Shantaram – Man of God’s Peace.

If you, like me, likes to read, then you’ve probably played this game before: if you’re allowed only one book to accompany you to a deserted island, then which one would it be? My answer surprised me…for I chose a tome that doesn’t quite fit my typical library profile, stocked as it is with factual stuff on aviation and health related topics.

This book is not quite fact and it’s not quite fiction and it’s written so beautifully, it could just as well have been classed as poetry. It’s thick enough, more than a 1000 pages, to act as pillow for your weary head. And heavy enough to flatten any spider or scorpion. So many pages, you can start a fire and not notice the loss of a few.

It’s Shantaram, my friends, written by the convicted felon, high security prison escapee, gun runner and heroin addict, Gregory David Roberts. This man has led a life, far stranger than fiction. He escaped from Pentridge, an Australian high security prison, and fled to India where he lost himself in the Mumbai slums. There he survived, and prospered, for the next ten years. Mesmerisingly, his words and his sentences flow easily into paragraphs and pages and chapters and before you know it, it’s the last page. How is it possible, you wonder, to devour all these hundreds of pages so quickly without ever noticing the passing of time?

Shantaram…Man of God’s peace…

It took Gregory a lifetime to find that peace. There’s a reason why every sentence is so perfectly balanced and why each flows into the next with such ease. He rewrote that massive manuscript twice when the original was confiscated by prison guards. As he wrote, he changed. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Fact or fiction? That was the tantalizing question that haunted me ever since first reading the book, back in 2006. In his book, Gregory claimed to be fluent in several Indian dialects. He picked these up in the slums and while fighting with his mujahideen comrades against the russians in Afghanistan. And it was this claim that finally answered my question. Completely by chance, I happened on an interview with Gregory on youtube. See for yourself. Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

If you’d like to read the book, then please have a look on amazon:

My fellow South Africans, why not take a look on Loot?

You can also watch Gregory insightful talk on the origins of humanity and the future of the world here:

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And finally, if I may share more of my own health and aviation topics, then please browse my library: