Review: On the Outside looking Indian – Rupinder Gill

Well I’ve been tweeting about this book for the last two days and I think it’s about time I write a little more than 140 characters about why I enjoyed Rupinder Gill’s memoir, “On the Outside looking Indian” so much! Not only is the cover absolutely adorable, but her story about “how her second childhood changed her life” is equally as entertaining.

At 30 years old, Rupinder Gill has a successful career, a loving family and great friends, but she still has a feeling that she’s missed out on many opportunities in her life when she was a child. Her parents were very strict when she and her siblings were growing up. Surrounded by North American children in a community an hour outside of Toronto, Gill longs to jump in the public pool, travel with her friends to camp or own a dog, but her parents answer to all of these things is a firm no. It doesn’t matter how much she begs or sets her alarm clock to plead with them one more time before a permission slip is due, the answer is NO. As a result, Gill’s summers are spent with her siblings watching countless hours of television and cleaning, there was always time to clean. She breaks down her average television schedule from age 7-14

10 a.m. – Welcome Back, Kotter
11 a.m. – Three’s Company
12 p.m. – lunch (two hot dogs or a pizza pita, based on availability)
1 p.m. – Days of our Lives
2 p.m. – One Life to Live
3 p.m. – General Hospital
4 p.m. – Golden Girls
5 p.m. – Empty Nest
6 p.m. – Nurses

Needless to say, her childhood isn’t filled of stories of “this one time at band camp”. At 30 years old, her life is still consumed with television (even working as a televison publicist). She decides to take a step out of the norm and set out to do the list of things she always wanted to do as a child; take dance classes, learn to swim, go to summer camp, own a pet and have a sleepover. The list is compiled at the beginning of January and she sets a goal of achieving the list by the end of the year.

This 264 page memoir has Rupinder’s readers jumping into the deep end of the pool with her each time we turn the page. It’s ironic that the things that we once found so easy to do as a child now involve so much fear and anxiety as an adult. Personally, I don’t remember the adrenaline I must have felt by entering my first ballet class or the first time I removed my water wings. However, I can only imagine the fear of the unknown as she sets out to recreate her childhood wishes. She manages to bury her feelings of fears and what if’s and puts herself out there in ways she’s never done before; resulting in her viewing the world a little bit differently each time she crosses another goal off her list. 

It’s a story of self discovery and a story of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. We all have those little goals, the things we always wanted to do, but never get around to doing, because life gets in the way or because we might be to scared to join the class you’ve always wanted to join. Rupinder doesn’t want to sit around anymore wondering what it would be like to see Disney World or what really goes on at a little girl’s sleepover, she sets out to achieve all the things she ever wanted to do and wasn’t allowed. This is a memoir that was uplifting, genuine and laugh out loud funny.*I broke down the use of LOL because as the author blurb on the back of the book indicates, Rupinder Gill was fired from Barnes & Noble’s for not understanding the “subtle nuances” of the term LOL* Be sure to check this one out, it’s guranteed to put a smile on your face!!!


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