In this unusual, extraordinary autobiography, Shanta Gokhale—writer, translator and one of India’s most illuminating cultural commentators—traces the arc of her life over eight decades through the progress of her body, as it grows, matures and begins to wind down. Starting with her birth in 1939—in philosophic silence, till the doctor’s slap on her bottom made her bawl—she recounts her childhood, youth and middle and old age in chapters built around the many elements and processes of the physical self: tonsils and adenoids, breasts and misaligned teeth; childbirth and fluctuating weight, cancer and bunions. And through these memories emerge others, less visible but just as defining: a carefree childhood growing up in a progressive Marathi household in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park; the pleasures, in adolescence, of badminton, Kathak and hairdressing; the warmth of friends and an almost love in cold England; finding and losing a mate—twice—and bringing up her children as a single parent; the great thrill of her first translation from Marathi into English; nursing her mother, dying of cancer, as she would a baby; surviving cancer herself, and writing her second novel through the recovery.
Told with effortless humour and candour, One Foot on the Ground is the story of a life full of happiness, heartbreak, wonder and acceptance. It will rank among the finest personal histories written in India.