If you hardly see me here these days, it’s not because I am ill, or undergoing a writer’s block. Not even because I have finally got bored with blogging! or because I am basking in the glory of my first award or my 60th follower ( Which BTW, both happened on the same day!). It’s not because my kids are troubling me (though that’s a very handy excuse to give to everyone who’s waiting for me to respond to urgent e mails or get back on a myriad other semi urgent projects that I am somehow always in the middle of). It’s not because I have run out of topics to talk about (actually the list is just getting longer).
The reason, I am not writing, just about managing to answer the comments on my blog and not getting any packing done (I am scheduled to leave within a week,for a grand family wedding, and then for a road trip to ladakh – my dream destination since forever! but that’s another blog) is because I am currently reading a book.
Does that disappoint you! Is that an anticlimax? were you waiting for a bigger, more serious sounding reason. But then, that means you don’t really know me. I am the typical bookworm. When I find a book I like, my eyes glaze over! I forget to eat meals, sometimes even forget to cook them the laundry remains unwashed, kids go un-bathed, deadlines get missed, bills remain unpaid…..an eerie silence descends over my household Have I ever said before that I am the d”evil in residence” in my home! perpetually shouting an order there, pulling up an ear here, ranting unsought advice, spewing “well-meaning” criticism (Am sure you get the drift). Life as we know it in the “Goel” ( that by the way is my husband’s last name) household comes to a standstill, till the last page is reached. My family looks on with dread each time someone recommends a good book to me. I can almost see the panic in my children’s eyes! Whenever a serious project in underway like the renovation of our restaurant or the kids exams, I am kept away from bookstores! Like a million miles away! You get the picture? … Right!
But I am digressing. so I was telling you about the book that is currently keeping me away from my desktop (I still prefer that to my shiny white apple mac – old-fashioned?? Yeah, I know!!) . Its called “three cups of Tea” and it’s about an American mountaineer, who after a failed attempt to climb K2, in the karakoram range, loses his way and chances upon a remote village in Pakistan – Korphe. There as he regains his health, he also gets to know the residents, develops an understanding of their harsh ways and an admiration for their tough struggle to survive.Discovering that the Korphe children have no school, he promises to return to build a school for them. The minor hitch being that he is penniless, virtually a pauper and has no clue where to start. With sheer grit and determination he manages to raise the funds, and goes on to build not 1 or 2 but 53 schools in one of the most inhospitable regions in the world.
I have had a chance to read a lot about developmental work. What touches me the most about George Mortenson’s story, is the utter lack of self-consciousness with which Mr Greg Mortenson seems to have gone about his work. With no pre – conceived notions of developmental work, no self-important airs, no jargon of important sounding terms, with an open mind, willing to listen to “illiterate” people, respecting their wisdom and embracing their culture. His story as written by his co author David oliver relin, is not only about building the schools but also about the beauty of the life of the people he has grown to love. It’s an account of how a humble, non-assuming westerner can enter the hearts and homes of people living in the remotest corners of a staunch Islamic nation. The book (as much as I have read of it till now – a little over 200 pages underlines what most of us suspect anyway. That people everywhere want only good education, health services and basic facilities. That anyone promising people a better future for their children is welcome anywhere in the world regardless of their religion, color or country. An important lesson that governments, still need to learn, it seems! The accounts of his years sleeping in balti homes on open terraces , hunting Ibex in balti hunting party, being abducted by” wazirs” in Peshawar, his personal struggles with finance and loneliness, his finding his soul-mate, the building of his first school have left me crying or smiling, for no apparent reason to my children’s puzzlement!
This is a wonderful, wonderful book with remarkable candidness and provides great insight into the psyche of both Greg Mortenson and the people he chose to work with! “With” and not “for” and that’s the true essence of good developmental work!
Three cups of Tea – The first is drunk with strangers , second with friends and with third you become family, is definitely a must read. The book’s tagline says, its about one man’s mission to promote peace, one school at a time. Read it, its one of those books that may change your life, or at least what you think about it. Just make sure, you get all your important tasks done first and don’t forget to write a short blog informing your readers of your inevitable absence… 🙂 happy reading!
- Questions over Greg Mortenson’s stories (cbsnews.com)