Book Review: Art, friendship, and the dreaded Delhi belly collide in Barbara Carmichael’s I’ve Come To Say Goodbye

A fifty-something Australian artist and a 32 year old Indian spice merchant. It doesn’t exactly sound like the perfect basis for a lasting friendship. But Tarun Singh Inda became like a brother to author Barbara Carmichael, opening his heart and home to her over ten years worth of trips between Australia and India. Tarun passed away in 2014, and now Carmichael, coming to terms with her grief, charts their friendship, set against the lush scenery of Rajasthan.

Carmichael is an artist and it shows. Her descriptions of the Indian landscape, in particular the lake city of Udaipur, are vivid and beautiful, providing a vibrant backdrop for the gentle, loving friendship between these two unlikely souls. Captured as a series of moments that showcase both an enduring friendship and an exotic location, I’ve Come To Say Goodbye is warm and engaging, as Tarun welcomes Barbara into his life. She becomes part of his family, and the love they have for each other simply rises off the page.

The book is a pleasure to read and really appears to have been a labour of love for Carmichael, who positively pours details onto the page. Carmichael falls in love with India through her experiences with Tarun, and, cliché as it may seem for a travel memoir, discovers more about herself along the way too. And it should come as no surprise that her trips also provide plenty of fuel for her art!

I’ve Come To Say Goodbye isn’t necessarily going to get your pulse racing, or give you all the feels, or have you rushing to the nearest Flight Centre to book a trip to India. And it doesn’t need to, because its strength lies in its heartfelt simplicity. Carmichael and Tarun’s friendship is so organic and natural that it doesn’t need drama or extremes to feel legitimate and strong. Short, sweet, and wonderfully refreshing, I’ve Come To Say Goodbye is an ideal book to turn to if you’re finishing up a heavy read and need something a little more wholesome to recover.

I’ve Come To Say Goodbye is available now through New Holland Publishers.