In last couple of weeks on Bangalore Metro between Indiranagar and Trinity stations, if you saw somebody giving silent chuckles while looking absorbed in her kindle, it was probably me reading the first part of Life of Pi. Although even in the earlier chapters I had my reservations about where it was going, but some expressions, some descriptions, some eccentric stories kept me engrossed. Consider the following, for example
There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless.
Christianity is a religion in rush. Look at the world created in seven days. Even on a symbolic level, that’s creation in a frenzy. To one born in a religion where the battle for a single soul can be a relay race run over many centuries, with innumerable generations passing along the baton, the quick resolution of Christianity has a dizzying effect.
That’s clever and witty! It wasn’t meant to be contemptuous. It was just an observation of a young boy. A boy who embraces Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, all together.
He has thoughts on zoos and animal life. And on religions. The latter I don’t buy much into. Found most of it to be shallow romantic notions, which doesn’t even distinguish between God, religions and rituals. The former were interesting even if one is not tempted to believe them blindly. He challenges the common man’s romantic notion of animal’s life in the wild
Animal in the wild lead lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving social hierarchy in an environment where the supply of fear is high and supply of food low and where territories must constantly be defended and parasites forever endured. What is the meaning of freedom in such a context? Animals in the wild are, in practice, free neither in space nor in time, nor in their personal relations.
The second part of the book was a fine survivor tale. I had to skip over some of the gore (with a “I get it”). But it was fine.
What I totally do not get are the initial pronouncement that “the story will make you believe in God” and a third part devoted to somehow proving it. I am assuming that the story was supposed to make those believe in God who do not already believe in Him. First part introduces us to the protagonist’s belief in God and religion, but tried nothing to convince us of the belief. About the second part, if other true survivor tales have not made the intended audience believe in God, why should this one? So, looks like the third part, where the boy’s survival story with animals is questioned, and where an alternative more believable story with humans is introduced, is supposedly something deeply philosophical. Somehow you get it if you prefer the story with animals, and don’t get it if your preference lies in the one with humans – “the dry factuality”! Is God to be found in hallucinations and disillusions? God knows! I mean… I don’t know. I have tried to find answers in positive reviews. But found nothing satisfactory till now.
I rest my case.