Following Shantaram. Bombay.

Perizat, a good friend of mine from Almaty has presented me a book called “Shantaram”. I heard a lot about this book: someone told about a journey of the main character, someone told about real love and devotion, and someone told that this book teaches you the respect. After I read this book, by the way, it took me about 2 years, I was like the main character of this novel, traveling through my version of “Shantaram” book. I had my ups and downs, moments of happiness and sadness. I was surrounded by different people, and I was part of their surrounding as well. I felt somewhat like an elder brother for some of those, shared freedom with others, I felt like I was a member of Kaderkhan’s mafia with third ones, and fell in love with some others, there were those I helped, and there was also someone I lost communication with. There were also those, in respect of whom I should have to make a choice and “the choice you made between hating and forgiving may become a story of your life”.

I want to say that you make things way too complicated. Life is actually is very simple. We are afraid of everything in the beginning – animals, weather, trees, night sky, – everything except other people. Then things turn other way around, we get afraid of other people and almost nothing else. We don’t know why  people do certain things and act a certain way. No one tells the truth. No one feels happy, no one feels safe. Everything in this world has been so distorted and mispresented that we have only one things left to do – to survive. And this is the exact reason why we hang onto all those fairy tales about soul, and that there is a God sitting in heaven, who cares about souls. Simple like that.

– Excerpt from “Shantaram” novel

Recently I had a trip to Bombay (modern name is Mumbai) together with Friday. My story would not start from checking into the hostel, search for a good restaurant and etc. It would begin by visiting all places Lin visited (one of the characters from “Shantaram” novel).

In every city of India, each one pays attention to smell, heat, and people. Bombay is not an exception.

Having bought a ticket on a city train, and with words “Bhaia, tchalo”, we went to the center or as they say to the real Bombay. First stop – “Gates of India”, where Lin spent nights with Karla.

Gateway of India, Bombay

The sea breeze was kissing us with its freshness, getting me back to Kazakhstan in my memories, reminding me about evenings I spent in Aktau ( a city in Kazakhstan).

Opposite to “Gates of India” there was a majestic hotel “Taj”.

Taj Hotel, Bombay

And here is the famous cafeteria called “Leopold”, where heroes of novel shared their looks full of love, and got in details of their evil plans.

Leopold Cafe

Then, famous mosque Khaji-Ali, located on the shore of the Arabian sea. In my opinion, there is no way this is a sacred place. You can meet here “starving” tourists like us, or find souvenir shops, cafeterias and snack bars, there are crowds of Indians, Muslims, Assamese, Punjabi, Christians, Buddhists, and others.

Khaji Ali Mosque
Khaji Ali Mosque
Khaji Ali Mosque
Khaji Ali Mosque

By the evening we visited Nariman Point – the main business center of Bombay.

And the most astonishing and exciting place – Victoria Terminus railway station.

Victoria Terminus station
Victoria Terminus Station

– You know Lin, she is right, – Karla has admitted. – This is not India. There are people from all over the country gathered in here, but Bombay is not India. Bombay is a separate world. The true India is far away from here.

Excerpt from “Shantaram” novel

Every trip, every new city, every new discovery and the most important, every new emotion and feeling – is what no one can steal from you. Just imagine, you are a 70-year-old person, laying in bed, and your smile does not come off your face because of all those emotions, new emotions, you got.


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