Friday, November 11, 2011

Three Cups of Tea

AS an ardent reader of books I've come to realise that even non-fiction carries an element of fiction to bring alive the story. The degree increases in a book of heroism like the 'Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time' by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It's a mere coincidence that I read the book after allegations by CBS News against it.

Three Cups of Tea is the story of a mountaineer Greg Mortenson from US. His passion for mounaineering takes him to Pakistan where he gets lost after a failed attempt to climb Mount K2. He is eventually saved by the locals of the village Korphe. Their kindness in adversity moves him, and he promises to come back to build a school for them. He does return, and so starts a journey to build new schools in the remote corners of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He fights nature and orthodox locals along the way, not to forget the threats of war. This and more, makes Mortenson's story interesting to read.

Even if you consider parts of the story as made up, the book still ends up as an inspiring account of an extraordinary effort. The mere fact that Mortenson returns to keep his promise of buidling a school in a mountainous area of Pakistan is laudable. His dangerous travel to Afghanistan, as part of his mission, also highlights his committment to the cause.

There are other remarkable individuals who complete Mortenson's story. Mouzafer Ali, the porter who saved Mortenson after his fall, Haji Ali, the village headman of Korphe and the 'wisest man' Mortenson ever met, the physicist Jean Hoerni whose donation established the Central Asia Institute, which provided financial support to Mortenson, the cultivated Ghulam Parvi without whom Mortenson 'never would have accomplished anything in Pakistan,' and Syed Abbas, an influential Shia cleric who provided the religious backing for Mortenson's mission.

The book is not just a heroic tale but also highlights the importance of education, especially for girls, in the far flung corners of Asia. Read it, and you would be contributing to a noble cause.

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