Halfway through 2018, one of my friends introduced me to Shantaram. He insisted it was “the best book ever”, a statement I casually shrugged off. Luckily, Kart was so obsessed at it that he actually insisted on me borrowing the book. It was more than 900 pages long and as I looked at it for the first time, I wondered if I’d ever even take on the challenge. Maybe I’ll keep it for awhile, that would rightfully be courteous.

Six months later, I am a completely changed person. Shantaram was indeed one of the best books I’ve ever read! I only took to reading it in bed, usually before I slept. It was engaging from the moment I opened til the moment I closed it – a feat rarely achieved by lengthy novels. Even my dad, who I had prodded to read the book as well, relented that it was indeed good – “no wonder you want to go to India”. And this comes from the leading person who is disagreeable with my impending trip back to India. As with most books I read, I usually note down the lines that strike me the most. I have a lot more from Shantaram, but I handpicked a few of my favorites that I’d like to remember at different points of my life:

During times of hopelessness

I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them…freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life.

When I start seeing people only for what I can gain

The little victories haggled from him by foreign tourists costs Anand his daily bread, and cost them the chance to know him as a friend.

When I hide behind wisdom as an excuse for inaction

That’s not wise, Lin. I think wisdom is very overrated. Wisdom is just cleverness, with all the guts kicked out of it.

When I wonder whether I truly want something and all the suffering that comes with it

Hungry, for anything, means suffering. Not hungry for something means not suffering.

When I crave for words yet actions speak for themselves

His handshake was the kind that good friends sometimes use in place of a whole conversation.

When I think hardening my heart is the only key to survival

If you make your heart into a weapon, you always end up using it on yourself.

When I’m sad and I don’t think I can make anything out of that sadness

There are many animals that can express their happiness, but only the human animal has the genius to express a magnificent sadness.

When I doubt the good in people

One of the worst of many failings, in those exile years, was my blindness to the good in people. I never knew how much goodness there was in a man or a woman until I owed them more than I could repay.

Shantaram was written by Gregory David Roberts


11 thoughts on “Shantaram

    1. Hello Michael ! I also ran into this video when I first started liking Shantaram! You will not regret reading it, it is an epic adventure more than anything. I hope you find yourself a copy! Is there a movie already?? Last time I searched there wasn’t any yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. If a movie could be made from rumors then this one would be a blockbuster!
    So, this is a dream project of Johnny Depp? IMDB lists a TV series but does not seem to be realized either.
    Just spotted an audio-book version that might make for an interesting daily commute πŸ˜€ – The search is on…
    TY Christine!


  2. Hi Christine,
    Thank you very much for this recommendation. It has taken me several weeks to finish the book. I actually listened to Shantaram on audio book during my daily commute and could not hardly wait for the next day’s trek to escape once again to India.

    This was a fascinating “read”; entertaining in every respect. I admit that quite often, in the narrative, I found myself annoyed with the author’s seemingly narcissistic outlook on life. Though this perspective may have been at the root of his personality I often found it a bit much to take.

    That being said; Gregory David Roberts proves to be a most creative wordsmith and has painted quite a lovely tapestry of India and its people that will forever change my thoughts of the country. He has obviously endeavored to include a bit of his heart and soul in every turn of phrase and in this fact I regard this to be a book of poetic tribute to India in the guise of a tell-all autobiography of an escaped convict. Forced to live by his wits in the life he has created for himself, it is less a cautionary tale than a testament of the power of love to sustain. Love of self, love of others, love of a country, love of life, join with hope for a better tomorrow in this inspirational tale of one man’s struggle to survive.

    I think we are all in there to some extent. A valuable literary work, so very glad I took the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Michael! πŸ™‚ I’m so amazed you finished reading it within just a few months! And was happy to hear how it accompanied you in your morning commutes! I should have tried that too – although my commute in the morning is too short to be able to enjoy a chapter at least. Interesting insight about his outlook in life. And I loved what you said about all of us being there to some extent – can’t agree more. And I’m really happy you took on my recommendation, but more so that you enjoyed it as much as I did! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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