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Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets

Review

Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets

In MISSION MUMBAI, young Dylan is going to Mumbai, India, with his friend, Rohit. Rohit is traveling there with his family to attend a wedding. They will be gone for three weeks and Dylan is looking forward to the trip because he doesn’t want to stay with his parents, who fight all the time. But, Rohit doesn’t want to go to India as he doesn’t like it there. He would much rather stay at home in New York, but his parents won’t permit him to do so.

Dylan is an aspiring photographer. He and his dad fight a lot about what Dylan should do with his life. His dad wants Dylan to try out for soccer, his dad’s favorite sport, as he thinks Dylan is wasting his time trying to be a photographer. But Dylan hates team sports of any kind, and he loves photography. He wants to prove to his dad that he can make money as a photographer. Dylan hopes to enter and win a photo contest and he thinks he can take some excellent pictures in India that will ensure his chance at the big prize.

"Author Mahtab Narsimhan, a native of Mumbai, takes the reader on an adventure through the streets of the city and beyond. Her writing is humorous and fast-paced."

Dylan has never been to India, so he is not familiar with all the “taboos.” He finds several ways to get his innocent self into hot water while on vacation there. One of them, as the title indicates, is an incident with a sacred cow.

Author Mahtab Narsimhan, a native of Mumbai, takes the reader on an adventure through the streets of the city and beyond. Her writing is humorous and fast-paced. I enjoyed reading the story, but I have some issues with it. For instance, at one point in the text, Rohit’s mom fixes “Bombay Ducks” for lunch. Dylan is an adventurous eater, so he looks forward to eating the special food. However, it turns out that “Bombay Ducks” are not actually ducks but are “eel-like thingies” (as Dylan describes them). There is no real explanation for what these “eel-like thingies” are. I would have liked to have been told more about them.

There were a few other things in the story that didn’t make sense to me. Dylan is known for getting in trouble and pulling pranks that are considered culturally inappropriate. He is punished by Rohit’s mom for most of them, but towards the end of the book, she does not say anything when he causes trouble at a restaurant. I wondered why not. Had she given up on him by then?

Because the story took place in India, I expected the characters to have to deal with scorpions or snakes or some exotic creatures. Snakes were mentioned, but not seen. Mosquitoes were mentioned, also, but they didn’t seem like a big deal, even though the ones in India are known to carry malaria. I just thought there would be more strange bugs or animals in the storyline.
Similarly, although most of the foreign words used throughout the text were printed in italics, and described and defined in the text, some were not. A glossary of foreign terms at the end of the book would have been useful. As an avid reader, I notice things like this when I a book. And, as a reviewer, I feel an obligation to point these things out to future readers. However, even with the issues I mentioned, this was a fun story to read. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on March 14, 2016

Mission Mumbai: A Novel of Sacred Cows, Snakes, and Stolen Toilets
by Mahtab Narsimhan