Throbbing with Love, Life, Challenges and so many ‘aha’ moments- SHANTARAM.
Call him Lin , Linbaba, Gilbert,or Shantaram-his real name is Gregory David Roberts, the author of this fantabulous book-Shantaram. It’s the story of a nomadic who is a citizen of New Zealand by birth, a fugitive by fate and an Indian by heart. If you are a Mumbaikar and are boasting of knowing your Mumbai closely, Shantaram will shatter your pride and will show you a new face of this miraculous city not to make you hate but to love it even more.
Characters are vivid yet unfathomably deep. They take you into their lives so intensely that you will desperately anticipate knowing more about them.
Prabhakar or Prabhu, a heart centred young Maharashtriun friend of Lin who often calls him Linbaba in his typical dialect who takes Lin to his village for several months to give him an another plum-de-nom, Shantaram-god of peace or peacemaker. Prabhu who gives Lin ……love,dies an unfortunate death leaving behind a vacuum in the Life and the heart of Lin. Another person who touches the strings of Lin’s being is Abdel Khader Khan or Khaderbhai- a don of Mumbai Underworld whom Lin adores like father. Khadebhai's quest for the truth and his unique view of seeing the things appeals Lin. And then Lin introduces us with Kalra, his sweetheart, she has seen all the faces of life which gives an edge of philosopher to her personality. Then comes Didier, an Italian, Abdulla, one of his friends in the underworld, Johny Cigar, Nazir, Madona(a dedicated lover). Lin stores the essence of all these characters in his heart to make them memorable in the readers memory. His friends and foe alike, help him realize the true meaning of life to which Abdel Khader Khan calls ‘the ultimate complexity’
Greagory shows us two worlds at a time which are inseparably mingled into each other but are far more different, rather opposite -the luxuries world of upper class mafia which is very cunning and cruel and a filthy, highly insecure world of the slum dwellers which is inevitably innocent,true and honest
One truth shines on almost every page of this thousand page novel -if you are lean and eager to learn, every incident may it be bad or good becomes your guide.
The story starts with the statement of Lin-" I learnt about love and fate and choices we made in our life but the heart of it came to me suddenly when I was chained to a wall and tortured. My body was shackled but I was free: free to hate the men who were torturing me or to forgive them. Freedom is a universe of possibilities and the choice you make becomes the story of your life".
Shantaram , with the utmost freedom chooses to forgive his torturer. And with this Lin finds the formula to win the hearts of Indians- to surrender to the moment.
‘Shantaram’ has become an account of Lin’s external and internal journey at the same time.
We know many faces of Mumbai-city of film stars and films, the economical capital of India, an adobe of gangsters , an over-crowded island, the Dabbewalas and their six-sigma management, the city of cricket legend Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. But the Mumbai we see through the eyes of Shantaram is so big and warm that you will feel as if you have experienced the real Mumbai-Darshan.
Mumbai which appears on these pages plays the role of the cosmopolitan heart of the world.
Don’t miss this literary masterpiece.