“I was a revolutionary who lost his ideals in heroin, a philosopher who lost his integrity in crime, and a poet who lost his soul in a maximum security prison.”
When a book starts like that, you can’t help being intrigued. Shantaram of David Gregory Roberts piqued my interest the moment I held it between my hands and kept me engrossed till I turned the last page. This is one book that I never wanted to end.. To me, Shantaram serves as a deeply enriching and engaging testament to the indestructible nature of human spirit.
It describes the experiences of an Australian prisoner, who makes his lucky escape to India, and has his share of queer experiences like living in Slums, in Arthur Road Prison, Afghanisthan. Shantaram brings out the humane side of the Lin who couldn’t help but fall in love with innocence of people and led his life in abandon savoring each and every tide of life in his own stride. As his life entwined with engaging characters like Prabhakar, Karla, Didler, Abdullah, Khaderbhai, Qasim Ali, his journey delectably brings out the perseverance of human character against all odds, and his pathological optimism in humanity.
“That’s how we keep this crazy place together – with the heart…. India is the heart. It’s the heart that keeps us together. There’s no place with people, like my people, Lin. There’s no heart like the INDIAN HEART.”
Lin’s insight into the culture of India is quite perceptive and close to home. It made me reflect on Indian Values and how much essence we place on instinct, trust and the judgment of heart.
Here I don’t want to start a discussion on what part of that book is fiction and what part is autobiography, because even our life is a mixture of the experiences that we have and our perceptions of how they can be. This is one book that makes you cheerful and reflective at the same time. This racy, scintillating and engaging story is worth reading even if it’s a figment of fiction as those touching insights can’t be written if they are not felt in heart. How I wished Karla is real! Throughout the book, I was captivated by her meaningful and poignant observations on life.
Savor some of her quotes here…
“Loves are like that. You heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat, and your self-respect and independence. After a while, you started throwing people out – your friends and everyone you used to know. And it’s still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it’s going to take down with it. I’ve seen that happen to a lot of girls. That’s why I’m sick of Love.”
“The world and I are not on the speaking terms. The world tries to win me back, but it doesn’t work. I guess I’m just not the forgiving type.”
“Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it’s the other way round.”
“You said it’s important to have freedom to say no, but I think it’s more important to have freedom to say yes.”
“Sometimes I think that’s what heaven is- a place where everybody’s happy because nobody loves anybody else, ever.”
“People always hurt us with their trust. The surest way to hurt someone you like, is to put all your trust in him.”
“I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us or our endless ability to endure it.”
“Mistakes are like bad loves, the more you learn from them, the more you wish they’d never happened.”
“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like.”
“I could never respect a man who didn’t have the good sense to be at least a little afraid of me.”
“Sometimes you have to surrender before you win.”
“Wisdom is just cleverness, with all the guts kicked out of it.”
I’d only give you advice if I didn’t care what happens to you.”
“If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke.”
“I take everything personally- that’s what being a person is all about.”
“It isn’t a secret, unless keeping it hurts.”
“Depression only happens to people who don’t know how to be sad.”
“Luck is what happens to you when fate gets tired of waiting”
Shantaram emerges as a shimmering tribute to the indomitable human character entangled in all its glories, and fallacies. Though his life takes him through nefarious lanes, he comes out decent, vital, enduring and oddly human!
There are so many insightful excerpts that I wish to share, yet I could collect only some of them. Do Enjoy!
Some Of My Favorite Quotes from Shantaram By David Gregory Roberts…
“Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”
“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears. In the end that’s all there is: love and its duty, sorrow and its truth. In the end that’s all we have – to hold on tight until the dawn”
“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”
“A dream is a place where a wish and a fear meet. When the wish and fear are exactly the same, we call the dream a nightmare.”
“Fear dries a man’s mouth, and hate strangles him. That’s why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words.”
“You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn the love, truly and freely, of a child in return.”
“Be true to love where ever you find it, and be true to yourself and everything that you really are.”
Hope you are sold! Rush to pick it up and be assured of an enticing and unusual insight into the adventure called life!