Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Psychic sister Linda gives me a novel, Shantaram, which contains a detailed description of life in Bombay (Mumbai), scene of terrorist attacks

This novel, by Gregory David Roberts, is undoubtedly based on his real life as fugitive from Australia's maximum security prison system who escaped detection for years in Bombay. As events unfolded today on the news, I was amazed to learn that the attacks that took place in the Taj Mahal 5 star luxury hotel as well as a cafe called Leopold's are described by the author as where his fugitive protagonist Lin operated, hired by the Indian mafia. He participated in all kinds of criminal activity, working for a mafia overlord, which included trafficking in passports for those willing to pay the price, securing potent drugs for tourists, most often heroin or hashish. He met up with these tourists at the Taj Mahal or Leopold's Cafe mostly. The Mafia head was from Afganistan and also recruited Lin to go with him and a group of his men back to his native Afganistan to help his people fight the Russians, who were waging a savage war there at the time. A terrible trip is described taking place in the merciless mountains of Afganistan with the whole company killed except four men who came back barely alive from their wounds. Of course most of these men were Muslim as opposed to the Hindus of India who are the majority there.
Linda gave me this novel, insistent that I read it when Raymond and I went over to her house for lunch. I regard this as as psychic pickup by her of big trouble coming to that part of the world. She also received advanced warning of the massacre in Rowanda, undoubtedly because her daughter Carissa was in the Peace Corps there at the time. My son Dan purchased the novel Shantaram and told me sometime ago that it was such a riveting novel he could hardly lay down, and so it is, and these attacks reported today in that very milieu somewhat stunned me because I had gotten so engrossed in the novel which also delineates intimate knowledge of the life lived among the poorest of the poor in a slum adjacent to the Tag Mahal, where India's poor live in little makeshift huts, jampacked together. The fugitive lives there a number of months by turning himself into a kind of doctor because of his training in first aid, and uses medical supplies that come to him from the leper's colony. He also details the ravages of cholera and the monsoon and other such hazards that India must fight constantly. I learned more about what people go through on a daily basis living poor in India here than I have in any other book I have read. I also learned what the criminal element do, who are undoubtedly part of the terrorists who attacked the tourists at the present time. This novel was published in 2003 after the author was finally recaptured, served out his term, and established a multi media company when he came out of prison. Well he has written a novel that seemed to jump into the headlines today out of the past, terrorists carrying on as they do in the novel when many of the mafia figures and friends he knew die from the hard dangerous life they live, including his first best friend he met the moment he came off the plane. He was from a poor village trying to make a better living in Bombay (Mumbai) and he died there in the hectic life in the streets, due to an accident. The terrorists today have killed more than 80 people, believed to be mostly American and British, and others are being held hostage. And I can picture it all quite clearly because a good writer put down his experiences in this city and made them come alive! Writers can save lives with the journalistic clarity of their vision, showing us what we are up against.


Missie said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

annk said...

Wow, that is psychic for the both of you. I have been reading about the hostages in the paper and of course on the news. A book with clear understanding of what life is acftually like there can impact us all with better ideas of how difficult living can be. I still have a letter from Carissa telling about the native tribes surrounding her village beating with drums and dancing. Lives can be lost by the very ones there to help.


Blog Archive