Gecko in your tea will kill you?
Beggars and Fashion Models?
Palm Reading Policemen?
But also a place where recycling is second nature.
A place where men break into singing, whenever they feel the urge.
This is India. This is what a 1960s Peace Corps volunteer remembers and had to write down.
AS A NINTH-GENERATION CALIFORNIAN who was raised in the suburbs of Anaheim (or as it came to be known, "Disneyland"), attended public high school and Cal State University--Long Beach, and was later to marry a pretty redhead from nearby Fullerton, the last place on Earth that David Macaray ever expected to wind up was rural India. Farm country.
But in 1967 he was sent there (to Punjab State) as a Peace Corps volunteer. The bucolic, outdoor environment was a jolt. David was ignorant of "farm life." How ignorant? Well, for one thing, he had always thought butter was yellow. While the fact that milk was white, and butter was made from milk, should have been a fairly obvious clue, oddly, it didn't register.
All he knew was that the butter his mom served his family at dinner was yellow. Yummy. Only when David saw "real butter" on an Indian farm did he realize it was white. And that was the moment the young man realized that his family had been "living a lie." Alas, white butter turned out to be a blip on the screen. It was one of about 10,000 surprises that awaited David Macaray in India.
This book--How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows: Weird Adventures in India--Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims When the Peace Corps Was New--is his account of those two amazing years in Punjab. Dave, as he is known among friends, never met nicer, more generous, more fascinating people than those he met in Indian. Nor had he ever lived in a more distressed environment.
Of course, because that was 50 years ago, it goes without saying, that the entire subcontinent has changed radically in the ensuing half-century. How could it not? On the other hand, perhaps it hasn't changed quite as "radically" as one might think. While India is still a magnificently vibrant country, it remains distressed in many ways.
These Weird Adventures of a Peace Corps volunteer in India in 1967-1968 recount the many humorous and sometimes sad experiences of that 2 year period of David Macaray's life. The author relates these escapades in a non-chronological and random manner in commentary form. The memoir has numerous photos and images, many from the author's time there, and of both old and modern India.
Macaray's How to Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows addresses the many ways our differences can enrich us, sadden us, and make us laugh. His memoir of life in India in the 1960s will have you both crying and grinning. The escapades in getting to know another country and its people are filled with insights for a time and a place where differences mean everything, but where a little understanding goes a long way toward making friends with just about anyone.