Beginning in the late '60s, hundreds of thousands of Westerners descended upon India, disciples of a cultural revolution that proclaimed that the magic and mystery missing from their lives was to be found in the East. An Indian writer who has also lived in England and the United States, Gita Mehta was ideally placed to observe the spectacle of European and American "pilgrims" interacting with their hosts. When she finally recorded her razor sharp observations in Karma Cola, the book became an instant classic for describing, in merciless detail, what happens when the traditions of an ancient and longlived society are turned into commodities and sold to those who don't understand them.
In the dazzling prose that has become her trademark, Mehta skewers the entire Spectrum of seekers: The Beatles, homeless students, Hollywood rich kids in detox, British guilt-trippers, and more. In doing so, she also reveals the devastating byproducts that the Westerners brought to the villages of rural lndia -- high anxiety and drug addiction among them.
Brilliantly irreverent, Karma Cola displays Gita Mehta's gift for weaving old and new, common and bizarre, history and current events into a seamless and colorful narrative that is at once witty, shocking, and poignant.
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"It is a sad, hilarious, rueful tale and Mehta tells it with a rich fund of irony, satire, acerbic wit and insight."--The Los Angeles TimesFrom the Back Cover:
"A witty documentary satire... In only 201 pages Mehta embraces an enormous variety of life and death. Her style is light without being flip; her skepticism never descends to cynicism. Given her subject this is a miracle of rationalism and taste."
"It's as if Tom Wolfe had gone to India, changed his white suit for a dirty dhoti, and freaked out by the sacred ghats.... There are enough crazy characters, stories and wild scenes here for several novels, and the entire book offers what must be the real juice and color of modern India seen from the inside."
"Ms. Mehta writes about the clash of Eastern and Western cultures... earthy wit that the reader's interest is instantly engaged."
Baltimore Sun "Mehta's message is ... that the best things in each culture are the hardest won, over the longest time and at greatest pain...how in the movement from one culture to another, much of a generation lost its sense that life has any values at all."
The Boston Globe
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