November 11, 2008

Three Cups of Tea - Philanthropy with a difference.

"One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . .
One School at a Time."

"The first cup of tea, you're a stranger; the second cup, a friend; and the third cup, you're family," Mortenson says. "And for the family, they're prepared to do anything, even die."

The Karzais , the Musharrafs, and the Bushes may want to borrow a page from Mortenson's book Three Cups of Tea to see what it really takes to forge inroads into human hearts so apparently different in terms of their color, gender, nationality, language, and religion.

I have my friend Liz to thank for gifting me this novel before she set out on her undefined travels across Central America; what an apt book choice Liz. I'm sure Mortenson's pursuit for peace-without-borders will color your travels as well.

Three Cups of Tea is a popular buy at almost all major book stores across the USA as it has been on the NYT best seller list for the last 16 weeks and is currently heading that list. The novel has grabbed various literary awards in the last two years like the 2007 Kiriyama Prize and Time magazines Asia Book of the Year. It has also been called a publishing phenomenon because of its soaring sales in record time. The two authors, David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson, have their individual websites that provide interesting and accurate information about their adventurous work in various parts of Asia.I enjoyed this work of non-fiction as it unraveled some mysteries and misunderstandings that existed in my mind about people living in the so called Taliban- friendly area on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Misconceptions such as these, ones we often carry for a lifetime, filter down into our next generation, and the next, and thus borders are drawn and walls built. Human beings who essentially are the same, in that they care about their families and feel pain when they get hurt, end up perceiving each other as foreigners, with unbridgeable differences that are frequently negotiated with ammunition and deception. A novel such as this provides an alternative to the use of force to bridge this gap of misunderstanding.


Greg Mortenson, the narrator and the main character in this piece of non-fiction, is an ordinary man who takes upon himself to do the extraordinary; build grounds for peace in a 'foreign land' in the most unusual way: by providing education to the female child in a male dominated society, and in an area torn apart by violence and ethnic strife.

Three Cups of Tea speaks volumes for the indomitable human spirit, and is a must read for those of us who seek the silver lining to our 'clouded' world.

28 comments:

D said...

'Three Cups of tea' is my gmail tagline for the rest of the week. Anyhow, i missed a lot of action here right from Darfur to Obama's victory poem.
Well, a few days back i saw a cartoon in a national daily which said : "Well, what he'll do first. Walk on water or save the economy." I hope the big O lives up to the expectations of the large fan base not only in his home country but across the globe.

Id it is said...

d,
I almost feel sorry for him; being on center stage with the entire world for audience!

Saadia said...

An interesting post. You allude to misunderstandings and misconceptions you had about people living in this region (I am from Pakistan). What were they? And did the author of this book spend any time in this area? I'm curious. I'm not sure if this book is available here, but I'll check.

Thanks!

Saadia said...

By the way, I've added a Blogroll section to my page, and I've linked yours.

Id it is said...

saadia,
Thanks for stopping by! Mortenson has in fact lived in the area for many years and currently spends at least three months there every year. You could order this book on Amazon for sure and at a very competitive price. I would be keen to know your response on the book.

I'm unable to access your blog...I wonder why...
Thanks for the link.

Saadia said...

I'll have to wait till it comes to bookstores in Pakistan, because if I order it from Amazon, I'll be paying more for delivery than for the book itself...haha!

Are you sure you're trying to access http://saadiam.blogspot.com ?

starry nights said...

Thanks for the review.I am going to buy this book, sounds interesting and it is the kind of books I love.

Id it is said...

Saadia,
What an interesting blog you have! However, whenever I click on 'comment' I get the Google 'server error' message. I'll keep trying.

Saadia said...

I'm sorry about those irritating errors. I really am. I fail to see why. Blogspot comes up with weird errors every now and then. :-)

Have you ever experienced the same problem on any other blogs?

Does it give an error number?

(I'm sorry. These messages shouldn't come here on your comments page. I don't know how else to contact you, fello blogger!)

Saadia said...

Since my blog is written from the perspective of a Pakistani, I was wondering if you could alter this post of yours - maybe write a little more about your misconceptions about Pakistan and its people, and say how that has changed/not changed, and why - to be included as a guest post on my page. (Long sentence! Hello Churchill!)

Just a thought.

My email address is: saadiamalik AT gmail DOT com.

coffeedrinkingwoman said...

THis has just become another book I have to/want to read. Thank you!

EXSENO said...

I think you did a great review on this book, You've certainly convinced me to read it. Knowing that it actually happened makes it even more desirable.

Sayani said...

Thats a perspective and understanding intertwined ...gr8 post indeed thinking of reading it ..
thanks for sharing

keep well :)

D said...

gmail tag line is nothing much but the status message on google mail. I guess if you access to google mail, you'll know what i mean...lol

berenice said...

thanks again for a wonderful review dear iditis, you made me curious about this book, and your sentence "I enjoyed this work of non-fiction as it unraveled some mysteries and misunderstandings that existed in my mind about people living in the so called Taliban- friendly area on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border." made me even more curious! The only superfluous knowledge I have over Afghanistan is from another book, the popular Kite Runner, it's great to find pieces of Fiction that still reveal true matters and ways of thinking of other cultures, and countries... it is always enriching to read your blog

Saadia said...

Hello!

I never heard back from you regarding my request for a guest post, and I'm also awaiting your next post on your blog eagerly.

I came across this review of Mortenson's book - written from the "right-side" of the divide - and I thought it might be of interest to you and your readers: http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2008/11/18/afghanistan-pakistan-schools-oped-cx_am_1118marlowe.html.

Best,

Saadia

EYE said...

Thanks for the great poem! that is exactly what I felt

Id it is said...

Saadia,
Thanks for the link; it got me to rethink Mortenson's novel! However, you'd agree that his effort and drive to have worked in a 'foreign' land for a people who were 'not his own' still makes him very unique and his venture very commendable.

I'd be curious to know your thoughts on Marlow's write up...

Saadia said...

While I haven't read the book as yet, I do have respect for both reviews - yours and Marlow's. However, I wouldn't be as critical of Mortenson as Marlow is. He wins the cake because he was philanthropic; and I also can't oppose his decision to not take help from the Army in fear of losing credibility. Most respected organizations today, across the world, are NGOs for the simple reason that people believe in their independence, and trust that they do not have an agenda other than the obvious.

What do you think?

Id it is said...

Historically the word 'army' has always been suspect, so it isn't surprising that the US army's humanitarian work (if any) in Afghanistan may go unrecognized. Besides the US army is also on foreign ground and it can be perceived as a forced occupier, and thus unwelcome and suspect.

cubano said...

A friend of mine recently recommended this book to me as well. Sounds like a must read.

human being said...

hmmm... another good review from you Id...

the accounts written about a nation or a culture from a foreign point of view have always been of dual value to me... precious and original from one perspective... and erroneous from another...

they are precious because you can see the subject from a new p.o.v. thus noticing things you may have ignored unintentionally...

they are erroneous because people behave differently in front of foreigners... they wear a mask showing them as a united community whereas they defy and fight and oppose each other when that foreigner eye is absent....

have you access to the film "Mom's Guest" By Dariush Mehrjui the Iranian Director?... i see the same theme hidden in its seemingly simple story...

an unbiased and balanced view is very rare but possible when one can look at others as not fellow countrymen but fellow human beings... and live among them as integrated so that he can witness their true nature...

thanks for your always thought-provoking choices... and also thanks a lot for your deep and analytical comments on my blog... whenever i read them i feel you've thought about the point i've tried to put forward though you might not accept it... i cherish them a lot...

Lotus Reads said...

Hello Id

I remember reading "Three Cups of Tea" a while ago, infact, it came highly recommended by a friend of mine. Perhaps it was the paucity of time, but I remember rushing through the book wishing I could have lingered longer to absorb some of the incredible conversations he has with some very unusual people. I especially enjoyed reading about the cultural history of the Wazirs and the Baltis...perhaps I am due for a revisit?

How do we know said...

i agree.. will buy this book and read it..

Prude said...

Sounds simply amazing! Mostly because the world seems to have need of it now the most.

Lash said...

Thanks ID for this recommendation. I am going to a bokstore inawhile and will check for this.

p:s - I'm safe :) Question is "how many time lucky can one be? "

Strange times we all are in and this will only get worse in years to come,,, water, air, faith, what all are we fighting for? Sometimes the movie Children of Men makes a whole lot of sense to me. Alfonso Curon nearly drew the next decade's picture before our eyes, didnt he?

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Id it is said...

Like all good things do, will this one also end, and in this manner?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhAb37yZ0o0
Mortenson's NGO spending being questioned in this '60 Minutes' broadcast yesterday.