Friday, January 27, 2012

Shantaram Written By: Gregory David Roberts

I warn you ahead of time. I will quote this book a lot. And any review I write will never do this book justice. Out of all the cultures in the world out of all the people they all have a story. Some create stories and yet out of all these stories and peoples lives this story made it to me. It is a long story over 900 pages, but it's just fantastic. I'm talking about Shantaram, truly a remarkable tale. It is a true story, and even if it is not if a fraction of it is true then this truly is some amazing writing. I am at a loss for words. I know I read a lot of books, but this book brought me into the world of Lin an escaped convict from Australia who finds himself in Bombay India.He's not a really good guy, he is decent in his own way and by his own code and the code of those outside society. His story is very romantic, but also very dark and screwed up. The people whom he meets only enrich the world he dives into. India, I have read some books about it, and never has any author created such a vivid world. I saw Lin walking and going about his business, I smelled what he smelled, and found my emotions tied in with his and those around him. I fell in love with him and mourned with him. I did cry a few times in this book. The words and way this story was told was so beautiful a beautiful tragedy, but also a tragic beauty. Where something wonderful happened there was also something that almost canceled out that beauty.

 I must reference some of the phrases written by Mr. Roberts. He writes quoting his friend Didier (I am sure you will all love this French scoundrel) "They are not perfect, of course. They know how to fight and lie and cheat each other, and all the things that all of us do. But more than any other people in the world, the Indians know how to love one another. India is about six times the size of France, but it has almost twenty times the population. Twenty times! Believe me, if there were a billion Frenchmen living in such a crowded space, there would be rivers of blood. Rivers of blood! And, as everyone knows, we French are the most civilized people in Europe. Indeed, in the whole world. No, no, without love, India would be impossible." I can almost believe this, almost. After having read this book and all that occurs in the story that I almost can believe Indians truly do love one another, I almost feel like I have been in this wonderful country and culture.

To quote Vikram a cowboy Bollywood friend of Lins I found myself somewhat in agreement with him. "The facts of life are very simple. In the beginning we feared everything animals, the weather, the trees, the night sky, everything except each other. Now we fear each other, and almost nothing else. No one knows why anyone does anything. No one tells the truth. No one is happy. No one is safe. In the face of all that is so wrong with the world, the very worst thing you can do is survive. And yet you must survive. It is this dilemma that makes us believe and cling to the lie that we have a soul, and that there is a God who cares about its fate. And now you have it." It's very cynical, but there is a lot of truth to his words and again from the story and their experiences you can understand why such a man as he at such a young age would believe such things.

The book continues many people and cultures clash. Lin continues to travel throughout much of Bombay's society not all of it I agree with, but he believes in the people he immerses himself into their culture he wants to learn he wants to do something. However, he is never free. He always fears his freedom being taken away time and time again. He learns not only Hindi, but the local language spoken for generations, Marathi. This wins many of the peoples hearts. It is interesting at one point in the book out of all the love songs he would choose to sing "Ye doonia, ye mehfil Mere ham, ki nahi..." All the world, all its people mean nothing to me. Which, is so opposite of what Lin is, his friends are his family he thinks of his friends in his home country and family constantly, and devotes himself to his friends in Bombay. If you read this book Part Four chapter Twenty six there is a grand and very amusing opening argument. I think you all would enjoy it. There is one person in this story who I love more than all the others. He is Prabaker a wonderful Indian man who smile and personality are just so pure so wonderful I could only wish I would someday get to meet this person or know more about him. He lived simply, but he was fun and good. He lives in the illegal slums, and I am so fascinated by how people freak over in America now of days when someone sneezes in their hands and only uses a tissue. Yes the people of the slums, my gosh the squalor those people live in, but yet how what a tight community who takes care of one another. I invite you to read and ask yourself if you could be described as so good? I hope someday I have even half the radiant and good smile and could as good a friend as this little fellow was. The story takes place over a long time, no review would ever be able to show my great love for this book or for the people in it. I found myself having to read this story. Yes, the man who wrote it and is in it is a criminal, but I felt connected to him, like if his life hadn't gone certain routes he may have become some great philosopher or even healer, but perhaps not. Lin is a jack of all trades, perhaps that is why I connected to him in some ways. Then again I am not a criminal who kicked a heroine addiction, or ran with a mafia. Okay, I liked him. I can't say if this guys life was 100% true, but it was again just perfect. The story ends at an interesting point, I won't spoil, in fact I have given nothing away about this story. It was just a very amazing truly fantabulous book. I have to thank my father in law for giving me this book, it was educational both in the world and spirituality. I sadly let go of it now, but I cannot wait to hear what you think.

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