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Karma Gone Bad: How I Learned to Love Mangos, Bollywood and Water Buffalo

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  681 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Made in America. Outsourced to India. At Home with Herself?

A charming yet honest memoir of one Upper West side housewife who finds herself saying good-bye to Starbucks and all her notions of "home" when she and her husband are outsourced to Hyderabad. Jenny Feldon imagined life in India as a glitzy yoga whirlwind. Instead she found buffalo-related traffic jams. Jenny strug
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Sourcebooks
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  681 ratings  ·  123 reviews

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April (The Steadfast Reader)
Full review here: The Steadfast Reader - Karma Gone Bad

Really, it only took me two days to finish this book? It felt like forever.

Okay, so about this. I hated the narrator for the first 75% of the book, she came across as spoiled, xenophobic, and incredibly overprivileged. It was a string of complaints and insecurities. (Oh no! I can't get a latte! Why are all these brown people staring at me?! Why can't they wait in line properly like Americans!) She manages to redeem herself the last quarte
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, 2013
Between 2.75 - 3.

I thought I would love this but I found the character/writer a bit vapid and whiny. Any revelations felt shallow and rather patronising to me.

I also found the dynamic between husband and house/wife (iron my shirts?) oddly patriarchical and 1950s. Definitely not my cup of tea.
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cross-posted on

Jenny Feldon is not My People – far from it. I hang out at the rougher end of adventure travel and have been privileged to meet a full-spectrum rainbow of global citizens en voyage, but am yet to bump into an Upper West Side corporate wife. That said, Jenny has the chops to see my backpack, raise me a Samsonite Silhouette wheeled and to take all the chips on the table: Karma Gone Bad is a standout 2013 travel read and well-worth your time and money.

We open with Je
Feb 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Calista by: Amazon
I really have to hate a book to not finish it, so I guess I didn't completely loath this one. It's a great example of what not to do when writing a memoir.

Now, Feldon is probably not racist, but I laughed out loud when she said she wasn't bigoted, that she was a Liberal American. I have no idea how many times she described a situation where "all of their brown faces were staring back at me" but it was more than the appropriate number which is zero. Her lack of understanding and empathy with the
Mathis Bailey
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was ok

Starbucks! Starbucks! Starbucks! This memoir was like Paris Hilton goes to India with her Jimmy Choos and little pet poodle. I had high hopes for this memior, but it just didn’t deliver.

The only thing that is interesting about this book is the beautiful cover-art. That’s it.

Jenny is a middle class socialite living in Manhattan, New York. She receives news from her husband that they will be moving to India as expatriates. The moment they arrives in Hyderabad, Jenny immediately hates it. She comp
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I had hope for this memoir. I enjoyed the first couple of chapters but the writing became stale. Felton observations are not interesting and she comes across as a whiner who misses her Jimmy Choos. I , admittedly, only got halfway through and decided that I had had enough.
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
It took to page 224 for her to stop whining. Exhausting.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Karma Gone Bad" is a memoir on Jenny Feldon's experience moving to India for her husband's work, and the struggles she faces attempting to hold on to her old ways of life while simultaneously blending in unnoticed to Indian culture.

Feldon's ability to depict the people, places, and events during her stay in India along with her honest, bone-deep illustration of her near crippling depression, makes for a read that is hard to put down. Although given my background, I at first found Feldon terrib
Aug 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: india, memoir, travel
Jenny Feldon is a New York girl who loves fashion and shopping. When her husband's work takes the couple to live in India for two years, the culture shock is not brief or humorous. It rocks Feldon's self-image and her marriage. However, with time, she develops ways of not only coping, but finding beauty and pleasure in her new environment. This is an interesting story of culture shock and coping. I, personally, thought the narrator made the jump from deep depression and rejection to acceptance s ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
After being in India, I'm always intrigued to read about others' experiences. This is the only reason to read this book. Transferred to Hyderabad, Jay and Jenny struggle with the culture. She has a blog and a book, but stupid grammatical errors pepper her work (door jam, continued to waiver, Nestled in his blanket, beneath the frame and the marble floor, dredges of her tea, let Anjali and I visit). Superficial insights also. I gave it two stars to be generous and because I'm fascinated by India. ...more
Tanya (mom's small victories)
As posted on my blog at Mom's Small Victories.

This was a tough review to write. I finished the book a couple weeks ago but had a hard time writing the less than positive review. I enjoy travel memoirs and books where people learn how to appreciate what they have.

Karma Gone Bad tells Jenny’s story of going from a twenty-something Upper West Sider who does yoga, buys designer clothes and drinks Starbucks to an American housewife in a third world country. Jenny doesn’t choose to live in India but f
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5/5
I was very excited to read that there was actually another Firangi in Hyderabad when I was there!!! Reading that she went to see Dhoom 2 at Prasad's and that she was there during the Lumbini bombings - we could have easily bumped shoulders! However, Hyderabad has changed sooooo much since 10 years ago that I feel that people who are reading this novel now would not understand how small it was back then. Hyderabad in 2005/2006 was TOTALLY different than it is now.
I was also a bit unc
May 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
In which our heroine is devastated to find that there are no Starbucks in Hyderabad, India, where her husband has been transferred to. Neither are there couture boutiques, nor anyplace appropriate to wear the designer frocks she already owns. A self-professed yogini, she can't find a yoga class. In India. And is apparently unable to do yoga without one. India, she complains, is nothing like NYC, and she HATES it.
I could possibly tolerate this from a well-crafted fictional character. Alas, this
Katie Hurley
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jenny weaves an incredible tale of love, heartache, and self-discovery in this must-read memoir based on her experience as an expat housewife in India. Having left her friends, family, and most of her favorite shoes behind in New York City to spend two years in India for her husband's job, Jenny steps off the plane and into a culture shock so intense that she quietly slips into what can only be described as depression. Through many months of soul-searching and rediscovering the true meaning of " ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Karma Gone Bad will sate your travel bug and leave you laughing, worrying, and cheering as you follow Jenny’s humbling and enlightening journey. I love travel books about exotic locations and the author had me right with her from the first chapter. The first half, if not more, is filled with her troubles adjusting to India and her depression. Thankfully, she came through it and was able to enjoy India for what it is. Enjoyed it immensely.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really, really loved this book. I thought it started out as a major put-down against India, but by the end of the book, it was pointing out that the flaws were in the author's thinking, not so much in the culture of India itself. She learned that instead of looking for the comforts of America in another country, she just needed to take it as it is and celebrate the good in it.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! Jenny Feldon has written one of those I-can't-put-it-down books about her life as an expat in India. It is a funny, poignant, sometimes dramatic coming of age story. Truly a remarkable first book. A memoir about life, marriage, class, race, learning, travel, poverty, wealth, generosity and extreme happiness. Congrats, Jenny!
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: requested, ebook
"Karma Gone Bad" is Jenny Feldon's memoir on an upper class American woman moving across the world to India when her husband gets transferred for work. From Manhattan to Hyderabad, the coffee addicted New Yorker learns about the world one adventure at a time, with equal parts of humor, sadness, and self-realization.


This book was a great read from cover to cover. I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.

Why surprised, you may ask? Because Jenny is hilarious. I read this book during
Kim H.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Do you like to travel? Have you always imagined yourself living in an exotic place? Are you the type of person who enjoys reading memoirs?

If you answered yes to any of these, then Jenny Feldon's book, Karma Gone Bad: How I Learned to Love Mangoes, Bollywood, and Water Buffalo is a must read!

Feldon presents herself as a vivacious, young New Yorker who loves yoga and Starbucks. She also writes a blog which has many followers. Very early in her marriage, her husband Jeremy is presented with the opp
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.0 out of stars - Funny and poignant memoir!

Have you ever wanted to go live the expatriot life in a foreign country for a year or two? Newlywed Jenny Feldon really didn't have that wish on her bucket list. She was quite happy living in New York with her lovely apartment, a Starbucks nearby, easy access to public transportation, writing career, yoga addiction, and designer clothes. When her husband accepts a transfer with his company to Hyderabad, India, she comes along as a "plus one" thinking
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
My biggest advice for this book: stick with it.

I recently read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a nonfiction book about the Mumbai slums. Comparing and contrasting these two books is almost grotesque. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is about the hopelessness of the people eking out a meager living in the garbage around Mumbai. This is a memoir about an American who moves to India for her husband's work.

For the first 70 pages or so, the author is spoiled, annoying, selfish, and oh-so culturally inse
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
While I initially enjoyed this memoir, her complaints really started to wear on me. This had the potential to be an enjoyable read, but 75% of the book is about her refusal to embrace India and how unfair her life is. Honestly, it was depressing! Her misery/complaining made her so unlikeable that by the time she embraced the culture, I had long since stopped rooting for her. I felt as though she suddenly realized that she'd better not write an entire book about everything that sucks about India ...more
Midge Bork
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
I hate to stereotype, but you know this woman. Young New Yorker who cannot start her day without Starbucks. She can identify the designer of any shoe or accessory (as long as it is expensive). And, oh, does she know how to whine!

Jenny's husband get transferred to India and she goes with him. Unable to adjust to life without Starbucks, she whines for the next 6 months (which is 3/4th of this book). Then she moves home.

She goes back to India with a changed attitude but where did that come from? Th
Whitney Page
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
So many things working against Jenny Feldon, I didn't want to like this book but I kept reading until the end... You have to admire her ability to paint a not so wonderful picture of herself. I feel like I learned from her experiences and enjoyed seeing a more realistic view of expat life in India...and it aint pretty. Still in the end she comes off a bit clueless, materialistic, self-important, and lacking in substance... ouch. Kind of like reading a bad reality show staring hot yoga doing, ric ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was funny and had a great lesson in it too. This woman's husband was sent to Hyderabad, India for two years. She went with him. Let's just say she and India didn't hit it off. :-) The couple almost got divorced; she almost went back to America for good. But she decided to go back and try again, this time with more success (the husband, I must say, really needed to make some effort here too--we see a little of this, but he was sort of not very sympathetic at first, through some real difficul ...more
Tonya Wertman
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Having grown up overseas for 11 years, I am always interested in hearing about the expat experiences of others. Jenny Feldon's book, Karma Gone Bad is an honest, funny and compelling tale of self discovery of her time in India.

My biggest take away is that attitude is everything and the phrase she adopts as her mantra, "Love it for what it is" rings true in just about every type of situation there is. A great read!
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. Jenny writes with honesty and wit about the reality of first world problems in a third world country. She candidly shares both the beauty in embracing the new and the pain of letting go when you step outside your comfort zone. Something most of us can relate to no matter where we are.
Robert G. Loden
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jenny spins a facinating tale. You feel like you're right there with her. A definite need to read for all. I have past this on, like I do
all books, for others to enjoy. Won this book on GoodReads. Thanks.
Andrea Falcione
This book was amazing. You really got wrapped up in the lives of the characters and when times were tough you were really hoping they would pull through. The author is wonderful about expressing her attitude both going in and coming out of this amazing experience.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book would not have been a first choice read for me, but I found it both entertaining ( I couldn't stop reading it) and enlightening. We are all on the verge of self-discovery if we can just give in to the experience! Well written, honest and poignant, truly a good read.
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Jenny Feldon was born in California and grew up in Newton, Massachusetts. She completed her bachelor’s degree in English literature at Boston University and earned her MFA in creative writing from the New School University. Her work has appeared in nonfiction anthologies as well as many online and print publications, including Parenting magazine, and the Huffington Post. She writes t ...more
“came to India with a whole lifetime of expectations and assumptions about the way the world should work, the way life was supposed to be.” 2 likes
“But when you can only accept life the way you’ve always known it, when you fight back against every deviation from “normal,” your mind is closed. It took nine months, a hundred tiny failures, and a shaggy-haired Indian boy holding a bunch of celery to open my eyes to a bigger picture.” 0 likes
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