Review in India Today
It was a poignant homecoming - 35 years after leaving India, Aline Dobbie heeded her heart and headed for the country of her birth in 1998. India: The Peacock's Call (Serendipity) is wrapped in the myriad emotions that the visit evoked in the Scottish woman. "It is my take on India at the turn of half a century of Independence," she says. It was also the time of her own 50th birthday and so it was rumination on two parallel lines. She received a warm welcome into the fold in which she was born - the Jat Regiment in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, where her father was a British officer. The warmth prompted 'three visits in six months'.
The book takes the visitor through the well-frequented tourist spots, forts and temples of north India. Yet Dobbie manages to bring to them an element of wonder that belongs to the first-time visitor. Still proficient in Urdu and Hindi that she learnt in her childhood, still nostalgic about the people and places, Dobbie comments on everything - from Delhi's disappointing international airport and the rush of traffic that one does not have to scrape through anywhere else in the world to the immense dignity and personal cleanliness of the average Indian.
To those uninitiated to the Indian way of life, the book acts as a charming eye-opener that is at the same time peppered with some basic dos and don'ts - it cautions on exchanging money and the great Indian hurdles that invariably crop up at every juncture.
For Dobbie, who spent 10 years in South Africa, the unaccounted riches of Asia and Africa hold abundant charm and she remains undeterred in her "determination to promote India". "I want the world to know that there is more to India than the palaces in the north," she says. And she is working on it, planning more books on her favourite land. "My second book is about wildlife parks in India," she says, excited about having roped in a well-known wildlife photographer of India to take the pictures. And her third book, she promises will be on south India. Her love story with the country continues, traversing its geography and history.