Shantaram - A Man of God's Peace by Gregory David Roberts
It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured."
I read Shantaram when I was travelling through Thailand with my backpack. One generous Brit, who had fallen in love with a Thai beauty, gave me the password to his kindle account on the condition that I read Shantaram first. And so it began.
When I started reading Shantaram I was lying on a night train from Chang Mai to Krabi, sleeping above a monk, and it was freezing cold inside the train. I had dressed myself for the exotic Thai heat, and did not take into account the Thai people's love of airconditioning. So I kept myself warm by the thought of Lindsay's India, where the streets of Bombay burn the skin from the reflection of the sun.
Shantaram is a lengthy novel (985 pages!) based on a real life story. Gregory David Roberts escaped from prison and fled to India, just as the leading character of the Novel Lindsay, later baptized as Linbaba. Although Gregory has claimed it is not faithful to reality, it sure reads like a story that could have happened and probably has happened far too many times.
Why should you read Shantaram?
Shantaram is for people who want to know more about India and its exotic charm. Like India, you either love or hate this novel, but it doesn't leave you some place in between. Shantaram is about the crime scene in India and the Middle East, about the mafia, about the slums and about how little our lives can be worth. It's not a chipper story about love and wealth. It brings the real India to live and places value where it should be placed: in human relations.
“Men reveal what they think when they look away, and what they feel when they hesitate. With women, it's the other way around”