I don’t like the book. For me Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts was too close to a brief and scary experience I had myself at Bombay airport.
The story is based in the city’s contemporary underworld of gangsters and drug dealers, and I inadvertently bumped into a minor player at the airport who perceived me as some kind of rich, white tourist whose pockets were crammed with US dollars and whose perception of India in all its complexity was seen through the initial rosy-tinted specs of the first time visitor. I wasn’t that person. I was then a white, middle-class Resident of India who through setting up and running a hotel in Kerala had developed a sensible outlook on the real India and who had only a few rupees in her pocket as she travelled from Bombay to Cochin. I got over it. So did he.
But Shantaram raises perplexing and intriguing philosophical questions about life. About your life. About my life.
And here’s just one of them: “Fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies, and three great loves in our lives.”
I bet you’re counting now. I was when I first read it.