Monday, June 04, 2007

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission To Promote Peace...One School At A Time, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

#Hardcover # 352 pages # 02 Mar 2006 # Viking Adult # Memoir/Travelogue

What does it take to give up one's comfortable life, embark on a journey to a troubled, distant land few people are familiar with and to try and bring peace to that land by building schools? It takes a vision, courage, determination and passion all of which Greg Mortenson has in large supply.

Greg Mortenson wasn't always an activist, he was a mountaineer and in 1993 when a trek to the K2 summit didn't go as planned he found himself in
Balistan, a rather unknown and impoverished province of Pakistan whose inhabitants, the Baltis, are descendants of the Tibetans. So moved was he by their kindness and hospitality to him that he made them a promise to build their kids a school. The promise was an impulsive one. Mortenson didn't have the funds to build a school but he dashed off e-mails and letters to everyone he could think of petitioning them for funds and soon he was on his way to building not just one, but fifty-five schools in some of the most dangerous terrain in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mortenson's journey and how his school-building mission was accomplished is told along with co-author David Oliver Relin, in the fascinating book "Three Cups of Tea". Not only is this story a story of inspiration and hope, but also, it is a journey into a land not too many people visit because it is fraught with danger (smuggling, lawlessness etc.) I loved reading aobut Mortenson's encounters with the Baltis and the Wazirs, particularly the Wazirs because they are unique in that although their lands are in Pakistan and Afghanistan, they are not loyal to either country, but loyal only to their clans. I also loved how Relin intertwines Mortenson’s story with the rise of the Taliban, 9/11 as experienced by Mortenson in Pakistan, and the American offensive in Afghanistan.

Greg Mortenson comes across as a very sincere, likeable guy in the book. He tries hard to win the approval and trust of the Islamic leaders, elders, commanders and tribal chiefs and succeeds even though the road to winning their acceptance is a difficult one considering their culture was so different from the one he is used to.

All in all I would say that even if the prose is not of the highest standard, this is a good compelling story.

A big "Thank you" to Sylvia from HollyDollyBooks for giving me this book!

The Blogroll Game:

Dewey from 'The Hidden Side of Leaf" has a great game for bloggers. I am joining in because it's a truly great way to discover new blogs and make more friends. Click the button to find out more. It runs only until Father's Day (17 June), so be quick!

Church Book Sale and Book Meme Pg 161

Was passing by a Church yesterday and noticed a booksale in the parking lot. Stopped for what I thought would be a second or two, but ended up spending a whole hour there. Here's my stash of books and I am pleased as punch with the lot! For a closer look at the titles, feel free to click on the picture. I spent $8 on the lot!
I've been tagged (honorarily) by Tanabata of In Spring It is the Dawn. Thank you, Nat!

Here are the rules:

Grab the book that is nearest to you (no cheating), turn to page 161,
post the text of the fifth full sentence on the page, post the rules and tag three people.

I am reading "Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees" by Caroline Moorehead so it's the book I had closest at hand.

"Where refugees come from and the conditions that turned them into exiles is often something people do not want to know"

I found the sentence so sad that really true, do we not want to know a refugee's past? But isn't his/her past his passport?

In turn I tag three other bibliophiles:

Happy Reader at Book Closet

A Reader From India

Niranjana from Brown Paper


Sanjay said...

@Lotus..Thank you for another wonderful post. I wish there were more Greg Mortensons in this world. I guess for a lot of us who can't do something like this the next best thing is to support it with our words, by talking about it and when possible contributing to the effort.
I had heard about the Baltis but it was just a name and now thanks to your post I know a whole lot more about them. Greg's is truly a noble effort. Makes me wonder about how many people who visit troubled lands or even places less well off, manage to do soemthing about what they see, even if it is something small?
What he is doing is also brave for the tribal lands are very clannish and a bit of a wild west it I might use that term here.
Greg's work also reminds me about the book Places in between by Rory Stewart. I did have a small post on this book. He like Greg is doing his bit for the ppl of Afghanistan as well via his Turqoise Mountain Foundation.
It also points to how these two people have managed to bridge immense cultural gaps without being preachy or dismissive or using some timeworn rhetoric that one hears in certain quarters about the cultures of the lands they visited. Rory Stewart I believe currently does work and live in Kabul.

I hope you have fun with the blogroll game and discover many more fun and interesting blogs.

I did click on your books pciture and thats a fab collection, I can see why you are so pleased with it and that price can't be beat.

That line from the tag in your book is really sad. There is a lot about those that don't look liek everyone else that some do not want to know. It should be fun to see what the other bibliophiles come up.

I loved reading this post, thank you.

Asha said...

Sounds like a interesting book.Baltistan is where all the Balti dishes come from!I know ,I went there again:))
I found out about this book called "Frida's Fiesta" ,got to check it out today.
You are my kinda girl Lotus,whenever I find book sale,I stop to browse too,even on vacation!I have bought wonderful classics that way and a book I cherish is Rabindranath Tagore's selected Short stories in Myrtle Beach for $4!!Good collection there.Nero's Game!!
I know lot of Vietnamese who come to US and call themselves "Nguyen", bcos it's the last name of Royalty in Vietnam!!Trisha's school has more 12 kids named Nguyens and not related to each other at all!

tanabata said...

That sentence is really sad. And perhaps not true for everyone but for many, sadly yes.
As for the booksale, wow! What a great stack of books you got, and for only $8??? I was going to ask if that was a new book by Vassanji but I just looked it up and see that it's a book of short stories. I've only read The Book of Secrets but have had The In-Between World of Vikram Lall on my wishlist for a while.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Sanjay!

I remember your write-up on the Rory Stewart book oh so clearly! Yes, these men are brave and they clearly want to go out on a limb to help the less fortunate in the very inspirational! Reading about them shows me you don't need a whole lot of money to do these things, just a vision, guts and determination to see the project through. I am going to check out Rory Stewart's "Turquoise Mountain Foundation", thank you so much for the link!

Lotus Reads said...

@Asha ~ Oh yeah *hitting head with hand* why didn't I associate the Baltis with Balti cooking before this? "Frieda's Fiesta" looks great, I am really going to have to check it out, I love her art and I am sure her recipes will be right up my alley too!

@Nat ~ Yes, the sentence moved me so much, now I can't wait to find out why the author said that. Nat, I have read "When She Was Queen" and they are a really nice compilation of stories with great insights into the Ishmaeli world of East Africa. Yes, i am so pleased with my books...they were marked at 25c-50c for the paperbacks and $1 for the hardcovers!

Um Naief said...

most interesting blog you have here. thanks for coming by mine.

incredible book collection you got at the yard sale. isn't it amazing what you can find when you take a minute. i love yard sales. there aren't many good ones here, but in the U.S... you can find some of the best.

enjoy those books!

hope to see you around again. :)

Hollydolly said...

So pleased you liked the book, I had a feeling you would. I have been a bit lax with my reading lately, after the shock of losing Hollydolly, then friends visiting from the USA it has been a crazy time.
Thanks for the super post.

Lotus Reads said...

@um naeif ~ Thank you for the return visit! I haven't been to too many yard sales but after my haul at this one, I will definitely be more inclined! How do you fare for books in Bahrain? I remember when I lived in Dubai it was such a chore to get certain books...they were either banned or slow to get there. I'm sure things are so different now. I'm so glad you stopped by!

@Sylvia ~ I meant to write you today. How are you doing now? I've been thinking about you so much ever since you told me you lost HollyDolly. I really enjoyed "Three Cups of Tea", I need to read more inspirational books like that! Thank you again for sending it to me.

annabooklover said...

I've already read Coraline from the yard book stash and I enjoyed it very much. I hope you like it too. This is one thing I envy enormously for you people living in English speaking countries: finding used books at low prices.

starry nights said...

Would love to read this book.I have many books at the library for sale alos.really good buys.Every month the friends at the library have a book sale.I even bought old national geographic mags to read at 50 cents a piece.

Les said...

This book sounds absolutely fascinating. Off to add it to my list...

Great haul of books, btw. My hubby enjoyed the Bryson book.

Eek, I was tagged for that meme by Bookfool and Nat. Better get crackin' eh?

Dewey said...

That looks like an amazing book.

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased to read your review of Three Cups of Tea. I saw it at Borders the other day, but didn't have time to even pick it up. It sounds like a book that I'd like to read-- memoirs always call to me.

Literary Feline said...

I was glad to come across your review for Three Cups of Tea, Lotus. I've been considering reading that one, but seem to always pass it over when I come across it.

Human Cargo is one I would like to read. I think perhaps the quote is true for some, but not everyone.

Happy Reader said...

Loved your review, Lotus! Like Sanjay mentioned, it reminds me of "The Places in Between" by Rory Stewart. It was an interesting read. Recently, I read an article by Stewart in a book magazine about his upcoming projects in Kabul (like building carpentry schools etc) and I was pretty impressed with what he is doing out there.
Looks like you have got a good haul of books. It reminds me of the book hunt I do(on most days of the week) at a used bookstore right across my workplace. One of the main reasons I like going to work ;) I buy used books out there for 50 cents - 1$ a piece and I have acquired quite a good collection that way.
Thanks for tagging me for the Book Meme. I am looking fwd to doing it soon :)

Bybee said...

Thanks for your review of Three Cups Of Tea. Greg sounds like an incredible guy.

Beautiful assortment of books. I salute your superior hunting and gathering skills.

david santos said...

Hey, lotus! This lot of books in Portugal would cost more than 250 here Euros, is very good that the prices appear books rightest, congratulations

Lotus Reads said...

@Annabooklover ~ Lovely to see you here's true...when I travel in different parts of the world I do lament having to always buy books at the full rate. I am so looking forward to "Coraline", it will be my first Neil Gaiman!

@Starry ~ I love the "Friends of the Library" sales. I am usually so excited at the prospect of going to one and adding to my collection that I find it hard to sleep the night before, lol. We don't have any coming up until it's going to be a rather dry spell unless ofcourse I manage to catch another church booksale or something similar.

@Les ~ I was really kicked to have found the unopened audio Bryson book! I have the printed version as well, but I always stayed clear of it because it's such a tome! Yes, get cracking on the book meme, I'll be checking your blog to see if you got to it! :)

@Dewey ~ Thank you!

@Allybean ~ I love memoirs too especially ones that inspire me to get off my backside and to do something productive for the community. I think you will like this one! Very happy to see you here!

Lotus Reads said...

@Literary Feline ~ I know what you mean, I have had my eyes on certain books for years and I haven't been able to get to them will someday, though, when the time is right.

@Chitts ~ Yeah, no wonder you like work so much! ;) Seriously tho', what a great location for your place of work, you lucky girl! I'd love to read the Rory Stewart book at some stage. I am really impressed with the work these two guys are doing. Education is key and these schools will go a long,long way into making some thing of these young men and women in Afghanistan.

@bybee ~ Thank you! Wish I could invite you over to partake in the lit. feast! :)

@David, thank you! I really did appreciate my haul, but now, after hearing how expensive books are in other parts of the world, I appreciate it even more...thank you for dropping by!

Beloved Dreamer said...

Sweet Lotus what a joy to once again be reading your wonderful reviews. The meme sounds like fun but I am not taged as of yet. I lost so many readers while I was away but as long as I can read your blog and my other friends blogs I am happy. Happy just to be feeling better.


Gentle Reader said...

Thanks for the review, that book sounds like an inspiring experience. Also, you scored at the book sale! All that for $8? Excellent!

Shashikiran Mullur said...

I enjoyed reading this post Lotus, and I am tempted to go try something like what Mortenson did. I shall definitely read this book. Thanks!

iliana said...

What a great sentence from Human Cargo. Congrats on your book finds. I was trying to make out some of the book titles and seems like you found some good stuff :)

Nyssaneala said...

I think the world is telling me I need to read Three Cups of Tea...that book is popping up everywhere in my life!

That's an interesting quote from Human Cargo. I find the opposite to me true as well. We often had phone calls from groups wanting to have a refugee come out and talk to them. They would not settle for a community worker, and they only wanted the refugee to talk about their own personal experience. Most of my clients didn't want to tell absolute strangers about the torture and trauma they endured; they want to be seen as a person, not a victim. Telling people about the problems in their country was one thing, telling about their personal trauma was something else entirely.

I do think there are still a lot of people that adhere to the "don't ask, don't tell" mindset. If they don't know about conflict and violence, then it doesn't exist. If they don't know about it, then they won't feel guilty. I think a lot of this mindset is present in the current immigration issues throughout the world.

I have this book on my non-fiction five challenge, I can't wait to read it.

Megster said...

Thanks for the review Lotus..the book sounds fascinating! I love yard sales..there are quite a few in NYC as well. And I see you got a book by Bill Bryson. He's an entertaining writer- I love his books!

Lotus Reads said...

@Beloved ~ Glad to see you back and feeling better, I have missed you!

@Gentle Reader ~ Yes, I was very lucky to have come upon this sale!!!
Thank you for the visit!

@Shashikiran ~ That's exactly the kind of response the book inspired in me. I wanted to rush out and do something earth-changing, but alas, it's been a couple of days and I'm still here! :)

@Iliana ~ Yes, I did! This prompted me to check for more used booksales and there's one on Thursday evening (proceeds go the Humane Society) hope I can get to it!

MyUtopia said...

Thanks for the review I just got the book.

Nymeth said...

Only $8 for all of those! What a great deal!

I'm curious about that Marie Antoinette book myself. And Coraline is one of my favourites - I hope you like it!

Dana said...

Another wishlist book to add to my list.

A great bunch of books from the sale Lucky You

Lauren said...

Just dropping by to say hello! Hi Lotus! :)

Anali said...

Great post! That's amazing that Mortenson was able to build all those schools. I joined the blogroll game too! Thanks for the info and enjoy your nice stack of books!

If your curious, I'm reading the cookbook "Chocolate & Zucchini" and the 5th sentence on page 161 is "Process until smooth and transfer into a small jug or serving cup."

Lotus Reads said...

@Nyssaneala ~ I simply cannot wait to read what you have to say about "Human Cargo"... having worked with refugees for so many years you know so much about them and I am so looking forward to learning from you. Do you know, after reading about your work with refugees, I applied for a volunteer's job with the local Council for Victims of Torture, here in Toronto? I'm just finding the commute to their office very difficult...hope I can find an easier way to get working on it. And you're absolutely right about the mindset being the guilty party here...ignorance is bliss with a lot of us, what we don't know shouldn't worry us.

@Megster ~ Yes, I am hugely excited about the Bryson audio book, I think that was such a great find! I am saving it for my dad, he's going to love it, he's a huge Bryson fan!

@myutopia ~ Excellent! I so hope you enjoy the read, will be looking for your review!

@Nymeth ~ I have the Marie Antoinette book in hardcover but since this copy was brand new, it was irresistible to me...I thought I could offer it as a prize on this blog one of these days. And I am definitely looking forward to reading "Coraline"

Lotus Reads said...

@Dana ~ Lucky indeed! :) There's one on Saturday at the Sheridan Centre, it's being held by the Mississauga Symphony, it's fiction only...we should go check that out!

@Lauren ~ Awww, Hi, thank you so much for popping in, so nice of you!

@Anali ~ So glad you joined in the blogroll game, hope you do very well! I am busy over the next few days but on the weekend I plan to visit as many blogs as humanely possible! lol

And lol@ your page 161...fancy there is a message from the Universe in there? :)

Niranjana said...

Thanks for tagging me Lotus!

I'm filled with envy when I look at your stash-- all for $8! I occasionally pick up bargains in the Ottawa Public Library's book sale, but I'm yet to find pristine hardback copies of literary fiction for a dollar...

And you've added yet more books to my to-be-read list :)

equiano said...

I loved (if that's the right word?!) HUMAN CARGO - an excellent book. We had her come and do an event for us and she was wonderful - a really impressively intelligent and compassionate woman. My only frustration with the book (but it can't do everything!) is that it doesn't make suggestions on where to go from here, as a reader/what to do yourself next if you feel galvanized into action.

Sadly, in my experience,the quotation you gave is largely true.

I look forward to your thoughts once you're done.

Nyssaneala said...

Hey Lotus -

That's great that you started volunteering with victims of torture. I know commute times can be a big struggle, especially as a volunteer. If I was a tiny part in your decision to do that, that's such a wonderful feeling! I tend to be very passionate, and somewhat obsessive, about my advocate work sometimes. :)

And, showing my obsessiveness, I did a little research on Toronto, and came up with a few links that might be helpful. Did you know that a private group of individuals can sponsor a refugee? I wish that was possible in the US. There's more info about that at this link:
They have a host program in which volunteers are matched with a newcomer to help them adjust to life in a new country.

soumya mukerji said...

Nice blog. Thanks for all the insightful info... there's so much to know here! Will keep coming back :)

Susan in Italy said...

I love the idea of the games you're showcasing: the blogroll game and the boook meme. Thanks for that.

diyadear said...

hey inspired by u, ive started bucking up on my books too :) n i thought putting a "current read" on my blog will help too :)

Beloved Dreamer said...

Sweet Lotus, thank you so much for reading my first new poem in a while. I am glad you liked it. I know you are so busy and am glad that you had the time to stop by. I miss you.


booklogged said...

Lotus, you always write such interesting reviews. And WOW! on your book purchases. I look forward to reading more delightful reviews.

I asked my library to interlibrary loan Sacre Blue and it came today. I've only read the first chapter, but loved it. My niece told me about poutine so I was pleasantly surprised when the first chapter was titled, Poutine Nation.

Radha said...

Wow, the sentence from your tag; its so tragic (and true!)

Lotus Reads said...

@Niranjana ~ Man, I really feel lucky to have got all these books at a I am wondering why I didn't pick up more!?! I sound so greedy, don't I? :)

@Equiano ~ HOw wonderful you got to listen to Caroline Moorehead..although she is a journalist and a good one at that, her empathy for the refugees truly does emerge in her writings. She is not simply telling their stories but making us partake in their lives. You are right, the book could have done with a list of places that one can turn to for helping with refugees or victims of torture.

@Nyssaneala ~ Yes you and another non-blogger friend, Anita, we were hugely instrumental in making me want to work with refugees,so thank you!!! Yes, I remember reading that private groups can sponsor refugees here in Canada and I think that is so cool. The other cool thing in my opinion is the role that churches have played in giving sanctuary to refugees...we have several housed in Quebec churches and they have been there for years! And the HOST program is a wonderful program, I have signed up for the one in my district...all I need to do is get a police clearance certificate and I am in the program, will let you know how it goes, thanks, Nyssaneala!

@Soumya ~ THank you! Will visit you too!

@Susan~ Hi! Lovely to see you, it's been a while. The blogroll game is such a neat concept, I had to tell more people about it!

@Diya ~ You're back? yeay! Glad I was somewhat of an can never go wrong with a book! I think a "current read" feature is a great idea, I should do one too!

@Beloved ~ You're so welcome. I love your poems...only you have the ability to make the darkness seem beautiful!

@booklogged~ Thank you, thank you! I am so glad you are enjoying "Sacre Blues" and because it's non-fiction, you can read any chapter favorite is the one on Montreal because of all the places in the province of Quebec it's the one city we visit over and over.

@Radha ~ Thanks!

hellomelissa said...

that stack of books makes me drool! nothing like coming home with a big pile of 'em, is there?

carra said...

Dear Lotus I am sorry to say this but did you notice in your blogroll that you wrote book fiends and i would hardly believethat's what you meant...

Lotus Reads said...

@Melissa ~ Glad you're back!!! Yes, a nice stack of books is better and definitely more nourishing than, let's say, a stack of chocolate bars, my next best thing in the world! :)

@Carra ~ lol, yes, I can understand why you might wonder at the use of the word fiend, but used informally, a fiend is one who is completely absorbed in or obsessed with a given job or this case, reading books! ;)

Sai said...

THat is such a lovely story about the guy's mission in Balistan, which is why dialogue is a solution to everything, including cross cultural differences!

That looks a huge stack of books.

Um Naief said...

One of the few good bookstores just recently opened a new and improved (expanded) store in the new part of Seef Mall. It has more to choose from, but not too many from the States. They bring a lot in from the UK and Australia. I miss the bookstores from the States.... spending hours going up and down the aisles looking thru this and that.... it had a calming affect on me.

I think Dubai bans more stuff than Bahrain, thankfully!!

sarala said...

I've been looking at whether to buy this book and read it. Your comment "even if the prose is not of the highest standard" leaves me still ambivalent. Oh well, I have a lot of other books on my list anyway. Happy reading.

carra said...

Yeah, thanks Lotus I never knew that meaning of the word fiend. It is so clever of you, it just shows how much I have to learn!

Lotus Reads said...

@Sai ~ Hi, and lovely to have you back in the blogosphere!

@Um Naief ~ I can relate to you missing books published in the US, you could use but I guess shipping would be quite expensive, no?

@Sarala ~ Welcome! Yes, I noticed a couple of spelling errors and the tone is more journalistic than literary, but it doesn't take away from the story at all.

@Carra ~ Au contraire, I will learn from speak five languages, I am so in awe!!!

Tara said...

This review is so timely since my mother in law just gave me this book. I love your big stack of books! What a deal.

Sugarlips said...

I was out of town last month and on my way back home flight got delayed. I love spending time in book stores and thats where I spend my 3 hrs and saw this book:) actually Chai caught my eye :) Couldn't catch on your blog lately sorry about that, bz in moving to a new home :)

Lovely review, will buy this book over the weekend and share my thoughts :)We had a maid servant in from Balistan. Your stack of books look delicious:)

P.S: Love your new dp :)
Stay Beautiful...!!

Lotus Reads said...

@Tara ~ I hope you will enjoy the read.

@Sugarlips~ I have missed you sweetie!!! Are you here to stay now or you planning to travel some more? Hey, Baluchistan and Balistan are different provinces, right? I think my ancestors are from Baluchistan or so I've been told!

Sugarlips said...

Yes they both are different provinces. After finding out when I looked at your pic, you look Baluchi OMG yes you doooo :)Only if you wear those embroidered outfits and wear some jewelery :)

I've missed you tooo :)Will be here regularly from 2nd week of July, can't wait to decorate my new room :)

Stay Beautiful...!!

amna said...

Lotus: I attended this fundraiser for DIL (Developments in Literacy) which is associated with Mortenson's mission. Infact he was the key speaker for the event!Unfortunately I couldn't stay till after the event to have a chat with him. His story sounded quite fascinating..

oh and i LOVE your new pic. you look gorgeous! :)

Lotus Reads said...

Lucky you, Amna!!! Where was this? In Houston or Pakistan? And thank you for being so generous with your praise! *blush*

amna said...

This was in Houston, about a year ago. I will be in Toronto by the 7th or something, can't wait to meet up!:)

Lotus Reads said...

Nor can I!!! Amna, send me an e-mail with your "pucca" dates and we'll arrange to meet up, yeay!

A Reader from India said...

Wow Lotus, weren't you lucky to pick up that pile of books at 8$ (I am jealous!)

Thank you for tagging me. There is a review of 'Let The Northern Lights Erase your Name' in today's Literary Supplement of 'The Hindu'. I first read about this book on your blog.