Shantaram is the first book written by Gregory David Roberts.
He ran away from a prison in Australia to end up at Mumbai. He then lived in a slum in Mumbai, created and ran a free-of-cost health clinic, and then joined the mafia, otherwise called the underworld.
It must be mentioned here that other than the fact that Mr. Roberts came to Mumbai, most of the book and its characters are fictional. Nonetheless, it makes for great reading.
I read the first book in December 2007 - January 2008, and was surprised to hear about the second one. Before I post my favorite quotes from the second book, I must mention that
1. The first book was way, way better; and,
2. Even if one ignores the first book, the second one is boring.
Going to Sri Lanka in the future was a big thing in the first book. But it looks like Shantaram went there only to keep the promise made in the first book. Not the promise to Khaderbhai, but to the readers that going to Sri Lanka would be like going to Afghanistan in the first book.
There were a few smaller things. Small and irritating but too little to be mentioned. But when the author himself says it is fictional, I feel the criticism should be held back. And moreover, how many books have I written?
Now getting to the book's contents itself.
"An amateur is anyone who hasn't learned how not to do it"
".. Writers never really die, until people stop quoting them."
|A sadists' sadist|
|A case for bargaining, and a case for not bargaining.|
|Corruption as a tax.|
|I think in the first book Karla said Khaderbhai took her to Ajanta or Ellora caves. Now she talks of Kanheri caves.|
|Difference between war and peace. Seems a bit confusing though.|
|Justifying a life of crime. Or sugarcoating. Or just inventing excuses. Who knows?|
|Gotta love Didier talking about himself in third person.|
|A very logical yet simple case against suicide.|
|Though I do not understand these discussions completely, or even in parts for that matter, reading these makes me feel like an intellectual for a while :-)|
|Difference between good and bad pride.|
|Didier at his best!|
|Had Tolstoy not written Anna Karienna, literature and science would be lacking a lot today.|
|Because we can!|
|Religion in its most basic parts.|
|Not today. Not any more.|
|Someday, poor Indians will rise. Atleast I hope so.|
|Clients in the fake passport business.|
If you are thinking of reading the Mountain Shadow, please don't. Read Shantaram first and then go through the Mountain Shadow. Reading it directly will most likely kill your mood for the first book as well.
I must say that I was introduced to Shantaram by many friends: Vidhu Shekhar, Salil Kaul, Sharad Saxena and Diwakar Chauhan. There is also a certain Navdeep Toor, who since 2008 is saying he will read Shantaram, but now I do not have any more hopes of that happening.