Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Review - Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

I have a very bad habit of flying through a book within days if I love it. When I purchased the last Harry Potter book, I raced home, read for an hour, took a nap then woke up again and finished it off! However, there are some books that, as much as I enjoy them, I will slow myself down and savour them like a cup of Earl Grey tea (I always have to mention that tea!) Such was the case with Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer.

After trying to read several not so great books one after the other, my mind finally settled on this book. Actually, it had been "calling" me for a while now but I refused to read it for no reason. Perhaps I did not think that I was going to enjoy it, or perhaps the message would fall flat on me.

It was neither.

From the first page, I knew I was hooked - Harrer, an Austrian caught in India during the beginning of World War II,  wants to escape and make the trek to Tibet where he knows he will be safe. After several failed attempts followed by one success, he and his friend Aufschnaiter finally make it, all the while dealing with ornery yaks, frostbite, getting lost several times, having no food and several attempts of robbery. However, once they make it to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, their lives for the next seven years undergo a dramatic change. Harrer and Aufschnaiter, once thought of as strangers, soon becomes familiar faces to all, especially the 14th Dalai Lama who at the time was a young boy. This is not an easy book to read as you are right there with Harrer during his unfortunate moments in trying to reach Tibet and when he and the Dalai Lama must flee years later to avoid the invading Chinese. However, I did find that the meetings he had with the Dalai Lama as his tutor were touching and at times funny, as the Dalai Lama was a spirited and lonely boy who wanted to learn everything about the world. 

Now that I have read the book, I want to watch the movie; I've been told that it is quite good and I hope it lives up to what the book set out to do. I already suffer from Wanderlust and this book greatly increased it. It also presented a sense of spiritual peace and bliss within me whenever I picked it up to read. 

And, I still want to try butter tea!


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