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Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,141 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
When twentysomething reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her job in New York City and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country. What she quickly learns in Delhi about renting an apartment as a single woman—it’s next to impossible—and the proper way for women in India to ride scoote ...more
Kindle Edition, 354 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Random House (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The Tick
Apr 22, 2012 The Tick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, memoir
My biggest issue with this book was that some of it was...not inaccurate, but so generalized and oversimplified that it can lead the reader to jump to inaccurate conclusions. I noticed this most when she was talking about Hindi films because they're one of my big passions, but it was true in other sections of the book as well. There was at least one genuine inaccuracy, too--she claims at one point that Shah Rukh Khan has never kissed in a movie, but he has (in Maya Memsaab, one of his early film ...more
Katie
Jul 18, 2011 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first stumbled across this book, I was expecting a one-country remix of the hugely popular Elizabeth Gilbert memoir Eat, Pray, Love. The subtitle “Life and Love in India” makes it sound a bit like another cliche rendition of the “American girl has heart broken, moves abroad, meets new people, finds self, and then finds love again” travel memoir that publishers have been snatching up lately. So let’s make this clear from the get go: Sideways on a Scooter is not that sort of book and to try ...more
Em
Dec 16, 2011 Em rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in India
Recommended to Em by: Dr. Valerie Treloar
this was an interesting read. But I have many issues with this book, especially as it is non-fiction. I am a resident Indian and I was shocked to see the India portrayed here. Brahmins, with one or two exceptions, are shown as narrow minded, caste conscious group - they loathe to eat food made by non Brahmins, they still are class conscious, they have antipathy towards Muslims. I am a Brahmin, and the only brahmin-like behavior I have is being a vegetarian (that too not a 'pure veg' as I eat egg ...more
Nags
A very long book but maybe justified considering the subject. There's a lot of the usual stuff - firangi in India facing issues, etc. However, the author lives in a non-expat locale, has Indian friends and lives the Indian life for a few years complete with 3-4 maids/help around the house and the rest of it. She speaks of a lot of things that affected her or made an impact and most of them are predictable. In fact, I learned a bunch of stats and details about Bollywood and poverty in India that ...more
Zhiqing
Mar 05, 2012 Zhiqing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a regular listener to NPR's Marketplace (despite its frequent China bashing)over the years, I always find myself wondering how NRP's foreign correspondents such as Frank Langford, Miranda Kennedy, Louisa Lim, Anthony Kuhn got their gigs in the first place and what their lives are like in the countries they report from. In Miranda Kennedy's case, this is a very entertaining and at times frustrating account of her attempts to assimilate into Indian society and her friendships with many women ...more
Tara Chevrestt
First of all, I get that this is a memoir.. but even with a memoir, the narrator can SHOW the story if they choose. This entire memoir is TOLD. Telling makes for very dull reading and I'm sorry to say I fell asleep trudging along thru this one.

Good idea, just poor execution in my opinion. Three women in India from three different situations, all trying to be independent. However, the book at times comes across as a travel brochure for India and a history textbook on Indian history.

I did find m
...more
David Peters
It took me quite a while to come to terms with this book. While it was quite readable and I liked the author (which is not necessarily required, but very helpful in a memoir), something just did not click with me. At first I figured it must be because she was so young, and usually young people have no place writing a memoir. But Ms. Kennedy was actually living a pretty interesting life in a country I am quite curious about. Kennedy was a freelance reporter living as a single (western) woman in I ...more
Stacy
Jun 02, 2011 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in modern day India
Shelves: indian-novels
Have you ever fantasized about quitting your job and moving to Asia? If so, reading this book is a decent substitute for actually doing so. Miranda is an ambitious, commitment-phobic New Yorker who leaves behind her life to settle in Delhi, India and try to establish herself as a foreign correspondent.

What she finds is a country of contradictions where change sometimes seems to occur as slowly as it did thousands of years ago. Just as I suspected in my college days of Bollywood film watching, t
...more
Amanda
When I picked up Miranda Kennedy's Sideways on a Scooter I expected the book to be about the author's experiences in adapting to a culture vastly different from what she was accustomed. Thankfully, much of the book does not follow the author, as I found myself liking Kennedy less and less with every turn of the page. The book does delve heavily into India's cultural differences and traditions, especially those concerning marriage and caste. Fortunately, however, Kennedy begins focusing more on h ...more
Amy Prosser
I'm so happy to have finally concluded my journey with this text. It took forever to push myself to the finish line! I went into this book hoping to revel in rich descriptions of the country that would deepen my own trip. What I got was a sprinkling of those beautiful portraits at the beginning, but the main focus after that was all on the changing caste system and the lives of women in modern India. It is an eye-opening read, just not what I had wanted. I will say, there were moments in the tex ...more
Joan
Jun 26, 2011 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read an advance, uncorrected copy of this book which I received as a Goodreads giveaway. Thanks all! My schedule, which has recently been quite busy at work and home did not include any long trips, so this book languished on my 'to read pile' for too long.

Comparisons to 'Eat, Pray, Love' will certainly be made, but this is a different book. Miranda Kennedy was a reporter who moved to India without an assignment with the goal of living there for some time, eventually practicing her craft. So w
...more
B
A memoir of a few years spent living in Delhi, this journalist in particular follows the lives of several women including friends and maids, opening up the world of contemporary Indian culture and showing that the caste system, poverty,and ancient customs still affect women's lives there, even with some improvements from globalization. Told with humor, although some aspects of Indian life, (the glaring poverty for people and animals), are just plain sad. I give her alot of credit for affecting m ...more
J. Muro
Feb 23, 2016 J. Muro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After having read this beautiful book, it's made me decide to officially become an armchair traveller of India-this book has completely quenched all thirsts of my curiosity of all things India. Nice job. Will stick to books and Bollywood, happily-
Gypsi
Jul 26, 2016 Gypsi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Miranda Kennedy quits her NPR job and moves from NYC to Delhi to be a freelance reporter, expecting a grand adventure in the footsteps of her parents and great-aunt. She isn't expecting to find that certain things, taken for granted in the U.S., will be difficult for a single woman. Sideways on a Scooter is Kennedy's recounting of those difficulties, as well as the difficulties she sees women native to India experience. She tells of close friendships she makes, of her observations of the dating ...more
Helen
May 22, 2016 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There have been many changes in India in recent years, but for women, some things never change: the pressure to marry and to produce a son. Miranda leads us through the complications of these demands while trying to live in Delhi on her own, a feat I very much admire.

In this book we meet her friends and her servants who are on the brink of change wrought by the New India. Bollywood movies, and Friends TV shows and the possibility of working outside the home complicate everything. What's a young
...more
Georgia Herod
Sep 14, 2014 Georgia Herod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because I'm anticipating a trip to India, I've been reading as much as I can, both fiction and non-fiction, in order to better understand what I am going to encounter, including the assault on the senses. Miranda Kennedy's book is a memoir, likened by some to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love. Susan Cheever of Daedalus Books says, "If you liked [that book], you have to have this book."

I didn't like Gilbert's book at all, primarily because she was completely self-absorbed. Everything about her
...more
Ranjani
May 25, 2016 Ranjani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What struck me most about the memoir was the author's empathy. I instantly took a liking to her when she displayed non-judgmental opinions about the contradictions she faced in India. The moments of vulnerability captured without the author lapsing into bouts of self-deprecation were portrayed beautifully, I thought.

I would highly recommend this book to any open-minded reader. The caste system still prevails in India, especially in the lower echelons of society and that's a harsh truth to face.
...more
Jodie Stroud
Three elephants, a Great Aunt who had worked as a missionary, a desire to be a foreign correspondent and a need to be someone her boyfriend could love leads Miranda Kennedy to make the big move to India...alone. While her motives for the move are questionable she eventually inserts herself into a culture that includes modern Indian women who can't fully let go of tradition and the debaucherous expat scene. In a society that still works well within the caste system while boasting a modern India, ...more
Susan
Mar 04, 2016 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent armchair living in India book. Learned so many facts I did not know about India.
Jessica Medved
This book was interesting. Packed full of history and cultural reference education. The beginning and the end of the book are a little hard to get through as they read a lot like a historiy book but the middle is GREAT! I enjoyed reading this book and thought it was great for someone who is familiar with travel memoirs. However, I would not use this book as an introduction to travel memoirs as it is a bit dry at parts. I prefer my travel memoirs to read more like a novel and this one doesn't.
Th
...more
Melissa
Jul 05, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melissa by: Daily Beast
Shelves: 2011, memoir
I really enjoyed this! I got a great feel for what life is like in modern day India, and let me tell you, it sounds like hell on earth! But fascinating. Especially interesting to hear about the whole marriage process. Hard to believe arranged marriages are still going on.
Manda
Mar 01, 2012 Manda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I enjoyed and expected to be reading about the lives of the Indian people that she interacted with for five years while living in Delhi, I actually found myself even more curious about the author's life and work experiences.

Someone, please come with me to India!
MaryannC.Book Fiend
I so badly wanted to continue this. I liked reading about Indian culture and it gave me more insight than I thought I knew. The author knows her stuff. But, halfway thru this I just gave up. Sometimes it just droned on and on.
Cathy
Oct 15, 2014 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, a good look into the lives of several different women living in India. I did like it, although the author was slightly intolerable, especially how violent she was for no reason. Wanting to hit someone for not carrying her fast enough, slapping a beggar, those are some examples of things that made me almost stop reading this book. One thing that was confusing was how the author went back and forth through talking about one day with one person to another day with a different pers ...more
Ashley V
For the most part I'd say I enjoyed this book. I wouldn't really consider this a travel/tourist memoir, rather an inside look at the lives of a group of women living in Delhi, India. It differs from a typical travel memoir because it is written not over the course of a vacation lasting a few weeks, but over a period of several years of immersive culture on the author's part.

The travel bug in me wishes that there had been more description of the visuals of India and its landmarks and whatnot, the
...more
Erin
Mar 19, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In short, this book is amazing. I picked it up thinking I was going to get just a travel memoir type book, but it was so much more.

Miranda Kennedy found the soul of India and wrote from there, and wrote about her experiences in a way that those of us who have never visited India before could perfectly picture what was going on. I felt like I knew her friends, Geeta, Parvati, Radha, Maneesh, Usha, Azmat. And although their lives are very different from mine in many ways, we are all the same, wan
...more
Jaylia3
Jun 22, 2011 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a fascinating, insightful book—as gripping as a good novel—because it gives the reader an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of several Indian women navigating their lives in a country that’s still bound by caste and tradition but modernizing at a dizzying pace. There’s lively, charismatic Geeta, a “modern girl”, who is nevertheless torn between hoping for a marriage arranged by her parents and finding herself a love match. Parvati, another highly opinionated friend of author Mir
...more
Melissa
Dec 12, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, india
This book reads more as fiction than non-fiction to me. I don't know why. Maybe it's just the tone. But Kennedy's experiences in India are interesting, but not life like. Even though it is real life. Maybe it's just me.

Having parents who had done some traveling and were unconventional in their own right, Kennedy moves to India in her twenties where she hopes to make a living as a journalist. While there, she experiences the culture of her city, sees the struggles that women still have in a not-q
...more
K.j. Dell'antonia
Sep 05, 2011 K.j. Dell'antonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover of Miranda Kennedy's Sideways on a Scooter, with its lanky Western woman walking, Abbey Road style, between two women in bright pink traditional Indian dress, suggests the all-India version of Eat, Pray, Love. So does the subtitle: "Life and Love in India." In fact, there's a blurb on my copy assuring me that "if you liked Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, you have to read this book."

I did like Eat, Pray, Love, but if you buy the book expecting Kennedy to do little but dish up her l
...more
Lori Kincaid
Aug 30, 2011 Lori Kincaid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in India
I really liked Miranda Kennedy's memoir of her 5 years living in Delhi, but the book was different than I expected. I guess I thought it would be more about the day-to-day experience of navigating a culture so different from our's, but perhaps that would be too boring for the average reader! What she did instead was explore in great detail the cultural practices related to male/female relationships. I was going to say *dating and marriage,* but dating is not something done in India (for the most ...more
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For five years, Miranda Kennedy reported from across South Asia for National Public Radio and American Public Media's Marketplace Radio. From her base in New Delhi, she covered the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and other major stories across Asia.

She wrote extensively about women, caste, and globalization in India, and her stories have appeared in publications like The Washington Post, T
...more
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