Here’s what’s been on my reading list lately – the June issue of Gourmet Traveller, and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
I’ve been trying to avoid buying magazines lately as I feel like I don’t get enough enjoyment out of them relative to how much they cost, but I let myself get a Gourmet Traveller every now and then. I couldn’t resist this issue, which is full of traditional (and less traditional) British recipes and a very impressive London travel guide. I think that most of the recommendations will stretch our backpackers budget when we get over there, but it might be good for a splurge. I really want to make the pork pies on the cover, but I’m daunted by the amount of work involved (you need to start THREE DAYS in advance!) and not convinced I can pull them off. I’m taking notes of some of the more doable dishes for my annual (this will be the second year, so I can call it “annual”) Winter Feast dinner party next month, which I’ve now decided will have a UK theme.
Shantaram tells the story of Lin, a former heroin addict and thief who escaped from an Australian prison and fled to Mumbai. It’s written by Gregory David Roberts, a former heroin addict and thief who escaped from an Australian prison and fled to Mumbai. There’s some debate about just how much of the book is auto-biographical, but I think it doesn’t take much reading between the lines the realise that Lin (and therefore probably Roberts) thinks a whole lot of himself. The flowery prose, pearls of wisdom and many instances of ‘I instantly liked him’ to people I would have run the hell away from got a bit old after a while. But despite having a self-aggrandizing voice, Lin does have some action-packed adventures, one after the other (or even several at a time) which make for a fascinating read – from the recount of the prison escape, to living in a Bombay slum, to being a goonda for the Indian mafia, to war in Afghanistan. There’s also fun tidbits of the various languages learned whilst over there, including a whole lot of swearing – apparently in Bombay the big insult is (ahem) one who does inappropriate things to ones sister (I think perhaps mothers are considered too low a shot for even the lowliest gangster to take).
To be honest, Shantaram has made me kind of terrified of going to India – even though I’m definitely too much of a princess and a square to have anything like his kind of experiences. It definitely makes for thrilling reading though, and I can see it making an action-packed movie. Just don’t take it along to read on a plane ride to India.