Ivana Knezevic ,
Susan Christiana

Susan Christiana

I hope … no. I am confident you will have a wonderful time with Shantaram.

I found this book on one trip to India, maybe on a second day of my stay in Bombay. The trip was a kind of a mission. I took a British friend Dennis along, a man in his 70s. His lifelong dream was to see India. He was a single dad of three, his kids were finally all grown and had families of their own; he was retired and finally free to chase some of his own dreams. So we got our visas, bought the tickets, and went. We spent some six or eight weeks there, I do not remember exactly. India was everything and more he ever had imagined.

Less than a year after our return, Dennis died.

This was not what I wanted to tell you here. I guess Dennis just wanted me to mention him.

Now, my intention was to say how we had stayed in a hotel next door to Leopold’s cafe in Colaba (an area of Bombay near the Gate of India built by king George V), Leopold’s cafe being a place central in the Shantaram story.

So there I was, right on the spot where all the action in the book began… Sitting in my hotel room, the author took me on the most fascinating journey through Bombay, to the places where I as a women and as a foreigner, never could get an entry to…

I want you to pay attention to one thing. This guy Shantaram — that is the name he was given in India — he is a convict, an ex addict, he is all kinds of things — but his fate and his good fortune of sorts is dictated by an incredible capacty for love he has for the people he meets on his life’s journey. His genuine interest, his understanding, his faith in, and his love for the human beings — whether beggars and cripples or powerful and beautiful individuals — this sensitivity he manifests is almost feminine a quality we see in this tough, masculine man. That is at least my take. What made this whole story so special and so credible to me. And the main character is not some fictive persona, it is actually the writer of the book. It is his life story. But the story is nonetheless a veritable thriller.

You know what, I have just convinced myself. I think I will read the book again.

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