Aussie Book Review- Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure Sarah Macdonald- Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

 Format- Paperback

 Source- Borrowed from a friend

 Publication date- 2004

 Synopsis- In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India—and for love—she screamed, “Never!” and gave the country, and him, the finger.
But eleven years later, the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah’s life is posted to India, she quits her dream job to move to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. For Sarah this seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love, and it almost kills her, literally. Just settled, she falls dangerously ill with double pneumonia, an experience that compels her to face some serious questions about her own fragile mortality and inner spiritual void. “I must find peace in the only place possible in India,” she concludes. “Within.” Thus begins her journey of discovery through India in search of the meaning of life and death.
Holy Cow is Macdonald’s often hilarious chronicle of her adventures in a land of chaos and contradiction, of encounters with Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, Sufis, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and a kaleidoscope of yogis, swamis and Bollywood stars. From spiritual retreats and crumbling nirvanas to war zones and New Delhi nightclubs, it is a journey that only a woman on a mission to save her soul, her love life—and her sanity—can survive.

Review- I was lent a copy of Holy Cow by a friend of my fiancé who told him I ‘must read’ this book before we go to India. So I did as I was told and picked it up and was glad that I did! It’s a sometimes hilarious, sometimes upsetting and sometimes inspiring story of a young Australian journalist, Sarah Macdonald who joins her boyfriend Jonathan to backpack around India and find her place in a country full of contradictions.

I loved her candid descriptions of Indian life, initially her disgust and confusion and later her endearing and protective views of the country she learns to love. From lessons with a guru to taking a vow of silence to waiting on news from her boyfriend in war-torn areas of the middle-east, Sarah is really pushed to her limits. She makes friends, loses her hair, trials various religious practices and ultimately figures out who she is amidst all the chaos.

I read out several snippets of Sarah’s observations to my fiancé and he too found it funny- if not a bit scary because we would soon be in India and perhaps having the same bizarre experiences as her. But Sarah didn’t turn me off my holiday to India, it’s just made me more excited to find out what this country is all about for myself!

4/5 rating

Purchase book @

Fishpond/ Amazon/ Book Depository UK

Top 10 Books to Read When You Travel to India

About the author: Sarah Macdonald is a radio broadcaster, television presenter, journalist and commentator best known for her work at the ABC’s Triple J radio station where she hosted the Morning Show, Arts Program and covered political events in Canberra. Sarah also appeared on ‘Recovery’, ‘Race Around the World’ and ‘Two Shot’ on ABC Television. She now works at Radio National.

This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge:


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