[Author: Yann Martel; Publisher: Canongate Books; Year: 2001]
Many a times I sighted this book in bookshops, but was never interested enough to pick it up and browse through it.
Then last month I happened to see on the TV review of the movie based on this book and the interview with the film's director Ang Lee and the main cast of the movie. They all talked about the underlying philosophy of the book and also the spectacular special effects ( in 3-D) of the movie.
That sparked my interest to read the book and as well watch the movie.
I bought this book in Kindle format (my second purchase from Amazon Kindle store).
Pi , a sixteen year old boy from Pondicherry is shipwrecked in midst of Pacific ocean and stranded in a life boat with a ferocious Tiger.Yann Martel vividly narrates in first person, how Pi combats through sheer will power and resourcefulness, all the odds stacked against him. This is the main plot which forms the second part of the story.
The first part of the story is about Pi's life with his family in Pondicherry. It is here Pi, develops faith in three religions - Hinduism, Islam & Christianity. They all help him in equipping him with the mental strength which stands him in good steed to face the ordeal in the sea.
A very inspiring read for everyone!
P.S. - I watched the movie while I was in the midst of reading this book. The movie is technically brilliant as it manages to successfully recreate what is narrated in the second part of the book and is a Must Watch. But the philosophical musings (see some of my favorite quotes below) and sense of humor of Pi which forms such an integral part of the book gets lost in the movie.
Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
(Thanks to Kindle, I did not have to type them at all. Just did a cut and paste from the shared online notes)
- Reason is my prophet and it tells me that as a watch stops, so we die. It’s the end. If the watch doesn’t work properly, it must be fixed here and now by us. One day we will take hold of the means of production and there will be justice on earth.
- To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
- Escaped zoo animals are not dangerous absconding criminals but simply wild creatures seeking to fit in.
- Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims.
- Every element lived in harmonious relation with its neighbor, and all was kith and kin. I knelt a mortal; I rose an immortal. I felt like the center of a small circle coinciding with the center of a much larger one. Atman met Allah.
- There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless.
- These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.
- Technology helps and good ideas spread—these are two laws of nature. If you don’t let technology help you, if you resist good ideas, you condemn yourself to dinosaurhood!
- Why do people move? What makes them uproot and leave everything they’ve known for a great unknown beyond the horizon? Why climb this Mount Everest of formalities that makes you feel like a beggar? Why enter this jungle of foreignness where everything is new, strange and difficult? The answer is the same the world over: people move in the hope of a better life.
- People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others. Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else.
- Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.
- When your own life is threatened, your sense of empathy is blunted by a terrible, selfish hunger for survival.
- You might think I lost all hope at that point. I did. And as a result I perked up and felt much better. We see that in sports all the time, don’t we?
- Oncoming death is terrible enough, but worse still is oncoming death with time to spare, time in which all the happiness that was yours and all the happiness that might have been yours becomes clear to you.
- Some of us give up on life with only a resigned sigh. Others fight a little, then lose hope. Still others—and I am one of those—never give up. We fight and fight and fight. We fight no matter the cost of battle, the losses we take, the improbability of success. We fight to the very end. It’s not a question of courage. It’s something constitutional, an inability to let go. It may be nothing more than life-hungry stupidity.
- I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life.
- You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.
- You must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.
- Survival had to start with me. In my experience, a castaway’s worst mistake is to hope too much and do too little. Survival starts by paying attention to what is close at hand and immediate. To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one’s life away.
- There’s nothing like extreme need to give you resolve.
- Time is an illusion that only makes us pant. I survived because I forgot even the very notion of time.
- What was the point of plotting a course if I could not act on it?
- I cannot think of a better way to spread the faith. No thundering from a pulpit, no condemnation from bad churches, no peer pressure, just a book of scripture quietly waiting to say hello, as gentle and powerful as a little girl’s kiss on your cheek.
- Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love—but sometimes it was so hard to love.
- The worst pair of opposites is boredom and terror. Sometimes your life is a pendulum swing from one to the other.
- Only death consistently excites your emotions, whether contemplating it when life is safe and stale, or fleeing it when life is threatened and precious.
- Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life. It is like an end game in chess, a game with few pieces. The elements couldn’t be more simple, nor the stakes higher. Physically it is extraordinarily arduous, and morally it is killing. You must make adjustments if you want to survive. Much becomes expendable. You get your happiness where you can. You reach a point where you’re at the bottom of hell, yet you have your arms crossed and a smile on your face, and you feel you’re the luckiest person on earth. Why? Because at your feet you have a tiny dead fish.
- It was an awe-inspiring spectacle to sit in a tree and see giant waves charging the island, seemingly preparing to ride up the ridge and unleash bedlam and chaos—only to see each one melt away as if it had come upon quicksand. In this respect, the island was Gandhian: it resisted by not resisting.
- High calls low and low calls high. I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts. The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.
- It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.
- Love is hard to believe, ask any lover. Life is hard to believe, ask any scientist. God is hard to believe, ask any believer.
- Reason is excellent for getting food, clothing and shelter. Reason is the very best tool kit. Nothing beats reason for keeping tigers away. But be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater.
- The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn’t that make life a story?