Shantaram was one of the most hyped books a few years back. It tells the tale of former bank robber Gregory David Roberts, who escapes from a high-security prison in Australia. After a while he arrives in Mumbai and fall in love with the city. The whopping 900 pages initially describes his early encounters with the locals at infamous bar Leopold and how he fall in love with a mysterious woman at first sight.
Then the tune gets darker and we follow Roberts on his less than ordinary journey. He lives in the slum, gets tortured in a disgusting prison and is recruited by a mob boss for going to war in Afghanistan.
Since the book is written in first person perspective, there has been some debate concerning the autobiographical elements. Roberts himself has implied that many of the core story elements are true but the details are fiction. The way I see it, even if he only was involved in one percent of the activities described, then he still was in for quite an adventure.
If you need inspiration for planning a trip to India, this is a good choice. It is also a celebration to the joy of being alive. Essentially its a story of love, betrayal and hope.
Just don’t get shot, stabbed, beaten or drugged.