Shantaram

“The truth is a bully we all pretend to like”

Sometimes, I don’t believe in fate. But then again, sometimes, I’m left quite stumped with how certain things work out. It was in December 2008, when my new found college friend and I were busy with internships. She was in the public relations department of a reputed NGO and I was with the digital division of a newspaper. She had invited me to cover an event, my very first, and boy, was I excited. Who knew that years later we’d end up being really close friends and that she would invite me for so many other events, and sometimes, even fam trips. It was quite a jugalbandi.

At that event, I met Gregory David Roberts. There was a lot of hoo-ha around him, and me being a novice, I stuck to the corner, slowly inching my way forward. Even though I hadn’t read Shantaram, who hadn’t heard of the great GDR and the armed robber and heroin addict from Australia who escaped prison and landed in Mumbai. And so, begins his tryst with Shantaram.

And exactly seven years later, in December 2015, the same friend M. bought me Shantaram, because she had read and loved it, and knew I would to. Could this be a mere coincidence?

“One of the reasons I remember those early Bombay months so well is that, whenever I was alone, I wrote about those new friends and the conversations we shared. And writing was one of the things that saved me: the discipline and abstraction of putting my life into words, every day, helped me to cope with shame and its first cousin, despair.”

The narrative is scattered with pearls of wisdom, and sometimes, I could just not stop underlining quotes for posterity. When you see enough of the world and its people, your thinking becomes so astute, that reasoning is as sharp as a chef’s knife.

“A man trusts another man when he sees enough of himself in him.”

I read somewhere that Gregory had written the book three times, because the first two times he wrote, the prison guards had torn his manuscript. This fact left me stunned. The one time I had to write an article again from scratch, because the fancy MAC at work suddenly bailed on me, I had gone on a tirade and nearly broke down. How did this man do it? Such perseverance and determination were astounding.

Last year, on March 25th, I put up a picture of the book on my Instagram with the following caption:

“Never have I ever wanted so badly to pack my bags and hoist myself to another city as during the time I was reading Shantaram. Bombay or Mumbai always seems like a distant dream, an illusion conjured in the mind’s eye, only so close, but ever so far. Someday, when the time is right, I’ll set foot on your dusty, serene shores and let you claim me for yourself.”

And lo and behold, within seven odd months, I found myself a new job and in my city of dreams for a six-week training period. Would this too be just a coincidence? I know not, but the time spent at Marine Drive enjoying the sea breeze and walking around the Fort area, brought back snatches of the book. And my heart felt so full, it hurt. Sometimes, you may not get exactly what you wish for, but you get something.

“Fate always gives you two choices and the one you should take and the one you do.”

This post is part of the eighth annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. The theme for this month is ‘Between Pages’. It’s my second attempt at this. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging.

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