On the Outside Looking Indian

On the Outside Looking Indian

How My Second Childhood Changed My Life

Book - 2012 | 1st Riverhead trade pbk. ed.
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A memoir of a young woman, the product of a strict upbringing by conservative Indian parents, who decides to go on a Ram-Singha, her Indian version of the rumspringa, and learns how to dance, swim, drive, travel, and play in order to be happy.

Rupinder Gill was raised under the strict rules of her parents' Indian upbringing. While her friends were practicing their pliés, having slumber parties, and spending their summers at camp, Rupinder was cleaning, babysitting her siblings, and watching hours on end of American television. But at age 30, Rupinder realized how much she regretted her lack of childhood adventure.

Stepping away from an orderly life of tradition, Rupinder set put to finally experience the things she missed out on. From learning to swim and taking dance lessons, to going to Disney World, her growing to-do list soon became the ultimate trip down non-memory lane. What began as a desire to experience all that had been denied to her leads to a discovery of what it means to be happy, and the important lessons that are learned when we are at play. Reminiscent of Mindy Kaling, this is a warm funny memoir of the daughter of Indian immigrants learning to break free and find her own path.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, c2012.
Edition: 1st Riverhead trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9781594485770
Branch Call Number: BIO GILL GILL
Characteristics: 277 p. ; 21 cm.


From the critics

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Apr 03, 2012

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

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.

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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