A fun title for what might be a not-so-fun post, or at least not the most uplifting one, but it’s the second book in the recent past I’ve read about Nepal and incidentally also the second one I’ve read by Jon Krakauer, so I thought it appropriate. Here’s my take on his book Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster.
Laconic recap: This book is not for the faint of heart. Granted, Krakauer’s books aren’t on the feel-good side in general, but this one was particularly striking. It was gripping, though, at the same time, and as I read more, I really felt like time slowed down to a stop, just like it must have been on that freezing, windy night up on Mount Everest in May 1996.
Anyone else read Three Cups of Tea?
Wasn’t it awful?
If you didn’t like that, or if you did by some stretch of the imagination, I’d recommend my most recent read to you – Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.
Basically, Grennan succeeds in all the areas Greg Mortenson doesn’t. This riveting book centers on four main events: the author’s first trip to Nepal and his stint at Little Princes Home for Boys; the author’s subsequent return and establishment of his own children’s home along with Farid, another volunteer; his journey to the rural region of Humla to find the parents of the aforementioned children; and his relationship with Liz, which is truly a love story for the ages.
The book reads very quickly. I felt like I really got to know Grennan, and appreciated his acknowledgment of his flaws and missteps, from his encounters with the authorities to his failed attempt to catch a helicopter (which frustrated me to no end). He paints Nepal neither as a spiritual mountain paradise nor as a poverty stricken slum, which feels honest. There are a lot of characters to keep up with, but they all seem distinct, especially the children.
Warning: you will tear up while reading this book.
As a grad student, reading is pretty much my life. Unfortunately, the type of reading I do on the daily doesn’t always involve my classes, as you see from my book reviews. But lately, I haven’t even finished any real books. It’s been kinda bad, but at least today I got a little work done for RIII and one thing read for one class. Little victories! Oh, and saum sva km na to my first visitor from Cambodia.
The other day, though, I stumbled across something, I can’t remember how, but it made me stop in my tracks. It’s an ebook by James Mollison entitled Where Children Sleep.
Pictured above is a seven-year-old girl from Kathmandu, Nepal named Indira who works in a quarry, and she sleeps with her whole family in this bed, which is probably less comfy than it looks. I mean, seriously, they’ve got great natural light and each other to cuddle with on cold Nepali nights. This is one of my favorite pictures in the book, Mollison really caught her soul-searching gaze.
There are sixty-five pages, each detailing a different child/teenager from around the world. Most are impoverished but some have nicer bedrooms than I had growing up. I was actually more intrigued by the pictures of the children and their stories, but having the bedrooms there was an interesting twist on things.
It really gives you an idea of what growing up is like in the 21st century. Most of the time I think that kids these days have it all – or at least more than my generation did – but that’s not necessarily true.