Linbaba and Leopold: Shantaram

Gregory David Roberts’s mind-numbing ‘Shantaram‘ is the story of Australia’s most wanted man who escapes an Australian prison and comes to our very own India. And so his adventures in India begin when he runs into Prabhaker, a friendly taxi driver with whom he instantly clicks and also gets an Indian name, ‘Linbaba’. He even travels with him to his village, where Prabhaker’s parents give him the name Shantaram. Slowly and steadily, Shantaram finds himself falling in love with this city of Bombay. Every person and every place has a story and he finds himself getting drawn to every little detail of this city.

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However his stay in the city of dreams is not an easy one. He lives in a slum for a few days, where there is cholera, human trafficking and cat-sized rats all waiting to kill his spirit. But he is a hero. he does not stop. He doesn’t stop when he finds himself falling in love with Karla. Karla, who had fallen into his arms on the very first day of his arrival to Bombay. Karla, the mysterious Swiss woman, with whom he spent hours chatting at the Leopold Cafe in Mumbai. Karla, who could not love him back. He doesn’t even stop when he is picked up without an explanation and taken to Arthur Road Jail and tortured endlessly for three months.

He also finds a father figure in a Mafia man called Khader. Khader is the one who got him released from the jail. Khader talks to Shantaram for hours about varied topics ranging from metaphysics to morality and what not.

The best thing about Shantaram is that you cannot sit and simply read this book. You need to sit with a diary next to you where you sit and jot down all the beautiful quotes in this book.

The best place to go and enjoy this book is at Leopold Café, where you will feel like you are actually reliving the days of Shantaram.

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