Book Review: I Am the Ocean, Samita Sarkar
After graduating from college, author Samita Sarkar couldn’t find a job. She apparently sulked for a while and then decided to go on an adventure. This practitioner of Hare Krishna from Toronto, Canada, decided to couchsurf her way through NYC; Washington, DC; and Miami, Florida, carrying only what would fit into a backpack and small piece of rolling luggage. The one book she brought with her was The Bhagavad Gita, her spiritual guiding light. I’ve never read The Bhagavad Gita, and I was fascinated by the quotations which are sprinkled liberally throughout I Am the Ocean.
Samita planned an extremely frugal itinerary, flying to New York, and then bussing to her next destinations, couch surfing along the way with people she met online, and finally landing in a youth hostel in Miami. She was a very good tourist, taking in as much city culture as she could before it was time to move on. New York was fast-paced, Washington was inspirational, and Miami was crazy fun, tempered by the ocean and the beautiful beaches. Although Samita was cautious with strangers, she trusted that her “friend” Lord Krishna would send her where she needed to go and help her find who she needed to meet. In my opinion, Samita was an extremely lucky traveler, encountering very little unpleasantness. Later, she kept up electronically with many of the friends she made along the way.
PROS: It was truly charming to see these major U.S. cities through the author’s eyes. But even more than her story, I found Samita Sarkar herself to be a charming and charismatic figure. I felt like she was someone that I would really enjoy knowing. This was her journey of discovery and growth. Along the way, Samita realized what's a term paper and that her original life plans were not going to work for her, and she needed a flash of inspiration to direct her next moves upon her return to Toronto. This extended vacation took place in the 1990s, so I don’t know if the trip lost its impact later.
CONS: Editing on the fly often results in the dread “double period,” where the author has added something to the end of a sentence and automatically gives the sentence a period where one was already there “..”. There were so many of these, it was annoying. And sometimes, the language felt like the book was written by a non-native speaker of English. Some sentences just sounded “off.”
Overall, I think this is a wonderful example of a true journey, not just a tourist’s log.
Amazon US link
Amazon UK link