Looks can be deceptive. Very deceptive. When some villagers name the protagonist "Shantaram" after his calm nature, little idea did they have of his fierce past. Shantaram tries hard to melt into his surroundings and maintain a low-key but keeps getting into trouble.
Gregory David Roberts, the author, embellishes his life events to build the story. He escapes prison in Australia and flies to India under an assumed name (Lin) to lay low for a while before escaping to Europe. He meets an unreserved tourist guide, Prabhakar who becomes a dear friend. After a robbery, Lin loses all his money and relocates to a slum in Mumbai. During the course of his stay, he gets acquainted with a lot of foreigners, an underworld don - Abdel Khader Khan, being one of them. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, he ends up in Arthur road prison where he faces abuse that almost leaves him dead before he is rescued by Khader Khan. Lin dedicates his life to the don and blindly follows him to Afghanistan to help the mujahideen liberate the country from the Soviets. This trip opens his eyes and he realises that he has become someone he loathes. He resolves to return and reset his life.
The novel is over 900 pages and protracted. There were many instances where I felt like dropping the book but carried on hoping for a satisfying experience at the end. While I didn't feel so after I was done, it wasn't lousy either.
When breath becomes air
What would you do if you are informed that you are dying (no timeline provided)? Would you continue working towards your dream? Or give up and spend the rest of the time cursing your fate?
Paul Kalanithi is close to completing his neurosurgeon residency at Stanford. He has worked hard …read more
Dr.Anand falls in love with Anupama and it appears to be progressing like a fairy tale. After marriage, her husband leaves to England for higher studies and she is expected to follow him shortly. But she is diagnosed with Vitiligo and is shunted out of her in-laws and parents …read more
On the Origin of Species
I have heard of the phrase "Survival of the fittest" since childhood in contexts unrelated to Charles Darwin's (this phrase was added in a later edition) usage. It always piqued my curiousity on how he (and some people before him) proposed this revolutionary idea. They didn't observe the evolution of …read more
Pakistan; or the partition of India
Every person in the Indian subcontinent is aware of the misery caused by the partition of India. A lot of people believe that the Indian Congress Party and the first Prime Minister of India were responsible. They insist that the partition could have been avoided and history would've been kinder …read more
The Bourne Identity
Countless number of times people have recommended this book but I pushed back by claiming that this book didn't fit my interests. Recently I realised that my reading has been wide-ranging and I don't have a favourite genre.
A man is found almost dead by fishermen in the middle of …read more
Sometimes one just needs to read history without being judgemental to appreciate the context. It puts certain things into perspective. You don't necessarily have to take a stand but only use it to expand your realm.
Mein Kampf is Adolf Hitler's autobiography. The book traces his journey from his childhood …read more
Aurangzeb: The man and the myth
History shouldn't be used to judge even though a lot of people claim that history should be the best judge. To judge a historical period, one must also factor in the context then. Without appreciating the context, one may end up distorting history. Aurangzeb is probably the most hated Mughal …read more
The Great Gatsby
When the going is good, everyone is 'friends' with you. But when the first signs of trouble appear, only the true friends remain. "The Great Gatsby" is a novel by Scott Fitzgerald that mashes friendship, love and betrayal in a story set in America in the 1920s (post the World …read more
My inventions: Autobiography of Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla may not be as famous as his contemporary Thomas Edison but his inventions (like the AC motor and his experiments in telephony) have had larger impact than Edison's.
If you keep the descriptions of his inventions aside, Tesla was an interesting character. He was a polyglot, believed in …read more