a bus, a mother serenades along the aisle and then collects coins from passengers before her stop. There are Bollywood actors and a waving Dalai Lama, bullet holes in glass tables, and beautiful pharmacists that never ask for prescriptions. “Always shake your shoes out before putting them on,” cautions an eighty-eight-year-old “missionary” and subject of a documentary in another story. “Tarantulas, you know. And don’t disturb the cobras.”

The contributors to Emails From India, edited by Janis Harper, have impressive pedigrees as authors of books and articles featured in Canadian Geographic, The Globe and Mail, and more. They are filmmakers, teachers, and cyclists all sharing freely their light and dark. The smooth concrete, glass, and polished airport architecture – the new India – are side by side with the peddlers, hawkers, beggars, dirt, dust, and dung (the three D’s) of old India. “You either love or hate India, and usually you do both on the same day." This entertaining collection is sure to delight travel readers as the colorful stories of the sisterhood share how easy it is to learn to love India.