In the month of March, this year, I was preparing for my trip to New Foundland and needed some books, knowing there would be no entertainment while I was there.
I was at my favorite book seller and I actually picked up “The Mountain Shadow” from the shelf, first, because it looked like quite a meaty book, at 873 pages.
When I reached the word “Sequel,” I was like damn … Now I have to read the first book, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. When I got on the plane on April 13th, I began reading Shantaram, at 933 pages.
It took me more than a month to complete that read, and I was not disappointed by any stretch of imagination. I loved that book from start to finish, and I gushed about it here.
That’s 1806 pages in total. April 13th to July 15th.
One of my followers warned me about The Mountain Shadow. So I went into the book, with a shadow of my own. I finished the book, because I always try to finish a book, I had begun to read. That is not always the case though.
I felt obligated to read the whole book, to dispel the shadow I went into it with, and to figure out what I would eventually say about it here.
I really missed Prabaker. His smile, his love, and his charm.
“The Mountain Shadow” had its cast of characters that were well written and fleshed out. The First book in a series is usually better than the sequels that follow. That is a usual trend in many series I have read over time.
The Mountain Shadow was a bit darker and much more intense, with the story unfolding into a new chapter of Shantaram’s life. I had to reach the conclusion, to find out if, in the end, Shantaram had found redemption and had figured out his life.
It was not the end I was looking for. I was hoping for something with a little more depth, so the end fell short for me. I’m not giving anything away in saying that. If you want to know why, then you’ll have to read the series from start to finish as I did.
Being in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and reading this series is like smoking and drinking with every word on the page. Everything is book-ended with a chillum and a drink it seemed.
Gregory says at the end of the story that:
This novel depicts some characters who are living self-destructive lives. Authenticity demands that they drink and smoke and take drugs. I don’t endorse drinking, smoking or drug taking, just as I don’t endorse crime and criminality as a lifestyle choice, or violence as a valid means of conflict resolution. What I do endorse is doing our best to be fair, honest, positive and creative with ourselves and others.
Shantaram comes to Bombay to find a life. Because he is fleeing a life in prison.
Did he find that life ? Yes, I think so. Was he honest, Yes I think so.
I believe he had to do what he thought he had to do to survive, in the choices he made to do what he chose to do in the story. Behind the work Shantaram did, there was honesty, love and devotion. That is clearly evident.
Shantaram knows loyalty and love. He learns these two things in the relationships he has with many of the men and women he works for, and those he serves in the Island City.
I’ve known my share of alcoholics and I’ve also known my share of drug dealers. The drug dealers I knew in my past, were good people. They had good hearts even if those hearts were wrapped in weed and alcohol.
I don’t hate them, nor do I scorn them either. They did what they did, because those were the cards they were dealt.
Behind the dirty, crime ridden, drug infested, alcohol swilling story of survival, is a story about love, honor, loyalty and in a way redemption.
We all have lives to live. It might take some time, but if I am honest, at some point we find the vocation we are meant to live out, eventually.
It is all about the Positive Attributes and the Universe that exists around us. Our connection to all that is, in the service of the many, to the good of all.
We are to bring positive attributes into the world, in our lives, in our relationships and in our work. The greater good you bring into your world and the world, the better off we all are.
Shantaram and The Mountain Shadow are worth your Time, Effort, and Devotion.
Gregory David Roberts did a fine job in telling a total story.