This is not really a book review, but it's my journey with the book. Very subtly this book helped me smile, helped me express and help me get over my blues. Surely, the book got me hook, line and sinker! And, that's the reason, I am writing about it.
And yes, by the way, you would be knowing about the much talked about movie with the same name, based on this book and starring Julia Roberts.
About the book :
The Story and my thought flow:
Liz is depressed due to her divorce to her husband of six years for REALLY NO BIG REASON! She is not able to figure out why she wanted the divorce. She is not ready for motherhood, as a matter of fact.
Point to ponder : Divorcing a man who made your life hell can feel like a victory, but leaving the one who did not, can cause prolonged emotional conflict and pain, as you part. But then, why does she want to part? She seemed confused to me, as she says "She doesn't want to be married anymore". Is it stagnation of a relationship? Is it that you have reached a saturation point? May be, but she feels very strongly about it, as she sits and cries the nights through talking to herself.
Another thing, which made me think was that a Western woman in her 30s, waits for the feeling when she is ready for motherhood. Liz knows 30s are like alarm bells for the reproductive cycle of a woman, hence feels the mental pressure but does not really feel ready to be a mother yet, from her heart. (Her work involves a lot of travelling to distant places). Has any Indian woman ever asked herself really - "Am I ready to be a mother, a nurturer, a giver from now on?" "I decide to be a mother".... or "NO, I don't feel that yet. No I don't like children". Have we? Can a woman utter such an un-womanly thing like " I don't like children" (not that I would like to hear this). Marriage, a streamlined life, financial security, body clock, Mom-in-law's advice are a few factors which make us think about having children, generally speaking. Ah, I know you are going to differ, ok pl write in comments, would like to hear : )
Meanwhile, she meets David, whom she feels is her soulmate, but the relationship fails as she is still coping mentally with the divorce she had slapped on her husband, who obviously is angry over it. This added heartache, makes her decide to plan a tour to Italy, then India and then to Indonesia where she does exactly what has been said in the title - Eat, Pray, Love, in that order!!
ITALY - She spends four months in Rome, makes friends, has a crush for an Italian boy, loved the language and went head over heals on the pizzas and ice-creams (and things which I really could not prononouce or understand!). Finally, she puts on weight too, but partially succeeds in getting over her anti-depressant pills. Binging on food is a common refuge from depression, she knows it, but still goes on with it.
INDIA - Stays in the Ashram of a Guru (name not disclosed). Learns meditation with great difficulty, and very slowly, fighting with her physical self and her innerself. Here, she meets a person, who helps her connect with herself and forgive her boyfriend David and clear the air of negativity with her ex-husband, through meditation. Liz believed David was her soulmate, so parting with him pained her deeply.
I was impressed by this wonderful explanation of the world 'soul mate', how we take it and what is the purpose of a soulmate in our lives, as explained.
" People think a soulmate is your perfect fit and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that's holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it."
INDONESIA - Finally, a transformed, a lighter and an enlightened Liz leaves to Indonesia, Bali. There is a detailed account of the social, religious, political structure of the country (which can be boring for some). Her friendship with a medicine man (Vaidya, as we say in Hindi) Ketut, helps her stabilize better and Wayan - the lady with grit and talent (Balinese medicine and therapy) gives her good company.
Just read this and you will know why Wayan's knowledge left me dumb struck !!:
"She (Wayan) opened her eyes, grinned and said, " I can tell by your knees that you don't have much sex lately."I said, "Why? Because they're so close together?"She laughed, " No - it's the cartilage. Very dry. Hormones from sex lubricate the joints. How long since sex for you?"
And then, finally, Liz falls in love with a Brazilian guy Felipe, who's quite elder than her. Though, she takes time to understand this was the man for her, but by the end she realizes she has found the man who really loves her and dotes on her. A happy ending, but very touching, and quite romantic too!
While getting down from the boat on which both of them lazed around for some time, Liz speaks the Italian word she so loved - Attraversiamo, meaning "Let's cross over".
The book kind of guides you towards the way to cross over your sadness, your sorrows, your lonliness through sustained efforts, through engaging yourself creatively and helping the one's who may need you.
Dear reader, Let's cross over!