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A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India

by Norman Lewis

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1265156,987 (3.5)1
An account of the seminal British travel writer's journeys through India. Lewis avoids the easy pleasures of traveling through the hill-forts of Rajasthan, visiting palace hotels and the Taj Mahal. Instead his travels in India begin in the impoverished, overpopulated and corrupt state of Bihar - the scene of a brutal caste war between the untouchables and higher-caste gangsters. From these violent happenings, he heads down the west coast of Bengal and into the highlands of Orissa to testify to the life of the `indigenous tribals' who have survived in isolation.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
When people visit India, a country with over 1 billion people, their senses are assaulted by the mass of humanity, smells, colours and sights in a country that is full of life. The religions and spiritually of the country adds to the cacophony of noise as they go about celebrating the living and the dead. People from the Adivasi tribes that made up seven percent of the population of India. These peoples and the places they lived were in constant danger of being swamped by the remainder of India. This is Lewis account of his visit in the 1990’s to find these people and record the things that made them different and distinct.

Lewis’ journey to see these tribes takes him away from the regular tourist haunts. Heading far from the beaten track to Orissa and Bihar in the north-western part of India, he reaches there at a time of heightened tensions and violence from a caste war. Seeking a local guide Lewis starts to venture into the jungles in search of the tribes that he wants to discover before the modern world subsumes them. He meets the Muria people who survive by eating crocodiles, monkey and insects, a tribe who marry their teenage boys off to older women. There are the Mundas who still hunt with bow and arrow, and who find laughter offensive and a tribe that may be related to Australian Aborigines and the Bonda who wear jewellery passed down from relatives and precious little else.

His evocative writing style brings alive the assault on the senses that India is, you feel that you are there standing amongst the grime and swirl of people. The writing is detailed without being cumbersome and his ability to draw out the stories from the people of the tribes that he meets lifts this book from good to great. This is the first Norman Lewis book that I have read and it will not be the last. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
I have a few quibbles with some of the comments and ideas, but mostly very good reading. I generally appreciate Lewis' perspective. ( )
  reg_lt | Feb 7, 2020 |
Another good travel book from Norman Lewis. Deals with the region south and east of Calcutta and largely with the tribal populations. Good insights....Finished 30.10.19. ( )
  untraveller | Nov 5, 2019 |
Travel in the south of India, visiting remote areas and tribal peoples. ( )
  DramMan | Dec 12, 2016 |
Showing 4 of 4
Returning to India with a certain wariness (his first visit, in 1950, left him with highly unpleasant memories), Lewis drifts through parts of the violence-torn country that few tourists ever see--from shabby Bihar in northwestern India, where recent caste wars have dominated the news, through poverty-ridden Calcutta, to the mountains of Orissa, home of the largest tribal population in the world. Led by a young, romantic Brahmin guide, Lewis infiltrates mountain communities whose ancestry may be traceable to the Aborigines of Australia or to prehistoric Asia.
added by John_Vaughan | editKirkus (Jan 29, 1992)
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