An Aussie who embraced India for good (Book Review)
Lost and Found in India; Author
Home is where heart is. Australian Braja Sorensen decided in her late 30s, by when she had worked in television, tourism and publishing in Australia, Britain and the US, that her heart was calling out for India. And so, like millions of Westerners, she flew to India; but unlike millions, she did not leave the country after a holiday. She made it her home, along with her Dutch husband, choosing to live in Mayapur, an "incredibly beautiful" village perched in a quiet corner of the Ganges in West Bengal.
The first time she made it to India was in 1993. India for her was a "source of all things spiritual, a melee of meditation, peace, food, love, family, duty, food, music, Krishna, Siva, food, Ganesh, Hanuman, food, dance, colour, life, more food, yoga, and the land of the sacred cow". She and her husband were spiritually minded and felt their roots were really in India.
But why pick Mayapur? The couple did think at one point of making Bombay (she doesn't like Mumbai!) her home but decided against it. For Braja, the depth of life, activity, thought and purpose were tangible only in a rural setting. Mayapur had it all: Vaishnava philosophy, culture and tradition, temple bells that filled the air, plus mantras and songs, music and rhythm, and prayer and meditation.
This book is Braja's story of her love for India, a land she clearly adores. An autobiography written in an unusual style, she displays a strong sense of humour, often making fun of situations that other foreigners (even some Indians) may fume about. Of course there are negatives about India - otherwise "the most spiritual country in the world" -- but the positives easily outweigh those.
Even a major road accident that almost killed her husband couldn't force her to change her mind about India. She did go back to Australia once after that and met her mother and formerly estranged sisters but decided that she needed India again. "Mayapur claimed me. I was no longer lost in India. I'd found what I sought."
This is a beautiful book, worth a read for both foreigners and Indians.
(M.R. Narayan Swamy is Executive Editor at IANS. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 28-06-2014)
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