Elizabeth Gilbert, and now Julia Roberts, ‘Eat Pray and Love’

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Sheer indulgence, this.

 Imagine travelling to three countries on the other side of the world, within the space of twelve months, and living on a thematic basis for four months at a time, the primary themes being gluttony, meditation and sheer adolescent romance. Imagine meeting people of all sorts in all sorts of situations, living in beautiful edenic garden full of orchids in the middle of Bali and steeping oneself in culture and heritage, totally getting under the skin of a place. and the people who make that place. And now imagine being paid (n i mean being sponsored from day 1 of said journey to the time one manages to settle back into everyday life back in dear ol’ Manhattan) to write a book about all the ‘adventures’ one might have on this stupendous trip of a lifetime!

Hell, you n i might not even ever be blessed with such good fortune. But the author of above mentioned book sure was. (And that’s a tautology). Liz Gilbert’s romantic fiction bestseller  sure shows that she was fortunate to have had the chance to account for all the wonderful things that populated her life for an entire year, and she knows it. Which might be why she spends quite a large part of her time being thankful. By doing the ‘smile meditation’, putting it through in her little diary, by helping her poor Indonesian woman buy a house, by hunting down restaurants that serve the best pizza in the world, and chomping her way through all she could eat, and finally, by falling in love with a ‘good’ man.

Of course, it all came at a price. She actually troops out in search of herself, her spirituality and some much needed happiness after a horrible divorce and more heart break while on the rebound.

Gilbert’s expression is as precious and endearing as the many people she meets and the many experiences she cherishes. Witticisms, insights and emotions tumble out in an unceasing outpour -she opens her heart out for you, and as you accompany her through sunshine and high tide, you’d feel like she was your closest buddy or even family. She builds her narrative around complete honesty, a fine sense of what goes into the makings of the world like we all know it, a highly liberal frame of mind and flexibility of the heart, a readiness to embrace it all, for she’s got love enough for the world. (mosquitoes, again, not included).

This journey is pivotal to her life in more ways than one. (And here I will display all my English Hons credibility.) It’s a lot things rolled into one trip of a lifetime. It’s a pilgrimage at one level, an eat-all-you-want parade, a nomadic irresolution of one’s destination in life and a transcendence of all sorts of boundaries which any society or upbringing maps into psyches. (Hah! i told ya!) And the fact that she goes beyond physical continental lines to attain her spirituality only becomes symbolic of the three different ‘I’s that she reveals to herself.

In all, terribly delightful. She makes you laugh and cry with her. Breathe the air around the world and feel the spirit of different civilisations. She finds her answers in the end, and she finds the handsome, rich, fabulous South American man for cherry on her cake, that she finally, finally has, and eats too. It’s a whole different science-fictional level of transformation – the tired but persevering snail (who carries her house on her back) turns into the New Age Buddha. Talk about transcendentalism!

Hope the forthcoming movie, and Julia Roberts, make the magic come alive on screen.

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