Dalai Lama’s Cat : Such a Refreshing Read

I recently finished reading the Dalai lama’s cat and I am still smiling, yes this is what the book does to you. I am not a very spiritual or philosophical person but the synopsis of this book intrigued me. This book manages to take you in the mystical land of Buddhism and that too through the eyes of a cat.

A stray kitten rescued by the Dalai Lama on the busy roads of Delhi and taken back to his residence, where she is nurtured to become HHC describes her survival and existence in this book. She grows up to become an extremely beautiful cat and her journey is a delightful read. The book manages to be funny and still be able to inculcate the virtues of Buddhism. The journey of the kitten becoming the cat is the most amazing, and its evolution as a cat and paving its path into Buddhism keeps the readers engrossed. For someone like me who is amateur to the philosophies of Buddhism this books gets me way closer to the essence of this religion. A novice like me can easily relate to the cat in understanding the teachings of Buddhism. The writing style is very warm and personalised, the reader does not feel overwhelmed by the preaching’s but slowly seem to weave into the threads of human emotions described to perfection. There are some portions of the book which are immensely touching, like the teachings of true happiness, helping others, not being self centred, however some portions are a bit dragged. Sometimes the story goes too deep and you feel disconnected to the whole plot, but these instances are rare. The story flows like magic and you can easily imagine the scenes described, the cat moving down the mountains, visiting Franc’s cafe, or pondering near the window in her room, the descriptions are poetic.

What I liked about the book is that one does not have to be religious or spiritual to read this book, the preachings in the book can be useful for a common man too. The book aims not to reveal the great truth of god but simply introduce the reader to the principles of Buddhism in a very warm way.

So overall its a very nice warm read which one can enjoy basking in the sun getting up happy and smiling, and sure I for one wanted to become His Holiness Cat after reading this one.

And the Mountains Echoed : Completes you Incompletely !!

I just finished reading the latest book by my favourite author Khaled Hosseni “And the mountains echoed” and I am still in awe after completing it. Khaled this time has attempted to capture a different side of Afghanistan, it does not describe the story of a hurt and bruised country but that of the people who were uprooted leaving behind their belongings and loved ones.

The book has the usual Hosseni style of writing, touching, filled with agony and pain. The development of the plot and the characters is poetic, the classic Hosseni style. There are moments in the book when you cant help weeping, one must be really cold hearted if one reads through the book without a tear down the cheek. It has the same sad fairy tale touch throughout the story, one which Hosseni is master in. The characters are very humane and so are the hardships they face.

However this time Hosseni has tried to weave many portraits together, he has indulged in developing many characters and subplots which somehow have not been very impressive. There are many areas in the storyline wherein you feel disconnected to the whole plot, though the different stories tend to meet at some point or other but they don’t complete each other in a very impressive way. The subplot of Markos and Thalia grabs my attention but after some pages it becomes a futile exercise for me to realise their existence and importance to the main story line. I am keen to know the happenings around Saboor’s family but I end up reading a long chapter on Thalia. Also the Bashiri brothers make an awkward entry and exit through the book, I feel their characters don’t get the closure that is needed, somehow their stories feel incomplete. There is a long haul between the different subplots and their development spanning from different eras only add to the existing confusion. Somehow I was more intrigued to know how Abdullah felt after Pari left. Somehow I could not feel riveted by the emotions, I was moved yes, but not like the earlier books.

Overall its not a fantastic, but definitely a delightful read however it is unable to arouse the same riveting emotions that Kite runner and thousand splendid suns had. Somehow the strings don’t tie up together in the end, you feel emotionally detached midway many times. But all said and done, I applaud Hosseni for trying something new and would look forward to read his next book earnestly