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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Review - Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin

I had been looking out for this book for simply ages. It was never able in our local bookshops and my only hope was that it would appear suddenly out of the blue (like all my favourite books) in the second hand bookshop. This however came from my Mother as a gift after a short holiday in Dubai. I hinted that I did not want saris or handbags or shoes and would she mind bringing me a book!!!!

Reading this book one has got to pinch oneself (that is my cynical side) whether it is actually possible to do all what this single man has accomplished. An American in very Muslim/Taleban/anti American country setting up schools and on top of that schools for girls, vocational training centers for girls, encouraging women to set up self employment projects. Seems a fairy tale but the more you go into this book you do realize that over a decade of hald work Mortenson did what seems impossible and has even set out to do the same in Afghanistan despite fatwa's being proclaimed against his work.

The way Mortenson works with the people, with the priests, with civil society being very careful not to antagonize the culture and upbringing of the people whom he works with is admirable. Very often this does not happen. The author here adapts himself to the Pakistani lifestyle, the mindset and the work ethos and gets things done which I doubt that a Pakistani however good his leadership qualities may be cannot do.

The story is very moving because Mortenson begins from scratch - no inherited wealth, no benefactors, no training in fund raising, zero. The story moves from the initial donation for one school, the vagaries of Pakistani bureaucracy and people who try to cheat him and then the final product and its effects and benefits. It goes on to the network of schools he buildings, just one at a time aiding villages in dire straits and for whom nothing has been done. Apart from education, the improvments to village irrigation schemes, better quality of water and thus hygiene, improvements to medical facilities all help to brighten and make the life of a Pakistani villager more tolerable.

The book shows how dedication, sheer hard work and looking straight ahead at what his goals have always been has set Mortenson on the path to fulfilling his individual Nirvana. The book also indicates in a smaller way the sacrifices of a personal nature both Mortenson, his wife and children have to undertake in getting there.

A very worthwhile read and one book which I would not like to dispose of (ever).


  1. I'm so glad that you finally got this! I know that you've wanted it for a while. :)

  2. I definitely want to read this one as well! I have it, but have no idea when I'll get to it.