I recently had the pleasure of reading Do Not Wash Hands in Plates by Barb Taub, with photographs by Janine Smith and Jayalakshmi “Jaya” Ayyer. It’s a lighthearted story of three women-of-a-certain-age traveling across India together, eating, sightseeing, eating, shopping, and eating their way through cities and villages all over the subcontinent and enjoying (almost) every minute of it.
The women, friends from their university days, had experienced international travel together years before, when they met up in Luxembourg from three different points of departure in the United States. This trip was a bit different– this time they were meeting from two different international points of departure (Scotland and the United States) and one from within India. It was a little more difficult this time, admittedly, but the women finally met up (in the middle of the night) and their adventure together began.
From the vastly inconcise traffic rules (really “more like guidelines,” according to Jaya) and the closure of national monuments due to the arrival of a certain high-ranking American to bargaining with locals over the price of souvenirs and experiencing the open friendliness and generosity of the Indian people, this story took me on a journey I only wish I could have experienced in person.
I was laughing out loud before I even finished the introduction. Barb Taub has quite a way with words and her descriptions of people, places, and things were witty and evocative. Her ability to share the trio’s experiences with readers lucky enough to pick up this book is inspirational. Her writing made me want to call up a couple old friends and invite them to the other end of the earth just to see what would happen. I might still do that.
And if you like Indian food, you’re in for a treat. I’m a sucker for Indian food and this book had me drooling. It seems everywhere they went the women’s hosts were determined to feed them until they popped. Whether it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacktime, teatime, or any other time, the food was plentiful and delicious. Janine and Jaya have included some luscious-looking photos of the food they enjoyed on their trip.
My favorite part of the book, and undoubtedly Barb’s least favorite, was the illness which befell her while traveling. It was side-splitting in more ways than one. Want to know more? You’ll have to read the book yourself. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
I finished Do Not Wash Hands in Plates in just one sitting with a smile on my face and a lightness in my heart. I’m so glad Barb, Janine, and Jaya shared their experiences with readers. Their desire to showcase to the rest of the world the rich culture of India, the majesty of its landscape and, of course, its food has resulted in a book you’ll love.
You can find Do Not Wash Hands in Plates here (Amazon.com) and here (Amazon.co.uk).
If you’re interested in finding out more about Barb Taub, visit her blog at http://barbtaub.com/.
Until next week,