If you have ever visited Barb Taub’s blog http://barbtaub.com/ you will know that she is the master of intelligent humorous writing so I knew when I downloaded this book that I was likely to be sniggering and quoting passages to my husband all the way through. I was right.
Do Not Wash Hands In Plates is summarised in the extension to the title: Elephant frenzy, parathas, temples, palaces, monkeys…and the kindness of Indian strangers, and that really is what it’s all about! In a warm witty account, Barb describes her travels around India accompanied by long term friends Janine and Jaya.
With the aid of Jaya’s vast extended family and a variety of fearless drivers, the three companions navigate the horrendous traffic and manage to visit some wonderful locations, despite the visit of the American President constantly causing temples and palaces to be closed. Every sentence is filled with humour and warmth, as Janine and Jaya nurse Barb through Delhi Belly and Indian bureaucracy.
There are so many quotable sentences. As an American living in Britain, Barb has learnt that,
“In the UK rules are inviolate and graven in stone. Rules in India are more like guidelines.”
When in danger of missing their plane, Jaya leads them straight past the long queue to the front,
“In the States people would have stopped us. In the UK we would have at least been speared by laser-focused glares and possibly even aggrieved throat-clearing,”
But as Jaya so often remarked, “In India people are so kind.”
Food is an important part of this book, since hospitality is paramount in India. I confess I had to google to discover the difference between parathas, roti, naan and chapatis and now I am anxious to do a taste test. The exotic, colourful, frenetic places they visited are beguiling but no visit to India could be so entertaining without Barb and her friends accompanying you!