A Preview of India thru Shantaram, Part Two

I leave today for India via Los Angeles and London. And so to continue with yesterday’s theme, I’ve written some of my favorite quotes from “Shantaram”; don’t worry, there are no spoilers, but I do believe most of them will spark some thought, maybe more…”We carry oceans inside of us, in our blood and our sweat. And we are crying the oceans, in our tears.”

“It’s characteristic of human nature that the best qualities, called up quickly in a crisis, are very often the hardest to find in a prosperous calm. The contours of all our virtues are shaped by adversity.”

“I surrendered to India, as I did every day, then, and as I still do, every day of my life, no matter where I am in the world.”

“They were poor, tired, worried men, but they were Indian, and any Indian man will tell you that although love might not have been invented in India, it was certainly perfected there.”

“It was a feast, and the delight that spilled from the eyes of the children, while they ate their fill, put starlight in our smiles as we watched them.”

“Some men like you less the more they owe you. Some men only really begin to like you when they find themselves in your debt.”

“Prisons are the temples where devils learn to prey. Every time we turn the key we twist the knife of fate, because every time we cage a man we close him in with hate.”

“I couldn’t speak. Fear dries a man’s mouth, and hate strangles him. That’s why hate has no great literature: real fear and real hate have no words.”

Every virtuous act has some dark secret in its heart… and every risk we take contains a mystery that can’t be solved.

“Guilt is the hilt of the knife that we use on ourselves, and life is often the blade; but it’s worry that keeps the knife sharp, and worry that gets most of us, in the end.”

“The worst things that people do to us always make us feel ashamed. The worst things that people do always strike at the part of us that wants to love the world. And a tiny part of the shame we feel, when we’re violated, is shame at being human.”

“None of us lie or guard our secrets when we sing, and India is a nation of singers whose first love is the kind of song we turn to when crying just isn’t enough.”

“People say money is the root of all evil… But it’s not true. It’s the other way round. Money isn’t the root of all evil. Evil is the root of all money. THere’s no such thing as clean money. All the money in the world is dirty, in some way, because there’s no clean way to make it. If you get paid in money, somebody, somewhere, is suffering for it.”

“When greed meets control, you get a black market.”

“It isn’t a secret, unless keeping it hurts.”

“Damn right you don’t, man. This is not England, or New Zealand, or Australia, or wherever the fuck else. This is India, man. This is India. This is the land of the heart. This is where the heart is king, man. The fuckin’ heart. That’s why you’re free… Because they’re Indians, man. That’s how we keep this crazy place together – with the heart. Two hundred fuckin languages, and a billion people. India is the heart. It’s the heart that keeps us together. There’s no place with people like my people, Lin. There’s no heart like the Indian heart.”

“Sooner or later, fate puts us together with all the people, one by one, who show us what we could, and shouldn’t, let ourselves become. Sooner  or later we meet the drunkard, the water, the betrayer, the ruthless mind, and the hate-filled heart. But fate loads the dice, of course, because we usually find ourselves loving or pitying almost all of those people. And it’s impossible to despise someone you honestly pity, and to shun someone you truly love.”

“It is possible to do the wrong thing for the right reasons… it is a very important point about how we do live our lives, and how we should live our lives.”

“…with morality, the fact of the tendency toward complexity – that the whole universe is doing this all the time, and always has – is the best way we have to be objective, about good and evil.”

“People haven’t stopped believing in love. They haven’t stopped wanting to be in love. They just don’t believe in a happy ending anymore. They still believe in love, and falling in love, but they know now that… they know romances almost never end as well as they begin.”

“I loved you the first second I saw you. I think I’ve loved you for as long as there’s been love in the world. I love your voice. I love your face. I love your hands. I love everything you do., and I love the way you do everything. It feels like magic when you touch me. I love the way your mind works, and the things you say. And even though it’s all true, all that, I don’t really understand it, and I can’t explain it – to you or to myself. I just love you. I just love you with all of my heart. You do what God should do; you give me a reason to live. You give me a reason to love the world.”

“No political philosophy I ever heard of loves the human race as much as anarchism. Every other way of looking at the world says that people have to be controlled, and ordered around, and governed. Only the anarchists trust human beings enough to let them work it out for themselves.”

“But the lies we tell ourselves are the ghosts that haunt the empty house of midnight.”

“The INDIANS are the Italians of Asia… It can be said, certainly, with equal justice, that the Italians are the Indians of Europe… They are both people of the Madonna – they demand a goddess, even if the religion does not provide them with one. Every man in both countries is a singer when he is happy, and every woman is a dancer when she walks into the shop at the corner. For them, food is music inside the body, and music is food inside the heart. The language of India and the language of Italy, they make every man a poet, and make something beautiful from every banalite. These are nations where love – amore, pyaar – makes cavalier of a Borsalino on a street corner, and makes a princess of a peasant girl, if only for the second that her eyes meet yours. It is the secrete of my love for India… that my first great love was Italian.”

“For all his wisdom, he did not know that love cannot be tested. Honesty can be tested, and loyalty. But there is no test for love. Love goes on forever, once it begins, even if we come to hate the one we love. Love goes on forever because love is born in the part of us that does not die.”

“A man trusts another man when he sees enough of himself in him… Or maybe when he sees the things he wishes he had in himself.”

“…my first Bollywood movie… I loved the singing, the dancing, and the music with the whole of my heart from the very first instant.”

“Redemption’s climb is steepest if the good we did is soiled with secret shame.”

“…we should pity the dead when we look at them, and touch them. Pity is the one part of love that asks for nothing in return and, because of that, every act of pity is a kind of prayer. And dead men demand prayers. The silent heart, the tumbled nave of the chest inbreathing, and the guttered candles of the eyes – they summon our prayers. Each dead man is a temple in ruins, and when our eyes walk there we should pity, we should pray.”

“I didn’t know then that good soldiers are defined by what they can endure, not by what they can inflict.”

“…love makes men big, and hate makes them small. I told him that my little friend was one of the biggest men I ever met because there wasn’t any hate in him. I said that the better I knew him, the bigger he got, and I tried to tell him how rare that was.”

“A man is truly a man when he wins the love of a good woman, earns her respect, and keeps her trust.”

“Fanaticiscm is the opposite of love… A wise man once told me – he’s Muslim, by the way – that he has more in common with a rational, reasonable-minded Jew than he does with a fantastic from his own religion. He has more in common with a rational, reasonable-minded Christain or Buddhist or Hindu than he does with a fanatic from his own religion… I agree with Winston Churchill, who once defined a fanatic as someone who won’t change is mind and can’t change the subject.”

“At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they’re dead and gone.”

“Personality and personal identity are in some ways like co-ordinates on the street map drawn by our intersecting relationships. We know who we are and we define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them.”

“…fate gives all of us three teachers, three friends, three enemies and three great loves in our lives. But these twelve are always disguised, and we can never know which one is which until we’ve loved them, left them, or fought them.”

“There are three things that no Indian man can resist: a beautiful face, a beautiful song, and an invitation to dance.”

“One of the worst of my man failings… was my blindness to the good in people. I never knew how much goodness there was in a man or a woman until I owed them more than I could repay. People like Karla saw goodness with a glance, while I stared, and stared, and too often saw nothing past the scowl or bittering eye.”

“Praising people behind their back is monstrously unfair, because the one thing you can’t defend yourself against is the good that people say about you.”

“Love, like respect, isn’t something you get; it’s something you give.”


6 thoughts on “A Preview of India thru Shantaram, Part Two

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