‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel

It happened in a cold winter night.

It was the 3D screening.

There were a few guys sitting at the back who got sick and had to leave fifteen minutes into the film.

This is was my first approach to ‘Life of Pi’.

When I bought the book at a charity shop, I did it mostly because everyone was talking about it. Then, like many other ‘fashionable’ books, I left it on the shelf to ripe.

I wondered if it would have been worth it. I mean, a boy on a raft in the middle of the pacific ocean, with only a tiger as companion. That doesn’t call for an exciting narrative or witty dialogue.

It didn’t help that  the film was more of a visual treat than proper storytelling, with 3D kaleidoscopic imagery, where love story flashbacks were the greatest highlight, all accompanied by Coldplay music (It’s a para- para- paradise!).

Starting the book, I knew I wouldn’t have 3D effects or Coldplay music. That got me a bit wary.

I should’ve known better.

Yann Martel’s narrative gives much more than what 3D effects might give you. And I am not just talking about words.

As you might know, I am not English-native speaker. It is therefore understandable that, during a two-page long description of the zoo, I missed half of the words. And yet, I missed nothing of the zoo. Martel’s choice of words did it, creating the sounds and lights in my mind, dragging me into a colourful, cacophonic world of birds and reptiles and mammals.

However, zoo’s descriptions were just the beginning. There is so much to take in when reading this book, it’s breathtaking.

The concept of religion is one of the lessons Yann Martel shoves in our face, when Pi (practicing Hindu) discovers Christianity and later Islam and decides to start practicing all of them.

His parents, the guru, the priest, and the imam are outraged at the least, arguing that there’s only one religion, he shouldn’t be following all of them.

The response to all this appears in the first pages, where Pi’s house in Canada (where he ends up after the journey across the Pacific) is described as hosting images of Christ, Islam symbols as well as Hindu. Just like saying: why choose? Take the best from each one and take it into your life.

And religion is just one aspect of the book.

Many asked if the story of Pi Patel is fictitious or real. The question is also asked at the end of the book, where a couple of Japanese officers interview Pi, trying to understand what happened during the shipwreck.

Needless to mention, the Japanese are reluctant to believing Pi’s story. They are inclined towards something more gritty, a story of humans struggling for survival, something involving murder and cannibalism.

As far as I am concerned, Pi Patel is the boy who survived 227 days in the Pacific Ocean, alone on a boat, with the only company of a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.

Which story would you choose?


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