On the Outside Looking Indian

On the Outside Looking Indian

How My Second Childhood Changed My Life

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"There's a phenomenon in Amish culture called Rumspringa, where Amish adolescents are permitted to break free from their modest and traditional lifestyles to indulge in normally taboo activities. They dress how they want, go out if and when they please, smoke, drink and generally party like it's 1899. At the end they decide if they will return and join the Amish church.

"I am 30 years old. I wore my hair in two braids every day until I was 12. I dressed more conservatively than most Amish, barely left my house until I was 18 and spent the last 12 years studying and working hard on my career like a good little Indian girl. The time has come; you are witness to the dawning of my Indian Rumspringa, a Ram-Singha if you will. But instead of smoking and drinking Bud Lights in a park while yelling 'Down with barn raising!' I plan to indulge in a different manner -- by pursuing everything I wish had been a part of my youth. Things I always felt were part of most North Americans' adolescent experience. I will learn to swim, go to summer camp, see Disneyworld, take dance lessons, have sleepovers and finally get the pet I longed for my whole life.

"This is the story of the ultimate New Year's resolution, more akin to a new life resolution. Will it all be fun? Will my friends and family support my walk down memory-less lane? Will it all matter in the end? I don't know yet but much like my young Rumspringaed-out counterpart, I will decide whether or not there is any going back."


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books
Copyright Date: ♭2012
ISBN: 9780771035951
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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d
donnas
Apr 03, 2012

up for Stephen Leacock award 2012 Couldn't find Robin Michele Levy's 'Most of me'

d
Dhudk
Aug 25, 2011

Well written book, experiences of Growing up as an Indo-Canadians.

ksoles Jun 28, 2011

I should have known that the latest gimmicky memoir would disappoint; nevertheless, I got sucked into the hype surrounding "On The Outside Looking Indian" and wanted to give it a chance.

Rupinder Gill grew up in suburban Ontario, the daughter of traditional Indian parents who never allowed her to attend sleepovers, take classes or go to summer camp. At the age of 30, she vows to embark on a relived childhood in which she will learn to swim, hang out with her girlfriends and visit Disney World, all the while gaining enlightenment. In short: a veritable eye-rolling journey of self-discovery.

Gill laments her lack of a "normal" upbringing (whatever that might look like) with whiny, shallow anecdotes about her stern but obviously loving parents. Her analysis of Indian culture consists of repeated cliches and often astonishing disrespect as she labels Punjabi "gibberish," insults her mother's cooking and pokes fun at her relatives' "deathly fear of sexuality."

The prose contains engaging moments and elicits a few laughs but mostly meanders through tired tropes and unsuccessful, self-deprecating humour. Unfortunately, Gill's topic, which has the potential for insight and reflection, only serves as a vehicle to expose her own narrow-mindedness.

m
marijancad
May 23, 2011

Entertaining and a bit sad at the same time. What this young lady experienced in her Sikh upbringing (no sleepovers, camps, and so on) was not, as some might label it, abusive, or oppressive, but was also reminiscent of the growing up years (50s and 60s) of this daughter of central European immigrants. I loved it and could easily relate to what Rupinder had to say.

debwalker Apr 05, 2011

"Raised in Ontario the traditional Sikh family way, Rupinder Gill decided at age 30 to go discover the stuff whe missed out on as a kid."
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star, April 3, 2011

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