I am reading a great book, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. The book is closely based on Robert’s life, almost an autobiographical novel.
Sometime in the 1980’s, Roberts escapes from an Australian prison and finds himself in Bombay. He falls in love with Bombay and its people. He also falls in love with a Swiss woman living in Bombay, Karla, who seems unable to love him back.
His fake visa expires and he can no longer stay in hotels because of it. Unwilling to extend the visa because of his fugitive status, his new friend Prabaker finds him a place living in the slums. Here he begins to give basic medical care to the others living there, financing the needed supplies by setting up drug deals and black market exchanges for tourists.
He captures the attention of one of Bombay’s important mafia bosses who requests that he take the man’s 11 year old nephew to live with him for a few months, to teach the child English and the ways of an Englishman.
This is as far as I have gotten. I am only about 1/3 of the way through the 944 pages of the novel. I’m looking forward to having the time to finish it next week.
I usually read fairly fast, but I haven’t been able to do that with this book. Roberts writes so well that I don’t want to miss one single word. It’s rare for me to find a book like that.
I am hooked on this novel. It is opening up a new world for me in the vivid descriptions of India and its people. It’s one of those books that you miss reading when you finish it.
The book is mostly about love – his love for the city, its people, Karla, and many other individuals he finds himself loving. His love for the simple, happy life he finds for himself living in the slums.
Despite all the horrible things that happen in the story (like a huge fire in the slums), it’s the love that makes it a happy book. This encompassing love and the happiness it brings can really put our own lives in perspective. It shows how happiness is found by meeting our needs, and how our wants sometime fade into the background.
Read any good books lately?