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In Pilgrimage to India, Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-born, Western-educated woman, returns to her country of birth and gives readers an inside look at a culture that is both fascinating and largely inaccessible. During her two-year stay, Jayapal finds a people struggling to reconcile time-honored practices with present-day changes, and she herself confronts mixed emotions toward the deeply rooted traditions of the society. Jayapal not only sheds light on India’s societal issues but also weaves a vibrant tapestry of the beauty and mystery of the culture. Jayapal’s forte lies in translating grassroots-level issues of development for a Western audience. These passages alone make the book a worthwhile read.” The Village Voice
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Pramila Jayapala rejected her indigenous Indian culture when she was a young child, having been taught and raised in Western schools and ideology. For years, Jayapala held this uncomplicated opinion: "India repressed and backward, America creative and advanced." But after working a soulless job in investment banking and marketing, she finally came to realize that "there was a woman within me, waiting to emerge, a persona that included a complexity of new images of homeland, identity, life values, and work."
Eventually she left Seattle, Wash., where she had worked, to embark on a two-year pilgrimage through India. Japayala takes us on the underground tour--letting us see this complex and spiritually fascinating country through Western eyes but with a native guide. She openly questions the feminine and class restraints of India, yet somehow she never becomes self-righteous or didactic. Through this brave, unflinching voice we find a mentor for self-discovery as well as a model for how to know and question our own homelands. At its core this is a global manifesto in which Jayapala recognizes that spiritual growth is the only way to bring about social and political change. But at its heart this is a dynamic spiritual memoir as Jayapala continually returns to her personal journey, including the gripping crescendo--a miraculous story of her son's premature birth in Bombay. --Gail HudsonAbout the Author:
Pramila Jayapal was born in 1965 in Madras, India, and left the country when she was five. She grew up in Indonesia and Singapore, coming to America at the age of sixteen for college. Prior to her return to India in 1995, she was the director of an international loan and technical assistance program that worked with women and children in developing countries, including India. She has a B.A. in English Literature and Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from Northwestern University. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
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